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'Saving Mr. Banks': See the deleted scene that explains everything -- EXCLUSIVE VIDEO

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Most deleted scenes are superfluous or rough edges that were sacrificed for a smoother narrative. It’s the rare deleted scene from a movie that captures the entire story in a single sequence, but that’s exactly what exists for Saving Mr. Banks. Walt Disney’s decades-long courtship of Mary Poppins author P.L. Travers to adapt her stories into the 1964 musical was belligerent and difficult, as Travers refused to sign over the rights for fear of seeing her heroine “cavorting and twinkling” like one of Disney’s cartoon creations. When Travers reluctantly travels to Los Angeles to meet Disney and his writers, they eventually — but barely — begin to win her over. Until she finds out about the dancing penguins.

Furious at the prospect of undignified animation, which Disney had specifically promised her would not be used, Travers (Emma Thompson) storms into Disney’s office, essentially calls him a liar, hands him the contract back — unsigned — and heads back to England. Disney ultimately follows her there for the climactic heart-to-heart… but there was another scene filmed that originally served as a bridge between these two crucial moments.

In the deleted scene, available on the Saving Mr. Banks Blu-ray, Disney (Tom Hanks) follows Travers outside, where she’s sitting on a bench waiting for her driver (Paul Giamatti) to take her home. Disney pleads for her to reconsider and help him understand why this process is so difficult for her. She chastises him again for his deception, and then blurts out, “The books weren’t written for the children. They were written for the promise breakers.”

Promise breakers, like Disney. Promise breakers, like Travers’ Aunt Ellie, who promised her everything would be okay when she came to help their crumbling family in the Australian Outback decades earlier. Promise breakers, like her beloved alcoholic father (Colin Farrell), who promised that he’d make his family proud again.

You can almost imagine the insightful scene was one of the first ones written — and the last one cut — because everything the audience needs to know is there. It captures everything. Perhaps that’s why it was nixed: the clues were ultimately deemed too concentrated in one place. Or perhaps the content and tension were too similar to the subsequent sit-down in London. Still, it’s a great scene that underscores Travers’ deep emotional attachment to her literary characters, and allows Thompson another opportunity to shine. Click below to watch: READ FULL STORY

Prize Fighter: Best Actor shapes up as the Oscars' toughest race

Daniel Day-Lewis spoiled us. Last year, the Best Actor race was an easy call, but this time around, it’s the hardest of the Oscar fields to predict. The race is jam-packed with worthy contenders, each with an equally strong chance of finding his name in that winning envelope on March 2.

With a month to go before voting opens we could still see some shifting. Who could still sneak in?  Forest Whitaker for The Butler or Joaquin Phoenix for Her have the potential to rise in the ranks. So does Oscar Isaac for his musical, downtrodden turn in Inside Llewyn Davis.

Most Academy members haven’t seen the ’70s grifter drama American Hustle yet, but since it began screening for the press earlier this week reactions have been ecstatic. Expect to see that film in as many as eight Oscar categories this year, including each of the acting fields.

Christian Bale’s comically seductive, balding, pot-bellied con artist from that film should soon be joining the list of Best Actor contenders. The question is: Who will he knock out?

Right now, if you ask voters to pick front-runners, they almost always name the five below. Each delivers an impressive performance, but also have a compelling backstory, which can help make the difference in a tough race.
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Critical Mass: Tom Hanks back in command in 'Captain Phillips'

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Tom Hanks has been a beloved Hollywood star for so long that it sounds like a fact-checking error when you read that he hasn’t been nominated for an Oscar in 12 years. During an historic stretch that spanned from A League of Their Own to Cast Away, Hanks could do no wrong, winning two Academy Awards and starring in 10 movies that topped $100 million. But his last decade’s highlights have been animated films, a Dan Brown franchise, and the HBO historical epics that he’s produced; his last few starring vehicles underachieved.

Notable recent movies: Box-office gross, (Metacritic/Rotten Tomatoes)
Cloud Atlas (2012): $27.1 million, (55/66)
Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close (2011): $31.8 million, (46/47)
Larry Crowne (2011): $35.6 million, (41/35)
Angels & Demons (2009): $133.4 million, (48/37)
Charlie Wilson’s War (2007): $66.7 million, (69/81)

That downward trend might change this fall, as Hanks has two promising movies that are being heralded as a return to form. In Saving Mr. Banks (Dec. 20), he stars as Walt Disney during the mogul’s contentious courtship of children’s author P.L. Travers (Emma Thompson) to adapt Mary Poppins into a movie. In Captain Phillips, which opens Friday, he plays another real-life person: Richard Phillips, the captain of the hijacked Maesk Alabama who was kidnapped and held ransom by Somali pirates in 2009. Phillips’ sensational story felt like a movie as it was unfolding in 2009, and in the hands of director Paul Greengrass (United 93), it retains that thrilling moment-to-moment intensity.

With Captain Phillips, the critics are back in his corner, with EW’s Owen Gleiberman writing that Hanks “acts with a minimalism that speaks volumes: We’re wired into his every glance.”

