The Lord Of The Rings: THE RETURN OF THE KING may be hotly tipped to sweep the board at this year's (04) Oscars, but the movie failed to scoop a single award at the London critics' ceremony.

Instead ACADEMY AWARD rival Master And Commander: THE FAR SIDE OF THE WORLD - starring Russell Crowe and PAUL BETTANY - bagged three gongs, including Best Film, at the 24th Awards of the LONDON FILM CRITICS' CIRCLE.

Bettany won Best British Actor, while the film also took the award for Best Screenwriter, at the ceremony in central London last night (11FEB04).

The 100 critics who make up the Circle snubbed Peter Jackson's The Return of the King, the final installment in the adapted JRR TOLKIEN trilogy, which had been nominated for Best Film and Best Director in the event.

London Film Critics' Circle Chairman William Russell insists Master and Commander deserved to sweep the board.

He says, "The British are an island race, which is probably why Master and Commander, a rip roaring tale of life at sea in the age of sail, swept the board in our awards.

"You can almost taste the salt in the air. Director Peter Weir, as well as handling spectacular scenes of storms at sea, also secured memorable performances from a huge cast headed by Russell Crowe and Paul Bettany."

12/02/2004 09:05