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Tim Burton s “Big Fish” is the best movie I ve seen in all of 2003. If “Cold Mountain” and “Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King” don t live up to expectations, I m willing to say now that “Big Fish” is headed for the Best Picture award. It will most definitely be nominated in that category and many others.

What a pleasure to finally see a film that encompasses all the attributes of a Best Picture. I was starting to fret that the group of candidates already screened including “Mystic River,” “Master and Commander,” “Seabiscuit,” “Lost in Translation,” “Mona Lisa Smile,” “House of Sand and Fog,” “The Missing,” “The Human Stain” were going to be fighting for awards they didn t quite deserve. Not to say there s anything seriously wrong with any of them. They are all well made, entertaining films. But each of them is seriously flawed and not quite there. For mid November, this isn t good news.

But then yesterday all that changed. I should have guessed that this would a case similar to “American Beauty” since the same team Bruce Cohen and Dan Jinks produced it. “Big Fish” comes from that sensibility of high drama, sharply drawn characters, impeccable acting, and very importantly a self contained logic. “Big Fish” actually reminded me more of “The Cider House Rules” in a way than “American Beauty.” It s a whole piece of art, developed from a single vision, and conveyed with that coherence. I loved it. So will you.

Albert Finney a cinch for Best Supporting Actor, although it would be great to see Sony/Columbia put him in lead plays a dying, eccentric patriarch named Edward Bloom. Jessica Lange is his loving and understanding wife, but Billy Crudup also doing some of his best work ever is his doubting, critical son, Will. What Crudup is critical of is Finney s penchant for fantasy and exaggeration. He is not much for the father s lyrical sense of embroidery. And Finney, in this movie, is a storyteller with no shame. His anecdotes, by now family lore, weave themselves around carnivals, circuses, bank robberies, witches, and giants. Will is so exasperated by Edward that when the movie begins he hasn t spoken to him in three years.

Burton has made a lot of movies. Some of them were good (“Batman”), some of them were great (“Beetlejuice”), some were exercises in excess (“Sleepy Hollow”). Visually, he s always been arresting (“Edward Scissorhands”). But nothing he s done before really indicated that he could make “Big Fish.” He cuts back and forth between Edward Bloom s present and his past, using Ewan McGregor and Alison Lohman to play the younger versions of Finney and Lange. All of the campy stuff that McGregor worked on in “Moulin Rouge!” and “Down With Love” finally comes to fruition here; it s as if we had to endure those performances to enjoy this one. He s extraordinary, at last.

But it s Burton s movie in the long run, and he really surprises even the most jaded viewer with “Big Fish.” There are echoes of “Forrest Gump” certainly, and “The Wizard of Oz.” But they are just echoes. “Big Fish” also thrives in the same area, coincidentally, as Denys Arcand s marvelous “Barbarian Invasions,
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” with its father son conflict. But these are just references within the shadows. “Big Fish” is its own creation. It s a four hanky affair, so bring lots of Kleenex. My advice to Sony is hold the house lights off well into the end credits so the wiping of tears can go in private. There was sobbing at yesterday s screening. I haven t seen tears like that since “Ordinary People.”

I ve mentioned the main cast, but I should tell you that there also very fine supporting turns by Steve Buscemi, Robert Guilliaume, Helena Bonham Carter, most importantly, Danny DeVito, who gets the role of his life and runs with it. The only negative there is that you get to see more of him than you ever wanted, but after all, we re seasoned pros, we can take it.

“Big Fish” probably knocks “Seabiscuit,” “House of Sand and Fog,” and “21 Grams” out of the big awards races simply because it is the premier drama of the season. It also may do damage to “Mystic River,” as “Big Fish” gets the lump in the throat payoff that the Clint Eastwood movie misses by going on long past the moment when someone should have yelled Cut!

Actor Ewan McGregor has successfully won an injunction to stop an agency re printing pictures of his two children taken on holiday in Mauritius.

The Scot sought the action against French picture agency Eliot Press, which did not defend the action.

The judge said he would decide on damages for breach of confidence and invasion of privacy at a later date.

Another agency, Fraser Woodward, is defending the original publication of the Dec 2002 photos.

The pictures were taken during a family holiday.

McGregor recently launched a blistering verbal attack on the paparazzi, saying: “They shouldn be shot, but they should be severely beaten up.”

saved particular venom for celebrity magazine Heat, after it published pictures of his daughter Esther Rose, calling it “filthy”.

He took legal action after a general request not to publish pictures of his children were ignored by the media.

McGregor solicitor Mark Thomson, of Carter Ruck and Partners, said the action was taken against Eliot Press and Fraser Woodward, which acted as a broker for the pictures.

The injunction prevents Eliot Press from publishing the holiday photos and any similar pictures of the children.

Fraser Woodward, owned by paparazzi photographer Jason Fraser, is contesting claims of breach of privacy under the Data Protection Act.

BBC Radio 1 DJ Sara Cox received 50,000 in a damages settlement in June after nude photographs of her on her honeymoon were published in The People newspaper.

The actor Ewan McGregor yesterday won a high court privacy action against a photo agency over snatched paparazzi photographs of his children playing while on holiday in Mauritius last December.

Mr Justice Eady granted an injunction against Eliot Press SARL, banning further publication of the photos, which have appeared in English and Scottish newspapers.

He ordered damages for breach of confidence and compensation under the Data Protection Act to be assessed at a later hearing. The agency did not contest the claim.

The case could prove to be a signpost for the levels of damages that courts will award for straightforward invasions of privacy.

In the Naomi Campbell case, the courts held that there was a public interest in revealing her drug problems, and in the Hello! case Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta Jones had sold the rights to their wedding photos, but neither applies in the latest case.

In an out of court settlement last June, the Radio 1 DJ Sara Cox and her husband Jon Carter accepted 50,000 compensation from the People for publishing nude photos of them on honeymoon in the Seychelles.

Mr McGregor, star of the film Trainspotting, had requested the media generally not to publish pictures of his two children.

His solicitor, Mark Thomson of Peter Carter Ruck and Partners, said after the hearing: “The courts are moving more to protecting the privacy of individuals and children and using the law of confidence to do it.”
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