The clock is ticking down. There are only a few more weeks to catch up on Hollywood's end-of-the-world flicks before life as we know it goes to ... well, you know.
Don't worry about whether you're prepared for armageddon, though. We've done the research and stocked the shelter with enough apocalyptic flicks to see anyone through a nuclear winter.
So grab your sunscreen, head for the hills and remember the remote. It's time for the final countdown:
20. "The Omega Man" -- Imagine your worst nightmare about the end of the world, and Charlton Heston probably suffers it in this adaptation of Richard Matheson's "I Am Legend." He's the last guy on Earth, and as luck would have it, there are zombies spawned from germ warfare trying to tear his guts out.
19. "The Seventh Sign" -- Forget Ah-nuld in "End of Days." The true biblical blood curdler is this mid-'80s parable starring Demi Moore. She's the only one who can stop the rivers from forever running crimson. Michael Biehn, out of Terminator/Navy Seal mode, plays her low-key husband. Jurgen Prochnow is the ultra-creepy avenging angel.
18. "Strange Days" -- Nothing's more timely than this millennium murder mystery, which takes place on the eve of the 21st century. Ralph Fiennes is a cyberpeddler hawking memories of real experiences to sensory-deprived customers. When someone starts using his virtual addictions for real-life killing, the hustler finds it hard to keep partying like it's 1999.
17. "Night of the Comet" -- So bad it's great, this low-budget sci-fi quickie features a killer comet, valley girl heroines and a couple of hilarious, over-the-top villains. As the baddies chase the gals cross-country, the filmmakers forgo logic and effects and concentrate on making cheeky fun of the genre.
16. "Deep Impact" -- Last chance to clear those tear ducts before Y2K becomes reality. "Armageddon" may have the firepower, but when it comes to good old-fashioned emotion, even cynics agree that Morgan Freeman makes a first-rate president as the fate of all mankind rests in the balance.
15. "The Stand" -- Nobody does the good, the bad and the apocalypse quite like Stephen King. Clocking in at around six hours, this epic showdown between the forces of light and dark tempts viewers to figure out who'll be the last man or woman standing. Our bet: Molly Ringwald and Rob Lowe, who have already survived their Brat Pack infamy.
14. "A Boy and His Dog" -- Before he lost his socks and collared shirts, "Miami Vice's" Don Johnson roamed the wasteland with a telekinetic dog in this smart and sassy cult favorite. On a mission that would make his '80s alter-ego proud, the young traveler and his trusty guide forage exclusively for two things: food and women.
13. "WarGames" -- It has no radioactive mutants, martians or supernatural boogeymen, and it's not rated R. But John Badham's "what if" scenario for world destruction is as tense and thrilling as cinema gets. In today's Internet-crazy universe, the prospect of a Matthew Broderick-like hacker accidentally setting off World War III is an apocalyptic possibility a little too close to reality.
12. "The Road Warrior" -- After the world goes boom, there's nothing like a harried Mel Gibson in shoulder pads and biker boots to raise hopes for a new savior. It wouldn't be the end of the world without Mad Mel dispatching a dozen or so mohawked punks who can't wait for their turn at the gas pump.
11. "Escape From New York" -- One look at Kurt Russell's scowl and eye patch, and director John Carpenter's message comes through loud and clear: The future could be very, very ugly. Nihilistic, dark and altogether winning, this action-adventure has hero Snake Plissken out to rescue the president in 24 hours, or else the world gets it.
10. "Ghostbusters" -- If the destructor of the universe really were a 100-foot Stay Puft Marshallow Man, who else to call than smart-ass Bill Murray and friends? The "Saturday Night Live" star knows how to handle millennial boogie woogies: Simply sit back and make fun of them. Dogs and cats living together? That's "mass hysteria."
9. "Planet of the Apes" -- Charlton Heston is in for an unforgettable surprise at the end of this classic sci-fi flick. He's a U.S. astronaut stranded on a planet where ape creatures walk and talk while humans wander about beast-like in loincloths. The first in the "Planet of the Apes" series offers plenty of action, intrigue and the best use of a New York monument in movie history.
