The 2000s gave us dozens of worthy Oscar winners in the four acting races, but who are YOUR favorites? That decade’s recipients included people like Hilary Swank (“Million Dollar Baby”), Daniel Day-Lewis (“There Will Be Blood”) and Denzel Washington (“Training Day”) winning their second trophies, Hollywood legends like Helen Mirren (“The Queen”) and Jeff Bridges (“Crazy Heart”) finally prevailing, and newcomers like Jennifer Hudson (“Dreamgirls”) and Adrien Brody (“The Pianist”) being anointed into the Oscar club.
Below, check out our writer Kevin Jacobsen‘s analysis of the four acting races: Best Actress, Best Actor, Best Supporting Actress and Best Supporting Actor. And then be sure to click each link in order to cast your vote in all four of our Oscar polls.
The 2000s began with Julia Roberts winning for her charismatic turn as the title character in “Erin Brockovich,” followed by Halle Berry’s historic victory as the only African American woman to win Best Actress in Oscar history, for “Monster’s Ball.” Nicole Kidman and her prosthetic nose won next for playing Virginia Woolf in “The Hours,” while Charlize Theron was made even more unrecognizable to play Aileen Wuornos in “Monster” the next year. Hilary Swank became a two-time Best Actress winner for playing a boxer in “Million Dollar Baby.” A pair of biopic performances was next — Reese Witherspoon as June Carter Cash in “Walk the Line” and Helen Mirren as Queen Elizabeth II in “The Queen.” Marion Cotillard became the second person to win Best Actress for a foreign language performance, playing Édith Piaf in “La Vie en Rose.” The decade ended with Kate Winslet finally winning her Oscar, for playing a Nazi guard in “The Reader” and Sandra Bullock getting gold as Leigh Anne Tuohy in “The Blind Side.”
Russell Crowe started out the decade strong by winning for his very physical performance in Best Picture winner “Gladiator,” and came close to repeating the next year for “A Beautiful Mind” but lost to Denzel Washington with his commanding role in “Training Day.” Adrien Brody pulled off an upset in 2002 for playing Polish pianist Władysław Szpilman in “The Pianist,” while Sean Penn collected his first of two Oscars next, for “Mystic River.” A string of performances from biopics followed, including Jamie Foxx as Ray Charles in “Ray,” Philip Seymour Hoffman as Truman Capote in “Capote” and Forest Whitaker as Idi Amin in “The Last King of Scotland.” The next two years were actors winning their second Oscars, with Daniel Day-Lewis winning for his virtuoso performance in “There Will Be Blood” and Penn returning to win again in 2008 for playing Harvey Milk in “Milk.” The decade concluded with a richly overdue winner — Jeff Bridges in “Crazy Heart.”
The Oscar for Best Supporting Actress went to many A-list stars in the 2000s, including Cate Blanchett, Renée Zellweger, Catherine Zeta-Jones and Penélope Cruz. Some were not as well-known but earned a nice boost in their careers, such as Marcia Gay Harden, Jennifer Connelly, Rachel Weisz and Jennifer Hudson. Then there were others who showed a whole new side of their talent, like Tilda Swinton and Mo’Nique.
The Oscar for Best Supporting Actor in the 2000s went to performances across the moral spectrum. Javier Bardem, Christoph Waltz and the late Heath Ledger all delivered winking devil performances, Jim Broadbent, Morgan Freeman and Alan Arkin were all fan favorite scene-stealers, while Benicio del Toro, Chris Cooper, Tim Robbins and George Clooney were somewhere in that juicy gray area.
Be sure to check out how our experts rank Oscar contenders in this and the other top races. Use the drop-down menus at the top of each page to see the other categories. Then take a look at the most up-to-date odds before you make make your Oscar nomination predictions. Don’t be afraid to jump in now since you can keep changing your predictions until just before nominees are announced on January 23.