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The Piano Movie Review

awards hunter actress film

The Piano is a long, brooding story about sexual politics circa 1850. Oscar winners Holly Hunter and Anna Paquin play Ada and Flora McGrath, who leave Scotland in order to settle in New Zealand with Ada's new husband, Stewart, whom neither of them has ever seen. After a rough voyage, they are confronted with the stark loneliness of their new home and the loss of Ada's most treasured belonging, her piano; Stewart (Sam Neill) won't carry it to his house. He gives what is not his to give to George Baines (Harvey Keitel), another settler. Ada pines for her piano and George pines for her; they soon make an arrangement where she can buy it back from him with escalating erotic favors. Mother and daughter, who have always been close, find themselves at opposite ends of Stewart's power struggle. All Flora can see is that Stewart appears to be doing his best and they are, after all, living with him. Ada, who is mute, cannot explain the complexities of her situation to her daughter, who is too young to know how she is placing her mother in grave danger. Nothing is simple in Jane Campion's artfully woven screenplay (also an Oscar winner), which evolves in increasingly strange and disturbing ways. The strong imagery here is the stuff that nightmares are made of, especially the final shot. Hunter turned up later in David Cronenberg's Crash as a crash survivor strung out on crash-related sex; Paquin next played young Jane Eyre for Franco Zeffirelli and then made kiddie matinee movies in Hollywood.

1993 (R) 120m/C AU Holly Hunter, Harvey Keitel, Sam Neill, Anna Paquin, Kerry Walker, Genevieve Lemon; D: Jane Campion; W: Jane Campion; C: Stuart Dryburgh; M: Michael Nyman. Academy Awards ‘93: Best Actress (Hunter), Best Original Screenplay, Best Supporting Actress (Paquin); Australian Film Institute ‘93: Best Actor (Keitel), Best Actress (Hunter), Best Cinematography, Best Costume Design, Best Director (Campion), Best Film, Best Film Editing, Best Screenplay, Best Sound, Best Original Score; British Academy Awards ‘93: Best Actress (Hunter); Cannes Film Festival ‘93: Best Actress (Hunter), Best Film; Golden Globe Awards ‘94: Best Actress—Drama (Hunter); Independent Spirit Awards ‘94: Best Foreign Film; Los Angeles Film Critics Association Awards ‘93: Best Actress (Hunter), Best Cinematography, Best Director (Campion), Best Screenplay, Best Supporting Actress (Paquin); National Board of Review Awards ‘93: Best Actress (Hunter); New York Film Critics Awards ‘93: Best Actress (Hunter), Best Director (Campion), Best Screenplay; National Society of Film Critics Awards ‘93: Best Actress (Hunter), Best Screenplay; Writers Guild of America ‘93: Best Original Screenplay; Nominations: Academy Awards ‘93: Best Cinematography, Best Costume Design, Best Director (Campion), Best Film Editing, Best Picture; British Academy Awards ‘94: Best Director (Campion), Best Film, Best Original Screenplay, Best Original Score; Directors Guild of America Awards ‘93: Best Director (Campion); Golden Globe Awards ‘94: Best Director (Campion), Best Film—Drama, Best Screenplay, Best Supporting Actress (Paquin), Best Original Score. VHS, LV, Closed Caption, DVD

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