The Sixth Sense
First screened in October 1999 / Most recently screened in October 2016
Director: M. Night Shyamalan. Cast: Bruce Willis, Haley Joel Osment, Toni Collette, Olivia Williams, Donnie Wahlberg, Glenn Fitzgerald, Mischa Barton, M. Night Shyamalan. Screenplay: M. Night Shyamalan.

Twitter Capsule: Famous twist, easily sussed, is one of its weaker aspects. Stronger at mood, light, music. Osment, Collette super.

VOR:   This handsome film has shown remarkable longevity in cultural memory. Played some role in re-popularizing the adult ghost story and twist-based storytelling.

Photo © 1999 Hollywood Pictures/Buena Vista Pictures
This elegantly shot and admirably acted mystery stands at least a cut above what late summer tends to offer. Haley Joel Osment was an overnight sensation as Cole Sear, a strange, anxious young boy who has trouble making friends with anyone except his psychotherapist (Bruce Willis). Plus, the material world seems to have an odd relation to Cole: temperatures drop in his presence, or in rooms where he's recently been; photographs of Cole have odd gleams; drawers and cabinets open and shut and household objects move around, though he denies having touched any of them. As the film unfolds, the reasons for all of this become clear, and though writer-director M. Night Shyamalan withstands the urge to rush the film, he also severely underestimates the transparency of a key twist. What finally distinguishes the picture, then, are the acting and the production values. Osment's gorgeous work is matched by a subtly brilliant Toni Collette as his quietly agonizing mother, easily the most believable single mom in a year's worth of Hollywood entertainment and a profoundly sympathetic creation. Cinematographer Tak Fujimoto, a veteran of Jonathan Demme's latter-day work, delivers perfectly in the somber, chamber-piece hues which Shyamalan has assigned the film. ("Assigned" is almost always the right word for Shyamalan.) Fujimoto's rigid, formally controlled framings only augment the palpably suppressed fear and sorrow all over the movie. Toward the same ends, James Newton Howard contributes a brooding but wisely minimalist score. Good for the movie for remaining an oblique character piece for so long; it's when The Sixth Sense leaves the character-study path that its weaknesses and borderline arrogance are most obvious. Grade: B–

Academy Award Nominations:
Best Picture
Best Director: M. Night Shyamalan
Best Supporting Actress: Toni Collette
Best Supporting Actor: Haley Joel Osment
Best Original Screenplay: M. Night Shyamalan
Best Film Editing: Andrew Mondshein

Golden Globe Nominations:
Best Supporting Actor: Haley Joel Osment
Best Screenplay: M. Night Shyamalan

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