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Thursday 23 March


News: Academy Awards

Current and Upcoming Releases



The Academy Award statuettes were stolen. Then they were found in a dumpster. Oscar presenter Billy Crystal will have a field day. And we'll know the results sometime on our Monday, as the annual Academy Awards presentation takes place on Sunday 26 March in Los Angeles.

Oscar nominations - and eventual awards - can be worth tens of millions of dollars at the box office, with moviegoers aiming to see nominated films before they watch the Academy Awards.

Highly nominated film American Beauty was pulled from most theatres just before Oscar nominations came out in February, and was re-released widely straight afterwards by production company DreamWorks, hitting 1,650 cinemas and racking up $103 million gross by last weekend.

The Cider House Rules, which has managed to avoid any major wrath from abortion opponents despite Michael Caine playing an ether-sniffing abortionist, has doubled its money.

The Sixth Sense was already a huge hit before the Oscar nominations came out, but now it's heading towards the all-time Top Ten.

This doesn't always mean that the creators get the money. The English Patient stormed the Oscars in 1997 and has grossed $US231.7 million worldwide, but three years later, the filmmakers and the cast are still waiting for distributor Miramax Films to pay them. Since Miramax's Harvey Weinstein split a $US5 million advance between all concerned just after the Academy Awards' success, none of those who deferred fees during production to get the film made have seen any money.

Last June, producer Saul Zaentz hired a law firm to try and get documents from Miramax to do an audit - but the distributor has yet to deliver. Zaentz confirmed to The Hollywood Reporter at the Oscar nominee luncheon last Monday that he and everyone else is waiting for the audit to end. Miramax is reported to be providing statements showing that the movie is still in the red.

LOOP pix for the main events of the night?

It's hard to take the event seriously when Fight Club wasn't even nominated, and Toy Story 2 isn't in the running for Best Picture. Expect an American Beauty sweep, though the other best Picture contenders are uniformly strong. Spike Jonze deserves the Best Director award for Being John Malkovich, but he won't win it. Expect Sam Mendes (American Beauty) to be up on stage for that one. Best Actor should really go to Russell Crowe for his beautiful work in The Insider, though he's gone on record as saying he knows he's not going to win. We predict Kevin Spacey will be edged out by Denzel Washington for The Hurricane. We'd love to see Julianne Moore win Best Actress for The End of the Affair, but despite Hilary Swank's bravura turn in Boys Don't Cry, expect Annette Bening's serious promotional work to pay off, allied with the general American Beauty buzz. The Academy could do an Anna Paquin and give Best Supporting Male Actor to that kid from The Sixth Sense, but we reckon Tom Cruise will take it for his gutsy turn in Magnolia. Angelina Jolie looks like a shoo-in for the Best Supporting female Actor for Girl, Interrupted; though we're rooting for Chlöe Sevigny in Boys Don't Cry. Original Screenplay should go to American Beauty's Alan Ball, though M. Night Shyamalan - who also helped write the upcoming Stuart Little - could get it for The Sixth Sense.


The DVD version of The Sixth Sense (Buena Vista) will be released in the US just after the Oscars, with 75 minutes of unseen footage, including three deleted scenes of three to six minutes in length and an extended ending. The disc also features writer-director M. Night Shyamalan explaining why the scenes never made it to cinemas. In April, the excellent Gulf War satire/thriller Three Kings (Warner Home Video) will be released with a making-of documentary, commentary from director David Russell, and star Ice Cube, a tour of the Iraqi village set, and photography from star and Being John Malkovich director Spike Jonze.

MORE MOORE The delectably freckled Oscar nominee (for End of the Affair) Julianne Moore will take over the Jodie Foster role as FBI Agent Clarice Starling in Hannibal, the sequel to The Silence of the Lambs (Best Picture, 1991). She will join Anthony Hopkins, reprising his Oscar-winning role as Hannibal Lecter, with director Ridley Scott at the helm.



