The Biggest Oscars Giants Of The Century So Far
The 87th Academy Awards are fast approaching, and a new batch of films, actors, and crew members will soon join the historic and prestigious company of Oscar winners past. Right now, many of the most interesting races, including that for Best Picture, are still too close to call. But come Oscar night, we could very well see a particular film rise above the rest in multiple categories to join the ranks of previous powerhouse winners.
While we wait for the red carpet to be rolled out on Feb. 22, here’s a look back at the biggest Academy Awards winners from the 2000s and 2010s so far!
In 2001, “Gladiator” was nominated for virtually every major award with the exception of the Best Actress categories (leading and supporting). Most notably, it won Best Picture, Russell Crowe won Best Actor in a Leading Role for his portrayal of heroic general-turned-gladiator Maximus, and Ridley Scott and Joaquin Phoenix were nominated for Best Director and Best Actor in a Supporting Role, respectively.
In the years since, “Gladiator” has lived on in interesting ways. Perhaps most entertaining were the rumors of a failed attempt at a sequel that would have seen Maximus turned into an antichrist killer. However, its influence extends in other areas as well. There’s actually a popular online game based on the film, which strangely enough takes the place of any sort of ordinary video game, as none based on “Gladiator” ever gained popularity. The Betfair platform hosts the game, which is simply called Gladiator and uses cartoon renderings of the cinematic characters to enhance a slot machine. This is perhaps the most popular homage to “Gladiator” in modern culture, unless you count the undeniable influence the film has had on numerous sword-and-sandals films and shows since its release.
The Lord Of The Rings: The Return Of The King (2003)
Because it was the third part of a trilogy, and frankly not the sort of film that tends to dominate the Oscars, “The Lord Of The Rings: The Return Of The King” is rather forgettable as an awards show titan. Yet at the 2004 Academy Awards, this film was nominated for a staggering 11 awards. And that’s not even the crazy part! The film won all 11 awards for which it was nominated, including Best Picture and Best Director for Peter Jackson. It even tied the record previously held by “Ben Hur” and “Titanic” for the most wins.
Few could have guessed, at the time, that the Middle Earth saga was far from finished in pop culture. Like “Gladiator,” the “Lord Of The Rings” trilogy lived on in various gaming titles, including the recently released Middle Earth: Shadow Of Mordor by Warner Bros. However, even in film, Peter Jackson was far from finished after “The Return Of The King” brought him a bundle of Oscars. As we all know, he went on to film “The Hobbit” and turned it into a somewhat-overblown trilogy. And now, the third film of this second trilogy, “The Hobbit: The Battle Of The Five Armies,” has received a 2015 Academy Award Nomination for Best Sound Editing. It’s a far cry from the 11 nominations of the original trilogy’s finale, but it’s a nice honor for the film.
Slumdog Millionaire (2008)
Many may be surprised to recall that 2008’s “Slumdog Millionaire” is second only to “The Lord Of The Rings: The Return Of The King” among 21st-century Oscar winners, with eight wins. Its triumphs include Best Picture, Best Director (Danny Boyle), and Best Adapted Screenplay (Simon Beaufoy).
Perhaps the greatest achievement of “Slumdog Millionaire,” however, was in bringing some extraordinarily talented people to the attention of film fans around the world. Most notable in this regard was A.R. Rahman, known previously in Indian culture and among Bollywood fans as a brilliant songwriter and composer. Rahman won Oscars for Best Original Score and Best Original Song for this film, gaining the international renown he deserved. Likewise, the film marked the loud announcement of young actors Dev Patel and Freida Pinto to the world, and both are now in the early stages of promising careers.
The King’s Speech (2010)
At the 2011 Oscars, “The King’s Speech” managed just four wins, decidedly fewer than the other films on this list. However, they were what many would consider four of the five most prestigious awards (the fifth being Best Actress in a Leading Role): Best Picture, Best Director (Tom Hooper), Best Actor in a Leading Role (Colin Firth), and Best Original Screenplay (David Seidler). Furthermore, the film secured 12 total nominations, essentially spreading its reach over the entire evening in 2011.
“The King’s Speech” was a rare film in modern times, in refreshing ways. It wasn’t a remake or reboot, it didn’t lend itself to a sequel or to video game adaptations, and it relied quite minimally on special effects and enhancements. It was simply a marvelous take on a true story presented by a formidable group of veteran filmmakers and actors. But if there was a lasting accomplishment by this film, it may have been propelling Firth to the level of respect of which he is deserving. Now viewed by many as one of the truly elite Hollywood actors, Firth is as much of a box office draw as a critical sure thing. In fact, according to Forbes, his new film, “Kingsman: The Secret Service,” netted a $10.5 million opening Friday, even with “50 Shades Of Grey” (a sure box office giant) sharing its release date!