Here’s the official international trailer for The Book Thief, the Fox 2000 film that’s stealthily entering awards season. When it bowed at Mill Valley, my colleague Pete Hammond wrote it played to a “huge standing ovation.” The movie is based on Markus Zusak’s No. 1 best-selling novel and follows a young girl in Nazi Germany who seeks refuge in books while her family hides a young Jewish man in the basement of their modest home. Brian Percival directed stars Geoffrey Rush, Emily Watson, Sophie Nélisse and Ben Schnetzer. The Book Thief is released domestically on November 8th.
Could The Book Thief come out of nowhere to pull off a heist in this year’s Oscar race? While distributor 20th Century Fox seems to be putting most of its marbles on this weekend’s New York Film Festival launch of its big Christmas Day release, The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty, the studio has concurrently picked another festival, the lower-profile but respected 36-year-old Mill Valley Film Fest, to World Premiere its stealth entry into awards season. The Book Thief played to a huge standing ovation at its Thursday night unveiling on the Northern California fest’s opening night. Tonight co-star Geoffrey Rush will be the subject of a tribute there. Based on Markus Zusak’s No. 1 best-selling novel, the story set in Nazi Germany during World War II finds a young girl seeking refuge in the world of books while her family hides a young Jewish man in the basement of their modest German home. As they did earlier today with Mitty, Fox has had simultaneous screenings on their lot for bloggers and critics, which is where I caught it yesterday.
Though he’s not at the center of this year’s film awards season, Geoffrey Rush has a new prize to add to his mantle: The actor was named Australian Of The Year 2012 in his home country on Wednesday. Rush, an Oscar, BAFTA, Tony, Emmy, Golden Globe and SAG Award winner is also a 3-time Australian Film Institute honoree. His latest film, Fred Schepisi’s The Eye Of the Storm, was just picked up by Sycamore Entertainment Group for the U.S. The Australian Of The Year Awards celebrate eminent Australians by profiling leading citizens who act as role models through their achievements and contributions. In announcing the award, the org said Rush is “seen as a creative mentor by many” who “supports young actors and arts companies.”
Over the course of its four days, the Telluride Film Festival has certainly become a key early player in setting at least part of the table for Hollywood’s awards season. I have seen numerous Academy voting members wandering in and out of the state-of-the-art screening venues around town getting an early look at some films certain to be contenders — and some that clearly won’t. Academy Award winner Bruce Cohen (American Beauty), this year’s co-producer (with Don Mischer) of the Oscars, has even come here to check out potential movies he will likely be showcasing come February 27th and was lining up all day long soaking up the cinema. At last week’s Emmys he was frequently caught on camera in the booth during the show (which Mischer also produced) so I asked him what he learned from that experience. “Fast. Fast. Faster,” was his instant answer expressing the reality that you gotta keep the show moving like a speeding train. He’s infectiously enthusiastic about the task he’s been given this year and at Sunday night’s festival party was already talking up possibilities for musical numbers from films he’s seeing. “Of course we have to see what the actual nominees are going to be first,” he laughed. Minor detail.
One film strongly Oscar-buzzed at that party, on the gondolas and just about everywhere you go in Telluride this weekend is The King’s Speech, The Weinstein Company’s historical drama about King George VI’s stuttering problems and his relationship with the Australian speech therapist who gave him strength and ultimately a lifelong friendship. It was unveiled to one of this fest’s rare standing ovations for the first time anywhere here this weekend. Colin Firth is George and Geoffrey Rush is the therapist in director Tom Hooper’s outstanding film that can count on major awards love after it opens this Thanksgiving holiday, at least if the praise Telluriders are giving it is any indication.
One person leaving Monday’s screening said, “It makes up for all the bleakness,” referring to the great number of dark films showing at this year’s fest. Both stars and Hooper were surrounded by well-wishers at last night’s packed party. Firth and Rush are sure-thing nominees and the film itself is a strong Best Picture prospect to say the least. Harvey’s back in the Oscar game with this one, no doubt.
Firth was the subject of packed major tributes here Sunday night and Monday morning. (At this fest, the honoree gets feted twice.) “That’s something I’m genuinely not ready for. I don’t know what that’s gonna be like,” he said referring to the double dose of love when we sat down for a pre-first tribute interview. He says his virgin Telluride experience has been extremely gratifying in every way. “It feels more like a community than a festival, It’s not a market or a press-feeding frenzy. It’s so pure. This one seems to be just for the love of film. It doesn’t get better,” he says. Firth notes he and Rush have been stopped everywhere, getting applauded in bars and restaurants or just crossing the street. Telluride is certainly providing the actor a nice ego boost, if nothing else, but he’s genuinely thrilled to see the reaction to his performance.
Art imitates life as two of the Fox acting dynasty act together for the first time on the big screen in Madonna’s W.E. film. James Fox (Sherlock Holmes) plays King George V, while his real-life son Laurence plays unwilling heir-to-the-throne Bertie. …