76th Annual Academy Awards Results and Commentary (2004)

  • Date of Ceremony: Sunday, February 29, 2004
  • For films released in: 2003
  • Host(s): Billy Crystal (video)
Other years:

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Welcome to Digital Hit’s coverage of the 76th Annual Academy Awards®. We’ve got spots backstage, on the red carpet, and in the backstage photo room.

8:30 PM ET

The night starts off with Sean Connery taking to the podium. He discusses how movies are the common link that connects the humanity in all of us and welcomes us to tonight’s ceremony.

This year Billy Crystal’s usual movie montage takes the form of a trailer about Billy trying to get to the Oscars — The Return of the Host.

8:37 PM ET

Billy takes the stage next, “I’ll be your Master and Commander for tonight…and into tomorrow. For the very first time, we’ll be simulcast in Aramaic.”

“Keisha Castle-Hughes…thirteen, you’re too young to have three names. The first time I hosted the awards, Bush was president, the economy was tanking and we just finished a war with Iraq.”

Lost in Translation: Governor Schwarzenegger’s favorite movie. Sofia filmed it in 27 days…it took her father that long to wake Brando.”

8:47 PM ET

Billy’s opening song is finished. And the night’s first presenter, Catherine Zeta-Jones, strolls out. She’s here to present the Best Supporting Actor award. And the Oscar goes to Tim Robbins for Mystic River. “Thank you so much, this is really a lovely honor. Thanks to Clint Eastwood — you’re making my mantle very crowded.” He ended his speech by mentioning that he played a victim of abuse and urged real victims to step forward and help stop the cycle of violence.

In this movie, I play a victim of abuse and violence and if you are out there and are a person that has — had that tragedy befall you, there is no shame and no weakness in seeking help and counseling it is sometimes the strongest thing that you can do to stop the cycle of violence. Thank you.” – Tim Robbins

8:57 PM ET

“It’s nice to be back,” said Billy. “I’d like to thank the Academy for letting me come and go. They’re kinda like the Texas National Guard.”

Sir Ian McKellen, LOTR’s Gandalf, then introduced the first Best Picture clip of the night: The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King.

To the tune of Wild Thing, Angelina Jolie steps out to present the Oscar for Art Direction. And the Oscar goes to The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King. They called the experience a “remarkable ride” and called Peter Jackson the “real wizard”.

9:03 PM ET

Billy introduces Robin Williams. “The reason for our five second delay.” They stand side-by-side to form “a San Francisco wedding cake.”

Robin then introduces the nominees for Best Animated Feature. And the Oscar goes to Finding Nemo.

I am going to be forever grateful to the entire cast and crew of ‘Nemo’ for the giving of their talents to this little fish story that I had.” – Andrew Stanton

Backstage, Tim Robbins expanded upon his comments about abuse and reiterated that it isn’t a sign of weakness to seek help. When asked if he had anything politically incorrect to say, Tim said he would have said it onstage.

9:11 PM ET

Nominee Renée Zellweger then came out to present the Academy Award for Costume Design. And the Oscar goes to The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King. Ngila Dickson called Peter Jackson and Fran Walsh amazing people.

9:15 PM ET

Sofia Coppola’s cousin, Nicolas Cage, had the task of presenting the clip from the next Best Picture nominee, Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World.

Oscar-winner Chris Cooper then returned the favor by presenting the Best Supporting Actress Oscar. And the Oscar goes to Renée Zellweger for Cold Mountain.

[I’d like to thank] Actors Clearinghouse for the good start, Vincent D’Onofrio for teaching me how to work, Tom Cruise for showing me that very early on kindness and success are not mutually exclusive. And finally most importantly in my life, my glorious family, my immigrant mom and dad. Thank you for never saying don’t try. My brother, who I love so much, and his new wife, who clapped the loudest and laughed the loudest. I love you so much.” – Renée Zellweger

9:24 PM ET

Billy took a moment to say hello and thank you to U.S. troops overseas. Tom Hanks then introduced a tribute to one of Oscar’s favorite hosts, Bob Hope. It featured clips from some of his best Academy Award hosting gigs.

9:31 PM ET

Starsky and Hutch’s Owen Wilson and Ben Stiller stroll out next. Stiller’s dressed as Starsky, angry that Wilson backed out of dressing like Hutch. Great chemistry in the banter. They then present the Academy Award for Best Live Action Short. And the Oscar goes to Two Soldiers.

Oh, man, this is amazing. Billy Crystal, I’ll bet you don’t remember recommending film school to a 20-year-old kid wondering what to do with his life about 18 years ago. Thank you for that.” – Aaron Schneider

Stiller and Wilson then presented the Oscar for Best Animated Short. And the Oscar goes to Harvie Krumpet.

9:38 PM ET

Liv Tyler introduces the first song nominee performance tonight, Sting and Alison Krauss singing “You Will Be My Ain True Love” from Cold Mountain. She also introduces the next nominated song “Scarlet Tide” performed by Alison Krauss and nominees Elvis Costello and T. Bone Burnett.

