By MEGAN GIBB
6.10pm: Three hours and forty minutes later...and its all over. What a fantastic honour for Lord of the Rings, winning all the awards that it was nominated for.
6.04pm: Its a clean sweep! Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King takes Best Picture. The whole cast accompanies Peter Jackson, Fran Walsh and Barrie Osbourne on stage.
"I want to say a few quick words, especially to the people of New Zealand and the Government of New Zealand and the city councils and everyone who has supported us the length and breadth of the country," Jackson said accepting the award.
"This is just unbelievable, and I'm so honoured and touched and relieved that the Academy and members of the Academy have seen past the trolls and wizards and the hobbits in recognising fantasy this year."
"Fantasy's an F word that hopefully the five-second delay won't do anything with."
(Final tally: LOTR 11, Mystic River 2, Cold Mountain 1, Master and Commander 2)
Click here for a complete list of Oscar results.
6.03pm: Director Steven Spielberg presents the biggest award of them all, Best Picture. And the Oscar goes to....(do I even need to cross my fingers?)
6.00pm: Sean Penn wins Best Actor for "Mystic River". I'm a little upset that Bill Murray missed out, but Sean Penn did give an amazing performance in this movie.
5.57pm: Last year's Best Actress winner Nicole Kidman presents Best Actor. And the Oscar goes to....
5.47pm: Theron wins best actress for "Monster". Unfortunately Keisha Castle-Hughes misses out this time. But hey shes only 13, there's plenty of time for her. Charlize Theron thanks her director Patty Jenkins, her co-star Christina Ricci, before shedding some of the tears that have been missing previously tonight, when thanking her boyfriend and mother. She also thanks the people of her homeland, South Africa.
5.45pm: Adrian Brody presents Best Actress. And the Oscar goes to...(fingers crossed for Keisha) Brody reassures the audience that they have a restraining order for him. (referring to last year's awards when he presented Best actress to Halle Berry before planting a passionate kiss on her)
5.42pm: Tom Cruise presents Best Director. And the Oscar goes to..... Peter Jackson! Finally! after 3 years! A LOTR clean sweep is looking pretty likely now. Jackson sounds a little choked up as he dedicated the win to his late parents.
(Running total: LOTR 10, Mystic River 1, Cold Mountain 1, Master and Commander 2)
5.34pm: Oscar winning couple Susan Sarandon and Tim Robbins present Original Screenplay. And the Oscar goes to......Sofia Coppola for "Lost in Translation". She thanks her father, and Bill Murray - "Every writer needs a muse - mine was Bill Murray."
Her win makes her famous family - including her father Francis Ford Coppola and grandfather Carmine - the second three-generation Oscar-winning clan. The first were the Hustons: Walter, John and Anjelica.
5.30pm: The 'Rings' team does it again! Peter Jackson, Fran Walsh, and Philippa Boyens head up to accept.
Peter Jackson thanks his kids.
(Running total: LOTR 9, Mystic River 1, Cold Mountain 1, Master and Commander 2)
5.29pm: Francis Ford-Coppola and his daughter present Best Adapted Screenplay. Francis tells his daughter "I always wanted you to join the family business". And the Oscar goes to......
5.26pm: Best cinematography is up next. It's a shame that LOTR isn't nominated in this category. And the Oscar goes to.....Russell Boyd, Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World.
(Running total: LOTR 8, Mystic River 1, Cold Mountain 1, Master and Commander 2)
5.22pm: The awards are coming thick and fast now. Charlize Theron is presenting best Foreign Film. And the Oscar goes to....The Barbarian Invasions.
5.17pm: Fran Walsh, Annie Lennox and Howard Shore win for 'Into the West' from The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King. Annie Lennox dedicates her performance to her mother, who passed away last year. Although the Orchestra had cut her off, Fran Walsh perseveres and gets her thank you's in.
Fran walsh: "Can I do one thing ... I wanna do one tiny thank you and it's to Sharon and Rhys Duncan who are watching in New Zealand.
Their son [Cameron] was an inspiration for this song and it's an honour to share it with him."
(Running total: LOTR 8, Mystic River 1, Cold Mountain 1, Master and Commander 1)
5.15pm: Rock singer/actor Jack Black and Will Ferrell come on stage to present Best Song. They begin by performing a musical homage to the song the orchestra plays, that cuts off actors acceptance speeches. LOTR is up for this award too...fingers crossed. And the Oscar goes to....
5.09pm: Another of the best song nominees is performed by The Triplets of Belleville. Not sure the idea to lump the song performances together this year was a good one though. It seems to drag a bit.
5.05pm: The actors from folk music satire "A Mighty Wind", Eugene Levy and Catherine O'Hara perform the song "A Kiss at the End of the Rainbow", another nominee for Best Song. They sing well for actors!
