'The Book Thief' tries to escape its Oscar bait trappings
Credit: 20th Century Fox

'The Book Thief' tries to escape its Oscar bait trappings

Geoffrey Rush and more discuss the popular novel's influence

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.

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<p>From L to R:&nbsp;Colin Farrell, B.J. Novak, Richard Sherman, Emma Thompson, a blurry Tom Hanks, Bradley Whitford, Jason Schwartzman and director John Lee Hancock pose for photos at a reception before the AFI Film Fest Opening Gala of &quot;Saving Mr. Banks.&quot;</p>

From L to R: Colin Farrell, B.J. Novak, Richard Sherman, Emma Thompson, a blurry Tom Hanks, Bradley Whitford, Jason Schwartzman and director John Lee Hancock pose for photos at a reception before the AFI Film Fest Opening Gala of "Saving Mr. Banks."

Credit: HitFix

Tom Hanks on pitching Emma Thompson a grand slam in 'Saving Mr. Banks'

Awards player opens AFI Film Fest 2013

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.

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<p>Julia Louis-Dreyfus at the New York special screening of &quot;Enough Said&quot; in September.</p>

Julia Louis-Dreyfus at the New York special screening of "Enough Said" in September.

Credit: AP Photo/Charles Sykes

Julia Louis-Dreyfus 'exceptionally proud' of reaction to 'Enough Said'

It's a bigger hit than you think

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.

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<p>No, that's not Scarlett Johansson with &quot;Gravity&quot; director Alfonso Cuarón. It's Sandra Bullock. </p>

No, that's not Scarlett Johansson with "Gravity" director Alfonso Cuarón. It's Sandra Bullock.

Credit: AP Photo

'Gravity's' Alfonso Cuarón almost cast Scarlett Johansson in 'A Little Princess'

Another awards season orbit in LA

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.

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<p>Ben Affleck returns to awards season, whether he likes it or not, with &quot;Live By Night&quot; on Christmas Day 2015.</p>

Ben Affleck returns to awards season, whether he likes it or not, with "Live By Night" on Christmas Day 2015.

Credit: AP Photo

Oscar Bait: Clint Eastwood's 'Jersey Boys' and Ben Affleck's 'Live By Night' get dates

Could either impact future awards seasons?

It's never too early to look at future awards season players. Today, Warner Bros. slotted two potential players with new release dates.

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Chris Hemsworth trusts Whedon for 'Avengers: Age of Ultron' and teases Mann's 'Cyber'

Chris Hemsworth trusts Whedon for 'Avengers: Age of Ultron' and teases Mann's 'Cyber'

And what did Alan Taylor bring to 'Thor: The Dark World'?

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.

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<p>Jonah Hill and Leonardo DiCaprio in Martin Scorsese's &quot;The Wolf of Wall Street.&quot;</p>

Jonah Hill and Leonardo DiCaprio in Martin Scorsese's "The Wolf of Wall Street."

Credit: Paramount Pictures

Contender Countdown: Oscar race gets a taste of 'Wolf of Wall Street'

Are there just two potential party crashers left?

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?

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<p>Naomi Watts is Princess Diana in &quot;Diana.&quot;</p>

Naomi Watts is Princess Diana in "Diana."

Credit: Entertainment One

Exclusive: Naomi Watts and a 'Lost' doctor take a tour in 'Diana'

The controversial drama hits the US this Friday

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.

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Awards Campaign is now 4 Quadrant

Awards Campaign is now 4 Quadrant

Change is good

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.

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Tom Hiddleston on Loki's popularity and what 'The Avengers' has done for his career

Tom Hiddleston on Loki's popularity and what 'The Avengers' has done for his career

Is he more popular than Hemsworth at this point?

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."

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