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Notes On The Season: AFI Fest Opens And Ruth Bader Ginsburg Steals Spotlight; Crazy Rich Actors Hit Early Awards Circuit

A column chronicling conversations and events on the awards circuit.

Welcome to a new Oscar season ..

A column chronicling conversations and events on the awards circuit.

Welcome to a new Oscar season of Notes on the Season, my weekly column and roundup of various events and interviews from the endless awards circuit. For the next few months, right up to Oscar night February 24, look to this space for all kinds of fun stuff — that is if you are an awards junkie like me.

AFI FEST LAUNCHES IN SUPREME STYLE

The fall film festival season that started with Venice, Telluride and Toronto in early September winds down this week with the AFI Fest, the American Film Institutes annual November, gala-heavy movie showcase that grabs the films breaking late in the game this month and over the holidays. It opened last night with the anticipated world premiere of Focus Features Ruth Bader Ginsburg “origin” story On the Basis Of Sex.

Veteran helmer Mimi Leder directs the film which was warmly received, especially in light of the real Ginsburgs fall in her office Wednesday resulting in some broken ribs and hospitalization. Note was made of this by Leder as she introduced the filmmakers and cast on hand including Felicity Jones, who is terrific as the young Ginsburg, and Armie Hammer equally fine as her husband Martin and co-counsel on a landmark case involving an attempt to overturn a century of sexual discrimination.

On The Basis Of Sex

Leder said she had been up into the early hours Thursday working on the pilot for her new Apple series about a morning TV show starring Reese Witherspoon, Jennifer Aniston and Steve Carell and when she finally woke up after 10 AM startled to hear the news about the key subject of her new film. The movie was written by Ginsburgs nephew Daniel Stiepleman, who said he asked her permission once he discovered the facts about that early gender-based case and thought it would make a good movie. “Well if thats how you want to spend you time,” is the response Stiepleman told me he got from her, along with access to all her files and research.

At the Focus Features and Participant Media after-party at the Dream Hotel in Hollywood, I asked Stiepleman how his 85-year-old aunt was doing and he said very well and expected her to be released to go home very soon, which I can tell you is a relief to everyone. (She was released from the hospital today.) One partygoer, fearing another Supreme Court vacancy if this fall were to sideline her, said, “Where do I go to donate a rib?”

Jones also was concerned but happy to hear the woman she plays so valiantly on screen was doing better. She was receiving lots of love herself for her performance, which gives way to a brief cameo by Ginsburg herself at the end of the movie. Also, there was the films talented production designer Nelson Coates who not only did this film but also the wildly different Crazy Rich Asians this year. He explained how, with Ginsburgs help, he re-created the actual home Ruth and Marty lived in, and even put the same pictures on the tables in their bedroom. “I can actually say I was in Ruth Bader Ginsburgs bedroom with her,” he laughed.

On The Basis Of Sex

There were actually dueling after-parties, with AFIs traditional celebration across the street from the TCL Chinese theatre at the Hollywood Roosevelt in addition to the one I hit at The Dream; filmmakers made their way to both in some cases. AFI president and CEO Bob Gazzale got the festival off to nice start with this opening, thanked past fest director Jacquelin Lyanga for her years of service and welcomed new director Michael Lumpkin who also has run AFI Docs out of D.C. since 2015. He offered a brief overview of what the next eight days will offer, right up to next Thursdays closing-night film, also from Focus, Mary Queen of Scots. Focus chief Peter Kujawski and Participants David Linde were among those at the opening, with Kujawski explaining to me he just learned how one is supposed to breathe when you get have broken ribs, a reference to the hot topic of Ginsburgs predicament. Everyone wished their favorite Supreme Court justice well.

Focus is releasing On the Basis of Sex on Christmas Day in honor of the 25th anniversary of Ginsburgs 1993 appointment to the high court. It is a nice holiday gift for all, especially as an antidote to all the other crap coming out of Washington D.C. these days. The Oscar voters I spoke to afterwards were uniformly impressed.

