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Best Picture Academy Award Winners: Five-Film Collection [5 Discs] [DVD]

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Overview

Synopsis

The English Patient
Anthony Minghella wrote and directed this award-winning adaptation of Michael Ondaatje's novel about a doomed and tragic romance set against the backdrop of World War II. In a field hospital in Italy, Hana (Juliette Binoche), a nurse from Canada, is caring for a pilot who was horribly burned in a plane wreck; he has no identification and cannot remember his name, so he's known simply as "the English Patient," thanks to his accent. When the hospital is forced to evacuate, Hana determines en route that the patient shouldn't be moved far due to his fragile condition, so the two are left in a monastery to be picked up later. In time, Hana begins to piece together the patient's story from the shards of his memories; he's actually Count Laszlo Almasy (Ralph Fiennes), of Hungarian nobility and an explorer working with a group mapping uncharted territory in North Africa. An Englishman, Geoffrey Clifton (Colin Firth), soon joins Almasy's team; travelling with him is his lovely and spirited wife, Katherine (Kristin Scott Thomas). Katherine and Laszlo soon fall in love, which leads Laszlo to betray his friend, his country and all that is dear to him. Meanwhile, Hana and the Patient are joined by Kip (Naveen Andrews), a Sikh with a gift for defusing mines, and Caravaggio (Willem Dafoe), an intelligence agent who knows some of Laszlo's most shameful secrets. The English Patient won nine Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Director and Best Supporting Actress (Juliette Binoche). ~ Mark Deming, Rovi

Chicago
A starry-eyed would-be star discovers just how far the notion that "there's no such thing as bad publicity" can go in this screen adaptation of the hit Broadway musical Chicago, originally directed and choreographed by Bob Fosse. In the mid-'20s, Roxie Hart (Renee Zellweger) is a small-time chorus dancer married to a well-meaning dunderhead named Amos (John C. Reilly). Roxie is having an affair on the side with Fred Casley (Dominic West), a smooth talker who insists he can make her a star. However, Fred strings Roxie along a bit too far for his own good, and when she realizes that his promises are empty, she becomes enraged and murders Fred in cold blood. Roxie soon finds herself behind bars alongside Velma Kelly (Catherine Zeta-Jones), a sexy vaudeville star who used to perform with her sister until Velma discovered that her sister had been sleeping with her husband. Velma shot them both dead, and, after scheming prison matron "Mama" Morton hooks Velma up with hotshot lawyer Billy Flynn (Richard Gere), Velma becomes the new Queen of the scandal sheets. Roxie is just shrewd enough to realize that her poor fortune could also bring her fame, so she convinces Amos to also hire Flynn. Soon Flynn is splashing Roxie's story -- or, more accurately, a highly melodramatic revision of Roxie's story -- all over the gutter press, and Roxy and Velma are soon battling neck-to-neck over who can win greater fame through the headlines. A project that had been moving from studio to studio since the musical opened on Broadway in 1973, Chicago also features guest appearances by Lucy Liu and Christine Baranski. ~ Mark Deming, Rovi

No Country for Old Men
When a Vietnam veteran discovers two million dollars while wandering through the aftermath of a Texas drug deal gone horribly awry, his decision to abscond with the cash sets off a violent chain reaction in a stripped-down crime drama from Joel and Ethan Coen. Llewelyn Moss (Josh Brolin) has just stumbled into the find of a lifetime. Upon discovering a bullet-strewn pickup truck surrounded by the corpses of dead bodyguards, Moss uncovers two million dollars in cash and a substantial load of heroin stashed in the back of the vehicle. Later, as an enigmatic killer who determines the fate of his victims with the flip of a coin sets out in pursuit of Moss, the disillusioned Sheriff Bell (Tommy Lee Jones) struggles to contain the rapidly escalating violence that seems to be consuming his once-peaceful Lone Star State town. Woody Harrelson, Javier Bardem, and Kelly MacDonald co-star in a distinctly American crime story that explores timeless biblical themes in a contemporary Southwestern setting. ~ Jason Buchanan, Rovi

Crash
Issues of race and gender cause a group of strangers in Los Angeles to physically and emotionally collide in this drama from director and screenwriter Paul Haggis. Graham (Don Cheadle) is a police detective whose brother is a street criminal, and it hurts him to know his mother cares more about his ne'er-do-well brother than him. Graham's partner is Ria (Jennifer Esposito), who is also his girlfriend, though she has begun to bristle at his emotional distance, as well as his occasional insensitivity over the fact he's African-American and she's Hispanic. Rick (Brendan Fraser) is an L.A. district attorney whose wife, Jean (Sandra Bullock), makes little secret of her fear and hatred of people unlike herself. Jean's worst imaginings about people of color are confirmed when her SUV is carjacked by two African-American men -- Anthony (Chris Bridges, aka Ludacris), who dislikes white people as much as Jean hates blacks, and Peter (Larenz Tate), who is more open minded. Cameron (Terrence Howard) is a well-to-do African-American television producer with a beautiful wife, Christine (Thandie Newton). While coming home from a party, Cameron and Christine are pulled over by Officer Ryan (Matt Dillon), who subjects them to a humiliating interrogation (and her to an inappropriate search) while his new partner, Officer Hansen (Ryan Phillippe), looks on. Daniel (Michael Pena) is a hard-working locksmith and dedicated father who discovers that his looks don't lead many of his customers to trust him. And Farhad (Shaun Toub) is a Middle Eastern shopkeeper who is so constantly threatened in the wake of the 9/11 attacks that he decided he needs a gun to defend his family. Crash was the first directorial project for award-winning television and film writer Haggis. ~ Mark Deming, Rovi

Shakespeare in Love
William Shakespeare (Joseph Fiennes) is on a cold streak. Not only is he writing for Philip Henslowe (Geoffrey Rush), owner of "The Rose," a theatre whose doors are about to be closed by sadistic creditors, but he's got a nasty case of writer's block. Shakespeare hasn't written a hit in years. In fact, he hasn't written much of anything recently. Thus, the Bard finds himself in quite a bind when Henslowe, desperate to stave off another round of hot-coals-to-feet application, stakes The Rose's solvency on Shakespeare's new comedy, "Romeo and Ethel, the Pirate's Daughter." The problem is, "Romeo" is safely "locked away" in Shakespeare's head, which is to say that not a word of it is written. Meanwhile, the lovely Lady Viola (Gwyneth Paltrow) is an ardent theatre-goer -- scandalous for a woman of her breeding -- who especially admires Shakespeare's plays and, not incidentally, Bill himself. Alas, she's about to be sold as property into a loveless marriage by her mercenary father and shipped off to a Virginia tobacco plantation. But not before dressing up as a young man and winning the part of Romeo in the embryonic play. Shakespeare soon discovers the deception and goes along with it, using the blossoming love affair to ignite his muse. As William and Viola's romance grows in intensity and spirals towards its inevitable culmination, so, too, does the farcical comedy about Romeo and pirates transform into the timeless tragedy that is Romeo and Juliet. ~ Merle Bertrand, Rovi

Cast & Crew

  • Ralph Fiennes
    Ralph Fiennes - Count Laszlo Almasy
  • Juliette Binoche
    Juliette Binoche - Hana
  • Willem Dafoe
    Willem Dafoe - Caravaggio
  • Kristin Scott Thomas
    Kristin Scott Thomas - Katharine Clifton
  • Naveen Andrews
    Naveen Andrews - Kip
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