Oscar Trumpets King, Nemo, Krumpet

The 76th annual Academy Awards went off with little surprises Sunday night as The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King made a clean sweep in every category in which it was nominated, including Best Picture. The only notable upset was Adam Elliot’s Harvie Krumpet besting the Disney/Dali collaboration Destino, Pixar’s Boundin’, Blue Sky Studio’s Gone Nutty and Chris Hinton’s Nibbles for Best Animated Short.

The Disney/Pixar CG blockbuster Finding Nemo swam off with Best Animated Feature, trumping Sony Pictures Classics’ 2D art house release The Triplets of Belleville and Disney’s moderately successful Brother Bear. Upon accepting the golden statuette, director Andrew Stanton remarked, "Finding Nemo would have never been possible if it wasn’t for the extraordinary filmmaking environment created at Pixar Animation Studios by John Lasseter, Ed Catmul and Steve Jobs. I’m going to be forever grateful to the entire cast and crew of Nemo for the giving of their incomparable talents to this little fish story I had." Scoring some points on the homefront, Stanton rounded out his list of thank yous by saying, "To my wife, Julie, I wrote it to you in a note in the eighth grade and now I can say it in front of a billion people. I love you."

While the awards season has been good to Stanton and crew at Pixar, Oscar night belonged to director Peter Jackson and his army of collaborators. Return of the King joined the ranks of Ben-Hur and Titanic by grabbing 11 Oscars including BEST DIRECTOR for Jackson; ADAPTED SCREENPLAY for Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens and Jackson; FILM EDITING for Jamie Selkirk; ORIGINAL SCORE for Howard Shore; ORIGINAL SONG for "Into the West" (music and lyrics by Howard Shore, Fran Walsh and Annie Lennox); VISUAL EFFECTS for the team of Jim Rygiel, Joe Letteri, Randall William Cook and Alex Funke; ART DIRECTION for Grant Major and set decorators Dan Hennah and Alan Lee; COSTUME DESIGN for Ngila Dickson and Richard Taylor; MAKEUP for Richard Taylor and Peter King; and SOUND MIXING for Christopher Boyes, Michael Semanick, Michael Hedges and Hammond Peek.

In addition to being in the Animated Feature race, director Sylvain Chomet’s The Triplets of Belleville was up for Best Original Song, which went to "Into the West" from Return of the King, as noted above. Triplets’ theme, "Belleville Rendez-vous," was performed on stage by musicians playing on bicycles and home appliances in addition to conventional instruments. The rendition was accompanied by clips of the film’s animation.

Preceding or following the Oscar broadcast (depending on which coast you’re on) was the Barbara Walters Special, in which the seasoned interviewer sat down with an animated Shrek, voiced by Mike Meyers. Shrek of course talked about his upcoming sequel, Shrek 2, and also showed some hilarious animated home movies from his honeymoon.

For a complete list of this year’s Academy Award winners, visit www.oscars.org.