The Dead Girl

  • Directors: Karen Moncrieff
  • Producers: Eric Karten, Gary Lucchesi, Tom Rosenberg, Kevin Turen, Henry Winterstern
  • Writers: Karen Moncrieff
  • Genres: Drama, Mystery, Thriller
  • Actors: Toni Collette, Brittany Murphy, Rose Byrne, Marcia Gay Harden, Mary Beth Hurt, Kerry Washington

The Dead Girl is a quintet of stories about seemingly unrelated people whose lives converge around the murder of a young woman (portrayed by Brittany Murphy). The characters in the film are linked not only by their connection to her murder, but also by the difficult hand that life has dealt them. The film scrutinizes their inner struggles to overcome or surrender to their misfortunes.

The first story, titled The Stranger, focuses on Arden (Toni Collette), a quiet and diffident woman who lives with and cares for her verbally abusive, invalid mother (Piper Laurie). Arden is the character who finds the titular body and alerts the authorities, much to her mother’s dismay. She later encounters Rudy (Giovanni Ribisi), a grocery clerk obsessed with serial killers, and agrees to meet him for a date. While Arden prepares for the date in secrecy, her mother calls for her assistance. Upon her arrival to her mother’s room, Arden is berated with questions as to her appearance. Arden reacts angrily and attacks her mother before packing her suitcase and leaving home. She then meets Rudy and has masochistic sex with him.

The second story, The Sister, revolves around Leah (Rose Byrne), a depressed forensics student who prepares the titular body for an autopsy. She is obsessed with the idea that the body belongs to her sister who went missing a number of years ago. She resents the fact that her parents (Mary Steenburgen and Bruce Davison) are still searching for her lost sister and won’t accept that she is not coming back. When Leah convinces herself that the dead girl was her sister, she feels great relief and begins a relationship with her colleague, Derek (James Franco). Their blossoming romance is cut short, however, when she finds out that the dead girl is in fact not her sister. Leah is overwhelmed with sorrow and regret, but finds some solace in Derek, whom she asks for help.

The fifth and final story is called The Dead Girl and takes place a few days before Krista, the titular character, is murdered. Although she has had a hard life, Krista has a positive outlook and a sweet nature. She buys a big stuffed toy and asks her john, Tarlow (Josh Brolin), to drive her to Norwalk where her daughter lives, as her daughter’s birthday is the next day. Tarlow refuses at the last minute, however, so she has to borrow her landlord’s motorbike. Before she sets off, however, she attacks Tom (Dennis Keiffer), a man who had recently just beaten her girlfriend, Rosetta. She rings Rosetta and tells her that she’ll pick up her daughter and all three of them will move away and start a better life together. She asks Rosetta to tell her she loves her, but Rosetta simply tells her she has to go back to bed. Krista continues her journey to Norwalk but the motorbike breaks down and she has to hitchhike the rest of the way. She hitches a lift with Carl, who promises to take her to Norwalk. She is elated that she will make it there in time for her daughter’s birthday. The story ends with Krista smiling in the passenger seat of Carl’s car, wearing a pink vest previously seen in the storage space found by Ruth (Carl’s wife). She notes the time, 12:13 a.m., which was seen written on her arm while Leah (the Sister) was examining her body in the morgue.

Mary and Max

  • Directors: Adam Elliot
  • Producers: Melanie Coombs
  • Writers: Adam Elliot
  • Genres: Animation, Comedy, Drama
  • Actors: Toni Collette, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Eric Bana

The film takes place from 1976 to 1994 and tells the story of the unlikely pen-pal friendship that lasts for 18 years between Mary, a chubby lonely 8-year-old girl who lives in Mount Waverley, a suburb of Melbourne, Australia, and Max, a 44-year-old, severely obese, atheistic, Jewish man with Asperger syndrome who lives in New York City.[2]

The central focus of the movie is the letters shared between Mary and Max (from the ages of 8 to 26 and 44 to 62, respectively) and the stories behind their life and the lives of people around them.

The film states in the opening credits that it is based on a true story.

