"Lord of the Rings" Wins 11 Oscars

Sofia Coppola's Oscar victory for original screenplay for "Lost in Translation" made her family the second clan of three-generation Oscar winners, joining Walter, John and Anjelica Huston. Her father is five-time Oscar winner Francis Ford Coppola, who was an executive producer on "Lost in Translation." Her grandfather, Carmine Coppola, won for musical score on "The Godfather Part II."

"Thank you to my dad for everything he taught me," Coppola said. "Thank you to my brother Roman and all my friends who were there for me when I was stuck at 12 pages and encouraged me to keep writing."

Only a handful of fantasy films have been nominated for the top Oscar — "The Fellowship of the Ring" and "The Two Towers" among them — but none had won until now.

At best the genre was viewed as high camp, not the stuff of Oscars, which usually go to grand dramas with their feet firmly planted in recognizable reality.

The people behind "The Lord of the Rings" changed that, approaching Tolkien's mythical realm with dead seriousness. Jackson sought three-dimensional humanity all around — compassion, nobility and self-doubt in heroic hobbit Frodo (Elijah Wood), wizard Gandalf (Ian McKellen) and human Aragorn (Viggo Mortensen), covetousness and Shakespearean malice in villains Saruman (Christopher Lee) and Gollum (a computer-generated creature voiced by Andy Serkis).

Audiences received Jackson's fantastical creation with equal seriousness, with global ticket sales of $2.8 billion for the three films. "Return of the King" has topped $1 billion alone, the No. 2 box-office draw behind Titanic at $1.8 billion.

Crystal Cracks Aramaic Joke

Jackson labored for seven years to adapt Tolkien's trilogy — first persuading Hollywood bankers to stake him to the tune of $300 million, then marshaling a cast and crew of 2,000 to shoot the three films and land them in theaters just a year apart.

The result was a 9½-hour saga — more than 11 hours once all three extended home-video versions are available — that seamlessly blended live action and computer animation. Real actors credibly shared the screen with flying beasts, hulking trolls, and walking, talking "tree shepherds."

Other "Return of the King" winners included composer Howard Shore, who took his second Oscar for writing "Lord of the Rings" music, having won two years ago on Part 1 of the saga, "The Fellowship of the Ring."

"Into the West," the wistful tune of farewell from "Return of the King," won the best-song Oscar. The song was written by Fran Walsh, the film's co-screenwriter; Howard Shore, its music composer; and Annie Lennox, who sings the tune.

The Oscars returned to full-glamour mode after two years in which Hollywood's prom night was muted by world events — the aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks and the Iraq war in 2003.

With the passage of time, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences figured it was safe to make merry again for the 76th annual Oscars.

Billy Crystal, returning as host for the first time in four years, opened with his usual montage of nominees, having himself inserted into spoofs of key Oscar contenders, including Diane Keaton's screeching nude scene in "Something's Gotta Give."

He joked that for the first time, the show was being simulcast in Aramaic, a poke at "The Passion of the Christ," Mel Gibson's divisive religious film that took in $117.5 million in its first five days. The movie was done in Aramaic and Latin, with English subtitles.

With all the awards for "Return of the King," produced in New Zealand, Crystal joked: "It's now official. There is nobody left in New Zealand to thank."

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