As expected, New Lines THE LORD OF THE RINGS: THE RETURN OF THE KING led the way with 11 Oscar nominations, including best picture, as the race for the 76th annual Academy Awards commenced at 5:30 am this morning. Director Peter Jacksons final RINGS installment, the odds-on-favorite to win the top prize (which would be a first for a vfx-laden fantasy), also scored noms for best visual effects, art direction, costume design, directing, film editing, makeup, original score, original song, sound mixing and adapted screenplay.
The epic ocean adventure MASTER AND COMMANDER: THE FAR SIDE OF THE WORLD finished second with 10 nominations, including outstanding picture. KING and COMMANDER were joined in the best picture category with underdog horseracing film SEABISCUIT, Clint Eastwood's moody thriller MYSTIC RIVER and Sofia Coppola's indie comedy LOST IN TRANSLATION.
No surprises for animated feature, with Disney/Pixars FINDING NEMO (directed by Andrew Stanton), Sony Pictures Classics THE TRIPLETS OF BELLEVILLE (directed by Sylvain Chomet) and Disneys BROTHER BEAR (directed by Aaron Blaise and Robert Walker). For those keeping track, that makes one CG, one traditional and one predominantly traditional.
The diverse field for best animated short includes Pixars BOUNDIN (directed by Bud Luckey), Disneys DESTINO, (directed by Dominique Monfrey, exec produced by Roy Disney and produced by Baker Bloodworth) Fox/Blue Skys GONE NUTTY (directed by Carlos Saldanha and John C. Donkin), Melodrama Pictures HARVIE KRUMPET (directed by Adam Elliot) and Acme Filmworks NIBBLES (directed by Chris Hinton and produced by Ron Diamond).
For this years best visual effects honors, RETURN OF THE KING will duke it out with those two seafaring pictures, Disneys PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: THE CURSE OF THE BLACK PEARL and Foxs MASTER AND COMMANDER: THE FAR SIDE OF THE WORLD. Kudos to Jim Rygiel, Joe Letteri, Randall William Cook and Alex Funke (KING); Dan Sudick, Stefan Fangmeier, Nathan McGuinness and Robert Stromberg (MASTER); and John Knoll, Hal Hickel, Charles Gibson and Terry Frazee (PIRATES).
Meanwhile, the highly touted indie, AMERICAN SPLENDOR (HBO Films in association with Fine Line Features), took an adapted screenplay nom for Robert Pulcini and Shari Springer Berman.
Overall, NEMO grabbed four noms, including a surprising original screenplay nod (Stanton, Bob Peterson and David Reynolds); original score (Thomas Newman); and sound editing (Gary Rydstrom and Michael Silvers). No animated film has ever won in the sound editing category.
TRIPLETS also garnered an original song nom (music by Benoit Charest and lyric by Chomet)
Find out more information about the animated nominees, watch clips of the shorts and vote for your favorites in AWN's annual Oscars Showcase!