By Matt Mueller
Editor of Total Film magazine
The final film in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, The Return of the King, is being tipped for Oscars glory. Matt Mueller states his case for why its director Peter Jackson should win.
Here's an indisputable fact: Peter Jackson's achievement with the Lord Of The Rings trilogy is unparalleled in the history of cinema.
When it was announced that this then-little-known New Zealander intended to bring JRR Tolkien's hugely popular novels to the big screen, it was a daring undertaking many thought would fail.
Sir Ian McKellen says Jackson should win an Oscar
If it had, the fall-out would have sent Jackson's career into a tailspin, and toppled a major studio, New Line.
But over the course of 10 hours and three films, Jackson has triumphed spectacularly, not only making the swords-and-sorcery/fantasy genre respectable but improving on the massive-scale epics that have long been Hollywood's bread and butter.
What Jackson always understood is that the key to any successful translation of Tolkien's saga was making audiences care deeply about each character's journey while their jaws were dropping at the astounding visual sweep.
He had to win hearts as well as minds.
The film's special effects do not overshadow the characters
And that's exactly what he's done, pushing the FX envelope without sacrificing warmth and humanity.
The effects in Lord Of The Rings always existed to serve the story and enhance the emotional texture - something George Lucas and the Wachowski Brothers lost sight of a long time ago.
And so to The Return Of The King.
The culmination of an adventure that first hit our screens two years ago is upon us, and Jackson has indeed saved the best for last.
From its jaw-dropping smackdowns to its emotional, tear-jarring resolution, Return Of The King delivers on every level, and fans get the compelling emotional pay-off they've been waiting for.
Now it's time for the Academy to recognise Jackson's extraordinary accomplishment.
Will Hollywood give best film to a New Zealand production?
The sheer logistical achievement alone is prize-worthy: seven years in the making; 13 months of principal photography; nine camera units operating simultaneously; reshoots every year to enhance and refine; the creation of his own studio and special effects house in New Zealand, far away from the Hollywood establishment - the scale makes David Lean and DW Griffiths look like small-fry!
The consensus has been that the Academy was waiting for Return Of The King before giving the director his just rewards.
But nothing is ever certain where they're concerned.
As Sir Ian McKellen remarked to Total Film, however, if the director doesn't win the Oscar on the night of 29 February, it will smack not only of mean-spiritedness, but xenophobia (the Hollywood establishment closing ranks on this Kiwi outsider).
But that seems unlikely: the Academy know the whole world is watching expectantly, and, like Aragorn and Frodo, Peter Jackson is fully prepared to meet his destiny.
What do you think of Peter Jackson's chances at the Oscars next February?
Does he deserve to win best director, best film or both? How do you think Oscar voters will take to The Return of the King?
This debate is now closed. Please see below for a selection of your comments.
I do just hope the reason they haven't rewarded him as yet is because they are seeing the trilogy as one film and will give full praise by giving Jackson the best director award he so deserves.
These films will go down in history.
Mark Pritchard, Exeter
I'm not much of a movie fan and I don't care much for the fantasy genre, but the LOTR films are the only ones I actually get excited about seeing.This trilogy blows Star Wars and every other blockbuster ever made right out of the water. If Peter Jackson doesn't win an Oscar then it'll show the Academy for what it is, a collection of self-important elitists completely out of touch with ordinary, regular people.
Fruitbat, Gloucester, UK
I think that Peter Jackson has achieved a great deal with the LotR trilogy but the recent awards given by critics for Clint Eastwood's Mystic River (in my opinion, a lacklustre effort on his part) does not bode well for Oscar night. What I would like to see is a nomination for Andy Serkis whose performance as Gollum is simply extraordinary.
Caroline, London, UK
The Academy needs Peter Jackson, Director, more than he needs it.
Den, Alexandria, VA, USA
If Jackson gets an award it will be in recognition of his lifetime pursuit of quality film-making. After all, he should have won an Oscar for Bad Taste, or perhaps Braindead.
Dave L, London
The fact that he hasn't won an Oscar already shows what an irrelevance it is. Oscar or no Oscar, the Rings trilogy is one of the towering achievements in film history. It would be quite amusing if he didn't win to see what rubbish they awarded it to this year.
