HOLLYWOOD — The American Film Institute kicked off the 2013 AFI Film Fest on Thursday night with the North American premiere of John Lee Hancock's "Saving Mr. Banks" at the TCL Chinese Theater. Hancock noted during the screening's introduction that the entire event felt a tad like deja vu. Not only had "Mary Poppins," a classic film that is a key element of the movie's plot, held its world premiere at the Chinese, but "Banks" re-staged that premiere for its own ending about a year ago. Needless to say, the Walt Disney Company may own the El Capitan Theater across the street, but "Banks'" Hollywood debut proved the Chinese has special place in the studio's history.
A little surprise happened at the art house over the past few months. Fox Searchlight's late addition to the September release schedule, "Enough Said," has become one of the biggest indie releases of the year.
Alfonso Cuarón returned to Los Angeles this week as "Gravity" completes another awards season orbit. The critically acclaimed phenomenon is battling "12 Years a Slave" for this year's frontrunner status (not that either of them want it) and Warner Bros. took some time Tuesday night to celebrate the $428 million-plus global box office hit.
It's never too early to look at future awards season players. Today, Warner Bros. slotted two potential players with new release dates.
LONDON - There is something refreshingly humble about Chris Hemsworth. In this business you quickly hear who is difficult to work with either on set or when making the publicity rounds. Hemsworth? Well, imagine you've been cast as one of the premier members of Marvel Studios "The Avengers." You're getting your own franchise feature film. And, the next thing you know, your co-star (Tom Hiddleston) not only steals the first movie he becomes so popular he's almost the top draw for the sequel. If any of this is bothering Hemsworth's ego it isn't showing. Instead, he's all smiles and - seemingly - no drama as he enjoys the impressive directions his career continues to take.
Another week, another contender officially enters the fray for Best Picture. Last week, "Saving Mr. Banks" took its expected place among the top five contenders. This week, Martin Scorsese returns to the Oscar game for the fifth time this century with "The Wolf of Wall Street."
Think about that fact just one more time. Are we really surprised Marty's back in the game?
Were British critics too sensitive about director Oliver Hirschbiegel's new drama "Diana"? The film, about a secret love affair between Princess Diana and heart surgeon Hasnat Khan, wasn't necessarily warmly received in the UK, but American audiences will get their chance to weigh in when it opens in limited release on Friday.
It's time to open stretch our arms a little.
When HitFix brought In Contention into the family two years ago it was a sign that Awards Campaign, a blog I've been writing since the inception of the site almost five years ago, would soon take a back seat. Kris Tapley has turned In Contention into a top tier brand in regards to awards and prestige film coverage. My voice as a, cough, Oscar pundit was much better served posting in In Contention alongside Kris and the one and only Guy Lodge than separately in Awards Campaign. Where did that leave little old AC? Well, some things aren't meant to last.
LONDON — Can you remember the last time a villain in a movie franchise was significantly more popular than the hero? Truth be told, you have to go back to 1991 and "The Silence of the Lambs." Jodie Foster's FBI Agent Clarice Starling was our hero, but Anthony Hopkins' Hannibal Lecter was the break-out star (shoot, he was pretty much a cultural phenomenon). Flash forward 20 years and Chris Hemsworth has found himself in a similar situation playing a mighty Avenger in 2011's "Thor" and the global blockbuster "The Avengers." Thor has his fans, but it's his witty and devious brother Loki, played by Tom Hiddleston, that crackles on screen. Now a third film featuring the duo is hitting theaters and you won't be surprised to learn that Hiddleston is stealing scene after scene in "Thor: The Dark World."
Last week this pundit discussed the buzz that was circling back on "Saving Mr. Banks" before its world premiere as the closing night film at the 2013 London Film Festival. And as chronicled by Guy Lodge's review and my own rundown of "Banks'" Oscar chances, the film is truly a player. Fast forward two days and in something of a surprise, another potential contender, "The Monuments Men," moves to 2014. That means we have just two unseen contenders left: "American Hustle" and "The Wolf of Wall Street."