2003 Best Reviewed Movies Based on third-party critic ratings, the best reviewed 2003 movie releases.


Bus 174

99% on Rotten Tomatoes based on 76 reviews

This documentary captures what happened in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on June 12th, 2000 when Bus 174 was highjacked by an armed young man, Sandro do Nas… more

This documentary captures what happened in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on June 12th, 2000 when Bus 174 was highjacked by an armed young man, Sandro do Nascimento, with a dozen passengers. Nascimento threatened to kill all of the passengers, but eventuallly agreed to surrender, as TV cameras were rolling and an entire nation was glued to their screens watching the event take place. Then, a police officer decided to fire at Nascimento anyway, accidentally killing one of the female passengers instead. What followed was a revolt among the city's population, enraged at police brutality. The film intertwines the story of the standoff with biographical information about Sandro do Nascimento, including his childhood as a survivor of the "Candelaria" child mass murders in the early 1990s, and the trauma of seeing his mother stabbed to death in front of him.

Documentary

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The Fog of War

98% on Rotten Tomatoes based on 138 reviews

Robert McNamara, former Secretary of Defense during the JFK and LBJ administrations, was one of the key figures in the Vietnam War. This documentary i… more

Robert McNamara, former Secretary of Defense during the JFK and LBJ administrations, was one of the key figures in the Vietnam War. This documentary is built around 20 hours of interviews and additional archival footage of Mr. Namara, who later became president of the World Bank and broadened his global influence.

Documentary

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Spellbound

98% on Rotten Tomatoes based on 137 reviews

This documentary follows eight children of various ages as they compete their ways through regional finals, with their eyes on going to the 1999 Scrip… more

This documentary follows eight children of various ages as they compete their ways through regional finals, with their eyes on going to the 1999 Scripps Howard National Spelling Bee in Washington, D.C., and hopefully, winning. Nine million kids try each year, but only 250 make it to the Nationals. The kids seen in this movie come from vastly different backgrounds, from families ranging from the affluent to the struggling (and some in-between).

Documentary

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The Man Without a Past

98% on Rotten Tomatoes based on 94 reviews

At the beginning of the film, a man (Markku Peltola) who has traveled to Helsinki in search of work gets mugged and loses his memory, forcing him to s… more

At the beginning of the film, a man (Markku Peltola) who has traveled to Helsinki in search of work gets mugged and loses his memory, forcing him to start completely anew. He soon discovers love (Kati Outinen), and a new set of values. A small story about people who still know how to be gentle.

Romance

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The Revolution Will Not Be Televised

98% on Rotten Tomatoes based on 48 reviews

On April 11th, 2002, Irish documentarians Kim Bartley and Donnacha O'Briain were in Venezuela, with the intention of making a movie about the nation's… more

On April 11th, 2002, Irish documentarians Kim Bartley and Donnacha O'Briain were in Venezuela, with the intention of making a movie about the nation's left-leaning (and Castro-inspired) democratic president, Hugo Chavez, whose support comes mostly from the country's impoverished, who make up 80% of the population (versus past leaders who were often supported by the country's big money minority, like the petroleum industry). Although they did accomplish that, the film took a seriously unexpected turn when the filmmakers found themselves in the heart of a coup d'etat, trapped in the president's palace as Chavez's right-wing oligarchic opposition overthrew the leader. Chavez was able to return to power within 48 hours, buoyed by public support, but this film captures those frightening moments and days in which a nation's political future was fought over using both bullets and manipulation of the media. Venezuela's television networks, all owned by oil companies except for the state channel which the coup brought down, reported distorted interpretations of the coup, as proven by this movie's footage, which was then picked up by international news organizations like CNN. This movie also addresses what the White House thought about this coup in the world's fifth largest producer of oil (providing 14% of the United States' petroleum).

Documentary

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Alien: The Director's Cut

97% on Rotten Tomatoes based on 100 reviews

A ship sent to investigate an SOS distress call encounters an alien that begins to kill the crew members one by one.

Sci-Fi

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Sweet Sixteen

97% on Rotten Tomatoes based on 87 reviews

Liam's mom, Jean, is in prison but is due to be released in time for his 16th birthday. This time Liam is determined that things will be different. He… more

Liam's mom, Jean, is in prison but is due to be released in time for his 16th birthday. This time Liam is determined that things will be different. He dreams of a family life he's never had, which means creating a safe haven beyond the reach of wasters like Jean's boyfriend Stan and his own mean-spirited grandfather. But first he's got to raise the cash - no mean feat for a skinny teenager. It's not long before Liam and his pals' crazy schemes lead them into all sorts of trouble. Finding himself dangerously out of his depth, Liam knows he should walk away. Only this time, he just can't let go.

