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Film Review: The Sixth Sense

Updated on January 2, 2017

Background

In 1999, M. Night Shyamalan released The Sixth Sense. Starring Bruce Willis, Haley Joel Osment, Toni Collette, Olivia Williams, Donnie Wahlberg, Glenn Fitzgerald, Mischa Barton, Trevor Morgan, Bruce Norris, Angelica Page, and Greg Wood, the film grossed $672.8 million at the box office.

Synopsis

After he’s shot and injured by a former patient who immediately commits suicide, child psychiatrist Malcolm Crowe comes across 10 year old Cole Sear exhibiting the same symptoms of the former patient. Seeing it as a chance for redemption, Crowe takes interest in the boy and begins counseling him.

Review

The Sixth Sense is an incredibly engaging film following one young boy and his psychiatrist as the former learns to deal with the titular sense he has allowing him to see dead people. The realization he has this power comes halfway through the film and prior to him revealing it to Crowe, Sear comes off as severely troubled. He grows continually withdrawn, has inexplicable bruises, draws and free writes about violent events and has a severe panic attack at one point. At first, it seems Sear is a sociopathic introvert. However, after he tells Crowe about the ability to see dead people and starts attempting to act out the practice of discovering their unfinished business, Sear opens up much more. This all makes perfect sense. Many of these ghost’s deaths were violent and their appearance scares him. Sear working past the fear and undertaking the task of helping them tie up loose ends is good character development.

The method the audience is introduced to his full character is notable, with Crowe finding out about him by playing what he calls a game involving Sear taking steps towards or away from the chair in front of him. It’s a visually appealing method for the audience to learn more about the character that doesn’t feel forced or unnatural.

The ghosts Sear sees are good as well. The audience doesn’t see every spirit he sees and only gets glimpses of those who are important to the story. Yet, their presence is constantly felt, such as all the kitchen drawers and cabinets opening within the few seconds Sear’s mother is out of the room. Further, the concerns they seek to deal with before fully passing on all make sense. In one instance, Sear helps a recently deceased girl named Kyra unveil she was a victim of her mother constantly poisoning her food. In doing so, Sear also saves her younger sister. Additionally, Sear’s late grandmother wanted his mother to know she secretly went to one of her recitals and is proud of her every day. Likewise, the way Sear goes about telling his mother about the power as well as proving it’s real is well done.

All these ghosts have realistic causes for their death, too. None of them are overly fantastic and unbelievable. Rather, the deaths all fit for whatever context in which they died. Kayla was poisoned, a disgruntled housewife took her own life, a teenaged boy was acting foolish and mishandled his father’s gun, and a bicyclist is killed in a car accident. Not only are these incidents realistic, but they have happened in real life many times.

Alongside Sear is Crowe seeking personal redemption for a moment he considered a failure. He’s written just as realistically, voicing his doubts about being able to help Sear early on before deciding to review the tapes he made and detecting something he hadn’t heard previously. This renews his confidence and though he goes back to attempting to help Sear, the resolution he provides isn’t an immediate epiphany. Despite the film and the solution to Sear’s problem being supernatural, his thought process is practical since doubts are human and analyzing old records are just one way of working out problems.

5 stars for The Sixth Sense

the postings on this site are my own and don't necessarily represent WNI's positions, strategies or opinion


Awards won

Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films Saturn Awards

  • Best Horror Film
  • Best Performance by a Young Actor/Actress (Haley Joel Osment)

ASCAP Film & Television Music Awards

  • Top Box Office Films

Awards Circuit Community Awards

  • Second Place - Best Actor in a Supporting Role (Haley Joel Osment)

Awards of the Japanese Academy

  • Best Foreign Film

Blockbuster Entertainment Awards

  • Favorite Actor - Suspense (Bruce Willis)
  • Favorite Supporting Actress - Suspense (Toni Collette)
  • Favorite Actor - Newcomer (Haley Joel Osment)

Bogey Awards

  • Bogey Award in Gold

Boston Society of Film Critics Awards

  • Second Place - Best Supporting Actor (Haley Joel Osment)

Bram Stoker Awards

  • Screenplay

Broadcast Film Critics Association Awards

  • Best Child Performance

Cannes Film Festival

  • DVD Design Award

Dallas-Fort Worth Film Critics Association Awards

  • Best Supporting Actor (Haley Joel Osment)
  • Second Place - Best Picture

Empire Award

  • Best Director

Florida Film Critics Circle Awards

  • Best Supporting Actor (Haley Joel Osment)

