March 3, 2004  
Volume 97, Issue 79  

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LOTR sweeps the Oscars

By Mark Polishuk
Gazette Staff

Leave it to a Canadian to perfectly sum up Oscar night 2004.

Denise Robert, co-producer of the Best Foreign Film winner The Barbarian Invasions, breathlessly proclaimed her thankfulness that Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King wasn’t eligible in their category.

Robert’s line got a big laugh from the Oscar audience, who by that time was becoming numb to LOTR’s dominance. The film made Oscar history with its 11 wins, by tying Ben-Hur and Titanic for the record of most Academy Awards. LOTR went an amazing 11-for-11, thus topping the standard for perfection set by past Best Picture winners Gigi and The Last Emperor (both of which went nine-for-nine).

Despite the unusual and surprising nominees the Academy chose this year, it ended up being an utterly predictable night. For all the Hollywood buzz around Johnny Depp or Keisha Castle-Hughes pulling off an upset in the Best Actor and Actress races, it ended up being long-predicted favourites Sean Penn and Charlize Theron who took home the Oscars.

The 13-year-old Castle-Hughes did at least get to meet Depp, whom she described as a “stud” during the pre-Oscar telecast, and thus became the envy of every woman in The Gazette office. At least Castle-Hughes didn’t want to meet R. Kelly or an unfortunate situation might’ve developed.

The predictability of the Oscars might have been off-putting were it not for the fact that just about all the winners were entirely deserving. I’m not one of those Tolkien fanboys who dress like Gandalf and go see the movies 14 times each, but you have to be impressed with the awesome amount of effort that went into making the LOTR trilogy.

Some of the film’s wins were probably more a case of “let’s award the whole trilogy” instead of Return of the King itself, but it’s hard to argue that any film this year (or perhaps in any year) matched the Lord of the Rings trilogy for sheer technical wizardry.

The only awards I had problems with were two LOTR wins: Best Adapted Screenplay (the script was not the strong point of that movie) and that Annie Lennox’s tuneless drivel being named Best Song. Lennox could have used Dave Stewart’s help on this one. Also not helping was the fact Annie apparently couldn’t decide if she wanted to dress like a man or a woman and ended up looking like a cross between Julie Andrews and Gollum.

Billy Crystal was back for another run as host, and did generally well with his patented musical opening aside from a Seabiscuit spoof song that ended up being about Pete Rose and lasted FOREVER. As good as Crystal was, however, there was an unmistakable feeling of same old, same old.

If the Academy wanted to shake up the Crystal/Steve Martin/Whoopi Goldberg hosting carousel, they’d get Will Ferrell or Jack Black to host next year’s ceremony. Ferrell and Black had the funniest bit of the night, adding their own lyrics to the “get off the stage” music that cues winners to finish their speeches. It even got a laugh from Sean Connery.

But in summation, the legacy of this year’s Oscar night is that now fantasy fans will have to find some other sci-fi/adventure franchise to get behind. When does Spider-Man 2 come out?

5. Liv Tyler
4. Robin Wright-Penn
3. Jennifer Garner
2. Diane Lane
1. Naomi Watts

5. Samantha Morton: Her dress was patterned after my bathroom wallpaper
4. Oprah Winfrey: Aah, look out! Oprah’s giant collar will devour us all! Flee!
3. Diane Keaton: She came dressed as Charlie Chaplin. The only person allowed to do this is Maria from Sesame Street.
2. Uma Thurman: It takes a lot to make Uma look unattractive but a deranged milkmaid’s outfit will do the trick.
1. Joan and Melissa Rivers: What gives these two the right to criticize others’ clothes?



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