NEVER TOO EARLY TO GET AN AWARD

Nicole Kidman

Even though we just got through the midterms, and it is only early November with a number of contenders that havent opened yet, dont tell that to the eager recipients of some of the seasons earliest statuettes. Sunday saw the annual Hollywood Film Awards, a non-television kudos show that bills itself as the true start of awards season. Although lots of critics and pundits deride it (all the awards are negotiated with consultants looking to get photos of their contenders holding statuettes, and if you dont agree to show up in person, you dont win one), it still draws a starry lineup that is impressive, especially when you consider it is not televised. CBS tried it a few years ago but it lasted one airing on the network after low ratings and the antics of Johnny Depp deep-sixed it.

The show an the Beverly Hilton — two months before the Golden Globes take over there — is actually a breezy entertaining affair no one takes too seriously. Dress is cocktail attire, dinner is pretty good (but off the tables by the 5 PM start time), and the speeches were nice tryouts for the next kudos opp. Say what you will, but this HFA edition started out with Brad Pitt and Ryan Gosling only presenting, and ended with a Career Achievement Award for Nicole Kidman, and there was lots of star wattage in between.

Kidmans in the running for Oscar noms for both Destroyer and Boy Erased this year and purposely kept the emphasis on them in her spirited acceptance. A rep for the Oscar and Emmy winner told me beforehand she wanted to call this honor The Diversity Award, since Kidman has been playing all kinds of diverse mothers lately — and that includes the upcoming Aquaman. Kidmans husband Keith Urban was there with her and suggested the name “Aquamom” when I caught up with the pair in the Hilton lobby as they arrived. Every one of these awards starts with the name “Hollywood” even as it actually takes place in Beverly Hills.

Hollywood Actress of the Year went to Glenn Close, who told me she flew in from New York that morning from her new off-Broadway show Mother of the Maid, where she had tacked on an extra Thursday matinee to get Sunday off to fly in to take this honor. Her team is making sure her electric performance in The Wife isnt lost in the buzz since it opened in August. They have lined up the Modern Master award from the Santa Barbara Film Festival in February, and yesterday announced she is getting the Icon Award from the Palm Springs Film Festival on January 3, two must-stops for exposure of Oscar hopefuls these days. (Check out my interview with Close on this weeks edition of my Deadline video series The Actors Side.)

I was sitting right near Close, who was surrounded by Sony Pictures Classics Michael Barker and Tom Bernard, who flew out for the weekend events (including Deadlines all-day The Contenders Los Angeles show at the DGA on Saturday). However, I was actually at the Netflix Roma table which was celebrating non-pro Yalitza Aparicios New Hollywood Award. She delivered her heartfelt speech in Spanish; she doesnt speak Eenglish — yet. Sitting at that table I was confused since not everyone was well known and the HFAs have a serious empty seat complex (even though they arent televised), so seat fillers kept showing up. With the Roma gang, the seat fillers, and a phalanx of Netflix publicists showing up at different moments, it was hard to keep everyone straight, but I have a feeling the much-acclaimed Roma is going to be in this room a lot this season.

CRAZY RICH CELEBRATION

Crazy Rich Asians

Hugh Jackman (Hollywood Actor), Timothée Chalamet (Hollywood Supporting Actor, moving up from Hollywood Breakout Actor last year), Damien Chazelle (Director) the Black Panther group (Hollywood Film) and a bunch of Crazy Rich Asians were among other HFA selectees. The latter took over two tables in the front and seemed to be having the best time of anyone celebrating their Hollywood Breakout Ensemble award.

“Have you ever seen this many Asians on a Hollywood stage before? star Constance Wu asked. That whole group didnt want to stop partying, so they carried it on the next night down the street at Crustacean at a bash Warner Bros threw to “celebrate their Hollywood Breakout Ensemble Award.” That event was so packed there was hardly any room for the noodles they were passing around.

