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'The Last Samurai' (2003)

Edward Zwick (Oscar winner for producing best picture winner "Shakespeare in Love") directed Tom Cruise as a Civil War veteran in Japan during the beginning of modernization. A historical drama featuring Cruise in sword-fighting scenes seemed like obvious Oscar bate to some gurus. However, the box-office hit failed to impress the academy or the film critics. It received Oscar nominations only in lower-tier categories: Ken Watanabe as best supporting actor plus three tech slots (costume design, art direction, sound mixing). -- Hey, Jude!
David James / Warner Bros. Pictures
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