Only a few days left, so time to tackle the best of the 00s, Film, TV, and Music, three in each category should be sufficient.
2003 was the year of the non craptacular blockbuster film. Half of the top ten grossers were good to excellent (LOTR:TROTK, Finding Nemo, POTC: TCOTBP, X2, The Last Samurai, which despite its 'let's focus on the white man in a non-white world' faults, isn't half bad) but it was a crappy year for 'prestige' pictures with one boring 'serious' film after another (Cold Mountain, Mystic River, Monster).
Dishonorable mention goes to The Wachowski Brothers for crapping all over their own Matrix franchise by releasing not just one, but two massively disappointing turds on an unsuspecting viewing public.
Honorable mentions go out to American Splendor for Giamatti's remarkable turn as Harvey Pekar, Bad Santa for Billy Bob's remarkably Bad Santa, The Cooler for remarkable performances from Macy, Baldwin, and Bello, The Core for being so ridiculously absurd, yet deceptively entertaining, Down with Love for being a strangely faithful remake of a Rock Hudson/Doris Day picture that never previously existed (complete with David Hyde Pierce as not quite Tony Randall), Kill Bill Vol1 for giving us Tarantino at his best, A Mighty Wind for delivering that Guestian groove with a bit more bittersweetness than previous efforts, Oldboy for delivering a pitch perfect revenge fantasy, Ong-Bak for introducing Tony Jaa to the world, School of Rock for giving us a likeable Jack Black character (a feat not since duplicated), and Lost in Translation for being one of the strangestly perplexing and satisfying movies to pop up in quite some time. It's a film you can love, or hate, or love AND hate at the same time, and that's pretty unusual.
Now, the three most essential films of 2003 (not in order of merit)
Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
Obviously, you aren't going to watch only the third film in a trilogy, so this is more a recognition of the entire eleven hours of narrative (assuming you pick up the full on extended editions). An epic, brought to screen in full detail, it's an accomplishment that hasn't been equalled before or since.
PIXAR doing what PIXAR does, with fantastic performances from Ellen DeGeneres and Albert Brooks. Not sure I'd put it in my top five of Pixar films, yet it sits here as one of the top three films of 2003 (which demonstrates the amazing run of high quality pictures put out by PIXAR).
Pirates of the Carribean: The Curse of the Black Pearl
This is an old fashioned swashbuckling action/romance mated to modern production values and special effects, and for this film, holds together for the entire picture. Expect vastly diminishing returns with regards to the sequels, but for this one picture Gore Verbinski captures lightning in a bottle and gets every note right, from Johnny Depp's invention of Jack Sparrow (never has an action picture role more deserved an Academy Award, yet those stuffy bastards didn't even nominate him, despite Depp winning the SAG Award for Best Actor), to Keira Knightly's plucky heroine, to Geoffrey Rush's scene chewing Barbossa. Disney took a huge gamble in making this picture, modern pirate movies have been amongst the biggest all time flops(Cutthroat Island most notably), a shame they had to screw things up so badly as they cashed in and turned it into a franchise.