Golden Screen Awards

  • Golden Screen

Kansas City Film Critics Circle Awards

  • Best Supporting Actor (Haley Joel Osment)

Las Vegas Film Critics Society Awards

  • Best Supporting Actor (Haley Joel Osment)
  • Most Promising Actor (Haley Joel Osment)
  • Youth in Film (Haley Joel Osment)

MTV Movie AWards

  • Breakthrough Male Performance (Haley Joel Osment)

National Society of Film Critics Awards

  • Third Place - Best Supporting Actor (Haley Joel Osment)

Online Film & Television Association Awards

  • Best Youth Performance (Haley Joel Osment)

Online Film Critics Society Awards

  • Best Supporting Actor (Haley Joel Osment)

People's Choice Awards

  • Favorite Dramatic Motion Picture
  • Favorite Motion Picture

Golden Satellite Awards

  • Best Screenplay, Original
  • Best Film Editing

Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America Nebula Awards

  • Best Script

Southeastern Film Critics Association Awards

  • Best Supporting Actor (Haley Joel Osment)

Teen Choice Awards

  • Film - Choice Drama
  • Film - Choice Breakout Performance (Haley Joel Osment)

Young Artist Awards

  • Best Performance in a Feature Film - Leading Young Actor (Haley Joel Osment)

YoungStar Awards

  • Best Young Actor/Performance in a Motion Picture Drama (Haley Joel Osment)

Nominated for

Academy Awards

  • Best Picture
  • Best Actor in a Supporting Role (Haley Joel Osment)
  • Best Actress in a Supporting Role (Toni Collette)
  • Best Director
  • Best Writing, Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen
  • Best Film Editing

Golden Globe Awards

  • Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture (Haley Joel Osment)
  • Best Screenplay -Motion Picture

BAFTA Awards

  • Best Film
  • Best Screenplay - Original
  • Best Editing
  • David Lean Award for Direction

Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films Saturn Awards

  • Best Actor (Bruce Willis)
  • Best Writer

Amanda Awards

  • Best Foreign Feature Film

American Cinema Editors Eddie Awards

  • Best Edited Feature Film - Dramatic

American Society of Cinematographers Awards

  • Outstanding Achievement in Cinematography in Theatrical Releases

Australian Film Institute Awards

  • Best Foreign Film

Awards Circuit Community Awards

  • Best Motion Picture
  • Best Director
  • Best Original Screenplay

Broadcast Film Critics Association Awards

  • Best Picture

Casting Society of America Artios Awards

  • Best Casting for Feature Film, Drama

Chicago Film Critics Association Awards

  • Best Supporting Actor (Haley Joel Osment)
  • Best Screenplay
  • Most Promising Actor (Haley Joel Osment)

Chlotrudis Awards

  • Best Supporting Actress (Toni Collette)
  • Best Screenplay
  • Best Supporting Actor (Haley Joel Osment)

Cinema Audio Society Awards

  • Outstanding Achievement in Sound Mixing for a Feature Film

Directors Guild of America Awards

  • Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Motion Pictures

Film Critics Circle of Australia Awards

  • Best Foreign Film

Hugo Awards

  • Best Dramatic Presentation

International Horror Guild Awards

  • Best Movie

Las Vegas Film Critics Society Sierra Awards

  • Best Screenplay, Original

Motion Picture Sound Editors Golden Reel Awards

  • Best Sound Editing - Dialogue & ADR

MTV Movie Awards

  • Best Movie
  • Best Male Performance (Bruce Willis)
  • Best On-Screen Duo (Bruce Willis & Haley Joel Osment)

Online Film & Television Association Awards

  • Best Supporting Actor (Haley Joel Osment(
  • Best Writing, Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen

Online Film Critics Society Awards

  • Best Original Screenplay
  • Best Debut (Haley Joel Osment)

Golden Satellite Awards

  • Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role, Drama (Toni Collette)
  • Best Sound

Screen Actors Guild Awards

  • Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role (Haley Joel Osment)

Southeastern Film Critics Association Awards

  • Best Picture

Teen Choice Awards

  • Film - Choice Sleazebag (Trevor Morgan)

Writers Guild of America Awards

  • Best Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen

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