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From 'Magnolia' to 'American Beauty,' fall films primp for Oscar

September 21, 1999
Web posted at: 3:41 p.m. EDT (1941 GMT)

By Paul Clinton
Turner Entertainment Report Correspondent

LOS ANGELES (CNN) -- The cinematic sea that lies between late September and December 31 -- the last day of eligibility for next year's Academy Awards -- is jam-packed with vessels bearing Oscar bait. After all, 'tis the season when Hollywood's movie houses set sail with their best films, all the while looking for Academy gold.

Major films open during this particular time period because their producers believe that Academy voters, and the public in general, have short memories and will forget any movie that comes out earlier.

Thus, Oscar veterans Tom Hanks and Nicolas Cage have cast upon the waters two highly dramatic films. Annette Bening and Kevin Spacey took pay cuts to make a movie that showcased their immense talents. And directors Milos Forman, Martin Scorsese and Jane Campion are all unveiling major new projects with all-star casts. Here are some of the films to watch.

. . .

"Sleepy Hollow"
Paramount Pictures. Opens Thanksgiving Day.

Tim Burton and Johnny Depp are not your usual Oscar bait, but the Academy has been getting younger in recent years, and harder to predict than ever. So as they reunite for their third film ("Edward Scissorshands" in 1990 and "Ed Wood" in 1994 preceded this project), they are a force to watch.

Both men seem perfect for an eccentric retelling of the tale of the headless horseman, which has gotten a major face-lift from "Shakespeare In Love" playwright and screenwriter Tom Stoppard, who added plenty of things that go bump in the night to the film.

Depp, of course, plays Ichabod Crane. Christina Ricci is his love interest, and the film's resident damsel in distress. With lurid visuals provided by Burton, and a script by Stoppard, this film will be nothing if not interesting. It may even allow Depp to take a ride on Oscar night. (Hopefully, with his head firmly in place.)

Inset: Johnny Depp in "Sleepy Hollow"

. . .

Of course, this list doesn't even stratch the surface of the more than 150 films coming out over the next three months -- months that will be full of surprises and disappointments, just like every year on the road to Oscar.

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