Dave, Bristol, England
I don't care if the film gets an Oscar. The point is that the public have voted, who cares what a bunch of folk in Hollywood think?
I am going to see the finale on Saturday with my whole family, we all love the films, they are quite simply a masterpiece. God bless Peter Jackson!!!
Bob, Hereford, UK
It is shameful that Oscars have not been presented in either of the previous two films. But Peter Jackson and the actors and crew should take comfort from the fact that the people voted with their feet and money in voting these films masterpieces and truly worth every penny.
Peter Alderson, Ottershaw, UK
If Jackson and Return of the King fail to win after that monstrosity of a picture Titanic picked up so many awards, then the Oscars will have lost all credibility.
Nick Wright, Munich, Germany
It's all been said above, Peter Jackson and the Tolkien trilogy deserve Oscars for Best Director, Best film, Best special effects and the Actors deserve them too - but we all know about the Americans and their Oscars! Xenophobia is a national pastime with them...
Peter Jackson deserves to sweep the board for defining the start of the 21st century of filmmaking with a fantasy trilogy unparalleled since Star Wars. Mr Lucas take heed. If he fails to win I think Tolkein would turn in his grave and it will show that Hollywood Oscars are no longer the prestigious award they once were.
Darren, York, England
Off to see ROTK tonight and hope that it is everything that people say it is. However, I have a sneaking suspicion that it will not win big on Oscar night. The Acadamy have a long history of preferring sober, "worthy" films. The fantasy film has always lost out. And of course there is bound to be the Lord of the Rings backlash just around the corner.
Simon, Hope Valley, UK
Peter Jackson deserves all the acclaim he can garner from Hollywood. Middle Earth is New Zealand with digital enhancements. Only a resident with the skill and energy could have translated Tolkien's vision and put it on screen. Hail the King, Peter Jackson!
Trevor Heath, Basingstoke, England
Clearly Peter Jackson deserves the Best Director Oscar. His sweeping vision knocks previous sci-fi, and fantasy films away and his special effects are so special you are not even conscious of them. Come on Oscar, credit where it is due at last.
Mark, Paignton, UK
Of course he should win best director. Although the fact is he should have already won. The Academy is only against these films because they are fantasy genre, one it seems to constantly ignore. It will be purely political if he does win - much like the Denzil Washington/Judi Dench fiascos of the past. Compared to Fellowship of the Ring, was A Beautiful Mind really the better film , with the better director? I think not...
Andy Carslaw, Oxford
How the films have not received the number of Oscars they have deserved, God only knows. Peter Jackson has created films that appeal not only to fans of the books, but also to those who had never heard of Middle Earth. That is something very rare in book adaptations. The Trilogy should recieve many Oscars this time around.
Kate Harrison, New Mills, England
The Academy is renowned for Oscar injustices but hopefully The Lord of the Rings will buck the trend. If not, this generation will remember the 2003 awards with the same contempt my generation has for the 1977 Oscars where Star Wars was denied best picture.
Simon Dillon, Boldon Colliery, South Tyneside
Everyone has been complementary so far so I thought I'd throw in a criticism: the script in the first two films is weak and no special effects can make up for that (proof provided by the Matrix). A touch melodramatic perhaps? I hope the third is better: and so it begins...
Ian, Bristol, England
If Peter Jackson, the film and the cast is not showered with honours at the Oscars, it is because of jealousy that Peter has acheived what no other director has ever dared to attempt. The establishment should eat some humble pie and admit that Peter should have won best director the last two years.
Rick Flett, Innerleithen, Peeblesshire
A Best Film would be most appropriate. It was the inherent destiny of LOTR to win. The strength of this project lies in Tolkien's original work, not neccessarily in the director.
Brian Reburn, Rock Hill, South Carolina, USA
If Peter Jackson as his hugely talented cast and crew don't get some major recognition for their achievements, I will be gobsmacked.
Mark Jones, Cambridge, England
I hope he doesn't win - I think the films are way superior to any Hollywood-generated drivel. Let's face it, Oscars are all about the self-propagation of the Hollywood machine with forgettable, repetitive films winning each year. No, let Peter Jackson stand out from that - we all know he's miles ahead of the US crowd.
