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Movies 2000: Best is yet to come?

A note to readers: The Arts & Leisure "cover story" to the right spoofs how another (nameless) publication (certainly not us!) might lure readers into David Sterritt's story on Oscar hoopla - and how the group of New York critics he chairs make their secret awards choices. We hope it brings a smile.

It's been a strange year indeed for movies. Hollywood took in a record $7.7 billion at North American box offices - making for a record ninth straight year of rising grosses. And more films than ever (19) crashed the $100 million mark - territory once considered home only to a few megahits.

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But Hollywood executives are hardly cheering. It appears that these new heights were achieved through higher ticket prices, and that the number of tickets sold will be down 2 or 3 percent.

Another oddity: Much has been made of the poor quality of films this year, with many big-budget productions disappointing critics and audiences alike. But a year-end rush of better films may make 2000 look pretty good, once audiences have a chance to find them. Unless you live in New York or Los Angeles, you probably haven't seen "Before Night Falls," "The Gift," "Thirteen Days," "O Brother, Where Art Thou?" "Chocolat," "Shadow of the Vampire," "The House of Mirth," or "Traffic."

All of these pictures have received many favorable reviews; some have big-name stars, though none is considered a typical Hollywood "blockbuster."

Wait to catch a few of these before you reach your own conclusions about the year in movies.

Write to Arts & Leisure at entertainment@csps.com.

(c) Copyright 2001. The Christian Science Publishing Society