Drama

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To Be and To Have

97% on Rotten Tomatoes based on 59 reviews

This documentary is an intimate portrayal of several months at a one-room elementary schoolhouse in a small village (Saint-Etienne Sur Usson) in rural… more

This documentary is an intimate portrayal of several months at a one-room elementary schoolhouse in a small village (Saint-Etienne Sur Usson) in rural France, where a single teacher, Georges Lopez, gives his small class of thirteen students, ages 3-10, the sort of attention that is dwindling in many other schools in France (and elsehwere), where crowded classrooms are the norm.

Documentary

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Raising Victor Vargas

96% on Rotten Tomatoes based on 107 reviews

Victor Vargas (Victor Rasuk), a 16-year-old Dominican boy growing up on New York's Lower East Side, finds his self-image as a burgeoning ladies man de… more

Victor Vargas (Victor Rasuk), a 16-year-old Dominican boy growing up on New York's Lower East Side, finds his self-image as a burgeoning ladies man deflated when the neighborhood finds out that he's dating an unpopular and overweight girl (Donna Maldonado) who lives two stories above his grandmother's apartment (where he lives, along with his brother and sister). So, he sets his sights on the most beautiful girl at the local swimming pool, "Juicy" Judy Rodriguez (Judy Marte).

Drama

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Open Hearts

96% on Rotten Tomatoes based on 56 reviews

A young engaged couple in Copenhagen, Cecille (Sonja Richter) and Joachim (Nikolaj Lie Kaas), finds their relationship changed forever when Joachim is… more

A young engaged couple in Copenhagen, Cecille (Sonja Richter) and Joachim (Nikolaj Lie Kaas), finds their relationship changed forever when Joachim is hit by a car and paralyzed. As Joachim's doctor, Niels (Mads Mikkelsen) consols Cecille, they grow closer and become romantically involved, which also threatens his marriage to Marie (Paprika Steen), who was secretly the person who actually hit Joachim to begin with.

Romance

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The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King

95% on Rotten Tomatoes based on 261 reviews

The third of the trilogy. As the shadow of Mordor grows across the land, Aragorn is revealed as the hidden heir to the ancient kings. Gandolf miraculo… more

The third of the trilogy. As the shadow of Mordor grows across the land, Aragorn is revealed as the hidden heir to the ancient kings. Gandolf miraculously returns and defeats the evil wizard, Saruman. Sam leaves his master for the dead after a battle with the giant spider, Shelob; but Frodo is still alive--in the hands of the Orcs. And while the armies of the Dark Lord are massing--and the one ring comes ever closer to the Cracks of Doom.

Sci-Fi

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Lost in Translation

95% on Rotten Tomatoes based on 222 reviews

The second feature film from writer-director Sofia Coppola ("The Virgin Suicides") is set in Tokyo, where two bored Americans — a fading TV… more

The second feature film from writer-director Sofia Coppola ("The Virgin Suicides") is set in Tokyo, where two bored Americans — a fading TV star (Bill Murray) shooting an alcohol ad and a young married woman (Scarlett Johansson) with an ambitious, neglectful husband — become fast friends after meeting in a hotel bar. The two then spend an adventure-filled weekend together "finding themselves."

Drama

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The Station Agent

95% on Rotten Tomatoes based on 153 reviews

When his only friend and co-worker dies, a young man born with dwarfism moves to an abandoned train depot in rural New Jersey. Though he tried to main… more

When his only friend and co-worker dies, a young man born with dwarfism moves to an abandoned train depot in rural New Jersey. Though he tried to maintain a life of solitude, he is soon entangled with an artist who is struggling with a personal tragedy and an overly-friendly Cuban hot dog vendor.

Comedy

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American Splendor

94% on Rotten Tomatoes based on 181 reviews

The plot is based on the true story of Harvey Pekar (Paul Giamatti), a Cleveland Hospital file clerk who writes comic books about his life and experie… more

The plot is based on the true story of Harvey Pekar (Paul Giamatti), a Cleveland Hospital file clerk who writes comic books about his life and experiences in his free time.

Drama

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View the worst reviewed movies of 2003