Caroline, London, UK
Very simple answer to this question. PJ should have got an Oscar for the first and second movies. Not being awarded them was a huge mistake. Not only that, but Ian McKellen, Sean Astin and Viggo Mortenson also deserve Oscars. If the Academy does not drown this movie in awards in February it will have lost all respect around the world. If they can give huge praise to a mediocre acheivement like Titanic, how can they possibly pass ROTK by?
Oscar? Is that all? Peter Jackson should be the first President of New Zealand.
We must remember that nothing is certain about the Academy Awards. If they can go to eminently forgettable emphemera like Kramer v Kramer, Forrest Gump and Chicago, they are highly unlikely to be awarded to what is quite simply the best film ever made.
Turning the trilogy into film was no mean feat, and anyone with an appreciation of the scale of Tolkien's work has to award some colossal credit to Jackson as well.
Stuart, Turku, Finland
Absolutely deserves both awards. I expect that voters will heap worthy accolades upon his shoulders. Hollywood? He's an outsider, so who can tell.
David, Cairns, Qld
If Peter Jackson doesn't reap the Academy Awards
this year, it will be an indictment against the whole U.S. motion picture industry. But, come to think of it, that would be just desserts wouldn't it?
Ray Copeland, USA
Lord of the Rings is the best move ever made!
When I finished reading the books a years ago, I told myself that nobody will be able to make the move. What Peter Jackson realised, is the world which I created in my mind.
Jasna, Ljubljana, Slovenia
Peter Jackson's masterwork is certainly worthy of a whole load of Oscars. Two Towers did not get the rewards it deserved, and now it's payback time.
Tim Antonisse, The Netherlands
The Academy wouldn't know a good movie if one bit it in the bum.
Leo Kelly, Auckland, NZ
He deserves to win without a shadow of doubt. And that is all I have to say.
Ian Jukes, USA
It was a travesty that he did not win the Oscar for best film in 2001 and 2002. His movie was way better than both A Beautiful Mind and Chicago. I think he should be picking up his third Oscar as opposed to his first.
Esha, Ann Arbor, USA
Peter Jackson and TROTK should both score Oscars both because they are worthy and because the Academy would start a slide towards irrelevance if it ignores the greatness of both the director and the film. I would hope this time the Emperor would don clothing of substance.
Jon Shinabarger, Plano, Texas USA
Peter Jackson should win for Best Film and Best Director. No one director has put more time and effort into films of this nature and he has done a superb job. Thank you Peter, it's been an amazing ride!
Jeff Olson, Calgary, Alberta Canada
Most definitely yes to both! I would go so far as to suggest that the 6 main actors get a best actor/actress gong each, plus one to Gollum!!
Stuart Moore, Townsville, Australia
He definitely deserves the prize!! No other director has gotten close to what he has done the last couple of years.
Ana, New Jersey, USA
Undoubtedly the best movies of the millennium so far. Hollywood couldn't touch it. If they miss Peter Jackson, I won't pay attention to them anymore.
RP, Seattle, USA
This is the Gone with the Wind of 2001 to 2003. It may not secure many Oscars however. That is the way of things in Hollywood especially when the Americans are going through a period of overly intense nationalism. After all, neither Kubrick nor Hitchcock ever won an Oscar for best picture or director and they too were giants.
The films are the thing though. They are masterpieces and make the whole world a happier and better place. That, in the end, is what matters.
Dave Smith, Wellington, New Zealand
Absolutely, Peter Jackson's loving screen adaption of some the world's finest fiction is a tribute to the filmmaker's art. It's an outrage that neither of the first two films garnered any awards for Jackson, as they are among the most powerful directorial work I've ever seen. Two thumbs up for Jackson, two thumbs down for the Academy.
Jonathan, Victoria, Canada
A trophy for the third would be a most auspicious and appropriate recognition for the greatest trilogy ever filmed. I hope many of the performances are at least noted by a nomination.
John Chinworth, Mercer Island, Washington, USA
Jackson certainly deserves to win best director. I am less certain about best film. The movie could easily win other Oscars (best actor etc).
