LONDON - "Saving Mr. Banks" closed the 2013 BFI London Film Festival Sunday night and, as expected, officially entered the 2014 Oscar race. When your movie tells the true story of the sparring relationship between the Walt Disney (played by Tom Hanks, no less) and author P.L. Travers (Emma "where have you been this past decade" Thompson) over the making of "Mary Poppins," the Oscar bait signs are pretty obvious. Happily, and you can learn more in Guy Lodge's review, the film is actually pretty entertaining with some honest dramatic moments audiences won't expect. And yet, whether "Banks" will have a real impact on the Best Picture race might be too hard to gauge Stateside.
WELLINGTON, NZ - Can you really go home again? Orlando Bloom is finding out as he returns to the world of Middle Earth in Peter Jackson's "The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug." Bloom reprises his role as the Elf with a bow, arrow and long luxurious blond hair, Legolas, that he originated in the Oscar-winning "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy. And, frankly, it's not bad timing.
It may turn out to be the most competitive Best Picture race in years, but the showdown between co-frontrunners "Gravity" and "12 Years a Slave" to win it all may soon turn into a three-way race. Walt Disney Studios' "Saving Mr. Banks" will debut at the London Film Festival on Sunday as the Brits will be the first to chime in on the long-buzzed awards player. And, at this point, "Banks" may be the only remaining unseen contender who can make a real mark on the long marathon for the top prize.
WELLINGTON, NZ - In May of 2012, Evangeline Lilly greeted a crew of American journalists on the set of "The Hobbit." Actually, in theory it was the set of "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey." After our visit that changed and it's still not clear what movie features the scene we saw Lilly appear in, but her Middle Earth debut was subsequently pushed to a new "second" film, "The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug." That meant the world would have to wait another year to meet Peter Jackson and Fran Walsh's original character, played by Lilly, Tauriel.
Yes, ladies and gentlemen. Our long national nightmare is over. No, the government is still shut down and Congress is still driving us toward a default, but one of the greatest unanswered questions of the 2014 awards season has been answered: Tina Fey and Amy Poehler are hosting the Golden Globes again.
Let's be frank. Daniel Radcliffe made enough money starring in eight "Harry Potter" films to never have to work a day in his life gain. And, even at 25, that's an intriguing proposition. Instead, like his co-star Emma Watson, Radcliffe has been working his butt off.
The cast of Steve McQueen's acclaimed new drama "12 Years a Slave" is something of a wonder. Whether it's the remarkable work of Chiwetel Ejiofor as kidnapped freeman Solomon Northup or Michael Fassbender as the shockingly inhumane plantation owner Edwin Epps or Best Supporting Actress contender Lupita Nyong'o, the film features some of the most riveting performances of the year. What has gone slightly unheralded, however, are the fantastic smaller turns by the likes of Benedict Cumberbatch, Paul Giamatti, Paul Dano and Alfre Woodard. And, the always wonderful Ms. Sarah Paulson.
After a film strikes a chord with moviegoers like "Gravity" did last weekend, it's easy to try and find analogies for it among previous Best Picture nominees or winners. One comparison that continues to be made is to James Cameron's 2009 game changer, "Avatar." Before we judge the merits of that argument, let's jog your brain and revisit some movie history, shall we?
Based on the events of the past week you'd think Tinseltown was on the edge of having some sort of dramatic breakdown. Let us count the ways...
Hey, boys and girls, it's time for another movie marketing lesson from your friends at HitFix.
What do you do when you have a film that mostly appeals to men, but you want to make sure you get the attention of younger women? It's really important those women go with their boyfriends on Friday and Saturday night, because that means their boyfriends will definitely go. Well, when your cast is limited to just two, cough, older, cough, actors, there isn't much you can do. Sure, rave reviews (97% on Rotten Tomatoes, 8 100 grades so far on Metacritic) and amazing footage are selling it pretty damn well, but it's opening week. The pressure is on! Someone in the studio is no doubt saying, "How can we liven things up a bit down the homestretch? I mean, yeah, the movie stars Sandra Bullock and George Clooney, but how do we make some noise on, y'know, those gossip sites (Sandra can't do this on her own!)?"*