The Phoenix Film Critics Society, comprised of 23 journalists from print, television and radio, officially threw its two carrots into the movie awards season stew Monday, proclaiming Peter Jackson's blockbuster epic "The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King" the Best Picture of 2003.
The honor completed a PFCS hat trick for the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy. "The Fellowship of the Ring" and "The Two Towers" also won Best Picture, in 2001 and 2002 respectively. Jackson's final installment, which has grossed over $860 million worldwide in four weeks, earlier garnered Best Picture honors from the New York Film Critics Circle and the Online Film Critics Society, among others.
Phoenix critics also anointed Jackson as Best Director for "Return of the King," choosing the rotund New Zealander over the likes of Sofia Coppola (“Lost in Translation”), Jim Sheridan (“In America”) and Peter Weir (“Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World”).
Versatile British actor Ben Kingsley won Best Actor for his portrayal of a dogmatic Iranian immigrant in Vadim Perelman's "House of Sand and Fog," while Australian Naomi Watts claimed Best Actress for her scintillating turn as a bereaved mother in Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu's "21 Grams." It was Kingsley's second PFCS award — he also won for "Sexy Beast" two years ago — and the first for Watts. Alec Baldwin (“The Cooler”) and Patricia Clarkson (“Pieces of April”) took home Best Supporting Actor and Actress, respectively.
"The Return of the King" led all films with nine awards, including Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Cinematography. The series has dominated voting for three consecutive years.
"I actually think we should disband the society now that there are no 'Lord of the Rings' movies left," joked PFCS president David Ramsey. "There's an upside, though. At least we go into next year without a clear front-runner."
Complete list of winners
Best Picture: "The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King"
Best Director: Peter Jackson — "The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King"
Best Actor in a Leading Role: Ben Kingsley — "House of Sand and Fog"
Best Actress in a Leading Role: Naomi Watts — "21 Grams"
Best Actor in a Supporting Role: Alec Baldwin — "The Cooler"
Best Actress in a Supporting Role: Patricia Clarkson — "Pieces of April"
Best Ensemble Acting: "21 Grams"
Best Original Screenplay: "In America"
Best Screenplay adapted from another source: "The Lord of the Rings: The
Return of the King"
The Must-see Overlooked Film of the Year: "Pieces of April"
Best Live Action Family Film: "Freaky Friday"
Best Animated Film: "Finding Nemo"
Best Foreign Language Film: "City of God"
Best Original Song: "Time Enough for Tears — In America"
Best Original Score: Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
Best Use of Previously Published or Recorded Music: School of Rock
Best Cinematography: Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
Best Film Editing: Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
Best Production Design: Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
Best Costume Design: Down With Love
Best Visual Effects: Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
Best Makeup: Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
Breakout Performance — On Screen: Evan Rachel Wood — Thirteen
Breakout Performance — Behind the Camera: Sophia Coppola — Lost in
Best Performance by a Youth — Male: Brett Kelly — Bad Santa
Best Performance by a Youth — Female: Sarah Bolger — In America