9:45 PM ET

Hey…Liv Tyler’s still here…they should set up a craft service table for her. She’s giving us the next song nominee, “Into the West” from The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, performed by Annie Lennox.

9:54 PM ET

Billy revisits a popular segment from a telecast past when he reads the minds of the audience.

  • Sean Penn: “This is a nice place. I don’t think I’ve ever been thrown out of it.”
  • Julie Andrews: “This sunburst nipple brooch is killing me.”
  • Sean Connery: Pussy Galore…I just got it. That’s dirty!”
  • Julia Roberts: “Don’t hate me because I’m beautiful, hate me because I’m rich.”
  • Oprah Winfrey: “Don’t talk to me about rich, girlfriend.”

9:57 PM ET

Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith discussed the magic done by the effect artists before announcing the nominees for Visual Effects. And the Oscar goes to The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King. “A trilogy of thank you’s to the Academy.”

10:00 PM ET

Jennifer Garner, whose alias is the host of the Scientific and Technical Achievement Awards, recapped the results of that earlier ceremony.

10:02 PM ET

Jim Carrey channels Peter Sellers before presenting an honorary Oscar to Blake Edwards. Calling him a “true master”, Jim does some schtick with Blake before he makes his thank you’s.

I have been allowed a minute and a half, or 90 seconds, my choice, to thank everyone that made it possible for me to receive this honor…So it’s everyone, from the little guy with the shovel, to the discerning folks in the Academy. My mother thanks you, my father thanks you and the beautiful English broad with the incomparable soprano and promiscuous vocabulary, thank you. And I sure as hell thank you.” – Blake Edwards

10:15 PM ET

Saying he was proud to introduce another SNL alumnus, Billy intro’d Bill Murray, who then introduced the clip from Lost in Translation.

10:17 PM ET

Murray’s lovely and talented co-star, Scarlett Johansson, then pays tribute to the work of the makeup artists before handing out the Oscar for Best Makeup. And the Oscar goes to Richard Taylor and Peter King for The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King.

10:21 PM ET

Sandra Bullock and John Travolta then tossed out some sound trivia before presenting the Academy Award for Best Sound Mixing. And the Oscar goes to Christopher Boyes, Michael Semanick, Michael Hedges and Hammond Peek for The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King.

Teasing each other about sound again, Bullock and Travolta then presented the Oscar for Best Sound Editing. And the Oscar goes to Richard King for Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World.

10:26 PM ET

After saying that there was nobody left in New Zealand to thank, Billy introduced the next segment presenter, Julia Roberts. Julia paid tribute to the late Katherine Hepburn.

10:37 PM ET

Bill introduces Oprah Winfrey who presents the clip for Mystic River.

John Cusack and Diane Lane present the Academy Award for Best Documentary Short Subject. And the Oscar goes to Chernobyl Hearts.

Thank you. This is an amazing honor. I feel you’re also honoring the people of Chernobyl, who are suffering the effects of radiation still, 18 years later after the world’s worst accident at the reactor.” – Maryann DeLeo

Nominees Naomi Watts and Alec Baldwin then presented the award for Best Documentary Feature. And the Oscar goes to Errol Morris’ The Fog of War.

40 years ago this country went down a rabbit hole in Vietnam and millions died. I fear we’re going down a rabbit hole once again. And if people can stop and think and reflect on some of the ideas and issues in this movie, perhaps I’ve done some damn good here. Thank you very, very much.” – Errol Morris

10:45 PM ET

“I can’t wait for his tax audit,” jokes Billy. “These are scary times.”

“And now the moment you’ve all been waiting for…but first the president of the Academy.”

Peirson paid tribute to the late Gregory Peck, before introducing the In Memoriam segment.

10:53 PM ET

Backstage, Blake Edwards talks about the hypocrisy of the brouhaha over the Janet Jackson situation.

When you mentioned, Janet Jackson, I think it’s such hypocrisy. As you say, my wife did it in a film, for God sake, and that was when it wasn’t thought of movie stars doing things like that. Nobody complained. I didn’t get any complaint, but maybe they did, but I never heard about it. And I — I don’t know how that you can run ‘Sex In The City’ and have such wonderful ratings and such great approval, and I love the show, and then turn around, because suddenly Janet may not have been great taste, or it may not have been great art or something like that, but raise this kind of thing. It’s all money, and I think that it’s bound to change. As a result, she may have really done something wonderful for things down the road.” – Blake Edwards

10:57 PM ET

Time for a couple of Brits, Sting and Phil Collins, to hand out the Best Original Score award. And the Oscar goes to Howard Shore for The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King.

10:59 PM ET

Moving along, Julianne Moore and Pierce Brosnan cut their comments short…as a hat tip to Film Editing. And the Oscar goes to Jamie Selkirk for The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King.

