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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 ...

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