5.01pm: Julianne Moore and Brosnan, Pierce Brosnan appear to present Film Editing. And the Oscar goes to......You guessed it "Lord of the Rings" - Jamie Selkirk.
(Running total: LOTR 7, Mystic River 1, Cold Mountain 1, Master and Commander 1)
4.59pm: Sting and Phil Collins give a word of recognition to the conductor and orchestra before presenting Best Music (Score). And the Oscar goes to.....Howard Shore for Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King. Its 6 out of 6 for the Rings!
(Running total: LOTR 6, Mystic River 1, Cold Mountain 1, Master and Commander 1)
4.50pm: Another tribute to those who passed away over the past year begins with Gregory Peck and includes the legend Charles Bronson, among others.
4.43pm: Naomi Watts (the first we've seen of her today) and Alec Baldwin present Best Documentary Feature. And the Oscar goes to....The Fog of War.
4.40pm: Diane Lane and that smoothie John Cusack present Best Documentary Short Film. And the Oscar goes to....Chernobyl Heart.
4.38pm: A serious-looking Oprah Winfrey introduces Mystic River as a Best Film nominee.
4.30pm: Julia Roberts presents a tribute to Katherine Hepburn who passed away last year.
4.27pm: The Sound Mixing category is next - LOTR isn't nominated so this award is up for someone else to take. And the Oscar goes to..... Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World. It's the first win for Peter Weir's seafaring epic today.
(Running total: LOTR 5, Mystic River 1, Cold Mountain 1, Master and Commander 1)
4.24: John Travolta and Sandra Bullock present Best Sound. And the Oscar goes to....I think its going to be a clean sweep! The Rings team takes it again!!
(Running total: LOTR 5, Mystic River 1, Cold Mountain 1)
4.19pm: Scarlett Johansson presents Best Make up. And the Oscar goes to.....Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King! Richard Taylor and Peter King accept.
(Running total: LOTR 4, Mystic River 1, Cold Mountain 1)
4.17pm: Bill Murray is introduced by Billy Crystall and proceeds to tell little anecdotes about the making of the Sofia Coppla-directed film Lost in Translation, while introducing it as one of today's Best Film nominees.
4.06pm: Baldie Jim Carrey presents an honorary Oscar to the 81-year-old Blake Edwards, the man behind such classics as "Breakfast at Tiffany's," "10" and the "Pink Panther" films. Honorary awards are given for "exceptional distinction in the making of motion pictures or for outstanding service to the Academy."
Edwards has only been nominated once before (and never won)- for the screenplay adaptation for "Victor/Victoria."
4.02pm: Jennifer Garner introduces a recap of the 'Geek Oscars' the Scientific and Technical Awards which were awarded a couple of weeks ago.
3.58pm: Will Smith and wife Jada Pinkett-Smith present Achievement in Visual Effects. Jada looks like a midget next to Will. And the Oscar goes to.....Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King again! Looks like it really IS going to be LOTR's night.
Jim Rygiel, Joe Letteri, Randall William Cook and Alex Funke accept the award. All are previous Oscar winners.
Jim Rygiel won in this category for 'Rings' films in 2002 (Fellowship of the ring) and 2003 (The Two Towers).
Joe Letteri won in 2003 for The Two Towers.
Randall William Cook won in this category for 'Rings' films in 2002 (Fellowship of the ring) and 2003 (The Two Towers).
Alex Funke won in this category for The Two Towers in 2003 and in 1990 won Special Achievement Award (Visual Effects) for Total Recall.
(Running total: LOTR 3, Mystic River 1, Cold Mountain 1)
3.48pm: What's with all the songs in a row? Annie Lennox shows she's better than ever before with a beautiful performance of 'Into The West' the nominated song from Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King.
3.40pm: Alison Krauss performs the second nominated song from Cold Mountain "Scarlett Tide" with Elvis Costello.
3.38pm: Liv Tyler introduces the first of today's nominated songs, "You Will Be My Ain True Love" from "Cold Mountain" which is performed by Alison Krauss with Sting.
3.35pm: Wilson and Stiller also present Best Animated Short Film. And the Oscar goes to.....Harvie Krumpet. Well at least the Aussies get one this year. Adam Elliot accepts and thanks the Australian Film Commission.
3.30pm: Owen Wilson and Ben Stiller present Best live action short film. And the Oscar goes to....Two Soldiers. Aaron Schnieder and Andrew J. Sacks accept the award. They seem to get less time to speak and are cut off during their acceptance by the orchestra.