Thank you Peter and Fran for giving me the opportunity to be involved with such a fantastic production. Thanks to New Line for putting up the cash to get it going at the start of the trilogy.” – Jamie Selkirk

“Do you know people are moving to New Zealand just to be thanked,” cracks Crystal before introducing Jamie Lee Curtis. She intro’s the next nominated song, “A Kiss at the end of the Rainbow”, sung by Mitch and Micky (Eugene Levy and Catherine O’Hara).

11:07 PM ET

Jamie Lee intro’s the next nominated from The Triplets of Belleville, “Belleville Rendezvous”.

11:13 PM ET

Calling them a threat to his career, Billy introduced Will Ferrell and Jack Black, who were assigned the task of presenting Best Song. First they let us know that the “long speech music” actually had lyrics. “You’re going on way too long. You’re boring…”

Back to the Best Song award…And the Oscar goes to The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King for “Into the West”. A very happy Annie Lennox said that she was stunned and thanked Peter Jackson for giving her the chance to work with him.

11:19 PM ET

“Our next presenter is nominated for playing a hitchhiking-serial-killing-prostitute — great another hyphenate,” says Billy as he introduces Charlize Theron who is presenting Best Foreign Language Film. And the Oscar goes to Denys Arcand’s The Barbarian Invasions. Yay Canada!

We’re so thankful that Lord of the Rings did not qualify in this category.” – Denise Robert

11:23 PM ET

Jude Law and Uma Thurman then present the Oscar for Best Cinematography. And the Oscar goes to Russell Boyd for Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World.

11:25 PM ET

Minutes away from 3 1/2 hours…

11:28 PM ET

Sofia Coppola and her pop, Francis Ford Coppola, get a huge round of applause as they stroll out. “Sofia,” Francis says like Brando, “I always wanted you to be a part of the family business.” They’re presenting Best Adapted Screenplay. And the Oscar goes to The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King’s Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens and Peter Jackson. Philippa Boyens of course makes sure to thank J.R.R. Tolkien.

11:32 PM ET

Time for Tobey Maguire to intro the clip for Best Picture nominee Seabiscuit.

11:33 PM ET

Calling them the award-winning couple, Billy introduces Susan Sarandon and Tim Robbins, who are here to present Best Original Screenplay. And the Oscar goes to Sofia Coppola for Lost in Translation. She thanks her dad for everything he taught her. “Every writer needs a muse…mine was Bill Murray.”

11:41 PM ET

It’s time to present Best Director and the task is placed in the hands of Tom Cruise. And the Oscar goes to (surprise, surprise) Peter Jackson for The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King.

11:44 PM ET

“The good news: they found Nemo. The bad news, he’s in one of Wolfgang Puck’s puff pastries.”

Adrien Brody, who kissed Halle Berry after winning last year, says, “Don’t worry, I have a restraining order.” He then presents the Oscar for Best Actress. After spraying some breath freshener in his mouth, Brody announces “And the Oscar goes to Monster’s Charlize Theron.”

Charlize, whose been on a great ride with this role, makes sure to thank director/writer Patty Jenkins and her co-star Christina Ricci, “You are truly the unsung hero of this film.”

And I know everybody in New Zealand has been thanked so I’m going to thank everybody in South Africa, my home country. They’re all watching tonight. And I’m bringing this home next week.” – Charlize Theron

11:56 PM ET

Nicole Kidman, last year’s Best Actress, looks stunning while presenting Best Actor. And the Oscar goes to Sean Penn for Mystic River. As he takes the stage he gets a standing ovation. He thanked Clint Eastwood for coming into his life and the “great, great cast I had to work with.” He also thanked his wife, Robin Wright Penn, for “for being an undying emotional inspiration on this rollercoaster I’m learning to enjoy.”

If there’s one thing that actors know, other than that there weren’t any WMDs — it’s that there is no such thing as best in acting. And That’s proven by these great actors that I was nominated with as well as the — as well as the Giamattis, Cages, Downey Jrs., Nicholsons, etc. that were not nominated. We know how great all of you were.” – Sean Penn

12:03 AM ET

Steven Spielberg is here to present Best Picture. And the last Oscar of the evening goes to The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King. The film, winning 11, ties the record with Titanic and Ben-Hur. Peter Jackson cracks that Billy Crystal can make a film in New Zealand anytime he wants to.

This is just unbelievable. I’m so honored, touched and relieved that the Academy and members of the Academy that have supported us have seen past the trolls and the wizards the hobbits and are now recognizing fantasy this year. Fantasy is an f-word that hopefully the five second delay won’t do anything with.” – Peter Jackson

12:10 AM ET

After thanking the people of Long Island, Billy signs off.

We’d like to give special thanks to Best Western, the Best Western Hollywood Plaza Inn and the Best Western Sunset Plaza Hotel for their generous assistance with our coverage stay.

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