FILMS OPENING this week in Wellington (from 23 March):

THE HOUSE ON HAUNTED HILL (R16, contains violence, offensive language, drug use and sex scenes)

SCREAM 3 (R16, contains horror scenes)

Has the horror wave crested? Word on both of these is particularly poor.

HANGING UP (M, low level offensive language) - Diane Keaton, Meg Ryan and Lisa Kudrow play phone-happy sisters with a very old-looking Walter Matthau as their dad. The trailer makes this look particularly nauseating.

Don't worry, there's still plenty of great stuff around...


Boys Don't Cry (R18, contains sexual violence, violence and drug use) - the fictionalisation of The Brandon Teena Story, or how a woman passed as a man in conservative small town USA with tragic results. Starring Golden Globe winner Hilary Swank.

Savage Honeymoon (R15, contains irresponsible behaviour associated with alcohol) - The hotly anticipated Westie comedy from writer/director Mark Beesley promises to be the first big NZ hit of the year, exploding gas canisters and all.

The Green Mile (R16, contains violence) - The second Stephen King prison adaptation from director Frank Darabont (Shawshank Redemption). This time it's a scrupulously faithful adaptation of the serial novellas about a guard (Tom Hanks) who encounters strange spiritual goings on when a giant convicted murderer is placed on his death row shift.

American Beauty (R16 contains violence, offensive language, drug use and sex scenes) - Near-immaculate first feature from first time director Sam Mendes, albeit with less depth than the mass acclaim might suggest - whoever dubbed it "Blue Velour" was spot on. But Kevin Spacey is excellent as the 42-year-old who breaks out of the constraints of his suburban family existence, and the rest of the fantastic cast right up there with him almost every step of the way. Great fun.

Happiness (R18, sexual content may offend) - American Beauty's evil cousin; cruelly comic magic from Todd Solondz, as a top cast unflinchingly portray an often grotesque gallery of hapless seekers for those who can love them. Dylan Baker as the psychiatrist with serious problems of his own is utterly compelling.

The Straight Story (G) - David Lynch's gorgeous Disney saga about a lawnmower-driving old coot travelling across Iowa to visit his dying brother.

The Talented Mr Ripley (M, contains violence and offensive language) - Anthony Minghella's beautiful reading of Patricia Highsmith's thriller is very effective. Matt Damon is effectively slimy as the upwardly mobile protagonist, Jude Law is cruelly divine as the object of Ripley's (initial) affection, with Gwyneth Paltrow and Cate Blanchett providing top support - along with the excellent Philip Seymour Hoffman (Happiness). Hitchcockian suspense, lush Italian vistas, plus one of the year's best murder scenes to date - it's truly shocking, and the operatic enhancement later in the film is superb.

The End of the Affair (M) - Ralph Fiennes and Julianne Moore in Neil Jordan's adaptation of the Graeme Greene novel. Steamy.


Star Wars; The Phantom Menace (M) - on the Embassy big screen Friday 11.30pm.

Fight Club (R18) - on the Embassy big screen Saturday 11.30pm, Sunday 8.55pm. Blowing up bigtime!


The Dinner Game (April 6) - French farce about impersonations and manipulations.

All About My Mother (April 6 TBC) - Pedro Almodovar's award-winning emotional masterwork.

Human Traffic (April 13) - drug-fuelled weekend clubbing fun; from the Best of British season.

Buena Vista Social Club (April 20) - Wim Wenders' doco about guitarist Ry Cooder and some fabulous old Cuban musicians.

East Is East (April 27) - big UK hit; from the Best of British season.

Being John Malkovich (May 11) - the surreal sensation from director Spike Jonze.

Snow Falling On Cedars (TBC) - film version of the best-selling David Gutterson novel.

OUT TAKES lesbian and gay film festival (Christchurch 25-28 May; Wellington 1-7 June; Auckland 8-16 June) - Leading edge lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered short films, features and docos, including Swedish tour-de-force Fucking Amal, dark and brooding German film Lola & Bilidikid, remarkable French film The Treaty of Chance, and sexy romantic comedy Just One Time. (visit


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