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Lord of the Rings

March 1, 2004

ROTK Sweeps Oscars. 11 Out of 11. Army of Little Golden Men Invades Parties.

By all accounts, it was going to be "their year". But with a tidal wave of eleven awards won out of eleven nominations, nobody could help but be swept away by the excitement and adulation that made Lord of the Rings: The Return of the the King the one film to rule them all.

For the record, the wins were for visual effects, sound, song (for "Into the West"), score, film editing, makeup, costume design, art direction, writing (adapted screenplay), director and best film. After two years of being overlooked, the monumental optimism for LOTR was still cautious at the beginning of the evening. But as award after award began to drop, optimism bloomed into joy and pride, and finally spilled over into the kind of magical euphoria that can only exist in Hollywood. Because let's face it, eleven Oscars is a lot of Oscars. And until now, it generally seemed like it was impossible for a fantasy or sci-fi film (much less the third installment in a series) to attain this kind of complete acceptance from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. But it seems as though, in the case of Lord of the Rings, all the elements have come together to produce a set of works that will endure with audiences as cinematic classics, and the Academy duly saw fit to reward the creatives, and allow a real-life Hollywood ending to a the story of Middle Earth's commitment to film.

While most of the major players in the large ensemble cast participated in the ceremony, notably absent was Andy Serkis, the actor behind the digital portrayal of Gollum. Serkis, along with many of the other actors and crew members shared some of the big winning moments by remote from nearby. Along with New Zealand dignitaries and New Line Cinema royalty, the Kiwis cheered as Steven Spielberg presented the long-anticipated Oscar to Peter Jackson for his direction. And when the Best Picture award was finally revealed, cast members including Lawrence Makoare, Sala Baker, Bruce Hopkins and Jed Brophy broke out into a spontaneous Hakka (a Maori native rallying dance). In case you never thought you'd see Sauron dancing with Lurtz and Gamling, Row M brings it to you in our photo section, along with behind the scenes party moments from the entire evening. Click on the photo link below for the full gallery.

The winners spilled first into the Governor's Ball and then began making their way around town to the various parties. Matters were made quite convenient by the fact the Vanity Fair party at Morton's (a perrenial stop for Oscar winners) was around the corner from the New Line Cinema Oscar bash at the Pacific Design Center. So while most of the winners found some time to drive over to's fan party at the American Legion Hall, they were able to get off the road and end up together at the Pacific Design Center for an unprecendented gathering of heavy golden statues.

Sean Astin caused a great stir with his arrival as hobbit after hobbit began to appear. But beyond the cast, this was also where all the major creative behind the scenes talent turned up as well. The room was teeming with everyone from the shy and retiring conceptual artist Alan Lee, to Art Director Kayne Horsham, whose department made (among almost everything) every bit of armor for the series. And in doing so, he invented a unique new process and machine for making chainmail. Now able to make it from various new materials, the newly-patented process has been applied to lightweight plastics, and is being used to create high-fashion items. Horsham and his wife Robyn were dressed in chain mail creations, he in a simple and unique tie, and she in a formal gown, featuring a slinky and sexy white chainmail bodice. Can it be only a matter of time before the rest of Hollywood's A-list ladies are draped in Kayne-maile? If it turns up on the red carpet again next year, you'll be able to say you saw it here first on Row M!

After a long evening of rejoicing and red carpet walking, Peter Jackson finally arrived with his fistful of Oscars at well after midnight, and the entire party churned anew with Oscar energy. The crush of media that pursued Jackson throughout the evening swept through and demolished everything from the coat check to the gift bag setup in favor of a base camp from which to do sit-down interviews with PJ for the early morning news shows around the world.

As the major parties died down in the wee hours of the morning, the hearty and determined headed up into the Hollywood Hills to various other exclusive private parties until eventually, around 3 A.M. when one particularly hot party in the Hills ended up getting shut down by the police for noise. In L.A., this basically means that nobody new gets past the gates to the house, while cops and paparazzi wait for the celebrity guests to be brought down the hill in everything from limos to golf carts for one last pose and scribble as they board their rides home. So in addition to our evening of Lord of Rings' ascension to cinema royalty, Row M caught glimpse of more of the usual Hollywood flora and fauna as a rumpled Peter Gallagher (from FOX's "OC") rolled into his towncar, and Djimon Huntsou (best known for his role in Amistad) made a big production out of allowing an autograph salesman (posing as a fan) to bag his John Hancock, much to the shagrin of the cops. By the time Cheri Oteri and Chris Kattan were tumbling down the hill in a golf cart like the SNL version of Jack and Jill it was clear that before we fell down and broke our own crowns, the time had come for us to diminish and go back into the East and remain, Row M.

But it's safe to say that New Zealand has arrived and one can no longer say that it's "the bottom of the world". No, now the world's got two tops.

Oscar Night 2004 Photos

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