Oscars Seem Likely to Crown King; Butterfly Has Bad Effect
You have to wonder what J.R.R. Tolkien would have said if he'd witnessed the events of this week.
On Sunday evening, January 25, The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King won Golden Globe Awards for Best Dramatic Feature, Best Director (Peter Jackson), and Best Score (Howard Shore). On Tuesday morning (Jan. 27), the film scored 11 Oscar nominations, including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay, and several technical award nomination.
Director Peter Jackson has accomplished something truly unique in the annals of film history—his series is only the second cinematic trilogy to earn such high honors for all three episodes. (The first was Francis Ford Coppola's Godfather trilogy.) Most impressively, he has done this with a work of fantasy, a genre typically snubbed by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts. On February 29, we'll see if Oscar voters will give it their highest honor and place it in the winners' circle.
Some of you may be saying, "Who cares? Does it really matter? These are just popularity contests!"
I think it does matter. The Oscars and the Golden Globes may not have much in the way of credibility. But their honors are respected and, by some, remembered. Thus, they have an influence on how long films stay available on the big screen, which ultimately influences its drawing power and box office. This, in turn, sends a message to industry leaders about what kinds of films audiences want to see.
We should hope that excellence would be rewarded in such events. This year, some truly excellent work has gained attention.
(Well, in some cases. Why isn't Scarlett Johansson nominated for Best Actress for Lost in Translation or Girl with the Pearl Earring? Why isn't The Return of the King nominated for Best Cinematography or Sean Astin for Best Supporting Actor? The two Matrix sequels aren't nominated for Best Visual Effects?)
But then again, it would be harmful to exaggerate the importance of "worldly honors." What matters most in the long run is excellence—especially in storytelling. Popularity and statuettes reflect the whims of a fickle jury. Looking at the five titles nominated, which one do you think moviegoers will still gather to watch again and again? Which characters do you think will remain an inspiration, examples of hope, valor, and love?
The first two films of Jackson's Lord of the Rings series were presented on campus at Seattle Pacific University last week, as part of a festival in honor of Tolkien's achievement. Seminars led by faculty and staff were well-attended but overshadowed by the arrival of a special guest: John Rhys-Davies, who plays Gimli in the films. Rhys-Davies, in Seattle for a special event hosted by the Discovery Institute, took the stage for a question-and-answer session about the films. There, he indulged students with behind-the-scenes accounts and speculation about the possibility of a feature adaptation of The Hobbit.
Rhys-Davies has been getting a good deal of special attention recently, primarily due to some things he said to religious press journalists in L.A. before The Return of the King's sneak preview. The volatile statements were provoked by a question about what feelings The Lord of the Rings stirs up in him. He went on to relate his view of a growing threat to Western Civilization, and how "some generations" are called on to stand up for what they believe in.
You can read about the protests that took place in response to these comments here, as well as his finely phrased response to the outcry.