banner

Best Films Overall

Scope of the 2004 Cosmique Movie Award Categories

 

The Cosmo's "Best Overall" categories are characterized by being open to all films of the appropriate year regardless of genre (providing that they achieve the category's basic requirements). This runs from the smaller, technical categories like Best Visual Effects all the way up to Best Film of 2004. This year, a new negative category has been added along with three new musical categories, and the scope of an pre-existing category has been redefined.

Academy voters are reminded that the ideas listed with each category are simply intended as a memory trigger, but should not be construed as a limitation for their voting. They are not lists of semi-finalists.

 

Best Film of 2004

Summary: Awarded to the film deemed by Cosmo voters to be the best movie released in the United States in 2004. Films that received limited release in 2004 are still eligible for consideration, provided that it received sufficient distribution early enough in 2004 to have a chance to be seen by Cosmo voters. However, films that were only screened at film festivals are generally only considered at the year they were first released in theaters or on video.  

Comments: This may be one of the most wide-open categories available to voters. It's available to art films and blockbusters alike, without regard to genre, language, or box office. But some films still fall into a gray area. Films that were of such limited release that it would have been impossible for a majority of Cosmo voters to see, particularly films not released in the San Francisco Bay Area, may instead be eligible in the year they were released on video. The list of ideas below comes from professional film critics' own "Best of 2004" lists as well as lists from pundits speculating on contenders for Oscar and other film award nominations.

Ideas for Nominees: Alexander; The Aviator; Before Sunset; Being Julia; Birth; Closer; Coffee and Cigarettes; Control Room; Dogville; Donnie Darko: The Director's Cut; The Door in the Floor; The Dreamers; Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind; Fahrenheit 9/11; Finding Neverland; Flight of the Phoenix; Garden State; Good Bye Lenin!; A Home at the End of the World; Hotel Rwanda; House of Flying Daggers ; I Heart Huckabees; The Incredibles; Kill Bill, Volume Two; Kinsey; Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events; The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou; The Machinist; Maria Full of Grace; Mean Creek; Mean Girls; Million Dollar Baby; Moolaadé ; The Motorcycle Diaries; The Notebook; Ocean's 12; P.S.; The Passion of the Christ; The Phantom of the Opera; Ray; Saved!; The Sea Inside; Sideways; Spanglish; Stage Beauty; Touch of Pink; Troy; Vera Drake; and A Very Long Engagement

 

Best Director of a 2004 Film

Summary: The Best Director candidates are not selected by nominations from Cosmo voters. Instead, they are selected through a formula that considers their nominations and wins at the major movie awards (Golden Globes, BAFTAs, Directors Guild of America, and the Oscars) as well as the number of nominations their film received at the Cosmos, with extra weight given to a Best Picture Cosmo nominee.

Comments: The use of a formula to select the Best Director nominees began as an accident. At the 2001 Cosmique Movie Awards, the category was created after the nomination ballots had already been released, and so the formula was necessary to avoid foregoing the category. The next year, the Board of Directors chosen to retain the formula. The director's role is somewhat behind-the-scenes, and it's not always easy for a movie fan to determine how much of a movie's success is based on the director rather than the actors or script. Once the field has been narrowed, it's easier to fans to make that determination, but it's harder for them to assess the top five nominees. The formula helps give credit to the directors that the film industry is recognizing, while also paying credence to the Cosmo voters' favorite films. For the most part, it's impossible to tell the difference, but there have been some important upsets, such as Todd Haynes' nomination in 2002 for directing Far From Heaven even though he was ignored by every major movie awards, and Tim Burton, Bryan Singer, and Gore Verbinski's nominations last year.

 

Best Script for a 2004 Film

Summary: Awarded to the film deemed by Cosmo voters to have the best script for an eligible 2004 film. No distinction is made been original versus adapted screenplays.

Comments: Although we like honoring multiple screenwriters like the Oscars do, movie fans aren't always certain which films came from an original script and which were adapted from a book, play, or other medium. For that reason, the Cosmos offer a single script award regardless of original source. The ideas suggested below come from the Golden Globe nominees as well as the ones being handicapped for the Oscars.

