HOLLYWOOD — AFI organizers expected some star power on their red carpet when they booked "August: Osage County" for the film festival's prime Friday night gala, but they probably didn't expect it to be from the movie's producer. With Julia Roberts and Meryl Streep officially "unavailable" (the two-time Oscar winner was in London shooting "Into the Woods"), George Clooney was the biggest name at "August's" LA premiere and - like the pro's pro he is - he graciously charmed the press on hand with the soundbites and smiles they so desperately wanted.
20th Century Fox's "The Book Thief" opens in limited release today and it's landed with something of a thud. Reviews are very mixed (and that might be kind) and there's little pre-release buzz about the film. That being said, this was always a tough sell for Fox. The film's biggest names are Geoffrey Rush and Emily Watson, the movie did not make a splash at any of the major fall festivals (it debuted at Mill Valley) and feels more like an Oscar bait movie than it probably should, being based on a popular novel by Markus Zusak set in Germany during WWII. That period is almost the definition of an Oscar bait movie these days.
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.