A fantasy film has never won the Academy Award for best picture, but 2003 looks likely to set a precedent.
Favorite for best picture The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King topped the list of Academy Award nominations, following the film’s strong showing in Hollywood award season.
Nominations for the 76th Academy Awards were announced Tuesday, January 27, U.S. time, by Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences President Frank Pierson and Academy Award nominated actress Sigourney Weaver.
Pierson and Weaver announced ten of 24 categories at a 5:30 a.m. news conference attended by over 400 international media.
Associated Press reported that British bookmakers Ladbrokes said The Return of the King is hot favorite to scoop the best picture Oscar. Ladbrokes gave the film 1/3 odds of winning. The bookmaker is offering the same odds for New Zealand-born director Peter Jackson to win the best director award.
The first two films, The Fellowship of the Ring and The Two Towers, won seven Oscars between them, but never the best picture or director award.
Two days before the nominations were announced, The Return of the King scooped the Golden Globes Awards.
The Globes are organised by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association and is traditionally seen as an indicator to who will go on to win Academy Awards.
The film won best picture-drama, best director for Jackson, and best song and musical score at the Globes.
Over the last two months, The Return of the King has picked up critical recognition for Jackson and the ensemble cast. The film has been named the best film of the year on critic’s top ten lists.
The British have also recognized the film by nominating it in 12 categories at the BAFTA’s. Winners will be announced in February.
The Lord of the Rings films have earned $US 2.6 billion at the box office worldwide. The Return of the King has almost reached $US 1 billion.
The Academy Awards are the U.S. film industry’s top honors and will be given out in a gala ceremony from Los Angeles on Feb. 29.
[First published in Challenge Weekly, 2004]