By EW Staff
Updated February 19, 2004 at 05:00 AM EST
Credit: Jackson: Pierre Vinet

Who’ll win Best Director in 2004?

Peter Jackson. What, you thought we were going to pussyfoot around? Peter Jackson. If we haven’t been clear, we’ll say it one more time. Peter Jackson. Let us count the reasons: three (movies), nine (hours), one billion (U.S. box office dollars). But let us also make clear that this is not about quantity: Jackson’s work on ”The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King” is the kind of detailed, dauntless, visionary directing that the Oscars were invented to honor. How can he lose? Then again, since we, ahem, did not exactly, uh, call this race correctly for Roman Polanski last year, let us note that ”Mystic River”’s Clint Eastwood or ”Master and Commander”’s Peter Weir would probably deserve this in any other year, that ”Lost in Translation”’s Sofia Coppola did a pitch-perfect job, and that ”City of God”’s surprise nominee Fernando Meirelles got this far because voters were wowed by his movie. And let us also note that we know ”The Return of the King” has its detractors — but they aren’t likely to rally around a single alternative. So, in conclusion: Peter Jackson.