The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has, for the
76th time, issued its verdict on the year’s finest films and
cinematic achievements. As always, the field was diverse,
showcasing mega-studio blockbusters, overachieving independent
triumphs and everything in-between.

Some winners were expected, others were astonishing surprises,
including Annie Lennox’s undeserving Oscar for Best Original
Song; in any case, certain films that competed for the golden
statuettes were certainly bred for stardom. Yet the final trip to
Middle Earth stood tall over its competition, steamrolling
everything in its path.

Billy Crystal returned to host the festivities and started
things off with one of his trademark skits. The mock trailer,
running through the major films of the year and highlighted by a
Michael Moore cameo, signaled the return to form for the sagging
awards show. Further continuing the Crystal tradition, he sang
about the nominees in his monologue and provided witty commentary
throughout the evening.

Tim Robbins began the evening as the first major winner, picking
up hardware for Best Supporting Actor for his work in “Mystic
River.” Robbins’s victory signaled a trend that would
continue for the rest of the night, actors winning for their bodies
of work, not just the film up for the award. Renée
Zellweger’s subsequent win confirmed the theory, as her
performance in “Cold Mountain” didn’t garner
nearly as much critical acclaim as her work in
“Chicago.”

A heartfelt tribute to funnyman and perennial Academy Awards
host Bob Hope played to the crowd. Later, Oscar paid tribute to
director Blake Edwards with an honorary statuette for his films,
which includes such classics as “The Pink Panther” and
“Breakfast at Tiffany’s.” He accepted the award
in comedic, yet emotional fashion, leaving the audience in wait.
Continuing with tributes for the night, the late Katherine Hepburn
received a video package highlighting her body of work. Finally,
Gregory Peck received a posthumous tribute, showcasing his vast
talents with clips from his movies.

One of the most deserving recipients of night, Sofia Coppola,
found Oscar gold for her beautiful screenplay for “Lost in
Translation.” Unfortunately, however, it would be the only
award her near-masterpiece would win.

Best Actress went to Charlize Theron, the expected frontrunner,
for her portrayal of a lesbian serial killer in
“Monster.” However, the competition for Best Actor
remained uncertain until Nicole Kidman opened the envelope. Sean
Penn won for his performance in “Mystic River,” but as
was the theme of the night, it is yet another rewarding of career
achievement.

As predicted, “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the
King” was the big winner. Peter Jackson finally stood
victorious, picking up awards for Best Picture and Director among
others. Having received 11 nominations, “Return of the
King” made it a clean sweep. After two failed attempts to
pick up the big prizes, the trilogy was rewarded for its collective
effort in addition to the individual achievement of the third
picture.

 

And the winner is …

  • Best Picture — “The Lord of the Rings: The Return
    of the King”
  • Best Director — Peter Jackson, “The Lord of the
    Rings: The Return of the King”
  • Best Actor — Senn Penn, “Mystic River”
  • Best Actress — Charlize Theron,
    “Monster”
  • Best Supporting Actor — Tim Robbins, “Mystic
    River”
  • Best Supporting Actress — Renée Zellweger,
    “Cold Mountain”

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