Saturday, February 16, 2008

76th Academy Awards

The 76th Academy Awards, honoring the best in film for 2003, were held on February 29, 2004 (the first ceremony in 62 years to occur at a different date rather than its longtime March or April date) at the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood, California. They were hosted by comedian Billy Crystal. The big contenders for the 76th Academy Awards (for the best achievement in film in 2003) included The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King and Lost in Translation, and in the highly competitive Best Actor category, strong work from Johnny Depp, Sean Penn and Jude Law.

The Lord of the Rings: The 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 beat the previous record of Gigi and The Last Emperor for the largest sweep of every nominated category, both of which had achieved nine-for-nine. The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King is an epic fantasy film directed by Peter Jackson. It is primarily based on the third volume of J. R. R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings (but also includes material from the second volume), and it is the concluding film in The Lord of the Rings film trilogy. It follows The Fellowship of the Ring and The Two Towers and was filmed simultaneously with them. As Sauron launches the final stages of his conquest of Middle-earth, Gandalf the Wizard and Théoden King of Rohan step up their forces to help defend Gondor's capital Minas Tirith from this threat. Aragorn must finally take up the throne of Gondor and summons an army of ghosts to help him defeat Sauron. Ultimately, even with full strength of arms, they find they cannot win; it comes down to the Hobbits Frodo and Sam, who themselves face the burden of the Ring and the treachery of Gollum, to finally destroy the One Ring in Mordor. Released on December 17, 2003, The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King became one of the most critically acclaimed films and greatest box-office successes of all time. It swept all eleven Academy Awards it was nominated for, which ties it with only Titanic and Ben-Hur for most Academy Awards ever won. It also won the Academy Award for Best Picture, the only time in history a fantasy film has done so. It also became the second highest grossing movie worldwide of all time behind Titanic, unadjusted for inflation and the most successful film in the series.

Peter Jackson is an Academy Award-winning New Zealand filmmaker best known as the director of The Lord of the Rings trilogy, which he, along with Fran Walsh, his long time partner, and Philippa Boyens, adapted from the novels by J. R. R. Tolkien. He is also known for his 2005 remake of King Kong. Jackson first gained attention with his "splatstick" horror comedies, and came to prominence with success and critical acclaim for Heavenly Creatures, for which he shared an Academy Award nomination for Best Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen with Walsh. Jackson's eldest son Billy (born 1995), has had cameo appearances in every one of his parents' films since his birth, namely The Frighteners (1996), The Lord of the Rings film trilogy, and King Kong. His daughter Katie (born 1996) appeared in all the above films, except The Frighteners.

Sean Penn
is an Academy Award-winning American film actor and director, known for playing intense and unsympathetic characters. He was awarded an Oscar for Best Actor for his performance in Mystic River. Penn has also been nominated for three other Academy Awards in recognition of his roles in I Am Sam, Sweet and Lowdown and Dead Man Walking. Penn launched his career with the 1981 film Taps, followed a year later with the comedy Fast Times at Ridgemont High in the role of Jeff Spicoli and has since starred in over forty movies. In 1985, Penn gave a memorable performance in the role of Andrew Daulton Lee in The Falcon and the Snowman. Lee was a former drug dealer by trade, convicted of espionage for the Soviet Union and was originally sentenced to life in prison. Penn's personal life began to attract media attention when he married pop star Madonna in 1985. The relationship was marred by violent outbursts against the press,Penn and Madonna divorced in 1989. He soon began a relationship with Robin Wright, and their first child, Dylan Frances, was born in 1991. Their second child, Hopper Jack, was born in 1993. Penn and Wright married in 1996 and live in Ross, California. On December 27, 2007, the couple's representative announced that the Penns were divorcing.

Charlize Theron is a South African actress and former fashion model with American citizenship. She is well-known for her portrayal of the serial killing le
sbian Aileen Wuornos in the film Monster, for which she won an Academy Award. She was cast in her first film part, a non-speaking role in the direct-to-video film Children of the Corn III. Larger roles in widely released Hollywood films followed, and her career skyrocketed in the late 1990s with box office successes like The Devil's Advocate (1997), Mighty Joe Young (1998), and The Cider House Rules. After appearing in a few notable films, Theron starred as the lesbian serial killer Aileen Wuornos in Monster (2003). For this role, Theron won the Best Actress Oscar at the 76th Academy Awards in February 2004, as well as the SAG Award and the Golden Globe Award. She is the first South African to win an Oscar for Best Actress. Theron now resides in Los Angeles in the home of late 1930's actress Helen Twelvetrees, with her long-time boyfriend Stuart Townsend, with whom she starred in the 2004 film Head in the Clouds, as well as in the 2002 film Trapped.

