With a calendar date falling just as studios are desperately trying to secure some awards-season traction for their Oscar hopefuls, the
AFI Fest 2013 opened with "Saving Mr. Banks," Disney's nostalgic, behind-the-scenes story of the making of "Mary Poppins," a movie that climaxes with the premiere of "Poppins" at the Chinese Theatre — the same venue that hosted the "Banks" gala. The recently remodeled theater evoked a fair share of wistful memories this year from stars and filmmakers. It's a setting that remains one of Hollywood's most alluring spots some 86 years after opening.
"I love this movie theater ... if you like understatement,"
Let's just say the evening exceeded his expectations, a sentiment that could just about summarize this year's festival. A look back at some memorable moments:
'Banks' banks it in
The last two best picture winners —
Tarantino exalts 'Dernsies'
Filmmaker Quentin Tarantino became the latest to laud the career of the great
Amid the top-shelf galas of celeb-heavy movies vying for awards-season consideration, AFI Fest also showed dozens of lower-profile movies, largely culled from the year's international festival circuit. A few of those films seemed to catch a strong updraft of word-of-mouth enthusiasm. Swedish filmmaker
Foreign Oscar hopefuls
AFI Fest this year also screened 15 of the 76 films submitted for the foreign language Oscar. Chile's "Gloria, directed by Sebastian Lelio with a powerfully understated performance by actress Paulina Garcia, went over well, as did the Israeli film "Bethlehem," which plays out the Israel-Palestine conflict as a complexly layered crime drama. Italy's rapturous "The Great Beauty" brought a ravishing sense of style, while the Paris-set Iranian film "The Past," from Oscar-winning
Following the world premiere screening of the blistering action-adventure drama "Lone Survivor," a fact-based story of a small cadre of Navy SEALs battling the Taliban in Afghanistan, star
With what is fast looking like an unlikely but legitimate awards contender, filmmaker Spike Jonze unveiled his new "Her" for its first public audiences in Los Angeles. No other film is perhaps set to challenge the generational divides within the academy and other voting bodies quite like this film, with its blend of technology and intimacy, mix of distant chill and intimate warmth and earnestly sincere emotions. Set in Los Angeles in a not-so-distant future, the film stars
Coens' sweet folk
"Inside Llewyn Davis," the Coens' look at the early '60s New York folk scene, concluded the festival, but not before making maximum use of the time of its filmmakers and stars — and musicians. Like most other movies playing AFI, "Llewyn Davis" booked its creative team for Q&As and receptions and, most memorably, a concert hosted by T Bone Burnett at Santa Monica's Buffalo Club. If you get Barbra Streisand tapping her toes to your film's songs as "Llewyn Davis" lead