New Pictures from ‘Saving Mr. Banks’ and Some Oscar Buzz

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Emma Thompson and Tom Hanks in Saving Mr. Banks
Emma Thompson and Tom Hanks in Saving Mr. Banks
Photo: Walt Disney Pictures

Over at Hollywood Elsewhere, Jeff Wells has posted a quote from someone he refers to as a “filmmaker friend” discussing Jon Lee Hancock‘s upcoming film, Saving Mr. Banks starring Tom Hanks as Walt Diseny and Emma Thompson as “Mary Poppins” author P.L. Travers. The film follows Disney’s attempts to buy the rights to “Poppins” over the course of 25 years. Wells’ “friend” says, “I’m told by Academy members who’ve seen Saving Mr. Banks that it’s going to remake the Oscar race with a deliberately timed late finish.”

I’m not exactly what the “late finish” part of that statement means considering the film will open the 2013 AFI Festival at the beginning of November, but I guess it’s in reference to its December 13 release date, but with the onslaught of films waiting until the end of December, I have to assume by that time most of them will have been seen by the majority of critics with screeners in the hands of Academy members as they head off to their Thanksgiving vacations.

Every time I post my predictions people seem to second guess my decision to continually leave this one high on the list, but it’s a perfect alternative to films such as 12 Years a Slave and American Hustle and it seems like exactly the kind of film the Academy has been awarding for so many years, despite the exceptions here and there. And if it’s executed on a top level, watch out.

Just below is a second new picture from the film featuring a first look at B.J. Novak and Jason Schwartzman as Robert and Richard Sherman who wrote the music and lyrics for Disney’s Mary Poppins and Bradley Whitford as Don DaGradi, one of two credited screenwriters on the film.

B.J. Novak, Jason Schwartzman, Bradley Whitford and Emma Thompson in Saving Mr. Banks
B.J. Novak, Jason Schwartzman, Bradley Whitford and Emma Thompson in Saving Mr. Banks
Photo: Walt Disney Pictures

Two-time Academy Award-winner Emma Thompson and fellow double Oscar-winner Tom Hanks topline Disney’s Saving Mr. Banks, inspired by the extraordinary, untold backstory of how Disney’s classic Mary Poppins made it to the screen.

When Walt Disney’s daughters begged him to make a movie of their favorite book, P.L. Travers’ Mary Poppins, he made them a promise–one that he didn’t realize would take 20 years to keep. In his quest to obtain the rights, Walt comes up against a curmudgeonly, uncompromising writer who has absolutely no intention of letting her beloved magical nanny get mauled by the Hollywood machine. But, as the books stop selling and money grows short, Travers reluctantly agrees to go to Los Angeles to hear Disney’s plans for the adaptation.

For those two short weeks in 1961, Walt Disney pulls out all the stops. Armed with imaginative storyboards and chirpy songs from the talented Sherman brothers, Walt launches an all-out onslaught on P.L. Travers, but the prickly author doesn’t budge. He soon begins to watch helplessly as Travers becomes increasingly immovable and the rights begin to move further away from his grasp.

It is only when he reaches into his own childhood that Walt discovers the truth about the ghosts that haunt her, and together they set Mary Poppins free to ultimately make one of the most endearing films in cinematic history.