Ideas for Nominees: The Aviator; Closer; The Door in the Floor; Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind; Finding Neverland; Good Bye Lenin; A Home at the End of the World; Hotel Rwanda; The Incredibles; The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou; Mean Creek; Mean Girls; The Motorcycle Diaries; The Phantom of the Opera; Saved!; Sideways; Team America; and Vera Drake

 

Best Cinematography or Set Design for a 2004 Film

Summary: Awarded to the film deemed by Cosmo voters to have the best cinematography or set design for an eligible 2004 film. Cinematography covers the actual filming of scene, including the choice of cameras and lenses, camera angles, lighting design and placement, and the like. Set Design, which falls under the purview of the Art Director, involves the creation of sets and the use of furnishings and props within the set. Taken together, Cosmo voters consider this category to be the visual appeal of the film separate from special effects and costuming.

Comments: This category was previously called "Cinematography or Art Direction." The latter term has a very specific definition at the Academy Awards, but it seemed to confuse Cosmo voters who consistently nominated animated films. The Academy Board of Governors has therefore decided to rename it "Cinematography or Set Design" to make it clearer. At the Oscars, it can be a little difficult to assess what constitutes art direction versus cinematography versus film editing versus the other more technical categories. Fortunately, the Cosmos simplify by reducing it to single "visual appeal" category. The list of ideas below consists of the films that wowwed the Board of Governors, as well as films that are being handicapped by Oscar fans as likely nominees.

Ideas for Nominees: Alexander; The Aviator; Collateral; The Door in the Floor; The Dreamers; Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind; Garden State; Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban; Kill Bill, Volume 2; Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events; National Treasure; The Notebook; The Passion of the Christ; The Phantom of the Opera; Ray; Sideways; Spider-Man 2; Stage Beauty; Troy; Van Helsing; Vanity Fair; and A Very Long Engagement

 

Best Costume Design or Make-Up for a 2004 Film

Summary: Awarded to the film deemed by Cosmo voters to have the best costume design or make-up for an eligible 2004 film. This covers anything that the performers wear, including clothing, wigs, prosthetics, make-up, and the like.

Comments: Costuming is a significant part of a film's visual appeal, particularly when combined with make-up, prosthetics, and similar visual tricks. Historically, the Cosmos have tended to favor science fiction/fantasy films as well as period pieces from centuries before. But voters shouldn't forget more contemporary pieces that achieve great effects with costuming. Two of the nominees two years ago, Chicago and Far From Heaven, were technically historical films, but occurred within the last century.

Ideas for Nominees: Alexander; Alien vs. Predator; The Aviator; Dawn of the Dead; De-Lovely; Finding Neverland; Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban; HellBent; Hellboy; I, Robot; King Arthur; Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events; Ned Kelly; The Notebook; The Passion of the Christ; Phantom of the Opera; Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed; Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow; Spider-Man 2; Stage Beauty; The Stepford Wives; Troy; Van Helsing; Vanity Fair; and A Very Long Engagement

 

Best Visual Effects for a 2004 Film

Summary: Awarded to the film deemed by Cosmo voters to have the best visual effects for an eligible 2004 film. This covers any extraordinary effects used in the film other than costumes and make-up, including those that are staged and filmed (such as a car crash), those that are filmed using miniatures or stop-action, and those that are imposed digitally after filming is done.

Comments: Visual Effects is another category that tends to favor the science fiction/fantasy genre - and that's not so surprising, since as a genre, it relies more on special effects than any other genre. Still, Cosmo votes shouldn't forget the physical effects employed by many action/adventure films as well as those needed to simulate storms and other effects. When done on an epic scale, such as for Titanic or Master and Commander, they can be just as challenging, if not more, than the effects needed for a fantasy film.

Ideas for Nominees: Alien vs. Predator; Blade Trinity; The Bourne Supremacy; Catwoman; Cellular; Dawn of the Dead; The Day After Tomorrow; Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind; Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban; HellBent; Hellboy; I, Robot; Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events; Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed; Shawn of the Dead; Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow; Spider-Man 2; Troy; and Van Helsing

 

Best Trailer for a 2004 Film

Summary: Awarded to the film whose theatrical trailer is deemed to be the best among Cosmo voters.

