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I've been hearing more and more about John Lee Hancock's forthcoming "Saving Mr. Banks" ever since Tom Hanks was signed on to play Walt Disney in the film and, therefore, the screenplay review community gobbled it up and dissected it and word got out that it had a heck of a lot of potential. Apparently it's pretty damn good, and it presents a grand opportunity for Hanks, a five-time Oscar nominee who hasn't been recognized by the Academy since 2000's "Cast Away."
Hanks was on hand at the Emmys last night, to collect his trophy for Outstanding Mini-Series or Movie as a producer of HBO's "Game Change." (He's won five of those now, by the way, for "The Pacific," "John Adams," "Band of Brothers" and "From the Earth to the Moon," in addition.) He showed up sporting, it would appear, the mustache he's rocking out as Disney in the new film, and it got me thinking of a spit-ball sort of column we could throw up every once in a while to place unnecessary pressure on upcoming films and performances that, on paper, look like they could be awards contenders. This certainly seems like one of them.
Yes, "Saving Mr. Banks" is a classic example to kick off such a feature. Production just got underway four days ago and idiots like me are throwing these kinds of considerations around. But nevertheless, the film tells the story of the gauntlet Disney ran in securing the rights to adapting P.L. (Pamela) Travers's children's series for the big screen. It's the first time this looming fixture of the moving image has been portrayed in a film before, and Hanks seems like a perfect fit for the part. Emma Thompson has been cast as Travers.
From the production announcement story:
"As the two wrestle over creative decisions, Travers flashes back to her early life in 1906 Australia, where she was first inspired by those around her to pen the book. Aussie newcomer Annie Buckley plays Travers in the flashback scenes, with Colin Farrell playing her loving father."
In closing a rave for Kelly Marcel's script some months back, Carson Reeves at Script Shadow had this to say (it's SPOILERish):
"And then there’s the monologue. When I say 'the monologue,' I mean the best ending monologue I've maybe ever read in a screenplay...Walt then gives the most heartfelt convincing thoughtful meaningful plea as to why Pamela should give him the rights to the book. It's so moving and so TRUE, that it grips your heart and won't let go...It was just such a great final moment for this character and without question, the reason Tom Hanks signed on."
Whether that last bit is true or not, who knows, but when a movie star gets the chance to knock out a scene like that, it can be tempting. Meanwhile, here's what HitFix's own Drew McWeeny had to say about the script:
"I hope they make the movie that Marcel wrote. She found a great contained story about creative passions, about the act of adaptation, and about a figure we all feel like we know because of his overwhelming media presence."
I think it's fair to say this is one to keep on the radar around these parts. Even Drew, who ignores the Oscars every year and certainly doesn't trade in prognostication, couldn't help but go there in that piece linked above.
But hey, guys, no pressure.
"Saving Mr. Banks" also stars Paul Giamatti, Jason Schwartzman and Ruth Wilson. It's set for release some time in 2013.
What else is on the horizon that deserves the albatross of an Oscar Bait column? Give us some recommendations below.
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