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‘Rings’ helmer Jackson nominated for DGA award

Coppola, Eastwood, Ross, and Wier also nominated; Minghella snubbed

“The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King” earned Peter Jackson his third-straight nomination for the Directors Guild of America Awards on Tuesday, the first filmmaker ever nominated three years in a row.

Also nominated were Sofia Coppola for “Lost in Translation,” her tale of unlikely friendship in Tokyo; Clint Eastwood for “Mystic River,” a brooding drama of murder and revenge; Gary Ross for “Seabiscuit,” the story of the Depression-era racehorse; and Peter Weir for the Napoleonic naval adventure “Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World.”

The winner will be announced at the guild’s 56th annual awards dinner Feb. 7.

Jackson previously was nominated for the first two chapters of his fantasy trilogy, 2001’s “The Fellowship of the Ring” and 2002’s “The Two Towers.” Adapted from J.R.R. Tolkien’s epic adventure, all three films have become worldwide blockbusters, with “Return of the King” racing to nearly $300 million domestically in just three weeks.

As the big finale to the saga, “Return of the King” is widely considered the trilogy’s best shot to take top honors at the Academy Awards. The first two films earned best-picture nominations but lost. Jackson was nominated for a best-director Oscar for “Fellowship of the Ring” but lost, and he was overlooked for an Oscar nomination on “Two Towers.”

The top guild honor bodes well for a director’s prospects at the Oscars, which will be presented Feb. 29. Only six times since 1949 has the guild winner failed to go on to win the best-director Oscar.

Coppola, daughter of past guild winner Francis Ford Coppola, and Ross earned their first guild nominations. Eastwood is a past DGA winner for “Unforgiven,” and Weir was nominated three times previously, for “Witness,” “Dead Poets Society” and “The Truman Show.”

Snubbed by the guild this time was “Cold Mountain” director Anthony Minghella, a past DGA winner for “The English Patient.” “Cold Mountain” earned a leading eight Golden Globe nominations, including best director for Minghella.