8. "The Last Wave" -- "The Truman Show" director Peter Weir arrived on the scene with this frightening vision of the apocalypse. Richard Chamberlain of "Shogun" infamy stars as a lawyer assigned to defend a group of aborigines on trial for murder. His investigation leads to a series of scary, oddly fascinating discoveries.
7. "On the Beach" -- The bombs have landed, and the radioactive cloud is on the way. Submarine commander Gregory Peck surfaces long enough to search the barren Australian landscape for survivors. It's all in the name of superior drama that realistically explores the effects and true terror of nuclear holocaust.
6. "Last Night" -- Winner of multiple Genie Awards (Canada's equivalent of the Oscar), this low-key drama skips the Bruce Willis histrionics and focuses on regular people living through the last six hours of the planet. They eat, they talk, they fight, they even love a little. In the end, they do exactly what people might do on the last night of their lives.
5. "War of the Worlds" -- The granddaddy of martian invasion movies puts "ID4" and everything that followed to shame. The effects stand up, and the concept's sound. Based on H. G. Wells' famous story, this classic, featuring Gene Barry as a scientist who's on to the green beings' game, is truly one for the ages.
4. "12 Monkeys" -- Bruce Willis can't stop the world from coming to an end, but maybe he can figure out what pretty boy Brad Pitt has to do with it. As a psychologically damaged hero from the future, the action star finds himself trapped in a Terry Gilliamesque present that's flawed with all sorts of dark eccentricities.
3. "The Rapture" -- "The Player" screenwriter Michael Tolkin directs a singular motion picture that's unlike anything you've ever seen. Mimi Rogers stars as an L.A. swinger who trades in her hedonism for religious fanaticism just in time for an apocalypse literally straight out of the Book of Revelations. Expect the unexpected in this controversial mind-blower.
2. "The Day the Earth Stood Still" -- Klaatu barada nikto! That's the unforgettable phrase from Michael Rennie as a foreign visitor who comes to warn Earth about the dangers of weapons of mass destruction. This landmark science-fiction film is the best defense against the real apocalypse. If aliens can't stop us from playing mean, who can?
1. "Miracle Mile" -- Never heard of this gem from director Steve de Jarnatt? When it comes to end-of-the-world scenarios, this one's the absolute keeper. Before he donned his "ER" scrubs, Anthony Edwards had his best part to date as a modest, likable musician who finds the girl of his dreams ... 90 minutes before a nuclear bomb strike. As he demonstrates, when it comes to the end, it's not about quantity. It's all about quality.
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences had a few surprises up its sleeve tonight, though for the most part experts predicted the winners accurately.
Gladiator, which many thought was a shoe-in for Best Picture, was. In a more surprising addition, the film's star, Russell Crowe, beat out Golden Globe winner Tom Hanks for the Best Actor award. Gladiator's chief rival for Best Picture, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, had to be content with the prize for Best Foreign Language Film as well as several technical awards.
Steven Soderbergh seemed surprised to find himself the proud owner of a new gold statue when he was awarded the Best Director Oscar for Traffic, one of two movies for which he was nominated. A win for Julia Roberts in Erin Brockovich, the other Soderbergh directing venture, was no surprise in the Best Actress category.
In one of the evening's biggest shockers, Marcia Gay Harden walked away with the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her role in Pollock, upsetting pundit predictions that newcomer Kate Hudson would take home the statuette. Holding back tears, Harden thanked her co-workers and her family for their support throughout her career.
As expected, Benicio Del Toro took home the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his work in Traffic. The actor thanked the members of the Academy, and dedicated his Oscar to the people of Nogales, AZ and Nogales, Mexico, two of the cities where the film Traffic was filmed.
Screenplay awards fell out much as anticipated, with Traffic's Stephen Gaghan winning for Best Adapted Screenplay and Cameron Crowe taking home the award for Best Original Screenplay for Almost Famous.
The Oscar for Best Achievement for Costume Design went to Janty Yates for Gladiator, and Goldie Hawn presented the award for the Best Score to Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon composer Tan Dun. Crouching Tiger's Peter Pau also won for Best Cinematography. The first Oscar awarded this evening, Best Achievement for Art Direction, went to Tim Yip for his work on Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. "I am really nervous...this is the first time I win an Oscar," Yip said.