Mallik, Houston, USA
I think Peter deserves an Oscar for his work, the Lord of the Rings trilogy is a masterpiece of cinematography. I don't think anyone will ever again try to achieve anything on this scale. Well done Peter, whether you get an Oscar or not your triumph will be universally reconised!!
Andrew Whyte, Dublin, Ireland
He simply has to get it, and all the other categories should go to the team too... The Academy will be shown up for the complete farce it is otherwise. These are simply some of the best films ever made and if they are not given the accolades they deserve then it's a travesty.
Johnny Fairplay, London, UK
I have enjoyed immensely the first two instalments and can't wait for the Return of the King. But, I am sure it still won't beat Braindead which, as any real Jackson fan will tell you, was his real masterpiece. And he never won an Oscar for that.
Steve, Hong Kong
I think Peter Jackson and his crew deserve several Oscars for bringing to life the epic of the Rings.
Tenzing Tekan, Washington DC
Peter Jackson deserves an Oscar, the Lord Of the Rings is one of the best set of movies I have ever seen.
Kashif, Toronto, Canada
Peter Jackson's spectacular accomplishment is unprecedented in cinema history. There is not a director more worthy of best director and, whether viewed as one continuous film or individual segments, the Lord of the Rings is the most startling film creation to date. I will be sadly disappointed if Peter Jackson does not receive the appropriate best director and best film awards.
Brett McGuire, Sydney, Australia
Absolutely he deserves it. Will he get it? I am not so sure. Hollywood has held out twice now... but perhaps the truth will be blindingly obvious by now that it would be horribly unjust to let this trilogy simply be passed over entirely. We can only hope that they are saving the award for the finale.
Jackson is an extraordinarily adept film-maker who deserves an Oscar that will cement his place as a New Zealand hero.
Ben Lowings, Wellington, NZ
This is an opportunity the Academy to prove to the rest of the world what George W. had failed to do: that America is not the greatest nation on earth, but is one of the greatest, and recognises greatness in others!
Graham Bradley, Vancouver, Canada
Denying PJ an Oscar would not be unjust and cruel but would break the hearts of the 4 million Kiwis. If the 2004 Oscars were not NZ's Oscars, I am sure it would mean more to NZ than losing the Rugby World Cup, our former love.
Martin, Dunedin, NZ
Peter Jackson deserves to win an Oscar for The Return of the King. It's a magnificent film, and he's done wonders.
Brenda Thomas Bergerre, Rome, Italy.
It would be a total disgrace to the film industry for Peter Jackson not to receive an Oscar for his work on the Lord of the Rings trilogy. I have yet to see the Return of the King, but on the basis of the first two instalments of this epic undertaking warrant this coveted award alone.
Simon, Darwen, England
These films are beyond Oscars. Thank you, Peter Jackson, for creating this wonderful world in which we've been living for the past two years.
Adrian, Kassel, Germany
Jackson deserves praise for his works. He and his companions have been keeping in mind one thing that Hollywood lost decades ago - the love for film and the higher cause in a storyline. Films are not just plain business with only money-making in mind.
Ville Saarela, Helsinki, Finland
The Oscars will be tarnished if he does not win.
Hugh Newsam, Cambridge,UK
Totally, theses films are so well directed, with a lot of heart and passion. If people don't like the story, they should at least realise the quality of every single shot and creativity of PJ.
Best everything is my vote. The Rings films are fabulous in every way.
Jackie Hogarty, Eversley, Hampshire
He deserves to win both. The Fellowship of the Ring should have won best film 3 years ago. Hopefully ROTK should clean up at the Oscars, certainly for the technical awards.....again! Any kind of post-trilogy "special" award would be an insult.
Tim, Tower Bridge, London UK
I have yet to see the Return of the King - and can't wait! However, based on what I have seen so far, Peter Jackson deserves special recognition at the Oscar ceremony for taking the film world into a whole new era. The quality and splendour of these films far outshines anything achieved in the film world so far.
Sandra Mckeever, England.
No Oscar until he makes The Hobbit!
Lucas Bateman, Leeds, UK