Fantasy: An Oscar Hairsplit

People are saying “Lord of the Rings: Return of the King” is the first fantasy film to win best picture. Yes, but:
–In the first place, it’s a stretch to call the story a fantasy. Sure, there’s lots of imaginary beings and the whole quest thing going on. But I think Tolkien really invented his world not to spin stories about elves and wizards and talking trees, but to create a setting against which he could explore some basic themes about mythology and events in the real world.
–In the second place, a short list of Best Picture winners that could also be considered fantasy — if you buy one dictionary definition of the word as “literary or dramatic fiction marked by highly fanciful or supernatural elements”: “Chicago” (2002), “Shakespeare in Love” (1998), “Titanic” (1997), “Forrest Gump” (1994), “Amadeus” (1984), “The Sound of Music” (1965), “My Fair Lady” (1963), “Tom Jones” (1963).

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