I've seen all the major films from that year except In America, 21 Grams, American Splendor, Thirteen, the one that Patricia Clarkson was nominated for, Monster, Something's Gotta Give, Whale Rider, and Big Fish, so again, this is based on what I've seen. (Also haven't seen LOTR but that had no acting accolades)
Also, I honestly believe Jonny Depp was a supporting role, that's just me:
1. Cold Mountain 2. Last Samurai 3. Seabiscuit 4. Mystic River 5. Master and Commander 6. Finding Nemo 7. X2 8. House of Sand and Fog 9. Pirates of the Carribean 10. Lost in Translation
1. Anthony Minghellia 2. Clint Eastwood 3. Peter Weir 4. Ed Zwick 5. Gore Verbinski
Actor: 1 (tie). Ben Kingsley-House of Sand and Fog & Jude Law-Cold Mountain 3. Sean Penn, Mystic River 4. Tobey MaGuire, Seabiscuit 5. Russell Crowe, Master and Commander
Notes: I love the role Kingsley chose. Most of the parts he plays are gangsters and hitmen and hear he choses an immigrant who works at a gas station trying to keep his dignity, what a great change of pace, and of course, his emotional scene where he goes through his son's death is immensely powerful. Jude Law, I felt was the heart and soul of Cold Mountain's journey, and through his transformation is how the film works. I think MaGuire's performance will always be overlooked in his career, or have people just given up on MaGuire by now?
Supp. Actor: 1. Jeff Bridges, Seabiscuit 2. Jonny Depp, Pirates of the Carribean 3 (tie). Alec Baldwin-The Cooler & Ken Wattanabe-Last Samurai 5. Paul Bettany-Master and Commander
Notes: I think Seabiscuit is basically a Disneyesque story of the underdog that overcomes the odds, and the reason why it resonated so well is that the actors put their heart and soul into it. Jeff Bridges has a certain calmness to him in this part of a man who's been through a lot that I haven't seen from him before. Depp, of course, does everything right with his character. He brings physical comedy, presence, and originality to the role. His character's schemes are so zany and improbable, yet it all seems believable with Depp.
Actress: 1. Scarlett Johannson-Lost in Translation 2. Jennifer Connelly-House of Sand and Fog 3. Nicole Kidman-Dogville 4. Charlotte Rampling-Swimming Pool 5. Brittney Murphy-Uptown Girls
Notes: Johannson is solemn, quiet, and reserved. It's hard to make a May-December romance look believable and she was very relatable. Connelly, of course, had a lot of desperation in her part, there was a lot of inner intensity to her, like someone who was on the edge. Uptown Girls was a small and insignificant film, I know, but Murphy really took the mediocre material and did something with it. Kidman was also good in Cold Mountain and had the added challenge of a Southern accent but Dogville, there was nothing but a soundstage and her acting so she had to win the viewer over with no added frills.
Supp. Actress: 1. Rene Zellweger, Cold Mountain 2. Marcia Gay Harden, Mystic River 3. Kiyoki, Last Samurai 4. Elizabeth Banks, Seabiscuit 5. Patricia Clarkson, Dogville Wasn't that much of a fan of Shoreh Aghdoshloo who was nominated in this category.
Notes: Zellweger was the best, but I think it was a weak year in this category. Dogville had a number of talented female leads, but Clarkson is the one from that film for me because she had the most believable transformation from innocent to evil that the town goes through, and she really nailed the scene where she breaks Nicole Kidman's dolls.
Ensemble: 1. House of Sand and Fog 2. Mystic River 3. Seabiscuit 4. Cold Mountain 5. Dogville