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Best Director – Peter Jackson, “The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring”

Film: Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring

Previous wins for role: None

Previous Oscar wins/nominations:
Nominated for Best Original Screenplay (shared credit with Frances Walsh), Heavenly Creatures (1994)

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Bio: One of the more distinctive voices in the wave of New Zealand cinema that made such an impressive splash in the ’80s and ’90s, Jackson made his debut with the feature-length film Bad Taste (1988). He later received international critical acclaim–and an Academy Award nomination for Best Screenplay–for Heavenly Creatures (1994), a retelling of New Zealand’s most famous murder case that launched Kate Winslet’s career. His restless visual stylistics and surprising sympathy for those who commit violence lent depth to the story of two teenage girls whose intense friendship leads to matricide. Though relatively inexperienced, Jackson’s intriguing combination of the whimsical and fantastic on the one hand and the potently grim and downbeat on the other are well suited for a saga on the order of Lord of the Rings.

Oscar odds: Some believe Jackson is a genius, some just think he’s crazy, for taking on the monumental task of filming the three films chronicling J.R.R. Tolkein’s fantasy epic–all at the same time. The first installment of the Rings trilogy is a breathtaking piece of filmmaking, and making three movies at once couldn’t have been easy; Jackson deserves to be recognized, but the Academy typically has been reluctant to recognize fantasy films for more than their technical merit. Still, if Jackson doesn’t win this time, just wait until he gets nominated for the third and final Lord movie. The Academy may have to change its mind. —Kit Bowen

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