LOS ANGELES – The epic journey of a raggedy gang of humans, hobbits, wizards, dwarves and elves hoisted the fantasy genre to Oscar glory Sunday as “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King” won a record-tying 11 Oscars, sweeping every category in which it was nominated, including best picture.
The directing Oscar went to Peter Jackson, overlord of arguably the biggest undertaking in cinema history, the simultaneous filming of J.R.R. Tolkien’s Middle-earth trilogy: “The Fellowship of the Ring,” “The Two Towers” and “The Return of the King.”
Jackson, said he was “honored, touched and relieved” that the Academy finally honored a fantasy film.
“Return of the King” matched the record 11 wins of “Titanic” and “Ben-Hur” and became only the third movie to sweep every nominated category, following “Gigi” and “The Last Emperor,” which both went nine-for-nine.
“Wow,” Jackson told the Kodak Theatre audience from the stage where his film won all 11 categories in which it was nominated, including best picture. “You’re giving us an incredibly overwhelming night.”
Before he left the stage, he recalled how he began making films as a little boy, and in a touching moment he thanked his parents, both of whom died before they could see his Oscar triumph.
Members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences seemed to take a wait-and-see approach to the “Lord of the Rings” project, holding off on major awards until the very end to recognize the overall accomplishment. Jackson was nominated for directing the first film in the series, “The Fellowship of the Ring,” but Academy voters passed him over last year for the follow-up, “The Two Towers.”
This time, he seemed like a lock from the get-go.
“Return of the King” also won for visual effects, makeup, art direction, costume design, sound, original score, film editing, adapted screenplay and best original song for “Into the West.”
“It’s been a long journey for us all, and it’s just an incredible high note to finish it on,” said Grant Major, an art-direction Oscar winner for “Return of the King.” “It’s been an amazing ride.”—MSNBC