Comments: Movie trailers are an important part of the cinematic experience. They appear before every movie in the theaters (and increasingly on videos and DVDs) and help get us in the mood to watch movies. More importantly, they help us decide what to go see. Some expose us to films we might not have heard about otherwise. Some open our eyes to something possibly interesting that we might otherwise ignore or prejudge. Some serve to "rally the troops," to get us excited about something we already planned to see anyway. And some trailers are pure art in their own right - trailers that suck us in, trick us, captivate us, make us excited about the movies even if we never plan to see that particular one. To help voters decide, the Board of Governors will provide a set of trailers for  interested voters to review.

Ideas for Nominees: Alfie; Alien vs. Predator (Teaser); Alien vs. Predator (Full); The Aviator; The Day After Tomorrow (Teaser #1); The Day After Tomorrow (Full); The Day After Tomorrow (Teaser #2); The Dreamers; Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind; Finding Neverland; Garden State (Teaser); Garden State (Full); Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (Full); Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (Teaser); Kill Bill, Volume 2 (Teaser); Love Me If You Dare; The Phantom of the Opera (Teaser); Saved!; Shawn of the Dead; Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow; Spider-Man 2 (Teaser); Spider-Man 2 (Full); The SpongeBob Squarepants Movie (Submarine Teaser #1); Touch of Pink; Troy (Teaser); and The Village

 

Best Original Song in a 2004 Film

Summary: Awarded to best song composed specifically for a film released in 2004.

Comments: Sometimes casual viewers can be surprised by songs that aren't nominated for an Oscar, forgetting that the song must in fact be original. That means that most movie musicals would normally be shut out, since so often these days those musicals are first performed on Broadway. (Some, like Chicago in 2002 and The Phantom of the Opera in 2004, throw in a new song just to be eligible for an extra Oscar.) There was some discussion of allowing original uses of a song, which would allow, for example, Jennifer Saunders' show-stopping performance of "I Need a Hero" from Shrek 2 to be nominated. But in the end, the voters polled opted to stay with strictly original songs. Very often, these songs are simply tacked onto a film's closing credits. This can work if the song manages to capture the films theme, such as Josh Groban's "Remember" for Troy. But the very best are incorporated into the film, are performed by characters in the film, and are an integral part of moving the plot forward, in addition to being a song that can be enjoyed on its own. And never in my life have I seen a better example of this that Lustre's "Scotty Doesn't Know" in Europtrip.

Ideas for Nominees: "Old Habits Die Hard" by Dave Stewart and Mick Jagger in Alfie; "Scotty Doesn't Know" by Lustre in Eurotrip; "Double Trouble" by John Williams in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban; "Million Voices" in Hotel Rwanda; "Learn to be Lonely" by Andrew Lloyd Webber in The Phantom of the Opera; "Believe" by Josh Groban in The Polar Express; "Breakaway" by Kelly Clarkson in The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement; "I Decide" by Lindsay Lohan in The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement; "Accidentally in Love" by Counting Crows in Shrek 2; "The Fairy Godmother Song" by Jennifer Saunders in Shrek 2; and "Remember" by Josh Groban in Troy

 

Best Score for a 2004 Film

Summary: Awarded to best musical score composed specifically for a film released in 2004.

Comments: The scores for some films are so haunting, and so distinctive, that we remember them long after we've left the theater. Chariots of Fire. Star Wars. The Lord of the Rings. The Board of Governors was a little nervous, though, that not enough voters would remember enough scores to make this a viable category - but the voters with professional musical backgrounds pressured us and prevailed. Like the Oscars, this category rewards original compositions only.

Ideas for Nominees: Alexander; The Aviator; The Door in the Floor; Eating Out; Finding Neverland; Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban; A Home at the End of the World; House of Flying Daggers; The Incredibles; Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events; Mean Creek; Million Dollar Baby; The Notebook; Sideways; Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow; Spanglish; and Troy

 

Best Soundtrack for a 2004 Film

Summary: Awarded to best soundtrack of a film released in 2004.

