Offbeat Oscars: 10 Outside-the-Box Best Picture Winners

Serial-killer thrillers, neurotic-nebbish rom-coms, silent French movies — these winners went against the grain

'Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King' (2003)

On one hand, Peter Jackson's trilogy of Tolkien adaptations was such a critical and commercial sensation that a Best Picture trophy seemed inevitable for its final installment. On the other hand, this is effectively the last three-and-a-half hours of a 558-minute movie about a band of hairy little people trying to return a piece of jewelry. While its Oscar victory may have been preordained, The Return of the King was nevertheless the first fantasy film to win Best Picture, its triumph eradicating myth that the Academy Awards were too stuffy to recognize the merits of a film in which Elijah Wood rides a giant eagle over an erupting volcano.

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