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The Lord of the Rings: The Films and the Oscars

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  • KT
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    #109420

    While we have several threads relooking at several films and their Oscar years, I wanted to create one for the most honored film trilogy in Academy Awards history.  I’m not sure if one exists already, but I’m sure there are many people on these forums who love these films.  I just recently rewatched The Lord of the Rings trilogy and listened to the audio commentaries with Peter Jackson, Fran Walsh, and Philippa Boyens.  They were pretty honest about the challenges of adapting Tolkien’s masterwork, speaking about what worked and what didn’t, the production process, the actors, stories from set, and the impact of the films.

    Some questions to get a conversation started:
    – Did the Oscars get it right?  Did the best film of the trilogy win the Best Picture Oscar?

    – Which of the three films do you think stands out as the greatest?  Which sequences are the strongest—do you prefer the more CGI heavy Return of the King or the more blended, real and computer effects of Fellowship of the Ring?

    – Who gives the standout performances in the films?  Ian McKellen was nominated for Best Supporting Actor, very deservedly I might add.  I think he should have won.  Who else of this fantastic ensemble cast deserved recognition?  Who, in particular, is underrated?

    – Do you have any problems with the films themselves?  Jackson, Walsh, and Boyens outright said they wished they had more time on Return of the King, raising issues like: Saruman’s end and how they wrapped up his storyline as a major villain; Arwen’s fate being tied to the ring (???); the Army of the Dead at Minas Tirith (big change from the book); Frodo pushing Gollum over the edge of the Crack of Doom (another huge change); the pacing and execution at the end of the film (I always think the Grey Havens is way too over-the-top computer generated).

    – The books vs. the films: which changes were inspired, and which ones were less successful?

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    BrokenFan
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    #109422

     – I think so. I believe the 11 Oscars for ROTK was more overall wins for all three movies. I personally would have given it to the “underrated” The Two Towers, by a nose, but I thoroughly enjoyed Return of the King in all its glory, as well as Fellowship.

    It’s so hard to judge the three films separately because they’re three seperate parts of the same film, but the sequence that stands out the most was of course Battle at Helm’s Deep. The music, the special effects, the grim look of the battle just worked so well. 

    – The actor who played Samwise deserved one. Viggo Mortensen definitely deserved a nod. 
     

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    Scottferguson
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    #109423

    I agree with Boogawooga.

    I didn’t catch up with the first film until the weekend before the Oscars (theatrically), and at the end knew why it had no chance of winning – it clearly was the first third of one 10 hour movie. The second had less, because it was the middle section. The third section, completing a unit that was a single film in reality, was the logical way to award all three parts. 

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    babypook
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    #109424

    Ugh. I try not to think back on what transpired that year, especially in the top two categories. Whenever I’m scanning and see that A Beautiful Mind is on, I run away. I still forget mercifully that it also won the screenplay Oscar. Uh-huh.

    Lol!  

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    Beau S.
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    #109425

    The first film deserved to win, especially considering what it lost to. I find it to be the best of the trilogy. McKellen also should have won. Second was forgettable for me beyond Serkis’ terrific performance. Third was good, but definitely foreshadowed Jackson’s developing obsession with over the top visual effects that would eventually ruin his subsequent films. Mystic River was the best of the 03 lineup imo. Sean Astin deserved a supporting actor nod, maybe even a win in that weak year. I’m glad the academy recognized these films, because they truly show how genre films can exemplify great filmmaking.

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    KT
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    #109426

    That’s a great point: the third film “definitely foreshadowed Jackson’s developing obsession with over the top visual effects.”  I think The Return of the King was a good film, but it’s flawed…and I remember feeling that way back in 2003, confused about how Saruman just disappeared, how the Mordor scenes were reduced to just one crossing the plain.  It wasn’t as apocalyptic and dread-filled as the book.  But I understand it comes down to pacing…how do you think these films are paced?

    I have to say, the two sequel films just didn’t come close for me to the sheer wonder imbued in Fellowship of the Ring.  The feeling of seeing that film in theaters was incredible, especially having seen Harry Potter, a largely uninspired and safe adaptation, a few weeks earlier that was arguably more anticipated before Fellowship blew it out of the water.  

    I’m not sure I agree that you have to see The Lord of the Rings as three parts when evaluating the three films.  Each one has a clear beginning, middle, and end, with rising action to a climactic moment.  Of course, Return of the King is the most satisfying, but the end of Fellowship is very strong and really focused on character.  I think that Jackson and his team of writers did wonders with that film and its adaptation.  In Two Towers and Return of the King there are more questionable decisions.  Looking back on the Oscars in 2001, I think Fellowship should have picked up Art Direction and Costumes, by far more impressive than Moulin Rouge.  Ian McKellen was fantastic as Gandalf.  And adapted screenplay was definitely deserving here, as were director and picture—the best film of the five nominees in my opinion.

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    Scottferguson
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    #109427

    I rewatched the first two films before ROTK and for me it seemed that the first film had no ending, but just an intermission, and that the film wasn’t complete in itself. The second one I can’t imagine seeing stand alone.

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    Andrew Eng
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    #109428

    The best film of the trilogy did indeed rightfully win, although I would’ve awarded all 3 with BP Oscars. Best trilogy ever, IMO.  As for the performances, Ian McKellen was rightfully singled out for FOTR (and should’ve won), but more of the cast deserved to be recognized. Mortensen deserved to be nominated for at least one of the films, Serkis deserved a win for TTT and a nom for ROTK, and Sean Astin especially deserved to win for ROTK. Of all the excellent performances on display, his in the final film moved me the most. As far CGI vs. live action, I think the trilogy got the right balance, something The Hobbit has not yet achieved as the Orcs/Goblins all look CGI when in the LOTR trilogy you could tell real actors were playing them.

