The Sixth Sense is a 1999 American psychological thriller film written and directed by M. Night Shyamalan. The film tells the story of Cole Sear (Haley Joel Osment), a troubled, isolated boy who is able to see and talk to the dead, and an equally troubled child psychologist (Bruce Willis) who tries to help him. The film established Shyamalan as a writer and director, and introduced the cinema public to his traits, most notably his affinity for surprise endings. The film was nominated for six Academy Awards, including Best Picture.

Sixth Sense is certainly a nervy film, one that director M. Night Shyamalan (“Wide Awake”) has made so disarmingly eerie it’s virtually guaranteed to rattle the most jaded of cages. Set in Philadelphia – hometown of its director and, coincidentally, near-home to New Jersey native Bruce Willis – the film concerns Malcolm Crowe (Bruce Willis), honored child psychologist and husband to Anna (Olivia Williams of “Rushmore”), who’s confronted in his home one night by a patient who slipped through the cracks: Vincent Gray (a convincingly unhinged Donnie Wahlberg), blaming Crowe for the “possible mood disorder” that’s still plaguing him, puts one bullet in the doctor and another through his own brain. One year later, drenched in guilt, the doctor comes to the aid of a tormented nine-year-old lad (Haley Joel Osment) who can see ghosts.

While making his analysis of the troubled boy, he discovers something that is not only fascinating, but could also be very dangerous… Cole confides in him that he always seems disturbed, frightened, misunderstood…and his mother cannot figure out why. He finally confesses to psychiatrist Crowe that it’s because he sees dead people – everywhere… and they’re not always pleasant to look at. Shyamalan is leading the way in bringing back good old-fashioned scary movies in the “Twilight Zone” tradition, without an over-reliance on special effects. The film is cleverly constructed and provides a truly surprising twist at the end. Creepiest scene: Cole has built his own protective tent in his room, but as he approaches it, he senses that there is another ghost in there just waiting for him to talk to.

Its Honors

The Sixth Sense staring Bruce Willis, Haley Joel, Toni Collette, Olivia Williams, Donnie Wahlberg, Glenn Fitzgerald, and Mischa Barton has received numerous awards and nominations, with nomination categories ranging from those honoring the film itself (Best Film), to its writing, editing, and direction (Best Direction, Best Editing, Best Original Screenplay), to its cast’s performance (Best Actor/Actress). Especially lauded was the supporting role of actor Haley Joel Osment, whose nominations include an Academy Award, a Broadcast Film Critics Association Award, and a Golden Globe Award. Overall, The Sixth Sensewas nominated for six Academy Awards and four British Academy Film Awards, but won none.

The film received three nominations from the People’s Choice Awards and won all of them, with lead actor Bruce Willis being honored for his role.  The Satellite Awards nominated the film in four categories, with awards being received for writing (M. Night Shyamalan) and editing (Andrew Mondshein). Supporting actress Toni Collette was nominated for both an Academy Award and a Satellite award for her role in the film. James Newton Howard was honored by the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers for his composition of the music for the film.