December 29, 2003

By Michael Strickland

Return of the Oscar King

I'm back on my movie kick, thanks to a discount, "We Want You Back" offer from Netflix. I figured ten bucks for a month of as many DVDs as I can watch wasn't a bad deal, especially considering how backlogged my movie-watching became this past year. Over this past weekend, I caught up somewhat by watching "The Pianist," "Terminator 3," "Dreamcatcher," "About Schmidt" and "Return of the King." I saw the latter, however, on the big screen, not on DVD, and it predictably blew all the others out of the water.

My personal anticipation for this movie trilogy burned like magnesium since the first rumors about this production started circulating. I awaited these movies with more excitement than for any other film—which says a lot, since the original "Star Wars" movies made their debuts during my early teenage years. During those same years, I first discovered the "Lord of the Rings" book trilogy by J.R.R. Tolkien. In that formative time in my life, the books had a tremendous influence on my creative development, and in some ways made me who I am today.

That is not to say that I'm one of those dorks who lined up two days before the premiere of "Return of the King," dressed up like Aragorn or Gandalf. Rather, the trilogy fired my imagination at an early age and inspired me to explore other worlds in books—and in my own writing.

I thought seeing the last of the trilogy's films this past weekend would leave me with a twinge of melancholy, sad not only to see Frodo leave the Grey Havens but also to know there are no more "Lord of the Rings" movies to come. But now that I've seen "Return of the King," there are no such feelings. The movie packed so much power and emotion that it fulfilled—far surpassed, in many ways—every expectation I had.

The first installment, "Fellowship of the Ring," garnered a number of Oscar nominations, including Best Picture, Best Director and Best Supporting Actor (for Ian McKellen, as Gandalf). The Academy, however, largely overlooked "The Two Towers" for any of the major categories. This time, I predict heaps of laurels for "Return of the King." I may not be bold enough to call the Best Picture and Best Director awards this early, but I do predict Sean Astin, who pulled off a moving performance as Frodo's sidekick, Samwise Gamgee, will be a heavy contender for the Best Supporting Actor category. His strong performances in the first two films went mostly ignored, but this time I think Astin's peers can't avoid noticing.

To be honest, though, I couldn't care less how the film fares at the Academy Awards ceremony. The event has become a farce in recent years. This movie trilogy has achieved far more than any golden statuette could recognize, and its impact will be remembered long after everyone has forgotten who won what Oscar in 2004.


©2003 Michael Strickland ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

What is "The Daily Strick"?

I have long called myself a writer, but too often I don't do what a writer must do daily: write. So you, dear reader, are the beneficiary of my resolution to make a positive change in at least one area of my life. Every single day of this new year (almost), I will write something, anything, and post it here. It is my intention to use this daily exercise to jump-start my too-long-dormant creative energies, and perhaps generate some worthwhile material this year. Hopefully you will find at least an occasional amusement or insight in my daily musings.

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December Columns:

12/31: Happy New Year
12/29: Return of the Oscar King
12/28: The Year in Travel
12/26: Trial by Piranha
12/25: Merry Christmas
12/22: Red Squares
12/21: Havasu Falls
12/20: Last Will & Testament
12/19: Bah Humbug
12/16: Newsworthy
12/15: The "Strick" Dialogues
12/14: Animal-Animal
12/12: Old Memories
12/7: Letters to the Editor
12/5: Greed Strike
12/4: Another Day at the Office
12/3: The "Back" in Quarterback
12/1: Sixty-Four
Previous months in The Archive

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