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Here's what the Oscars looked like 20 years ago: Heath Ledger, Angelina Jolie & more stars at the 2004 Academy Awards

The 76th Academy Awards featured big wins for Charlize Theron and "The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King."

Angelina Jolie, Charlize Theron, Naomi Watts and Heath Ledger at the 2004 Academy Awards. (Image via Getty Images)
Angelina Jolie, Charlize Theron, Naomi Watts and Heath Ledger at the 2004 Academy Awards. (Image via Getty Images)

The Oscars are, without a doubt, the pinnacle of awards season. The 2024 Academy Awards are set to take place this Sunday, March 10 at 7 p.m. EST/ 4 p.m. PST. live from the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood. This year will be the fourth time Jimmy Kimmel will take the stage as the evening's host as some of the entertainment industry's elite gather to hand out the coveted golden Oscar statue.

"Oppenheimer" leads the pack this year with 13 nominations, including Best Picture, Christopher Nolan for Best Director, Cillian Murphy for Best Actor, Robert Downey Jr. for Best Supporting Actor and Emily Blunt for Best Supporting Actress. Emma Stone's "Poor Things" earned 11 nominations, while Martin Scorsese's "Killers of the Flower Moon" earned 10 nominations, including Best Picture and Lily Gladstone for Best Actress. Despite being the top-earning film of the year, "Barbie" earned only 8 nominations, including Best Picture, Ryan Gosling for Best Supporting Actor and America Ferrera for Best Supporting Actress.

The Oscars have always been a crown jewel for movie and red carpet fans alike. In 2004, "The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King" was the big winner. The final installment of Peter Jackson's trilogy took home 11 awards that evening, including Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay and the biggest award of the year, Best Picture. To celebrate the upcoming 96th Academy Awards, we're taking a trip down memory lane to revisit the 2004 Oscars and relive some of our favourite red carpet moments that feel like they just happened yesterday.


Oscars 2004: Red carpet throwback

Charlize Theron

Charlize Theron wears a gold dress holding her Oscar
Charlize Theron took home the Best Actress Oscar for her performance in "Monster." (Image via Getty Images)

Theron was quite literally the golden girl of the 2004 Oscars. The South-African born actress took home the Best Actress Oscar for her unforgettable role as serial killer in Eileen Wuornos in "Monster." Although she famously gained 30 pounds for her critically acclaimed performance, Theron arrived on the red carpet for the Oscars in a sparkling gold Tom Ford for Gucci dress, platinum blonde hair and bronzed skin.

Renée Zellweger

Renée Zellweger won her first Academy Award in 2004 for
Renée Zellweger won her first Academy Award in 2004 for "Cold Mountain." (Image via Getty Images)

Zellweger wore a white Carolina Herrera gown to receive her first Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for her role in "Cold Mountain." She would earn her second Academy Award in 2020, this time in the Best Actress category for her portrayal of Judy Garland in "Judy."

Naomi Watts and Heath Ledger

Naomi Watts with then-boyfriend Heath Ledger at the 2004 Oscars. (Image via Getty Images)
Naomi Watts with then-boyfriend Heath Ledger at the 2004 Oscars. (Image via Getty Images)

Watts wore a sequinned Atelier Versace gown to celebrate her Best Actress nomination for the movie "21 Grams." She arrived arm-in-arm with her then-boyfriend, Heath Ledger, whom she dated from 2002 until May of that year. Ledger would earn a Best Supporting Actor for "The Dark Knight" in 2009, a year after his death.

Sandra Bullock

Sandra Bullock in a white gown with feather detail
Sandra Bullock at the 2004 Academy Awards. (Image via Getty Images)

Six years before she would take home the Best Actress Oscar for her role in "The Blind Side," Bullock hit the red carpet in a white gown by Oscar de la Renta. The actress and John Travolta were on-hand to present the award to "Lord of The Rings: The Return of the King" for Best Sound Mixing and "Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World" for Best Sound Editing.

Angelina Jolie

Angelina Jolie in a white satin gown at the Oscars
Angelina Jolie in Mark Bower at the 2004 Oscars. (Image via Getty Images)

Jolie's silk Mark Bower gown is one of her most striking red carpet looks to date. The actress, who earned her Oscar in 2000 for "Girl, Interrupted," handed out the award for Best Art Direction to the team from "The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King."

Uma Thurman

Uma Thurman in a white lace gown with blue sash. (Image via Getty Images)
Uma Thurman in Christian Lacroix at the 2004 Oscars. (Image via Getty Images)

The "Kill Bill" star's Christian Lacroix gown was an unfortunate red carpet misstep at the 2004 Oscars. Thurman and Jude Law took the stage as presenters at the 76th Academy Awards to present the award for Best Cinematography to "Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World" a Napoleonic War drama starring Russell Crowe.

