WARREN Beatty produced, directed, co-wrote and starred in Reds (World, 9.30pm), a modest three-hour melodrama that cost a mere US$45 million to make and almost - almost - turned out to be worth every cent. Pearl is showing it as its first salvo in the Oscar wars. Every evening between now and the infernal awards ceremony on March 21 both English language channels will be showing movies that for one reason or another have won one of the treasured gongs. If you are not yet sick to death of the Oscars, rest assured, you soon will be. Reds was nominated for many more Academy Awards than it won. Victoria Storaro got one for best cinematography (it is brilliantly photographed), Maureen Stapleton got one for Best Supporting Actress and Beatty himself won Best Director. Like Kevin Costner and Dances With Wolves - also showing as part of the television Oscar frenzy - Beatty won as much because the film is a personal one as a good one. Hollywood is adept at patting itself heartily on the back and what better way to do it than by rewarding a popular man for a serious film about serious Hollywood issues, with a bit of the Russian Revolution thrown in for good measure? Beatty is John Reed, the radical journalist and writer who enjoyed, if that is the right word, a tempestuous relationship with a tempestuous feminist, Louise Bryant (Diane Keaton). The film is punctuated by real-life black and white reminiscences from Reed's contemporaries: the people remain unidentified but include Rebecca West, Henry Miller and Hamilton Fish. Jack Nicholson pops up as Bryant's one-time lover, Eugene O'Neill. It is difficult not to admire Reds, but it is equally difficult to be completely bowled over by it, partly because it is so agonisingly long. But its greatest liability - and how many times have you heard this about big films? - is that it sinks into sappiness too often. But then no sappiness, no Oscars. Only seven days to go. THERE were no gongs for The Guardian (Pearl, 9.30pm), a Hand That Rocks The Cradle forerunner in which Jenny Seagrove is hired by a young couple to look after their infant. There is something strange about her though. Of course - she dances naked in the woods and feeds babies to a tree. Director William Friedkin, who won 17 Academy Awards between The Exorcist and The French Connection, peppers the film with some assured touches, but ultimately loses out to the ludicrous plot. Ms Seagrove comes to a spectacularly sticky end. Faye Dunaway avoids a sticky end in Silhouette (Pearl, 1.20am), despite being summoned to a one-on-one showdown with a killer in a log cabin. Log cabins are traditional venues for showdowns of this sort. IN Cafe Americain (Pearl, 6.55pm), a kind of Parisian Cheers, but without the funny bits, Valerie Bertinelli plays Holly Aldridge, an American divorcee seeking a fresh start in the world's most glamorous city. Instead she finds herself living in a room without a view and working in a bar, to which I can only say c'est la vie, que sera sera and ooh la la. BACK on Planet Earth, The Pearl Report (Pearl, 7.20pm) looks at opportunities for Hong Kong businessmen in Vietnam and, with one eye on St Patrick's Day, at the territory's Irish community. In Inside Story (World, 8.30pm) Janine Graham follows a Hong Kong doctor to Kenya where he has gone to work with Somali refugees. FINALLY, it is worth noting that Nuclear Safety (World, 7.15pm), a programme about the marvels of Daya Bay, is ominously billed on ATV's listings as Nuclera Safty. If we can't spell it, how do we know it's safe?