Starring: Bruce Willis, Haley Joel Osment, Toni Collette, Olivia Williams, Donnie Wahlberg, Mischa Barton
Director: M. Night Shyamalan
Summary: A boy who communicates with spirits that don’t know they’re dead seeks the help of a disheartened child psychologist
Other Nominations: Director, Supporting Actor (Osment), Supporting Actress (Collette), Original Screenplay, Film Editing
Much like The Crying Game, The Sixth Sense is a movie mainly remembered for its twist; while that’s technically true, it undersells what a good movie it is and how well the twist is executed. The editing, cinematography and screenplay all work together perfectly to frame the viewer’s perception in a way that deceives us with a satisfying payoff. Sure, maybe you could poke logical holes into everything, but I can’t imagine how you could have a movie with this twist be otherwise. Regardless, you never feel like the movie cheated, that it wasn’t really well set-up and unearned. Really, the only major criticism I have of the movie is that the relationship between Willis and his wife (Williams), one of the core aspects of the whole film, isn’t all that impactful in terms of me being invested enough to care about his marital problems. This is of course inevitable for a number of reasons, but it’s still a weakness.
As for performances, I don’t know how you would expect a better performance out of a child actor than what Osment delivered. I would have voted for him over Michael Caine in The Cider House Rules without a second thought. Collette also earned her nomination and gave a really strong performance as Osment’s mom, who is understandably haggard having to deal with her son’s issues. The other thing I enjoyed is that, while it is a horror movie (one of the few to ever get nominated), it hangs its hat more on dread and building stress than just shock and gore. Overall, I liked the film more than I was expecting to (I hadn’t seen it since it first came out when I was 11), and knowing the twist coming in didn’t lessen my enjoyment at all-it in fact leads to a whole different kind of watching the second time around.