Oscars rewind — 2004: Three trophies for three writers of a third film

Adapting the epic tale of J.R.R. Tolkien’s “The Lord of the Rings” was an enormous undertaking and in the end it took three movies to tell — and three screenwriters to bring it to life. And on Feb. 29, 2004, three adapted screenplay Oscars were handed out to the writing team trio behind the final installment in the megahit series, “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King”: Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens and director Peter Jackson.

All three earned their first writing Oscars that night, though for Jackson and Walsh (his longtime life-work partner), those weren’t the only awards they would take home. “Return of the King” was a juggernaut that evening, ultimately winning 11 awards, a feat that tied it with “Ben Hur” (1959) and “Titanic” (1997). It was likely a satisfying way to cap more than six years devoted to creating the franchise and finally go beyond the nomination phase: Jackson, Walsh and Boyens had also been nominated in 2002 for writing the first film of the series, “The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring.”

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Oscars rewind — 2004: Sofia Coppola follows in Dad’s footsteps

For winners and nominees at the 76th annual Academy Awards, the original screenplay category was a true family affair. Not only did a win for Sofia Coppola — who earned her first Oscar that night for writing “Lost in Translation” — make her the third-generation Coppola to take home an Academy Award — but the writers of the nominated “In America” included a father and two of his two daughters.

Coppola, the daughter of five-time winner Francis Ford Coppola and granddaughter of Carmine Coppola (who won his Oscar for original score in 1975 for “The Godfather Part II” with Nino Rota), was attached to her family filmmaking business from infancy. She’d appeared as a baby in her father’s “The Godfather” (1972), was in “The Godfather II” as an immigrant child, and had a more substantial role in 1990’s “The Godfather Part III,” a performance that earned her few fans. Earning her Oscar for writing her second feature (Coppola also directed) on the Feb. 29 show, then, must have felt particularly sweet.

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Here’s what you didn’t see in these four Oscar-nominated films

We all know what goes into a film — after all, once you’ve watched a movie, you know exactly what scenes made the final cut. But what we often don’t know is what doesn’t go into any given movie. Sometimes cuts are made to a film when there’s just too much of a good thing, sometimes it’s a repetition of an emotional beat, sometimes it’s a tone that doesn’t play well — and sometimes it’s just a matter of trimming and shaping. The Envelope spoke with producers and directors from four films nominated for best picture and discovered what ended up on their cutting room floors.

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Oscars rewind — 2004: The reign of the fiery documentarian continues

Documentary films and their directors are not generally known for their star wattage. Most Academy Award-winning directors rise up with a unique take on their subject, and just as quickly step away from the limelight. But something shifted in the early 2000s: Michael Moore won in 2003 for “Bowling for Columbine” (and accepted the award with a firebrand speech) — and in 2004, it happened again as veteran innovator Errol Morris earned his first Oscar nomination and first win, for “The Fog of War.”

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Oscars Rewind — 2004: The final prize of the night completes one film’s sweep

It’s funny how a streak can work at the Academy Awards. Sheer volume of nominations is no guarantee of a sweep — two of the most-nominated films ever, “All About Eve” (1950) and “La La Land” (2016) each won six Oscars out of 14 nominations, whereas “Titanic” (1997) won 11 of its 14 noms. (Though for a second in 2017, it seemed like “La La Land” might have earned a seventh Oscar, until it was announced there had been a mistake and “Moonlight” was revealed as the actual best picture winner.)

But you can’t earn 11 Academy Awards without first being nominated for that many — and only one film has ever won all 11 of its total nominations. That happened on Feb. 29, 2004, at the 76th Academy Awards at the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood, when “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King,” picked up its 11th Oscar of the evening as the best picture winner.

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Oscars rewind — 2004: Peter Jackson pulls off a hat trick

If you want a preview of what’s likely to win best picture in any given year at the Academy Awards, just make sure you’re around for the announcement of the director category’s winner. Although this isn’t a guarantee of success, in the case of the 76th Academy Awards on Feb. 29, 2004, at the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood, it was a perfect bellwether: Peter Jackson earned the Oscar for directing “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King.”

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The Envy Awards: Honoring those offbeat, off-kilter and off-putting screen moments

The 96th Academy Awards, to be held March 10 at the Dolby Theater in Hollywood, promises prizes to worthy recipients in nearly two dozen categories. But as we’ve noticed here at The Envelope over the years, not every award-worthy performance, notable trend or jaw-dropping sequence gets its proper due. That’s why we make a point of noting some of the greatest, the grossest, and the most gobsmackingly awesome movies, scenes and performers who absolutely deserve a very special statuette of their own (even if it is only virtual). Here, we present the 2024 Envy Awards!

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Quiet, often subtle moments could be the key to winning the Oscar for these actors

Boiling down an entire performance to one important, key scene for an actor is no easy task. Audiences might expect it’s a bombastic speech or a tearful moment of heartbreak or a rageful tantrum. But when The Envelope spoke to some of the producers and directors behind the scenes of the movies that this year generated the lead actor/lead actress Oscar nominations, it was about the small moments: a discussion over a picnic lunch; a 17-second held expression of bewilderment; the surprising reassurance of a teacher. Here a look at those key moments, two of which could lead to an Academy Award come March 10.

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Oscars rewind — 2004: Charlize Theron wins on her first try

It might seem that all of the milestones have already been achieved in Academy Awards history, but as the 76th ceremony kicked off on Feb. 29, 2004, at the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood, there was at least one more to be set.

That was thanks to Charlize Theron, who on her first Oscar nomination won the lead actress award for her portrayal of a serial killer in “Monster.” Although she wasn’t the first South African ever nominated in an Oscar category, she was the first actor from that country to earn an Oscar. Theron strode up to the stage wearing a dress made by Tom Ford for Gucci, and accessories that included Chopard earrings valued at $25,000. (Presumably she left her Lana Marks purse, worth $50,000, in the hands of her date, actor and then-boyfriend Stuart Townsend.)

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Michael Jackson, Beyoncé: Choreographer Fatima Robinson gets them moving and shaking

You might not know Fatima Robinson by name — but you certainly know her moves. The veteran dancer/choreographer — most recently tapped for the musical “The Color Purple” — broke big at age 21 by arranging dances for Michael Jackson in his 1991 “Remember the Time” video. She’s since worked with Beyoncé, on the Academy Awards, such TV shows as “black-ish” and “American Idol,” and the 2022 Super Bowl. And this year, she joined the film academy as one of the very few choreographers admitted. Robinson is fast on her feet but slowed down for a moment to talk with The Envelope about dancing in clubs, the unexpected assist from Aaliyah in landing her the “Color Purple” job, and why dancing is her direct line to God.

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