The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King leads this year's nominees for movie industry's Academy Awards, or Oscars. Nominees were announced early Tuesday in Los Angeles, and the film from director Peter Jackson earned 11 nominations.
Critics have been almost universal in their praise of the third and final entry in Peter Jackson's film trilogy, and it brought him a Golden Globe award from the Hollywood Foreign Press Association on Sunday. The film, based on a classic story by writer J.R.R. Tolkien, tells a tale of a dangerous quest through fantasy realm.
New Zealand filmmaker Jackson will compete against Peter Weir, among others, for the Oscar for best director. Weir's seagoing epic Master and Commander: The Far Side of World earned a total of 10 nominations.
Sofia Coppola, daughter of director Francis Ford Coppola, is another nominee for best director for her comedy Lost in Translation, a film about two lonely travelers in Tokyo. Bill Murray is a nominee for for best actor for Lost in Translation. At the nomination announcement in Los Angeles, actress Sigourney Weaver listed the nominees for leading actor.
"The nominees for best performance by an actor in a leading role are Johnny Depp in Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl; Ben Kingsley in House of Sand and Fog; Jude Law in Cold Mountain; Bill Murray in Lost in Translation; and Sean Penn in Mystic River.
The nomination of Johnny Depp for Pirates of the Caribbean was something of a surprise. The film is a light seagoing adventure aimed at young audiences, but actor Depp created a memorable character in Captain Jack Sparrow.
Nominees for leading actress also included a surprise, Keisha Castle-Hughes, the 13-year-old star of the small New Zealand film Whale Rider.
Frank Pierson, president of the motion picture academy, which presents the Oscars, announced the nominees for leading actress.
"For best performance by an actress in a leading role, the nominees are Keisha Castle-Hughes in Whale Rider, Diane Keaton in Something's Gotta Give, Samantha Morton in In America, Charlize Theron in Monster, and Naomi Watts in 21 Grams."
Cold Mountain, an epic tale about the U.S. Civil War, earned seven nominations, as did the come-from-behind racehorse story Seabiscuit.
The tragic murder tale Mystic River earned six nominations, including one for director Clint Eastwood.
Academy president Frank Pierson says he sees a "rich field" among the nominees, with many good films this year.
"There are so many out there," said Mr. Pierson. "The competition is fierce. And I love that we're seeing some new faces, too. That's great."
The Oscars are considered the top honors in Hollywood and the highlight of the year for the movie business. The 76th annual Oscars will be awarded February 29 in Los Angeles.