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Oscar Watching: SAVING MR. BANKS for the Oscars?

Awards, Fests, and Campaigns

Disney will push Saving Mr. Banks, which had a great stateside debut at the AFI Fest, as a drama at the Golden Globes. Most of us thought the film, which examines Walt Disney and P.L. Travers’ disagreements about 1964’s Mary Poppins, would contend in the musical or comedy categories. The film’s success at the BFI London Film Festival also helps its case as Disney hopes to have a bona fide Oscar contender on its hands.

Assuming she gets in, Emma Thompson might vie against Amy Adams, Cate Blanchett, Sandra Bullock, Meryl Streep, and Adèle Exarchopoulos for the prize for actress in a motion picture drama. In the musical or comedy race, Judi Dench and Julia Louis-Dreyfus would have been her only formidable competition.

A supporting actor race that’s yet to take shape (that sounds familiar) might welcome three-time Globe winner Tom Hanks, as he’s easily the biggest name in the conversation. Saving Mr. Banks itself, however, likely misses out, as 12 Years a Slave, Captain Phillips, Gravity, Lee Daniels’ The Butler, and maybe American Hustle look like safer bets.

Even if Disney’s live-action effort comes up short, the Mouse House leads the animated feature race, as it’s in charge of the only legitimate contenders, as well as the animated short race, recently whittled down to 10 potential nominees.

The list includes Disney’s Get a Horse!, as well as Feral, Gloria Victoria, Hollow Land, The Missing Scarf,, Mr. Hublot, Possessions, Requiem for Romance, Room on the Broom, and Subconscious Password.

A striking absence comes in the form of The Blue Umbrella, a short that debuted alongside Disney/Pixar’s Monsters University, which that might win the animated feature Oscar. However, the aforementioned Get a Horse! might be the primary contender, as it evolves from older animation to 3-D and features a voice performance from the late Walt Disney.


Oh, something I forgot to mention last week: Blanchett will win the Santa Barbara International Film Festival’s prize for outstanding performer of 2013. Each winner of this award except for one – Angelina Jolie in 2007 – went on to an Oscar nomination that same year. (Fun fact: that was the same Oscar year in which Blanchett scored double nominations.) It more or less confirms what we know already: she’s getting another Oscar nod.

The same fest will honor Oprah Winfrey’s work in Lee Daniels’ The Butler with its Montecito Award. I’ve had 12 Years a Slave breakout Lupita Nyong’o at the top of my supporting actress predictions for quite some time, but I have to admit, Winfrey might have this award in the bag if she doesn’t campaign too hard for it.

Universal Pictures unveiled Lone Survivor at the AFI Fest to strong critical response, though I’m unsure that it gets anywhere near Oscar outside of some crafts races (but kudos to Mark Wahlberg for calling out actor privilege). Out of the Furnace also debuted at the fest to strong notices; maybe that film, instead of American Hustle, gets Christian Bale some hype this season.

The aforementioned Book Thief screened for Oscar voters, who applauded lead Sophie Nélisse and her on-screen father figure Geoffrey Rush, on Nov. 3. It’s not directly related to an Oscar campaign, but former President George H.W. Bush also hosted a screening of the film.

Last but not least, Paramount will give Labor Day a qualifying release on Dec 27. The initial plan was to platform the drama, beginning with a limited release on Christmas Day. Now, Labor Day hits nationwide locations on Jan. 31.

Thor 2 2013 Fall Films

At the Box Office…

Thor: The Dark World clobbered (I know, how original) the competition in the States with $85,737,841, one of the top five domestic debuts of 2013. Unsurprisingly, no other film was completely new to stateside audiences, but nationwide expansions for 12 Years a Slave and About Time saw about $6.7 million and $4.8 million, respectively.

Dallas Buyers Club expanded to 35 runs for an impressive $638,704. This can only help Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto as they campaign for actor and supporting actor honors, respectively. Perhaps there’s more interested in this drama than we once believed. Meanwhile, All is Lost made the top 12 with around $1.13 million from 401 locations, suggesting that audiences are less than interested in watching Robert Redford stranded at sea.

The Book Thief stole $105,005 from four locations, making for a $26,251 per-screen average. Fox has yet to unveil expansion plans for the World War II-set drama. Grosses for animated feature contender The Wind Rises went unreported, as it’s yet to officially arrive in the States, but Tom Brueggemann of Indiewire reports that the film “sold out most shows at two one-week-only theaters.”

Magnolia seems to have dropped How I Live Now, whose Saoirse Ronan looked like a potential actress contender earlier this year, without too much of a push. The film made $28,547 from 68 locations. The Armstrong Lie, a documentary feature contender, pulled in almost $500 more with only five locations.

Looking at this weekend, The Best Man Holiday, which follows 1999’s The Best Man, hits theaters across the country. It’s unlikely that it tops Thor: The Dark World’s first holdover weekend, but it should find a healthy audience. Nebraska, meanwhile, hits four locations. Alexander Payne’s comedy could contend for picture, director, actor for Bruce Dern, supporting actress for June Squibb, and original screenplay for Bob Nelson.


Check out my Oscar predictions on the next page, and feel free to comment.

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The Author

Donovan Warren

Donovan Warren

Donovan Warren loves the wonderful world of film and all that comes with it. He specifically loves long takes, fabulous actresses, and keeping up with the Oscar season - even when it's far too early to make sense of anything.