Hello, all. Kieran here (aka the Know nothing Know it All). Ten years ago today, M. Night Shyamalan's The Sixth Sense hit multiplexes to massive audience and critical acclaim. Massive (it bears repeating). Shyamalan was essentially unknown, as was little Haley Joel Osment (the film's star, even though he landed a supporting actor Oscar nod). Still, the film spent five weeks at number one spot at the box office—no small feat these days for films not about Batman. 2009 is more than half over, and only two films have managed to remain number one for two or more consecutive weeks—Paul Blart and Transformers (yikes). The Sixth Sense achieved a lot of cultural capital.
Revisit it. It's still utterly watchable, not for the moments where it genuinely scares you (of which, there are plenty) but for its moments of true human drama. Plus, I love a film that's both a zeitgeist hit and a showcase for its actors. The scene where Osment talks to Toni Collette about her dead mother still brings tears to my eyes a decade later (and probably brought Collette her Oscar nod). Alas, Shyamalan has been struggling to find the magic again. He has yet to match its success, both critically and financially. Will he find it again? His next effort, The Last Airbender, due out sometime in July 2010 doesn't look promising. But who knows? The Sixth Sense showcased Shyamalan as a gifted storyteller, and though he may continue to disappoint, I'm thankful for an industry that allows him to try, rather than turning him into Michael Cimino.
Another 1999 horror offering, The Blair Witch Project, which had its ten year anniversary sometime last week, may not have aged as well, but they both remain clear cultural markers for the movie industry, n'est pas? Blair Witch is credited as the first film to utilize Internet marketing on a grand scale, and there was even talk of how said technology would reinvent the film industry (yawn). It definitely helps to spread the word about smaller films that might have been a just-miss otherwise, but viral marketing is now so commonplace that (like all marketing) it mostly helps those with a lot of money make...more money. Where were you in 1999 when you first saw The Sixth Sense and The Blair Witch Project?
P.S. Can anyone think of a year in recent memory besides 1999 that was a bigger year for event moviemaking? 1999 brought us the two aforementioned hits, plus (deep breath now) Fight Club, The Matrix, American Beauty, Being John Malkovich, Magnolia and the beginning of the new Star Wars trilogy, each cinematic events in their own right. Kind of makes you wonder how The Cider House Rules and The Green Mile managed to worm their way onto the best picture shortlist that year...