Story by: Jack Foley
AS MANY people predicted, the final Lord of the Rings film leads
the field at this years Oscar nominations, with nods in
no less than 11 categories.
The Return of the King
is up for best picture prize, as well as best director, for its
creator, Peter Jackson, and best adapted screenplay, best score
and best song, among others.
Its biggest challengers will be Clint Eastwoods psychological
murder thriller, Mystic River,
and Sofia Coppolas enticing Lost
in Translation, which have picked up a number of prestigious
wins en route to the showpiece event, as well as Master
and Commander: The Far Side of the World, which secured ten
nominations, and Cold Mountain,
Of these films, Cold Mountain missed out on a best film nomination,
which went to horse-racing drama, Seabiscuit,
instead, although it would require a feat every bit as spectacular
as the horses achievements itself, in winning the statuette,
with odds of 100-1.
Needless to say, Return of the King is the favourite, with Mystic
River offering odds of 3/1 and Lost in Translation at 5/1.
Rings helmer, Jackson, will compete against Eastwood, Coppola,
Peter Weir and Fernando Meirelles (City
of God) for the best director prize.
In the best actor category, British stars Sir Ben Kingsley and
Jude Law will compete against joint favourites, Sean Penn and
Bill Murray, as well as outsider, Johnny Depp, for the golden
statuette, while the womens category will see Golden Globe
winner, Charlize Theron, pitted against Diane Keaton, Naomi Watts,
Samantha Morton and, one the biggest surprises, 13-year-old Keisha
Incredibly, some big names have missed out, with Nicole Kidman
a notable absentee from the best actress category, despite critically-acclaimed
turns in Cold Mountain and Dogville.
Tom Cruise has also been snubbed in the best actor category,
for his performance in The Last
Samurai, even though his co-star, Ken Watanabe has landed
a nomination as best supporting actor.
Awards favourite, Russell Crowe, also missed out, for his turn
in Master and Commander.
The smart money will, of course, be on recent Golden Globe winners,
Murray and Penn, although Sir Ben Kingsley could be a strong outside
bet for his powerful turn in The
House of Sand and Fog.
Johnny Depp, while popular with audiences for his comic turn
in Pirates of the Caribbean,
will no doubt be disappointed on the night, despite single handedly
keeping the Summer blockbuster season afloat.
In the best actress category, Theron received recognition for
her performance as a real-life serial killer, in Monster,
and is viewed by many as the favourite, although Diane Keatons
Golden Globe winning turn in Somethings
Gotta Give, and Naomi Watts powerful performance, in
21 Grams, could well give her
a run for the money.
Thirteen-year-old Castle-Hughes received her nomination for highly-rated
New Zealand flick, Whale Rider,
a nomination which makes her the youngest person to be nominated
for best actress in the Academy Awards history.
In the supporting actress category, Renee Zellweger followed
her Golden Globe victory with a nomination, and will face off
against Marcia Gay Harden (for Mystic River), Iranian actress,
Shohreh Aghdashloo, (for House of Sand and Fog), Holly Hunter
(for Thirteen), and Patricia Clarkson
(for Pieces of April).
The best supporting actor category will be contested between
Benicio Del Toro (21 Grams), Alec Baldwin (The
Cooler), Djimon Hounsou (In
America), the aforementioned Ken Watanabe (The Last Samurai)
and Golden Globe winner, Tim Robbins (Mystic River), who probably
just about edges it as favourite, off the back of that recent
The nominations were announced on Tuesday (January 27, 2004)
by triple Oscar nominee, Sigourney Weaver, and the awards will
be handed out, in Hollywood, on February 29 - one month earlier
Last years big winners were hit musical, Chicago
(best picture), Adrien Brody (best actor, The
Pianist) and Nicole Kidman (best actress, The