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Best Picture – “The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring”

Produced by: Peter Jackson, Barrie M. Osborne, Fran Walsh

Previous best film wins: AFI Movie of the Year

The story: In a mythic, ancient world of sorcerers and ogres, a desperate battle against encroaching evil unfolds as the Dark Lord Sauron embarks on a violent search for a long-lost magic ring that will give him power over the all the races of Middle-earth. A timid young hobbit named Frodo, who inherited the ring from his uncle, is saddled with the perilous mission of destroying it before the Dark Lord gets hold of it and misuses it for world domination. Under the guidance of the wizard Gandalf, Frodo’s fellowship of four hobbits (including himself), an elf, a dwarf and two humans undertakes a dangerous journey to the volcanic fires of the Crack of Doom, the only place where the magic ring can be destroyed forever.

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Oscar odds: Lord of the Rings certainly reigned over the competition this year, with a whopping 13 nominations (only the seventh film in Oscar history to earn that many, putting it right behind record-setters Titanic and All About Eve). Oddly, though, these nominations are in more technical categories such as art direction, cinematography and special effects–only Ian McKellen was nominated in an acting category. Problem is, no matter how great this film looked or what terrific performances its actors turned in, Lord is a fantasy, which makes it an underdog in the best film category–like it or not. The Academy is typically old-school in its thinking; while its members may have appreciated Lord enough to nominate it, they typically make the safe choice and reward a real-life drama. A perfect example is 1977’s Star Wars, an Oscar-worthy sci-fi fantasy if ever there was one, which received 10 nominations, including Best Picture, but only won in more technical categories and lost Best Picture to Annie Hall. Lord deservedly stands to sweep the cinematography/art direction/effects categories but will likely be shut out of Best Picture. —Stacie Hougland

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