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Rings on a roll

Culture

Issue: "Reagan: Providential president," Feb. 7, 2004

Five years after beginning production on his epic interpretation of J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings trilogy, director Peter Jackson and the small army of writers, actors, and other craftsmen who helped bring this vision to the screen may finally be able to breathe easy. The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King won the Golden Globe award for Best Picture-Drama on Jan. 26 and, two days later, received 11 Academy Award nominations, including Best Picture.

Those who suspected that awards-show voters would wait to honor the trilogy until the last segment may have been correct. With these latest nominations, the Rings films have become the most-nominated trilogy in Academy Awards history (with a total of 30).

The triumph of Tolkien isn't the only story out of this year's Hollywood awards season. The Oscar nominations for 2003 recognize an unusually large number of films with both real merit and solid entertainment appeal, such as Pixar's Finding Nemo (Best Animated Feature) and Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World (10 nominations, including Best Picture). Even some of the more offbeat films recognized this year (such as In America's three nominations) tend more toward the inspirational rather than the cynical.

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But the Golden Globes remind us that for every rousing win by a film like Braveheart, the industry will turn around and recognize something putrid like American Beauty. At the Globes, which also give awards to the television industry, the second-biggest film of the night was HBO's Angels in America, a sordid tale of AIDS in the '80s. Angels won five awards and was among a number of nominated TV movies that dealt with homosexuality and/or "transgender" relationships.

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