Twas tough for the academy. Do we give Fellowship a few big awards seeing as we wont be ignoring too many great films that year....but what if two towers is even better....and return of the king......we cant have the trilogy dominating the awards 3 years in a row.....tell you what we give all the awards to the last film based on the full body of work in 2004, leaving an open playing field in oscars 2002 and 2003 and its just bad luck if there are any great films going against it in '04
Thats my take on it though in saying that I'm not taking anything away from Return of the King or the Trilogy as a whole. It deserved everything it got. I think the inevitable media backlash will use the probable strategic awards for the ROTK/Trilogy as the stick to beat it with though. (ie "ROTK shouldn't have beaten mystic.....blah blah...Fellowship was better than ROTK...blah blah..") I don't see how the academy could have done it any better though.
There's far too much bureaucracy involved, its just one big back slapping exercise. Its setup by the movie industry for movie industrys' gains. Voted for by the actors for the actors and really is just one big self serving machine with one aim and that's to get your hard earned money.
Take the average joe for example, he'll walk in the movie store and pick up the title with oscar winner or nominated splashed on the front take it to the counter and hand over the readies.
Personally I go on recommendations from people with no external interests or motives.