Comments: The Big Chill was probably the first movie soundtrack that I went out and bought (not including movie musicals and classical movie scores). The soundtrack was so great and so vast that they had to release it in two CDs marketed separately. Movie music is an integral part of setting a movie's mood and sometimes even advancing its plot. How many movie montages would be ruined without the exact right song - even (and sometimes especially) if it isn't an original song. We're not alone in wanting to recognize the entire body of music for a film, even the older songs it uses. The Broadcast Film Critics Association has also introduced a Best Soundtrack category this year (for which they have mostly nominated movie musicals, but have also chosen to recognize the superb soundtrack for Garden State).

Ideas for Nominees: 13 Going on 30; Alfie; Beyond the Sea; Closer; De-Lovely; The Dreamers; Garden State; Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle; A Home at the End of the World; Intermission; Ray; and Shrek 2

 

Favorite Cinematic Guilty Pleasure of 2004

Summary: Awarded to the film that voters secretly enjoyed despite its low-brow appeal.

Comments: Not every film has to be "high art" to merit recognition. Cosmo voters have always recognized this - witness the number of nominations scored by X2: X-Men United and Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl. But even so, there are some films that don't elevate to being worthy of major awards, but which we still secretly enjoy. The guilty pleasure. The kind of films that critics usually pan even if they do well at the box office. The films nominated here really shouldn't be ones that voters would also consider for the major categories (like Best Film, Best Actress, or even Best Comedy), though they might appear for some of the more specialized categories like Best Female Hero. This, of course, could be in the eye of the beholder - Kill Bill is a good example of a film treated like a fun popcorn flick by some and serious art by others.

Ideas for Nominees: 13 Going on 30; Catwoman; A Cinderella Story; Eating Out; Eurotrip; Games People Play: New York; The Girl Next Door; Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle; The Prince and Me; Sleepover; White Chicks; Win a Date With Tad Hamilton; and Without a Paddle

 

Worst Film of 2004

Summary: Awarded to the film deemed by Cosmo voters to be the worst of an eligible 2004 film.

Comments: Naturally, there are some dreadful films out there that never attempted to do anything other than appeal to the absolute lowest common denominator. (Freddy Got Fingered comes to mind.) Cosmo voters are not specifically constrained to ignore deliberate monstrosities, but of particular interest are films that actually tried to be good, but turned out to be bad. Very bad.

Ideas for Nominees: Along Came Polly; Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgandy; Catwoman; Celsius 41.11: The Temperature at Which the Brain... Begins to Die; Christmas With the Kranks; The Chronicles of Riddick; Dawn of the Dead; Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story; Envy; Garfield: The Movie; Meet the Fockers; New York Minute; Paparazzi; Resident Evil: Apocalypse; Starsky & Hutch; Surviving Christmas; Taxi; and The Whole Ten Yards

 

Most Over-Ratedd Film of 2004

Summary: Awarded to the film deemed by Cosmo voters to have achieved the greatest failure to meet their expectations of a 2004 film.

Comments: Some films aren't bad, per se, but they fail because they didn't manage to live up to their hype or our expectations. For some of us, The Matrix is a good example - not a film we'd nominate for a "Worst" category, but by the time we saw it, it couldn't live up to the hype. Some films here will be critically acclaimed, even if they didn't do well at the box office. Others might be blockbusters, but we just don't see why. Some might just be ones that individual voters just expected to be better than it turned out. But voters should be careful to separate the movie marketing department's manufactured hype (like a saturation of advertisements) from external hype like critical and movie audience reactions. It's the latter that truly rates a film, and the disappointment from expectations raised by the latter that makes a film overrated.

Ideas for Nominees: Along Came Polly; Coffee and Cigarettes; Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story; The Grudge; Hellboy; National Treasure; The Stepford Wives; Van Helsing; and The Village

 

Additional Categories

Lifetime Achievement
Best Performances
Best by Genre