Bob Dylan appeared live from Australia, and later accepted the award for Best Song from there as well. His tune "Things Have Changed" is from Wonder Boys.
Several technical awards went out early in the evening; Jon Johnson won for Sound Editing for U-571, and Best Achievement in Visual Effects went to Gladiator. Nominee Kate Hudson presented the award in the Best Makeup category to Rick Baker, a six-time Oscar winner, and Gail Ryan for Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas. Bob Beemer, Ken Weston and Scott Milan picked up the statue for Best Sound for Gladiator, and that film's John Nelson, Neil Corbould, Tim Burke and Rob Harvey won for Best Visual Effects. Stephen Mirrione won the Oscar for Best Editing for Traffic.
The Short Subject Documentary award went to Tracy Seretean for Big Mama, and the Documentary Feature award went to Mark Jonathan Harris and Deborah Oppenheimer for Into the Arms of Strangers: Stories of the Kinder Transport.
When Quiero Ser" (I Want To Be ...) won the award for Best Short Live Action Film, director Florian Gallenberger greeted his native Mexico and thanked his film school for making his dreams come true.
The Best Animated Short Film nominee category followed with Michael Dudok de Wit's Father and Daughter taking the prize.
The Academy honored director Jack Cardiff with an honorary Academy Award tonight. "For those of us who are 70 years or younger were born, Jack Cardiff was shooting film...and he's still shooting," Dustin Hoffman said. As he accepted his award, Cardiff hugged his statue and said, "This has to be a dream."
Ernest Lehman, screenwriter for such amazing movies as The Sound of Music and Hello, Dolly, was given the Lifetime Achievement Award, as was Gladiator producer Dino De Laurentiis.
In other news, Bob Raime, President of the Academy for five and a half years, told viewers and attendees that he was resigning from office.
The Oscars aren't just about movie stars.
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences will present 17 awards for outstanding scientific and technical achievements. And for the first time, one of the awards will be an actual Oscar statuette, which will go to the Pixar folks for the development of the software "Renderman."
"This is the first Oscar ever given specifically for the development of computer software," Academy President Robert Rehme said today.
The 17 awards were voted by the Academy's Board of Governors, based upon the recommendations from the Scientific and Technical Awards Committee.
The Scientific and Technical Academy Awards will be presented on March 3 in Beverly Hills.
Here's the complete list of winners:
Academy Award of Merit (Oscar Statuette)
To Rob Cook, Loren Carpenter and Ed Catmull for their significant advancements to the field of motion picture rendering as exemplified in Pixar's "Renderman."
Scientific and Engineering Awards (Academy Plaques)
To AKAI Digital for the design and development of the DD8 Plus digital audio dubber specifically designed for the motion picture industry.
To Fairlight for the design and development of the DaD digital audio dubber specifically designed for the motion picture industry.
To Advanced Digital Systems Group (ADSG) for the design and development of the Sony DADR 5000 digital audio dubber specifically designed for the motion picture industry.
To Timeline, Incorporated for the design and development of the MMR 8 digital audio dubber specifically designed for the motion picture industry.
To Joe Wary, Gerald Painter and Colin F. Mossman for the design and development of the Deluxe Laboratories Multi Roller Film Transport System.
Technical Achievement Awards (Academy Certificates)
To Vic Armstrong for the refinement and application to the film industry of the Fan Descender for accurately and safely arresting the descent of stunt persons in high freefalls.
To Bill Tondreau of Kuper Systems, Alvah J. Miller and Paul Johnson of Lynx Robotics, and David Stump of Visual Effects Rental Services for the conception, design and development of data capture systems that enable superior accuracy, efficiency and economy in the creation of composite imagery.
To Leonard Pincus, Ashot Nalbandyan, George Johnson and Tom Kong for the design and development of the Softsun low pressure xenon long-arc light sources, their power supplies and fixtures.
To Glenn Berggren for the concept, Horst Linge for research and development, and Wolfgang Reineke for the final design and production of the Isco-Optic lenses for motion picture projection.
