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And the Oscar nominees are...

Posted Tuesday, January 27, 2004 at 9:14 AM Central

by John Couture

Early this morning in Los Angeles, actress Sigourney Weaver gave life to movies thought to be flatlining and killed movies with "Oscar potential" when she announced the nominees for the 76th Annual Academy Awards. One film that stood above the rest was The Lord Of The Rings: The Return Of The King, which led all films with 11 nominations and not a single acting nod in the mix.

One film saved from life support would appear to be Russell Crowe's Master And Commander which grabbed a second best 10 Oscar nominations. While Crowe did not receive his third acting nomination for his role, the movie will compete head-to-head with The Return Of The King in most of the technical categories and the big one, Best Picture.

Speaking of "big" ones. Tim Burton's Big Fish appears to be as dead as a fish out of water after its Oscar snub. Having garnered 4 Golden Globe nominations, it was a darkhorse favorite in several Oscar categories. Big Fish did manage one nomination for Best Music - Score.

Suprises came fast and furious from the get go. Young Keisha Castle-Hughes stole a nod away from Nicole Kidman in the Best Actress category for her role in Whale Rider. Nicole's ex Tom Cruise can pack up his tux as well as he was passed over for Best Actor for his role in The Last Samurai by comic turns from Johnny Depp and Bill Murray.

The expected showdown between The Return Of The King and Lost In Translation did pop up in two key categories, Best Director and Best Picture, but Lost In Translation ended up with only a disappointing four nominations. However, Sofia Coppola became the first American woman and only the third woman overall to be nominated for the Best Director award.

The biggest unexpected winner would probably be Mystic River. Its six nominations are all in the high profile categories and it comes in with momentum after securing two Golden Globe acting wins for Sean Penn and Tim Robbins.

The stage is set. The nominations are for your consideration. And the glamour and glitz will kick off on Feburary 29th when the winners will be announced. Until then, happy movie watching!

A list of the top award nominees: Best Picture The Lord Of The Rings: The Return Of The King Lost In Translation Master And Commander Mystic River Seabiscuit

Best Actor Johnny Depp, Pirates Of The Caribbean Ben Kingsley, House Of Sand And Fog Jude Law, Cold Mountain Bill Murray, Lost In Translation Sean Penn, Mystic River

Best Actress Keisha Castle-Hughes, Whale Rider Diane Keaton, Something's Gotta Give Samantha Morton, In America Charlize Theron, Monster Naomi Watts, 21 Grams

Best Supporting Actor Alec Baldwin, The Cooler Benicio Del Toro, 21 Grams Djimon Hounsou, In America Tim Robbins, Mystic River Ken Watanabe, The Last Samurai

Best Supporting Actress Shohreh Aghdashloo, House Of Sand And Fog Patricia Clarkson, Pieces Of April Marcia Gay Harden, Mystic River Holly Hunter, Thirteen Renee Zellweger, Cold Mountain

Best Director Fernando Meirelles, City Of God Peter Jackson, The Lord Of The Rings: The Return Of The King Sofia Coppola, Lost In Translation Peter Weir, Master And Commander Clint Eastwood, Mystic River

Best Original Screenplay Denys Arcand, The Barbarian Invasions Steven Knight, Dirty Pretty Things Andrew Stanton, Bob Peterson, David Reynolds, Finding Nemo Jim Sheridan, Naomi Sheridan, Kirsten Sheridan, In America Sofia Coppola, Lost In Translation

Best Adapted Screenplay Robert Pulcini, Shari Springer Berman, American Splendor Braulio Mantovani, City Of God Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens, Peter Jackson, The Lord Of The Rings: The Return Of The King Brian Helgeland, Mystic River Gary Ross, Seabiscuit

Best Animated Feature Film Brother Bear Finding Nemo The Triplets Of Belleville