LORD OF THE OSCARS
The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King was officially crowned the Oscar front-runner today by scoring a field-best 11 Academy Award nominations, including best picture and best director for Peter Jackson. Competing with Rings for best picture are Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World, Lost in Translation, Mystic River and Seabiscuit. In a surprising twist, Anthony Minghella's Civil War epic Cold Mountain failed to secure nominations for best picture or best actress for Nicole Kidman, although Jude Law and Renee Zellweger were recognized. Law's best actor competition includes Johnny Depp (Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl), Ben Kingsley (House of Sand and Fog), Bill Murray (Lost in Translation) and Sean Penn (Mystic River). The best actress race finds a relative unknown Whale Rider's Keisha Castle-Hughes facing off against Diane Keaton (Something's Gotta Give), Samantha Morton (In America), Charlize Theron (Monster) and Naomi Watts (21 Grams). In addition to Kidman, notable acting snubs include Russell Crowe, Scarlett Johansson, Tom Cruise and Jennifer Connelly. Winners will be announced Feb. 29 on ABC. For a complete nominees list, click here.