Tim Robbins is an Academy Award-winning American actor, screenwriter, director, producer, activist, and musi
cian. He is the longtime partner of actress Susan Sarandon, with whom he shares liberal political views. He received critical acclaim and won the Best Actor Award at Cannes for his starring role as an amoral movie executive in Robert Altman's 1992 film The Player. He made his directorial and screenwriting debut with 1992's Bob Roberts, a mockumentary about a right-wing senatorial candidate. Robbins then starred alongside Morgan Freeman in the critically acclaimed The Shawshank Redemption (1994), which was based on Stephen King's short story. Robbins has written, produced, and directed several films with strong social content, such as the critically acclaimed capital punishment saga Dead Man Walking (1995), starring Sarandon and Sean Penn. The film earned him a Oscar nomination for Best Director. His next directorial effort was 1999's Depression-era musical Cradle Will Rock. Robbins has also appeared in mainstream Hollywood thrillers, such as 1999's Arlington Road (as a terrorist) and 2001's Antitrust (as a malicious computer tycoon). Robbins has also acted in and directed several Actors' Gang theater productions. Robbins won the Best Supporting Actor Oscar and the SAG Award for his work in Mystic River (2003), as a man traumatized from having been molested as a child.

Renée Zellweger is an American actress who has won an Academy Award and established herself as one of the highest-paid female Hollywood actors in recent years. While still in Texas, Zellweger appeared in several films. In 1993, she made a brief appearance in the comedy-drama film Dazed and Confused, then had a minor role in ABC TV mini series named Murder in the Heartland. The following year, she appeared in Reality Bites, the directorial debut of Ben Stiller and the biopic film 8 Seconds, directed by John G. Avildsen. Zellweger's first main part in a movie came with the 1994 horror movie Return of the Texas Chainsa
w Massacre, in which she acted alongside Matthew McConaughey. She played Jenny, a teenager who leaves a prom early with three friends and ended up getting into a car accident, which leads to their meeting a murderous family. In her next movie was Love and a .45, in which she played the role of Starlene Cheatham, a woman who plans a robbery with her boyfriend. The performance earned her an Independent Spirit Award for Best Debut Performance. She subsequently moved to Los Angeles to pursue a career in acting, winning roles in the films Empire Records, The Whole Wide World. Zellweger first became widely known to audiences around the world with her role in 1996's Jerry Maguire, where she played the romantic interest of Tom Cruise's character. She won the role over Mira Sorvino and Marisa Tomei. Since then, Zellweger has won acclaim in roles such as One True Thing opposite William Hurt and Meryl Streep, and in Neil LaBute's Nurse Betty opposite Morgan Freeman. The role garnered the actress her first of three Golden Globe Awards. In 2001, Zellweger gained the prized lead role as Bridget Jones, playing alongside Hugh Grant and Colin Firth, in the British romantic comedy film Bridget Jones's Diary, a film that is based on the 1996 novel Bridget Jones's Diary by Helen Fielding, amid much controversy since she was neither British nor overweight. As a result of her considerable efforts to effect author Helen Fielding's character, Zellweger caught the attention of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, and received her first Best Actress Academy Award nomination. In 2002, she starred with Michelle Pfeiffer in White Oleander and in Rob Marshall's Academy Award for Best Picture winning film Chicago opposite Catherine Zeta Jones, Richard Gere, Queen Latifah, and John C. Reilly. Zellweger earned her second Academy Award nomination as Best Actress, as well as the Screen Actors Guild and Golden Globe Award. In 2004, Zellweger finally received an Academy Award, this time as Best Supporting Actress in Anthony Minghella's Cold Mountain opposite Jude Law and Nicole Kidman. Zellweger has since starred in the sequel to Bridget Jones' Diary in Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason, lent her voice to the DreamWorks animated features Shark Tale and Bee Movie, and starred in the 2005 Ron Howard film Cinderella Man opposite Russell Crowe and Paul Giamatti. On May 9, 2005, Zellweger married singer Kenny Chesney in a ceremony at the island of St. John. They had met in January at a tsunami relief benefit concert. On September 15, 2005, after only four months of marriage, they announced their plans for an annulment. The annulment was finalized in late December 2005.

The Barbarian Invasions is a French Canadian comedy/drama film directed by Denys Arcand. It is the sequel to Arcand's earlier award-winning film The Decline of the American Empire and is followed by Days of Darkness. The film was produced by companies from both Canada and France, including Téléfilm Canada, Société Radio-Canada and Canal+. It was released in 2003 and won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film at the 76th Academy Awards in 2004.

"Into the West" is a song written by Fran Walsh, Howard Shore and Annie Lennox, and performed by Lennox herself during the closing credits of the movie The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King. It has also been recorded by New Zealand singers Hayley Westenra and Yulia Townsend. The song was conceived as a bittersweet Elvish lament sung by Galadriel for those who have sailed across the Sundering Sea. Several phrases from the song are taken from the last chapter of Return of the King. The song won the Oscar for Best Original Song at the 76th Academy Awards, one of the movie's 11 Academy Awards.

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