Johnny Depp

Johnny Depp with messy hairstyle at the Oscars
Johnny Depp and Vanessa Paradis at the 2004 Oscars. (Image via Getty Images)

Depp and his then-partner, Vanessa Paradis, celebrated the actor's first Oscar nomination for his role in "Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl." Depp would go on to receive two additional Best Actor nominations, one in 2005 for "Finding Neverland" and in 2008 for "Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street."

Scarlett Johansson

Scarlett Johansson in green dress with red lip
Scarlett Johansson at the 2004 Academy Awards. (Image via Getty Images)

Johansson opted for a vibrant green Roland Mouret gown to celebrate her film "Lost In Translation," which earned Sofia Coppola the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay.

Jennifer Garner

Jennifer Garner in an orange one-shoulder gown
Jennifer Garner in vintage Valentino at the 2004 Oscars. (Image via Getty Images)

Garner hit the red carpet in a vintage Valentino gown with dramatic train in what is still one of her most memorable looks of all time. In 2004, Garner, who had just starred alongside Ben Affleck in "Daredevil," served as host for the Technical Achievement section of the awards, which are presented to winners in a separate ceremony.

Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith

A young Jada Pinkett Smith in Valentino with Will Smith in a black tuxedo at the Oscars.
Jada Pinkett Smith and Will Smith at the 2004 Academy Awards. (Image via Getty Images)

Eighteen years before his Oscar win and infamous Oscar slap, Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith (wearing Valentino) were on-hand to present the award for Best Visual Effects to "The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King."

Nicole Kidman

Nicole Kidman in strapless grey Chanel gown with ruffles.
Nicole Kidman in Chanel on the Oscars red carpet. (Image via Getty Images)

Kidman wore a pale blue-grey satin strapless Chanel gown to hand out the Best Actor award to Sean Penn. The Australian star took home the Oscar for Best Actress in 2003 for her performance in "The Hours."

Tim Robbins and Sean Penn

Tim Robbins and Sean Penn at the 2004 Academy Awards. (Image via Getty Images)
Tim Robbins and Sean Penn at the 2004 Academy Awards. (Image via Getty Images)

The men of "Mystic River" swept the acting categories at the 76th Academy Awards. Robbins took home the award for Best Supporting Actor while Sean Penn earned top spot in the Best Actor category. Penn would go on to win his second Best Actor Oscar five years later for his performance in the film "Milk."

Jude Law and Sienna Miller

Jude Law in a tuxedo and Sienna Miller in a green dress at the Oscars.
Jude Law and Sienna Miller at the 2004 Oscars. (Image via Getty Images)

"It" couple Law and then-girlfriend Sienna Miller walked the red carpet to celebrate his Best Actor nomination for "Cold Mountain." It was Law's second Oscar nomination, the first was a Best Supporting Actor nod in 2000 for his role in "The Talented Mr. Ripley." The formerly engaged couple were together for two years before splitting in 2005 thanks to a very public cheating scandal.

Joan Rivers

Joan Rivers in a white fur-trimmed jacket at the Oscars.
Joan Rivers at the 2004 Academy Awards. (Image via Getty Images)

Red carpet coverage was never better than when Rivers was in the thick of it with a microphone. The comedy legend and her daughter, Melissa Rivers, were the go-to for all things celebrity fashion, with their post-mortem special "Fashion Police" on E!.

Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta Jones

Michael Douglas in a tuxedo and Catherine Zeta-Jones in a red gown.
Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones on the red carpet of the 2004 Oscars. (Image via Getty Images)

Zeta-Jones returned to the Academy Awards following her her 2003 Best Supporting Actress win for "Chicago." The actress, dressed in an ornate Versace gown, presented the Best Supporting Actor award to Tim Robbins. Zeta-Jones arrived to the awards with her husband, Michael Douglas, who is a two-time Oscar winner. Douglas won a Best Picture Oscar in 1976 as a producer for "One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest," and a Best Actor Oscar for "Wall Street" in 1988.

Diane Keaton

Diane Keaton in a men's suit, top hat and gloves at the Oscars.
Diane Keaton at the 2004 Oscars. (Image via Getty Images)

Keaton wore a Ralph Lauren suit, gloves and hat to celebrate her Best Actress nomination for the Nancy Meyers comedy "Something's Gotta Give." Keaton won the Best Actress Oscar in 1978 for her performance in "Annie Hall."

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