3.20pm: The Best Supporting Actress Oscar goes to...Renee Zellweger for Cold Mountain. In an extended, acceptance speech, she thanks almost everyone she knows...including her fellow nominees, her co-stars Jude Law and Nicole Kidman, director Anthony Minghella and....Tom Cruise. (with whom she starred in Jerry Maguire) They do a quick cut to Nicole Kidman's face as Tom is mentioned. (which is a mask of polite hapiness)
(Running total: LOTR 2, Mystic River 1, Cold Mountain 1)
3.13pm: Renee Zellweger presents Best Costume Design. And the Oscar goes to.....Ngila Dickson and Richard Taylor, The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King!
Ngila Dickson thanks Peter Jackson, Fran Walsh, Barrie Osbourne and her costume crew.
"(They're) an unbelievable group of people who stuck with us through thick and thin, five long years of film making."
Richard Taylor thanks the team back in NZ at Weta Workshop as well as his wife, Tania Rodger, who he says he bought two live rats for when they were 13, and she's still there with him. "What a treat."
"Everyone who's supported us through the last seven years, I thank you so much."
(Running total: LOTR 2, Mystic River 1)
3.06pm: Robin Williams presents Best Animated feature, a relatively new award, the first one presented in 2002. And the Oscar goes to....Finding Nemo!
3.01pm: Strike one up for Lord of the Rings! Grant Major (Art Direction), Dan Hennah and Alan Lee (Set Decoration) take the stage and thank "the real wizard" Peter Jackson.
"I'd like to thank the real wizard who led us all on this journey and inspired us with his energy, his vision, nerve, Peter Jackson," Lee said.
"Thank you very, very much for delivering these to us."
(Running total: LOTR 1, Mystic River 1)
3.00pm Angelina Jolie presents Art Direction. And the Oscar goes to...
2.57pm: Sir Ian McKellen introduces the first of the night's montages for Best Film, Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King.
2.49pm: Tim Robbins for Mystic River! Robbins thanks fellow nominees and cast, and his wife Susan Sarandon among others. He finishes by telling those who have been victims of abuse or violence (as the character he plays in the film) "There is no shame in seeking help or counselling. It is the strongest thing you can do, to help stop the cycle of violence."
2.48pm: Catherine Zeta Jones presents Best Supporting Actor. And the Oscar goes to...
2.40pm: Billy Crystal's song-and-dance routine to begin his eighth turn presenting the Oscar's keeps the crowd giggling. Early targets of his mockery include Mel Gibson's controversial film "The Passion of the Christ" and the Iraq War. He tells Keisha Castle-Hughes she "too young to have two last names".
2.30pm: The Awards show begins with Oscar winner Sean Connery introducing Billy Crystal's hilarious film spoof montage, which includes take-offs of all the Best Film nominees. Billy Crystal as Gollum is a very scary sight.
2.27pm: An embarrased Keisha Castle-Hughes gets out of her seat to be introduced to Johnny Depp. Depp tells Keisha he thinks she's "just amazing".
2.19pm: The stars all want to outdo each other by arriving fashionably late so there are many big names, including Angelina Jolie and Renee Zellweger, making a dash into the Kodak Theatre for the beginning of the ceremony.
2.15pm: Bill Murray looks slightly distracted when asked what he is wearing. He says "boxers".
When prompted, he offers that his suit is by Helmut Lang, who also made all his clothes in the film for which he is nominated for Best Actor, "Lost in Translation".
2.07pm: Maria Menounos interviews Ben Stiller until Owen Wilson interupts and the two exchange the witty banter and schtick they are known for. Stiller walks off in a mock huff when Wilson 'steals his line' by saying dramatically that "the girl in Whale Rider forced me to examine my own heart".
2.00pm: With less than 30 minutes until the awards start, Will Smith offers his pick for Best Supporting Actor - Djimon Hounsou.
1.54pm: Charlize Theron and boyfriend Stuart Townshend arrive, Charlize looking like a 1920s glamour girl. She says she will be "ready to get back to normal life" after the awards are over. She is wearing Tom Ford for Gucci.
1.50pm: Sofia Coppola, nominated for Best Director for her film "Lost in Translation", says after the awards are over she will be taking a break before getting back to writing, because "all of this has been encouraging".
1.47pm: Last year's Best Actress winner Nicole Kidman steps up to be interviewed, but only gets time to tell us her silver dress is Chanel Couture, before being stolen away by another pushy red carpet reporter.
1.45pm: Liv Tyler, one of the few women wearing black this year is wearing Givenchy Couture, the label for which she promotes perfume.
1.36pm: Catherine Zeta-Jones and Michael Douglas arrive. Zeta-Jones is wearing a scarlett Versace dress which "her friend Donatella" made her from and old Versace design book.