    As for major issues mentioned, Saurman’s fate didn’t bother me (as it was covered in the extended edition); Arwen’s fate being connected with the ring gave Aragorn’s story more weight; the Army of the Dead at Minas Tirith was a bit of deus ex machina, but not bothersome; Frodo pushing Gollum didn’t ring any bells as the former was consumed temporarily by the Ring, and the multiple endings were all appropriate IMO (not a popular one). All-in-all, it will be a long time before this trilogy is topped (only the Toy Story and the original Star Wars trilogies come close, with the Dark Knight trilogy also in consideration).

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    BrokenFan
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    #109429

    Yeah, I was wondering what the deal with Saruman’s death. I saw him die. He didn’t disappear, at least the one that I watched. lol 

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    Scottferguson
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    #109430

    I agree with FNL that the right part won, but I disagree about nwinning each year – I stand by the idea that it is one film, released in three parts, incomplete except as part of the single unit. They were written and filmed as one film. Scenes from each of the parts were filmed intermingled together as part of one shoot (that is, scenes in part 3 were shot before some in part 1 and all sort of permutations). Post production, including most editing, on parts 2 and 3, were done after 1 was finished. But I don’t believe this qualifies as a trilogy, unlike say The Godather (which even with the weakness of 3 I’d consider a better total package).

    But this is semantics. The core point is that the reason ROTK won is because only when the film was complete did the Academy feel comfortable to rewarding it as they did.

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    CanadianFan
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    #109431

    I would have given the first and third movies BP… and maybe the second.

    I agree that the character of Sam should have been nominated for all three movies. Overall, I’m glad that RotK got rewarded justfully, even if the Oscars were for the entire trilogy. 

    It’s actually my favorite BP nominee post-2000:

    1. The Lord of The Rings: Return of The King (2003)

    2.  Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000)
    3. There Will Be Blood (2007) 

    Those are my top 3^^^ I can’t believe Gladiator won in 2000… 

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    Bill Buchanan
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    #109432

    This trilogy is a cinematic masterpiece of epic proportions which will not easily be topped. Lawrence of Arabia is really the only epic I can think of that is on par with The Lord of the Rings (I don’t really think of Apocalypse Now as an epic). Answering your questions:

    – The Oscars did reward the best film of the trilogy, but Fellowship of the Ring would also have been deserving of BP (I might have tied it with Mulholland Drive).

    – Strongest sequence is a dificult one to answer. There are so many great moments to choose from. Right now, I’m remembering the Battle for Helms Deep, Sauron’s final downfall, Aragorn saying he would have followed Frodo “to the very fires of Mordor”, Gandalf falling and his subsequent return, Gandalf beating Denethor with his stick and rallying the troops (“Send these foul beats into the abbyss!”), Sam carrying Frodo up into Mount Doom, Galadriel “passing the test”. Just so freaking many…

    – Ian McKellen could have won, Viggo Mortensen should have been nominated at least once. Sean Astin should have been nominated for ROTK and Andy Serkis should have been nominated for TTT (I also think he was deserving of a nod for The Hobbit, actually…).

    With the last 2 points, I’m sure I could nitpick certain faults in the movies. Things that work less than others. But The Lord of the Rings is an experience. A celebration of the power of cinema. The one thing that really bothers me is that in ROTK’s Ext. Edition, the Nazgul king breaks Gandalf’s staff and then in the Black Gates sequence Gandalf has his staff back. Oh, what the hell…

    Anyway, as you might guess I really love these films. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey was a fine movie but there were some real problems such as CGI (a lot of the locations felt digital, something that NEVER happened in LOTR, one of the many reasons it works so well) and the villain Azog. But then I see Martin Freeman carrying off the role really well, McKellen doing so much with merely a look, Andy Serkis delivering a 10-minute long oscar worthy performance and some great sequences like the eagle rescue… And then the world makes only too much sense…

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    Bill Buchanan
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    #109433

    The core point is that the reason ROTK won is because only when the film was complete did the Academy feel comfortable to rewarding it as they did.

    Yeah, I love that AMPAS actually gave The Lord of the Rings 11 Oscars. That gave them a pass for all sins committed for the next ten years (the pass expires this year… umm…).

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    KT
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    #109434

    Yeah, I was wondering what the deal with Saruman’s death. I saw him die. He didn’t disappear, at least the one that I watched. lol 

    LOL. And what a lame death that was. 

    I rewatched the first two films before ROTK and for me it seemed that the first film had no ending, but just an intermission, and that the film wasn’t complete in itself. The second one I can’t imagine seeing stand alone.

    It doesn’t end in terms of plot.  The ring hasn’t been destroyed.  I think it’s an appropriate ending, with the breaking of the fellowship, going their separate ways.  I understand your point though.  What is your evaluation of Lord of the Rings as a film as a whole? 

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    Scottferguson
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    #109435

    I don’t it rises quite to Titanic level of greatness (in terms of personal, profound filmmaking at such a large scale), but perhaps is better than the first Star Wars batch as good as they were.
    It was great to see craft meet passion meet fun, something lacking in most big budget efforts (including Nolan’s) as a complete whole. And I thought The first part of The Hobbit film was underwhelming

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