The 76th Academy Awards ceremony, honoring the best in film for 2003, was broadcast from the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood, California on ABC beginning at 5:30 p.m. PST/8:30 p.m. EST, February 29, 2004 (01:30 March 1 UTC). The show was produced by Joe Roth and was hosted for the eighth time by comedian Billy Crystal.
The nominees were announced on January 27 at 5:38 a.m. PST (13:38 UTC) by Academy president Frank Pierson and actress Sigourney Weaver, at the Samuel Goldwyn Theater in the Academy's Beverly Hills headquarters. The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King swept all 11 categories in which it was nominated. It matched the record 11 wins of Titanic and Ben-Hur and beat the previous record of Gigi and The Last Emperor for the largest sweep of every nominated category, both of which had achieved nine-for-nine.
The big contenders for the 76th Academy Awards (for the best achievement in film in 2003) included The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King and Lost in Translation, and in the highly competitive Best Actor category, strong work from Johnny Depp, Sean Penn and Jude Law.
News and recap
returned for the eighth time to host the presentation. His opening monologue poked fun at the change (or lack thereof) between the time he had hosted the ceremony in 1991
, and the current one: "Things were so different then. You know how different it was? Bush
was president, the economy was tanking and we'd just finished a war
However, the bulk of Crystal's good-natured barbs—and the comments of many of the presenters and award recipients as well—were directed at New Zealand and Return of the King, which dominated an evening lacking in surprises. The front-runner (or near front-runner) in every nominated category turned out to be the actual winner, although The Lord of the Rings - The Return of the King was the first ever film of the fantasy genre to win Best Picture. Despite the lack of "drama" due to an "Obvious Winner" ceremony, the show attracted an audience of 43.56 million, breaking a low-ratings streak which had started back in 2001 due to the popularity of the best picture winner.
The television broadcast on ABC was aired live with a five-second tape delay, possibly because of the Janet Jackson wardrobe malfunction Controversy during Super Bowl XXXVIII. It was shown live in many other countries around the world (satellite delays notwithstanding). Host Billy Crystal joked during the awards ceremony that Robin Williams was the cause of the 5-second delay.
Jack Black and Will Ferrell finally shed light (and lyrics) on the mysterious song that the orchestra would play whenever a winner would make a speech.
- "(Riding Crush, the turtle from Finding Nemo)IIIIIII CANT BELIEVE THE YANKEES GOT A-ROD!" - Billy Crystal during his opening montage celebrating about how his beloved Yankees just got reigning MVP Alex Rodriguez
- "(Being kidnapped in Mystic River)"What are you doing? This isn't how you get to the World Series!" - Crystal once again from his opening montage joking that he was being kidnapped in Boston
- "Things were so different then. You know how different it was? Bush was president, the economy was tanking and we'd just finished a war with Iraq." - Host Billy Crystal, remembering how things had been different thirteen years before, when he first hosted the Oscars.
- "For the very, very first time, we're being simulcast in Aramaic." - Host Billy Crystal said jokingly, referring to the ancient language used in Mel Gibson's new film, The Passion of the Christ.
- "Pussy Galore! I just got it! That's vulgar!" - Billy Crystal, "reading" Sean Connery's mind.
- "Forty years ago, this country went down a rabbit hole in Vietnam — millions died. I fear we're going down the rabbit hole once again." - Errol Morris upon receiving his Best Documentary Oscar for The Fog of War.
- "I can't wait for his tax audit—scary times." - Host Billy Crystal, in response to documentarian Errol Morris's comment that he fears America in Iraq is "going down a rabbit hole once again."
- "It's now official — there is nobody left in New Zealand to thank." - Host Billy Crystal, in reference to the numerous awards won by productions from that country.
- "We're so thankful that The Lord of the Rings did not qualify for this category." - Denise Robert, wife of director Denys Arcand, in her acceptance speech for the Best foreign language film The Barbarian Invasions.
- "That felt good." - Blake Edwards, after rolling across the stage in a wheelchair and crashing into a wall.
- "Do you know that people are moving to New Zealand just to be thanked?" - Host Billy Crystal.
- "If there's one thing that actors know —other than there weren't any WMDs— it's that there is no such thing as best in acting." - Sean Penn in his Best Actor acceptance speech.
- "I'm so honoured and touched and relieved that the Academy and members of the Academy have seen past the trolls and the wizards and the hobbits and are recognising fantasy this year. Fantasy is an 'F' word that hopefully the five second delay won't do anything with." - Peter Jackson, as he received his Oscar for Best Picture.
- "...And he's wearing shoes ladies and gentlemen!" - Billy Crystal commenting on Peter Jackson's appearance after the latter's acceptance speech.
- "It's a clean sweep." - Steven Spielberg announcing the best picture Oscar for Lord of the Rings: Return of the King.
The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
Best Actor in a Leading Role
Mystic River - Sean Penn
Best Actress in a Leading Role
Monster - Charlize Theron
Best Actor in a Supporting Role
Mystic River - Tim Robbins
Best Actress in a Supporting Role
Cold Mountain - Renee Zellweger
The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King - Peter Jackson
Best Original Screenplay
Lost in Translation - Sofia Coppola
Best Adapted Screenplay
The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King - Peter Jackson , Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens
Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World - Russell Boyd
Best Art Direction-Set Decoration
The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King - Grant Major , Dan Hennah and Alan Lee
Best Costume Design
The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King - Ngila Dickson and Richard Taylor
Best Achievement in Sound Mixing
The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King - Christopher Boyes , Michael Semanick , Michael Hedges and Hammond Peek
The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King - Jamie Selkirk
Best Sound Editing
Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World - Richard King
Best Visual Effects
The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King - Jim Rygiel , Randall William Cook , Alex Funke and Joe Letteri
The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King - Richard Taylor and Peter King
Best Music, Original Song
The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King - Annie Lennox , Fran Walsh and Howard Shore for the song Into the West
Best Music, Original Score
The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King - Howard Shore
Best Short Film, Animated
Best Short Film, Live Action
Best Documentary, Short Subjects
Best Documentary, Features
The Fog of War: Eleven Lessons from the Life of Robert S. McNamara
Best Foreign Language Film
The Barbarian Invasions - Canada
Best Animated Feature
received the Honorary Academy Award for his work on such films as Breakfast at Tiffany's
, Days of Wine and Roses
and the Pink Panther
series. Edwards is married to Oscar-winning singer-actress Julie Andrews
A special memorial was presented by Tom Hanks
to legendary comedian and past Oscar host Bob Hope
A second special memorial was presented by Julia Roberts to legendary actress and four time Oscar winner Katharine Hepburn.
The annual "In Memoriam" tribute was presented by Academy President Frank Pierson, starting with another legendary actor that died in the previous year, Gregory Peck. Peck is followed by a list of Academy members who had also died in the previous year: Wendy Hiller, David Hemmings, Hope Lange, screenwriter George Axelrod, Charles Bronson, Michael Jeter, screenwriter David Newman, Ron O'Neal, Art Carney, director Elia Kazan, documentary filmmaker Leni Riefenstahl, Karen Morley, Buddy Ebsen, director John Schlesinger, filmmaker Stan Brakhage, producer Ray Stark, movie trailer innovator Andrew J. Kuhen, John Ritter, Hume Cronyn, Buddy Hackett, composer Michael Kamen, screenwriter John Gregory Dunne, Robert Stack, Alan Bates, Gregory Hines, Jack Elam, Jeanne Crain, Ann Miller, Donald O'Connor and finally Johnny and June Carter Cash.
Partial list of Presenters and Performers