Henry Golding, who got his big break in the film, told me he was going to be gone for most of awards season as hes shooting Guy Ritchies new film Toff Guys and Paul Feigs Last Christmas back to back. He also had a key role in Feigs recent hit A Simple Favor. Last year at this time the only people who had heard of him were those who watched him hosting a British travel series(!) Now hes the Asian Brad Pitt. I am guessing Henry and those two tables full of about-to-be crazy rich actors (I hear they are plotting to shoot sequels of the last two books of the trilogy at the same time since everyone is in such demand now) will all be back in force at the Golden Globes, where it has a real shot in the comedy or musical categories.

Hamilton Behind The Camera

As if one show wasnt enough Sunday, the Hamilton Watch people threw their 10th annual Hamilton Behind the Camera Awards almost simultaneously in which Gosling was again a presenter, this time to First Man costume designer Mary Zophres. Jake Gyllenhaal, Rami Malek, Angela Bassett and Felicity Jones also were among presenters to various behind-the-scenes artisans who worked on their films.

Get ready everyone. This is just the beginning.

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Marvel Studios president claims hundreds of superheroes could join MCU after Disney merger

The MCU looks set to expand (Picture: Marvel Universe LIVE!)

The president of Marvel, Kevin Feige, ..

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Marvel Universe

The MCU looks set to expand (Picture: Marvel Universe LIVE!)

The president of Marvel, Kevin Feige, has said that hundreds of superheroes could join the MCU after the huge deal with Disney last year.

The MCU looks set to get a lot bigger.

The truth is Im excited for all of the [Fox properties]. And its not just the marquee names, you know, Kevin revealed while at the Golden Globes earlier this week.

He added to MTV News: There are hundreds of names on those agreements and the fact that Marvel is as close as we may ever get now to having access to all of the characters is something Ive been dreaming about for my almost 20 years at Marvel.

Its very exciting.

Back in December, the 45-year-old Marvel boss also opened up about the ending of Avengers Infinity War, as he explained that he never planned for the good guy to win.

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We did Infinity War and Endgame at the same time, but those have been the longest gestating movies weve ever made.

Four years now, almost five years. And it was always about delivering on the promise that we had set up. And the way the world received Infinity War was amazing, it was exactly what we wanted.

Kevin enjoyed playing around with the idea of leaving the movie on a cliffhanger with villain Thanos seemingly being the victor, as he and his crew were tired of the predictable storyline of the good guy winning.

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Speaking to Varietys Playback podcast, Kevin added: And that ending, which we had been working on for many years, and I do remember people, on all of the movies weve made and Im sure on many of the movies well make in the future, whenever the good guy wins, which is often – good guy, good woman, good hero wins – they go, “Eh, its kind of predictable. Good guy wins.”

Just a thought though, Kevin, we could sure do with a win at the end of Endgame.

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MORE: Samuel L Jackson reveals Captain Marvel superpower that could save Avengers in Endgame

MORE: Did Mark Ruffalo spoil another major Avengers: Endgame theory years ago?

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Groots name could actually be Tree and Thor has been telling us all along

Is Groots name a bit more literal than we thoght? (Picture: Marvel)

We may be waiting for a long ti..

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Groot

Is Groots name a bit more literal than we thoght? (Picture: Marvel)

We may be waiting for a long time for Guardians Of The Galaxy 3, after director of the first two films James Gunn was sacked from the franchise.

But at least we have plenty of fan theories to tide us over.

A Marvel fan has suggested that Groots name isnt actually Groot, and we are shooketh.

Redditor CheMc questioned if Groots name is Tree, as this is what Thor calls him, and hes one of the only people who understands Groots language after learning it on Asgard.

They wrote: I realised that when Thor introduces Groot to Captain America he introduces him as “Tree” rather than Groot, which got me thinking what if Groots name is actually Tree and that he is merely only able to say “I am Groot” leaving the Guardians to believe that is his name, but Thor actually understanding the language knows that to be wrong.

