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The 76th Academy Awards, held on February 29, was an extravagant affair. The evening clearly belonged to The Lord Of The Rings: The Return Of The King, which won all the 11 categories that it was nominated in, including best director (Peter Jackson) and best film.

Sean Penn and Charlize Theron won the best and actress awards for Mystic River and Monster, respectively.

New York movies guru Aseem Chhabria chatted with cinephiles after the Oscars:

aseem chhabra : Hello everyone -- this is Aseem Chhabra in New York

aseem chhabra : Shall we start the chat?

chinamma : how much cud lotrs win be attributed to being snubbed in the last 2 parts, and wanting to reward the series
aseem chhabra : well you are partly right -- lot's of considerations go into the way the academy works

Sania : Do you think the Oscars were very predictable this year?
aseem chhabra : all the major acting categories were expected as was the lotr sweep

okdokey : the academy loves glamorous women going offbeat.. no wonder theron won
aseem chhabra : you are perhaps right there -- but honestly theron's performance is brilliant -- i was very surprrsed by the film -- i didn;t expect to like it that much -- and it also grabs you -- difficult film to watch but very well done

rahulbajaj : Titanic vs return of the king ur choice??which one is better?
aseem chhabra : that is a difficult question to answer -- what i find intersting is that both these films -- not awards were given in the acting category -- i find that these major sweeping sagas win everything in the techincal categories and then of course best director and best pictures awards

Maya : What was the most funny Oscar moment this year?
aseem chhabra : tough one -- but perhaps when owen wilson and ben stiller were on stage -- i find the two hillarious

doniv : Do you think Bill Murray deserved an Oscar?
aseem chhabra : bill murray looked really annoyed at the end of the show -- when billy crystal said "bill don;t go, we all love u"bill murray was a lot of fun in lost in transalation -- but the academy did right in giving sean penn his oscar -- he is one of the finest actors in hollywood -- he has given such great performances -- did u see him in dead man walking -- so sean penn REALLY deserved this oscar

okdokey : dont u see the similariy in the lotr and titanic sweep??? no competition at all
aseem chhabra : well no competition in the sense that both were major films made at sucha vast scale -- none of the other films this past year (barring master and commander) were of the scale of lotr

owen : wasnt it too much of LOTR ..did it deserve so much in fact ?
aseem chhabra : lotr is nine hours of cinema -- with more than a billion dollars in box ofice gross (hollywood loves movies that make a ton of money) -- 5 or 6 years in the making -- and in the last two years it did not win in the major categories -- so i think peter jackson and he crew deserved the big win this year

Arwen : Don't you think Sean Penn was a rather convention choice? He is always playing this soppy characters... I am Sam was one such performance.
aseem chhabra : to those who have doubts about sean penn's acting check him out in dead man walking -- tim robbins' movie and also check out how brilliant he is in mystic river and 21 grams -- he is an amazing actor -- the academy hadn't taken him seriously so far -- plus he himself likes to be an outsider -- i think this was the first time i have seen him at the oscar ceremony -- usually he skinps these events -- he wasn't there for the golden globes

guru : I think Clint Eastwood deserved for best director...
aseem chhabra : guru and abc -- about clint east wood -- well you both have the right to hold your views -- mystic river is a great movies -- great acting -- it just so happened that for the past two years the lotr trilogy has been igonored in the major categories -- the trilogy is over -- and it has been an amazing piece of filmmaking --peter jackson won today for all the three filmsplus clint has done great work in teh apst and he has won the best director award

rits : Don't you think The Twilight Samurai was unlucky?
aseem chhabra : i haven't seen the twilight samurai (actually missed a screening last week) -- the film hasn't opened in the us -- actually there were several other foreign films which were so good -- but weren't even nominated -- osama from afghanistan -- the return from russiabut the barbarian invasion is a quiet and very touching film

rahulbajaj : The Academy of Motion Pictures had given the project to a Los Angeles-based motion picture design and production firm, Prologue Films, which, in turn, had outsourced the graphics element to VCL indian company is this true????
aseem chhabra : rahul, i don't know the answer to that question -- sorry!!

sukumar : I thought Jonny Depp should have got the Best Actor Award.. What do you think Aseem?
aseem chhabra : i am huge jonny depp fan -- i have loved him in all of off beat films -- what's eating gilbert grape? chocolat, dead man, edward scissorhand, ed wood etc.he was very enjoyable in the pirates -- it was such an entertaining film -- but i am not sure if that performance was oscar caliber

ketan : why the f*** kill bill wasnt nominated?
aseem chhabra : ketan -- kill bill is really not that great a film -- more hype than anything else -- i enjoyed the film -- really entertaining -- but nothing more -- i think tarantino is still a one film wonder (actually two films -- because reservoir dogs was great too -- although that wasn't his original work)

rahulbajaj : Do u fell if Mr & Mrs iyer were sent to oscars would it have won in foreign category??
aseem chhabra : the foreign film category is always very difficult to predict -- i am quite mad at the indian film industry for not nominating any film for 2003 -- mr. & mrs. iyer was a very powerful film and a real romantic story -- it would have worked well -- can't say if it would have eventually been nominated