Little Miss Sunshine

  • Directors: Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris
  • Producers: Marc Turtletaub, Peter Saraf, Albert Berger, Ron Yerxa, David T Friendly
  • Writers: Michael Arndt
  • Genres: Comedy, Drama
  • Actors: Greg Kinnear, Toni Collette, Steve Carell, Paul Dano, Abigail Breslin, Alan Arkin

Sheryl Hoover (Toni Collette) is an overworked mother of two children, who lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Her brother, Frank (Steve Carell), is a homosexual scholar of French author Marcel Proust, temporarily living at home with the family after having attempted suicide. Sheryl’s husband Richard (Greg Kinnear) has a Type A personality, and is striving to build a career as a motivational speaker and life coach. Dwayne (Paul Dano), Sheryl’s son from a previous marriage, is a Nietzsche-reading troubled teenager who has taken a vow of silence until he can accomplish his dream of becoming a test pilot. Richard’s foulmouthed father Edwin (Alan Arkin), recently evicted from a retirement home for snorting heroin, lives with the family; he is close to his seven-year-old granddaughter Olive (Abigail Breslin).

Olive learns she has qualified for the “Little Miss Sunshine” beauty pageant that is being held in Redondo Beach, California in two days. Her parents and Edwin, who has been coaching her, want to support her, and Frank and Dwayne cannot be left alone, so the whole family goes. Because they have little money, they go on an 800-mile (1,287-km) road trip in their yellow Volkswagen T2 Microbus.

The family is next seen outside the hotel’s security office where a police officer gives them their freedom in return for a promise never to enter a beauty pageant in the state of California again. Piling into the van with the horn still honking, they happily smash through the barrier of the hotel’s toll booth and head back to their home in Albuquerque.

The Sixth Sense

  • Directors: M Night Shyamalan
  • Producers: Kathleen Kennedy, Frank Marshall, Barry Mendel
  • Writers: M Night Shyamalan
  • Genres: Drama, Mystery, Thriller
  • Actors: Bruce Willis, Haley Joel Osment, Toni Collette, Olivia Williams

As the film opens, Dr. Malcolm Crowe (Bruce Willis) a prominent child psychologist, returns home one night with his wife, Anna Crowe (Olivia Williams), from an event in which he was honored for his efforts with children. The two discover they are not alone  вЂ“ Vincent Gray (Donnie Wahlberg), a former patient of Crowe’s, appears in the doorway of their bathroom brandishing a gun saying, “I don’t want to be afraid no more.” Grey accuses Crowe of failing him, and Crowe recognizes Vincent as a former patient whom he once treated as a child for hallucinations. Grey shoots Crowe in the stomach, and seconds later turns the gun on himself. The scene fades away with Crowe’s wife by his side.

The next fall Crowe is shown working with another boy, nine year-old Cole Sear (Haley Joel Osment), with a condition similar to Vincent’s. Crowe becomes dedicated to this patient, though he is haunted by doubts over his ability to help him after his failure with Vincent. Meanwhile, he apparently begins to neglect his wife, with whom his relationship is falling apart.

Crowe earns Cole’s trust and Cole eventually confides in him that he can “see dead people.” Though Crowe at first thinks Cole is delusional, he eventually comes to believe that Cole is telling the truth and that Vincent may have had the same ability as Cole. He realizes this one night as he is listening to one of his old tapes, recorded while he was treating Vincent, and hears the pleading voices of dead people in the background. He suggests to Cole that he try to find a purpose for his gift by communicating with the ghosts, perhaps to aid them in their unfinished business on Earth. Cole at first does not want to heed this advice, as the ghosts terrify him, but he soon decides to try it.

His faith in himself now restored as a result of his success with Cole, Crowe returns to his home, where he finds his wife asleep on the couch with the couple’s wedding video on in the background, not for the first time. As she sleeps, Anna’s hand releases Malcolm’s wedding ring (which he suddenly discovers he has not been wearing), revealing the twist ending of the film: Crowe himself is unwittingly one of Cole’s ghosts, having been killed in the opening scene. Due to Cole’s efforts, Crowe’s unfinished business — rectifying his failure to understand Vincent — is finally complete. Recalling Cole’s advice, Crowe speaks to his sleeping wife and fulfills the second reason he returned, saying she was “never second,” and that he loves her. Releasing her to move on with her own life, he is free to leave behind the world of the living. The film ends on a short clip of their wedding tape that dissolves into black.