'Rings' makes history with 11 Oscars

March 1, 2004 at 1:15 AM
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LOS ANGELES, March 1 (UPI) -- "The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King" took its place alongside "Ben-Hur" and "Titanic" as the biggest Oscar winners of all time at the 76th Academy Awards in Los Angeles Sunday.

Writer-director Peter Jackson's adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien's literary epic won 11 Oscars in all, taking the statuette in every category for which it was nominated. That tied the record for Oscars in one year, established by "Ben-Hur" in 1959 and matched by "Titanic" in 1997.

"The Return of the King" won for directing, adapted screenplay, score and original song. It also won for art direction, costume design, visual effects, makeup, sound mixing and film editing.

Speaking with reporters backstage, Jackson said the reason for the movie's success was simple.

"It obviously speaks to the fact that people enjoyed the movie that we made," Jackson said.

Sean Penn won the Best Actor Oscar for his performance as the grief-torn father of a murdered girl in Boston in "Mystic River" -- director Clint Eastwood's adaptation of Dennis Lehane's best-selling novel.

In his acceptance speech, Penn made one of the few references of the evening to the war in Iraq and the inability of inspectors to find weapons of mass destruction.

"If there's one thing that actors know -- other than that aren't WMDs," said Penn, "it's that there's no such thing as best in acting and that's proven by all these other actors I've been nominated with."

Charlize Theron won the Best Actress Oscar for her performance as a serial killer in "Monster." The glamorous Theron gained extra pounds and appeared onscreen with stringy hair and blotchy skin.

Tim Robbins won the Suporting Actor Oscar for "Mystic River" and Renée Zellweger won the Supporting Actress statuette for the Civil War drama "Cold Mountain."

"The Return of the King" so thoroughly dominated the proceedings that there were only two other multiple winners.

"Mystic River" took the two acting prizes for Penn and Robbins, and "Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World" won for cinematography and sound editing.

Sofia Coppola -- who this year became the first American woman to be nominated for the directing Oscar -- took the prize for Best Original Screenplay for "Lost in Translation."

"The Fog of War," an examination of America's experience in Vietnam, took the Oscar for Best Documentary Feature. A Canadian film, "The Barbarian Invasions," won for Best Foreign Language Film.

"Finding Nemo," the 2003 box-office champion from Pixar, won for Best Animated feature.

The 76th Academy Awards were presented in ceremonies at the Kodak Theater in Hollywood, hosted by comedian Billy Crystal and telecast live over ABC.

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