owen : if it LOTR was ignored for the past two years and its a trilogy. what made the third part different to get 11 awards ?
aseem chhabra : owen -- the scademy works in strange ways -- often people or directors are given awards for their careers -- russel crowe won for the gladiator -- but in fact, the academy was correcting a mistake it had earlier made -- russell should have won for the insider or even la confidential in the case of lotr -- this sward is for the entire body of work -- by which i mean all three films combined together

jesin : Its a pity that 'Lost in Translation' didnt win more. Such a nice film.
aseem chhabra : i loved lost in transalation -- really funny -- and very touching -- a sad, sad film about two dislocated peoplebut here is my take -- every year there is at least one indie film that sweeps hollywood -- and evnetually that film winds one award -- best original screenplay -- and frankly that is the greatest attribute of lit -- it is extremely well written -- a very clever plot by sofia c.

rahulbajaj : inspite of the foolproof procedures do u feel oscars are rigged?
aseem chhabra : the oscars aren't rigged -- but people do think of a lot of things when they try to decide on who to vote fordo you remember a few years ago -- julia roberts statement about denzel washington deserving a win -- denzel's performance was great -- but julia's statement triggered something in the minds of the academy -- i think denzel won because julia spoke out in his favor -- so these things happen all the time -- but the oscars aren't rigged

owen : was there any surprises this year ?
aseem chhabra : owen -- i think i may hav eanswered this before -- there really were no major surprises this year -- well that was the the real surprise --

cheenu : Hai Movie guru ...Have u missed any good movie ?
aseem chhabra : i want to see diane keaton in sothings gotta give -- i haven't seen it yet -- i haven't seen mel gibson's passion of christ -- everyone is talking about it these days

jesin : aseem, please reply to rahulbajaj's question. did lotr really deserve the best music score? lotr - the fellowship of the ring was much better.
aseem chhabra : music score -- maybe cold mountain's music was very good -- but cold mountain was really snnubbed this year -- in practically all categories -- it was almost a backlash against miramax

sukumar : How can someone's statement as Julia's trigger the Academy to give another actor an award.. Dont you think that there is some kind of mind rigging or politics here Aseem?
aseem chhabra : well call it what you want to -- all i am saying is that a lot of things influence the oscars -- look at the way studios push the films -- the ads -- the free film screeners that are sent out -- miramax is notorious for over promoting their films -- so julia's statement had its affect toobut all of this should not minimize the fact that most often people who derseve win -- look at this year's four acting categories -- each actor was brilliant

rahulbajaj : wat about Mystic river winning the best direction and film???dont understand wat is so special about LOTR nothing great in it
aseem chhabra : well mystic river won the two male actors awards -- that is a huge win for clint eastwood

rahulbajaj : do u think musicals should also be considered for the oscars??
aseem chhabra : hey remember last year -- chicago swept the oscars -- musicals are considered -- but hollywood doesn't make too many musicals these days -- also the academy tends to take dramas much more seriously

owen : do u know how many people cast their votes for an academy award ?
aseem chhabra : i am saying roughly speaking i think there are abot 6,000 members of the academy

jesin : btw, i think this year's oscars was very well presented. i did miss the last part. what do you think, aseem?
aseem chhabra : yes i agree with you -- it was well done -- minor political touches (which i liked -- since those were against george bush's policies)

owen : Billy crystal dint seem his usual self to me , was he good ?
aseem chhabra : i like billy crystal a lot -- but i found him a bit stale -- a bit forced -- his oscar song is getting very tired

owen : Why is the academy against Miramaz ? finding nemo got it and so did rene zelwegger ..may its just a stretch of imagination
aseem chhabra : becuase cold mountain was snubbed in the nomination process -- it did not win the best picture and best director nominationthe academy is tired of miramad behaving as if it has a control over the oscar process -- because harvey weinstein of miramax has become so very over aggressive in promoting his films -- even since the year -- he shocked the world by winning the best picture award for shakespeare in lovefinding nemo is pixar film -- distributed by disney (disney also owns miramax -- but miramax workd very independently)

rahulbajaj : wat about the film SIGNS why wasnt it nominated it was a big hit right??
aseem chhabra : signs was a 2002 film -- we can take this offline if you want -- but i not a fan of night shyamalan's films

jesin : to reply to joal, the film committee in india must first do a better job of sending its nominations each year. if it keeps sending these masala films as nominations, theres' no hope whatsoever. just look at the list of nominations over the years and you are sure to be shocked. (jeans, devdas, etc, etc)
aseem chhabra : you are right jesin -- very, very right -- i still can't get over jeans -- and devdas gave people a headache -- at least half the people in the academy's screening of devdas walked out at the intermission time

owen : is it fair on the part of the academy to blow away some ones speech by music ? after all its a once in a life time for many.
aseem chhabra : well there are time limits -- the show has to end at a certain time abc has all the considerations -- advertisers etc. i know it sound rude but that is the only way to end the speeches

owen : thank you sir for ur expert comments
aseem chhabra : you are welcome owen -- well guys i have to call it a night -- it is after 1 am in new york -- i realy enjoyed the chat -- good night and take care

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