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Robbins, Zellweger win supporting Oscars

Robbins won the Best supporting-actor award for his performance in Mystic River, and Renee Zellweger for Cold Mountain.

india Updated: Mar 01, 2004 09:26 IST

Tim Robbins won the supporting-actor Academy Award on Sunday for his performance as an emotionally crippled murder suspect in "Mystic River," and Renee Zellweger took supporting actress as a hardy Confederate survivor in "Cold Mountain."

Best-picture favorite "The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King," which led the field with 11 nominations, was two-for-two with its first two categories of the night, winning for art direction and costume design.

Robbins won with his first-ever acting nomination, though he had been nominated as best director for 1995's "Dead Man Walking." "In this movie, I play a victim of abuse and violence," Robbins said. "If you are a person who has had that tragedy befall you, there is no shame in seeking help and counseling." Zellweger won with her third-straight nomination, after competing for lead actress the last two years for "Bridget Jones's Diary" and "Chicago."

"I am overwhelmed," Zellweger said. "I would like to thank the academy for inviting me here tonight alongside so many talented people."

The $340 million blockbuster "Finding Nemo," the story of a clownfish on a mission to rescue his wayward son from a dentist's aquarium, earned the Oscar for animated feature.

"I'm going to be forever grateful to the cast and crew of `Finding Nemo' for giving their incomparable talents to this little fish story I had," said Andrew Stanton, director of "Finding Nemo," the latest film from the makers of "Monsters, Inc." and the "Toy Story" flicks.

Billy Crystal, returning as host for the first time in four years, opened with his usual montage of nominees, having himself inserted into spoofs of key Oscar contenders, including Diane Keaton's screeching nude scene in "Something's Gotta Give." "Gentlemen, start your egos," Crystal quipped. He joked that for the first time, the show was being simulcast in Aramaic, a poke at "The Passion of the Christ," Mel Gibson's divisive religious film that took in $117.5 million in its first five days. The movie was done in Aramaic and Latin, with English subtitles.

Crystal said that the first time he hosted the Oscars 13 years ago, things were different than today: "Bush was president, the economy was tanking and we'd just finished a war with Iraq." The Oscars returned to full-glamour mode after two years in which Hollywood's prom night was muted by world events _ the aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks in 2002 and the Iraq war in 2003. Celebrities strutted the red carpet again after Oscar organizers scrapped its glitzy arrivals area last year in deference to the U.S.-led war effort in Iraq. With the passage of time, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences figured it was safe to make merry again for the 76th annual Oscars.

"Hollywood was hiding for a couple of years," said Owen Wilson, who was strolling the red carpet with Ben Stiller, his co-star in the big-screen version of "Starsky & Hutch," opening Friday. "Hollywood's back. I think that's the story."

"Return of the King" was viewed as a near-certain best-picture winner. The closing chapter of Peter Jackson's epic adapted from J.R.R. Tolkien's Middle-earth saga, "Return of the King" has dominated earlier Hollywood awards.

"It's not a good place to be, because every Oscars, there are surprises," Jackson said of the front-runner status before the show. "I'm as curious as anybody else about what's going to happen."

A best-picture win would be the first ever for the fantasy genre, generally overlooked by Oscar voters who favor heavy drama over otherworldly stories. Only a handful of fantasy or science-fiction tales have earned best-picture nominations, among them "The Wizard of Oz," "Star Wars," "E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial" and the first two "Lord of the Rings" installments, "The Fellowship of the Ring" and "The Two Towers."

Also competing for best picture: "Lost in Translation," a comic drama of oddball friendship between Americans in Tokyo; "Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World," a rousing Napoleonic naval adventure; "Mystic River," a brooding thriller about three childhood friends reunited as adults by a murder investigation; and "Seabiscuit," the uplifting story of the underdog Depression-era racehorse.

Charlize Theron was the front-runner for best actress as serial killer Aileen Wuornos in "Monster."

Sean Penn, long viewed as the best-actor favorite for his role as a vengeful father in "Mystic River," faced fresh competition from Johnny Depp as a punch-drunk buccaneer in "Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl." Depp won last weekend's Screen Actors Guild Award over Penn, while Bill Murray as a washed-up actor in "Lost in Translation" also was a strong competitor for best actor.

First Published: Mar 01, 2004 08:45 IST