To Udo Schauss and Karl Lenhardt for the optical design, and Ralf Linn and Norbert Brinker for the mechanical design of the Schneider Super Cinelux lenses for motion picture projection.
To Philip Greenstreet of Rosco Laboratories for the concept and development of the Roscolight Day/Night Backdrop.
To Venkat Krishnamurthy for the creation of the Paraform Software for 3D Digital Form Development.
To George Borshukov, Kim Libreri and Dan Piponi for the development of a system for image-based rendering allowing choreographed camera movements through computer graphic reconstructed sets.
To John Pytlak for the development of the Laboratory Aim Density (LAD) system.
To Alvah J. Miller and Paul Johnson of Lynx Robotics for the electronic and software design of the Lynx C-50 Camera Motor System.
To Al Mayer, Sr. and Al Mayer, Jr., for the mechanical design, Iain Neil for the optical design and Brian Dang for the electronic design of the Panavision Millennium XL Camera System.
Now you may stop reading.
Gone 'til March.
That's what it's looking like at CBS, where its franchise late-night show (name of, um, "Late Night") might be out of commission for up to 10 weeks while host David Letterman rehabs from emergency quintuple bypass surgery.
Starting tonight, the network will deploy repeats in place of all-new Dave.
All-new Dave last taped on Thursday. On that edition, Letterman revealed to guest Regis Philbin (as well as his TV audience) that he was about to undergo a heart test. The angiogram, performed Friday, turned into a bypass (also Friday) -- the result of severely blocked arteries.
Doctors say Letterman, 52, is "doing great" and could be home by the end of the week. As for Dave himself? He (and/or his writers) are already yukking it up.
"I feel fantastic," the comic said in a statement released Saturday. "In addition to rerouting the arteries, they also installed an E-ZPass."
To "Late Night" producer Rob Burnett, Letterman supposedly joked that he felt "better than Jimmy Johnson" -- the Miami Dolphins coach who quit last weekend after a humiliating playoff blowout loss.
All right, so the quips aren't Coward. But take 'em for what they could be -- the only fresh Dave material until spring.
LOVE LOST: She may have three names, but come next month, Jennifer Love Hewitt won't have one stinkin' TV series on the air.
The Hewitt-headlined "Time of Your Life" is being benched by Fox for the duration of the ratings-mad February sweeps. In its place, the network will enlist the semi-hit sitcom "That 70s Show" to fill the 8-9 p.m. EST/PST time slot. (New "70s" episodes will air at 8 p.m., with repeats to follow at 8:30 p.m.)
And the future for "Time of Your Life" doesn't necessarily get any brighter after February. According to today's Daily Variety, Fox "may" bring back the twentysomething drama in March -- but not on Mondays where it was paired with "Ally McBeal," but to Tuesdays where it would be paired with "Party of Five."
"Life," of course, is a spinoff of "Party of Five," featuring Hewitt's Sarah Reeves Merrin character. The pilot, broadcast in October, saw Sarah leaving the "PO5" Salinger clan in San Francisco to seek out her biological father in New York City.
Despite Hewitt's status as a supposed "It" girl and teen icon, "Life" has floundered in the ratings. For the season to date, it ranks in 103rd place -- below already yanked stuff such as NBC's "Suddenly Susan" (No. 95). The show has proved to be no lead-in help at all for Fox's prized "Ally McBeal" (No. 24).
In other bad news, Fox also will pull "Get Real," its new hour-long "Dawson's Creek"-esque family drama, for the upcoming sweeps. That show's 8-9 p.m. EST/PST Tuesday time slot will be filled by Fox's usual sex, scandal and camcorder specials.
MOB HIT: "The Sopranos," HBO's critically acclaimed family mob drama, has been designated a future TV classic by cable's TVLand. The series, which launched its second season Sunday, "exhibits the qualities of a classic in the making, sure to resonate with TV viewers for generations to come," the network said in presenting its Future Classic Award. Past winners include ABC's "Sports Night."
TUBE TONIGHT: Norm MacDonald hosts the 27th Annual American Music Awards (8-11 p.m. EST/PST) on ABC. Scheduled performers include Britney Spears, 'N Sync and Creed. Sorry, earplugs not included.