Sunday, February 29, 2004

'Lord of the Rings' Sweeps Oscars

"The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King" swept to a record-tying 11 Academy Awards on Sunday, including best picture and director, becoming the first fantasy to win the top Oscar.

In the acting categories, all the winners took home their first Oscars: Charlize Theron won best actress for her performance as serial killer Aileen Wuornos in "Monster," and Sean Penn was named best actor for playing a vengeful ex-hoodlum who falls back on his criminal ways in "Mystic River."

Tim Robbins won the supporting-actor prize for his performance as an emotionally crippled murder suspect in "Mystic River," and Renee Zellweger took supporting actress as a hardy Confederate survivor in "Cold Mountain."

The $340 million blockbuster "Finding Nemo," the story of a clownfish on a mission to rescue his wayward son from a dentist's aquarium, earned the Oscar for animated feature.

Director Errol Morris'"The Fog of War" - a portrait of Robert McNamara, U.S. defense secretary for much of the Vietnam War - won the Oscar for feature-length documentary. Morris compared U.S. military action overseas today with the Vietnam era.

"Forty years ago, this country went down a rabbit hole in Vietnam - millions died," Morris said. "I fear we're going down the rabbit hole once again."

While "Return of the King" scooped up technical awards, it was shut out in the acting categories, [not even nominated] which the film's Oscar-winning costumer designers lamented backstage.

"It's a sad day they haven't been recognized, but they do know themselves they have done a beautiful performance that people will cherish for generations potentially," said Richard Taylor, who shared the costume-design Oscar with Ngila Dickson.

After the first two installments of the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy were shut out of major awards, "Return of the King" swept all 11 categories in which it was nominated. It matched the record 11 wins of "Titanic" and "Ben-Hur" and became only the third movie to sweep every nominated category, following "Gigi" and "The Last Emperor," which both went nine-for-nine.

I predicted this two years ago. The last would be best and Hollywood would be forced to acknowledge New Zealand.

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