1.30pm: Another NZ star, Rings director Peter Jackson manages to don shoes and a tux for the event. When asked about being the favourite, the ever humble Jackson says "There are always surprises, being the favourite just sets you up for an upset, so we'll see." Of his next project, he says the completely NZ project, King Kong, will begin filming in August.
1.15pm: Lord of the Rings Hobbits Sean Astin, Elijah Wood, Billy Boyd and Dominic Monahan step up to talk to Joan Rivers. While Joan talks to Elijah, Sean Astin begins talking on his cellphone. Joan is perturbed. "Now I've seen everything!" she screeches. It turns out Sean is talking to his brother.
1.12pm: Lost in Translation actress Scarlett Johansson shows off the old Hollywood-style glamour that she is becoming known for in an emerald silk Alberto Ferretti gown and red lipstick. Robin Williams interrupts Joan Rivers' interview with Johansson in his usual boisterous style. When Joan mentions how the networks are cracking down on outrageous behaviour on screen Williams cracks "I know, I had to take out my nipple ring". Joan replies "I had to take mine out because I kept tripping over it". What a classy lady.
1.05pm: Holly Hunter is dressed in a cotton candy pink Vera Wang gown featuring tulle over a chiffon bodice. When Joan Rivers nosily asks about her private life Hunter says "It's very happy - and mine", pointedly implying she had no intention of telling Rivers any juicy details. Hunter is a nominee this year for Best Supporting Actress, for her role in 'Thirteen'.
1.00pm: Favourite for Best Supporting Actor, Tim Robbins, eschews a limo for this year's hot car, the hybrid gas-electric Toyota Prius. Robbins is obviously very impressed that the car "gets 55 miles to the gallon". Other stars tipped to be travelling in the Prius to the awards are Charlize Theron, Marcia Gay Harden, Tim Robbins, Susan Sarandon, Robin Williams, Will Ferrell and Jack Black.
12.51: Marcia Gay Harden, who is pregnant with twins, arrives looking elegant in a royal blue empire line dress. She is nominated this year for Best Supporting Actress for Mystic River. Harden won a Best Supporting Actress Oscar for Pollock in 2000.
12.45pm: Best actor nominee Sir Ben Kingsley arrives with his wife and Jonathan Ahdoot, who played his son in the movie he is nominated for, drama House of Sand and Fog. Joan Rivers is strangely fascinated with the fact that he has been knighted by the Queen of England.
This year's nomination is Kingsley's fourth> He previously won for his title role playing Ghandi. "Every time I'm nominated I feel like my statue has been dipped in gold again".
12.20pm: NZ's girl of the hour, Keisha Castle-Hughes makes an early entrance in a cowl neck baby pink number by NZ designer Liz Mitchell. She is immediately pulled aside by E! Network presenter Joan Rivers, who is just finishing an interview with Jamie Lee Curtis. Curtis declares that she and Keisha are "best friends - I've got her back." Keisha looks a little startled.
Keisha tells Joan she is really nervous. "You don't usually do one film and end up at the Oscars, it's so crazy."
She is looking very glam, with a diamond whale shaped pin, made by Sydney Evans in her hair.
She says the one actor she would like to meet today is Johnny Depp.
12.15pm: There's very little happening on the red carpet as yet, but one of the first there is wearing what is likely to the one of the most impressive outfits. Maria Menounos, a host for US TV show 'Entertainment Tonight' is wearing a diamond-studded dress from Randi Rahm worth $US2.5 million. The one-of-a-kind dress is emblazoned with 3000 hand-sewn round, princess and marquis-cut coloured stones totalling two thousand carats. Can anyone say bling bling?
12.00pm: Welcome to our commentary of the 76th annual Academy Awards, better known as the Oscars.
With 11 award nominations for The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, and Keisha Castle-Hughes a best actress nominee, the Oscars have never been bigger for New Zealand.
While the stars stroll the red carpet at the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood, and throughout the awards ceremony, we will be updating you on the winners, what they said and, of course, what they were wearing!
Our inner fashion police will be on the look out for any dress disasters similar to previous years, which saw Bjork's swan dress, or Lara Flynn Boyle's tutu grace the red carpet.
The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King is the hot favourite to take Best Picture, and we'd like to see Keisha make an upset win to beat favourite Charlize Theron, to take home Best Actress. This year many of the the nominations favoured bravura performances in low-budget films over established stars, so it will be interesting to see if Academy voters will support that notion.
Before the awards begin, make yourself familiar with the list of 2004 Oscar nominees, check out our picture gallery, or read Russell Baillie's interview with best actress nominee Keisha Castle-Hughes.
Herald Feature: The Oscars
Red carpet picture gallery
2004 nominees and winners
Related information and links
By MEGAN GIBB