5 December 2013 11:53 AM, PST | Variety - Film News | See recent Variety - Film News news »

Nearly a decade after “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King” pulled off one of the biggest Oscar-night sweeps of all time, it seems almost unthinkable that it could have played out any other way. But in the days leading up to that year’s ceremony, there were whispers around town that Peter Jackson’s trilogy-capping epic couldn’t possibly win best picture, because it was (gasp!) a fantasy film — a genre the Academy had never once seen fit to honor in its 75-year existence.

Fortunately, rules are made to be broken, and 10 years on from that milestone, the Academy’s alleged prejudice against fantasy/sci-fi movies, suspense thrillers and other strands of popular storytelling seems largely a thing of the past. That’s potentially good news for some of this year’s popular prestige entries, including pictures as different as “Prisoners,” “Lone Survivor,” “Captain Phillips” and »

- Justin Chang

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