See Anthony Hopkins strut (okay, waddle) his stuff in first 'Hitchcock' trailer

Fox Searchlight is releasing the Hollywood portrait in prime Oscar season

<p>Anthony Hopkins and Scarlett Johansson as they appear in &quot;Hitchcock.&quot;</p>

Anthony Hopkins and Scarlett Johansson as they appear in "Hitchcock."

Credit: Fox Searchlight Pictures

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"Hitchcock"  is the late arrival in this year's Oscar race, yanked forward from Fox Searchlight's 2013 slate into a prime-bait November slot. Does that mean they think they've got something genuinely special on their hands --, or just easy fodder for acting nominations, given the Academy's recent weakness for famous people playing other famous people?

A newly unveiled trailer doesn't do much to answer the question, though it does confirm what early marketing materials suggested: that "Anvil!" director Sacha Gervasi's film -- not a formal biopic, despite what the bland title promises, but a study of the making of "Psycho" -- is taking a comedic approach to the material. Given Hitchcock's own playful sene of humor, that seems the right approach to take... though let's hope the film has a black edge to it, and isn't just a puffball in the "My Week With Marilyn" vein.

Either way, the timing couldn't be sweeter for a Hitchcock-related film. Here in the UK, at least, after "Vertigo" came out tops in the decennial Sight & Sound critics' poll, there's been a renewed surge of media scrutiny of the man and his work, including a three-month British Film Institute retrospective in London. Fanning the flames is the controversial BBC/HBO TV film "The Girl," which focuses on Hitch's relationship with Tippi Hedren and casts him in a less-than-flattering light -- it would appear that Anthony Hopkins's portrayal in "Hitchcock," opposite Helen Mirren as his long-suffering wife Alma, is a more affectionate portrait.

Check out the trailer below and share your thoughts. Could Hopkins and/or Mirren be Oscar-bound once more? Or is does this promise a minor diversion while "Beasts of the Southern Wild" remains Searchlight's chief Best Picture player?

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Guy Lodge
Critic
Guy Lodge is a South African-born critic and sometime screenwriter. In addition to his work at In Contention, he is a freelance contributor to Variety, Time Out, Empire and The Guardian. He lives well beyond his means in London.
2013-2014 OSCAR NOMINATIONS
UPDATED: MARCH 2, 2014