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Sundance: How are the big films of 2012's drama competition faring at the box office?

As this year’s Sundance Film Festival winds down, there’s a collection of stand-outs, films that have already sparked bidding wars among distributors and are gaining buzz that filmmakers hope turns into success beyond the festival.

But where are the films that were in the midst of this festival frenzy a year ago? Now that 13 of the 16 films in the U.S. dramatic competition have opened in theaters nationwide, they yield a list that’s mainly box office duds, but there was one movie that had plenty of life in it post-Sundance — the acclaimed Beasts of the Southern Wild. READ FULL STORY

Is John Hawkes in 'The Sessions' another able-bodied actor playing a disabled part bound for Oscar?

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In The Sessions, opening in theaters this weekend, John Hawkes plays late poet Mark O’Brien, who was paralyzed from the neck down due to polio, and sought, in real life, to lose his virginity by working with a therapeutic sex surrogate. Hawkes is beyond emotionally and physically adept as O’Brien, restricted to laying flat in a huge iron lung, or being wheeled around on a portable cot, his face shifted to the side, his arms pinned to his sides. He’s partially nude at times, staring up at his sex therapist, played by distant-then warm Helen Hunt, and by turns funny, sweet, neurotic and moving. Oscar buzz has been swirling around Hawkes, who told EW at Toronto last month that the role was a challenge, like hungry flies to honey.

If Hawkes is nominated for an Oscar, he’ll join a long line of able-bodied actors and actresses who have been nominated or snagged top acting Academy Awards playing physically disabled – or physically challenged, as others say – roles. While real-life deaf actress Marlee Matlin won a best actress Oscar in 1987 for her part as a deaf pupil in Children of a Lesser God, and Harold Russell, whose hands were amputated after an accident in 1944, nabbed a best supporting actor Oscar trophy in 1947 as a World War II vet in The Best Years of Our Lives, they’re less the norm compared to the long line of able-bodied actors inhabiting those kinds of parts. READ FULL STORY

Helen Hunt and John Hawkes talk 'terrified' sex in 'The Sessions' -- EXCLUSIVE CLIP

In The Sessions, out in theaters Friday, John Hawkes plays sweetly loving and utterly virginal real-life poet and writer Mark O’Brien, who was paralyzed from the neck down due to polio. He takes it upon himself to lose his virginity in a very unusual way, through sessions with a smiling blonde therapeutic sex surrogate, played by Helen Hunt.

Check out this exclusive clip from the movie below:  READ FULL STORY

Toronto Fest: 'The Sessions' star John Hawkes on nudity and Oscar buzz

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John Hawkes, the 53-year-old star of Fox Searchlight’s sadly sweet film The Sessions, relied on his emotional eyes and voice to play possibly the most difficult role of his decades-long career — real-life late poet and writer Mark O’Brien, who was paralyzed from the neck down due to polio.

In the movie, directed and written by Ben Lewin, Hawkes’ O’Brien seeks the help of a sex surrogate, played by Helen Hunt, who literally bares all to help him lose his virginity. William H. Macy is bone dry and hilarious as O’Brien’s long-haired Catholic priest and confidant. The film is based on an article O’Brien wrote called On Seeing A Sex Surrogate.

READ FULL STORY

Toronto Oscar Watch: 'Silver Linings Playbook,' 'The Sessions' and more

The last 48 hours of the Toronto International Film Festival produced another full crop of potential awards-baiting films. Here’s what has Oscar watchers buzzing up here.

Silver Linings Playbook Along with Argo, David O. Russell’s family study is the one film that’s attracted the most Oscar buzz so far. Uproariously funny and surprisingly moving as well, this is a character piece that hits all the right notes and should be a home run with the Academy. I could easily see nominations for Best Picture, actor (Bradley Cooper), actress (Jennifer Lawrence), and supporting actor (Robert De Niro) along with dual citations for Russell for writing and directing.

The Sessions After its successful Sundance debut (where it was called The Surrogate), John Hawkes and Helen Hunt’s sexually frank drama played here to wonderful response. Hawkes (in the lead category) and Hunt (in supporting) seem like sure bets for nominations, and their strong buzz could even help the film become a Best Picture contender. READ FULL STORY

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