Before you head to the theater, click below to see what other prominent critics are saying about Captain Phillips. READ FULL STORY

New 'Captain Phillips' trailer: Can Tom Hanks defeat a band of pirates? VIDEO

We’ll find out in this tense new thriller from Bourne Supremacy director Paul Greengrass, which follows the true story of Richard Phillips — a cargo ship captain taken hostage when his vessel, the Maersk Alabama, was hijacked by Somali pirates in 2009.

Hanks stars as the real-life hero, while a quartet of unknowns play the pirates — one of whom gets a bit of sympathetic spotlight in the latest trailer for the film. And though Catherine Keener also appears as Hanks’s wife, the Oscar winner’s true costar seems to be his Bahston accent; hopefully, he’s had some time to work on it since Catch Me If You Can.

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Tom Hanks' 'Captain Phillips' to open London Film Festival

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Tom Hanks looks set to have a busy autumn.

Maritime piracy drama Captain Phillips, in which he stars, is set to open the London Film Festival, as well as cinema fests in New York and Tokyo. READ FULL STORY

'Saving Mr. Banks' poster: Mary Poppins casts a long shadow

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And, evidently, so does Mickey Mouse.

This new poster for Disney’s Saving Mr. Banks literally illustrates the film’s central conflict: the struggle between Mary Poppins author P.L. Travers (Emma Thompson), who was firmly against the notion of turning her masterpiece into a feature film, and Walt Disney (Tom Hanks), who spent years trying to persuade her to change her mind. Spoiler alert: Disney won.

(Extra spoiler alert: Travers despised the Disney version of Poppins, especially its original songs and animated sequences; she agreed to let Cameron Mackintosh adapt it into a stage musical only if he promised to allow only English-born writers onto its creative team.)

The film premieres in limited release Dec. 13 and in wide release Dec. 20. Check out the trailer below.

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'Saving Mr. Banks' trailer: Tom Hanks is Walt Disney -- VIDEO

Most of us know the story of Mary Poppins — the magical nanny who had a voice of gold and a knack for made-up words. But does anyone know the story behind the magical film?

Saving Mr. Banks, starring Oscar winners Tom Hanks and Emma Thompson, aims to answer that question. Thompson plays P.L. Travers, the Australian-British writer who created the Mary Poppins series of novels. And Hanks? Well, he plays this random, little-known guy named Walt Disney who wants to adapt the novels. We all know what happened after.

Check out the trailer below:
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Casting Net: Sandra Bullock (back) in talks to play Miss Hannigan in 'Annie'; Plus, Tom Hanks for a Dave Eggers adaptation, more

• Sandra Bullock passed once on starring in Will Gluck’s update of Annie, but reports surfaced Wednesday that talks may have started up again. The Oscar-winning actress would play the part of Miss Hannigan, the cruel, often drunk head of the orphanage that houses Annie (Beasts of the Southern Wild’s Quvenzhané Wallis). Carol Burnett played the role in John Huston’s 1982 version of the musical. Bullock can be seen next in The Heat (June 28) with Melissa McCarthy, and then in Alfonso Curaón’s Gravity (October 4) with George Clooney. [The Wrap]

• Tom Hanks is re-teaming with his Cloud Atlas co-director Tom Tykwer (Run Lola Run) to turn the Dave Eggers novel A Hologram for the King into a film. Hanks will star in the film as Alan Clay, a downtrodden American businessman who tries to make it in Saudi Arabia. Hanks can be seen next in Paul Greengrass’s Somali pirates drama Captain Phillips, which hits theaters on October 11. [Deadline] READ FULL STORY

'Captain Phillips' trailer: Tom Hanks battles Somali pirates -- VIDEO

Would it surprise you to learn that Tom Hanks hasn’t been nominated for an Oscar in more than a decade? I mention it only for two reasons. One, there was a historic stretch between Philadelphia and Cast Away where a Hanks Oscar nomination was simply taken for granted. Two, Captain Phillips, Hanks’ real-life tale about one man’s heroic actions after his giant cargo ship is hijacked by Somali pirates, feels like one of those classic, sure-thing Hanks movies. It seems to mix the best character traits of Cast Away‘s Chuck Noland and Saving Private Ryan‘s Captain Miller. Plus, it’s directed by Paul Greengrass, the action auteur behind the best of the Bourne films and United 93.

Take a look yourself to see if you think Captain Phillips has the right stuff. READ FULL STORY

Joe Wright to direct adaptation of Neil Gaiman's new novel

Neil Gaiman’s The Ocean at the End of the Lane isn’t even in bookstores yet, but EW can confirm that a film adaptation of the novel is already in the works. Playtone co-founders Tom Hanks and Gary Goetzman are closing a deal to adapt the story for the screen — and they’ve also snagged Atonement and Anna Karenina director Joe Wright to helm the project.

The Ocean at the End of the Lane is a dark modern fantasy set in the English countryside. Here’s how publisher William Morrow describes it:

“It began for our narrator 40 years ago when the family lodger stole their car and committed suicide in it, stirring up ancient powers best left undisturbed. Dark creatures from beyond the world are on the loose, and it will take everything our narrator has just to stay alive: there is primal horror here, and menace unleashed — within his family and from the forces that have gathered to destroy it.

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