People are still pissed about Thor 2's fictional Tube route - we wish it did exist Credit: Jay Maidment/Marvel

Thor can understand Groots language (Picture: Marvel)

The Reddit post continued: Thor also calls Rocket by the name of rabbit the entire film but I did all of Thors scenes and at no point does anyone call him Rocket which means unless Rocket told Thor his name which doesnt really seem like something he would do Thor would give him his name while Groots name is one of the only 3 words he can say. It seems weird that Thor would incorrectly introduce his friend when he would know his name.

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Thor has a habit of referring to people by their surname like “Stark”, “Rogers”, “Banner” and so on which means its possible that Groots full name is actually Groot Tree and Thor is referring to him by his surname.

In the subtitles rabbit is not capitalised while referring to Rocket as rabbit while Tree is, implying it is a proper name or even a title.

More: Guardians of the Galaxy

Interesting – very interesting.

James Gunn previously shot down this rumour, tweeting: His name is not Tree – however, theres no confirmation that this is canon.

One theory about the fan favourite was previously confirmed – that the Groot in Vol 2 is actually a descendant of Groot, after the first Groot sacrificed himself in the first movie.

While GOTG 3 has been wiped from the schedule due to the director issues, Marvel boss Kevin Feige this week maintained that a third film will be made.

Speaking to MTV, he said: Guardians will happen. When, where, how? For a later time.

Got a showbiz story?

If you've got a story, video or pictures get in touch with the Metro.co.uk Entertainment team by emailing us celebtips@metro.co.uk, calling 020 3615 2145 or by visiting our Submit Stuff page – we'd love to hear from you.

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Samuel L Jackson reveals Captain Marvel superpower that could save Avengers in Endgame

Brie Larson is avoiding spoiling Endgame using a novel method (Picture: Marvel)

As fans, weve come ..

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Captain Marvel poster Brie Larson

Brie Larson is avoiding spoiling Endgame using a novel method (Picture: Marvel)

As fans, weve come up with a theory or two that addresses what we think may happen, or at the very least, hope to happen in the next Avengers saga.

With Endgame only a mere four-and-a-half months away, Captain Marvel is going to quench our information thirst before we catch up with the rest of the crew battling the wake of Thanos mighty snap.

Samuel L Jackson plays Nick Fury in the Avengers franchise as well as the Captain Marvel prequel spinoff, and whether or not the SHIELD leader meant to or not, he may have just revealed a superpower punters didnt know the Cap M had which might come in handy.

Which, of course, brings about a whole new wave of theories.

So according to Jackson, as well as Carol Danvers being a regular legend with the might to take the Titan Thanos down, shes also a time traveller.

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Wow, the more you know, eh?

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Shes pretty much the strongest character – in terms of someone with powers are able to do things – in the Marvel universe, he said of his compadre, played by Brie Larson. So, for Carol Danvers to be that person and for Brie to become that person, its gonna be a dynamite thing.

He added of the upcoming Endgame and how Captain Marvel will slide right on in there: I mean, [the Avengers] are up against some really, really tough odds right now – we saw throughout Infinity War – so now we know that we need something thats as powerful as Thanos, continues Jackson.

And at some point, well find out how powerful she is and all the things that shes capable of. Shes one of the few people in the Marvel universe that can time travel, so…

CLANG! Sorry, shall we pick up that massive spoiler for you, Sam?

The whole time travel palaver has been floating about the MCU for some time, with many a punter proffering the theory the Avengers will use the means to claim back half the population obliterated at the end of Infinity War.

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Its also been a long-held theory Scott Lang AKA Ant-Man (Played by Paul Rudd) will use the Quantum Realm to get about the various times and realities to stitch everything and everyone back together.

Guess well just have to wait and see.

Captain Marvel is in cinemas 8 March, 2019 and Avengers: Endgame is in cinemas April 28, 2019.

Got a showbiz story?

If you've got a story, video or pictures get in touch with the Metro.co.uk Entertainment team by emailing us celebtips@metro.co.uk, calling 020 3615 2145 or by visiting our Submit Stuff page – we'd love to hear from you.

MORE: Did Mark Ruffalo spoil another major Avengers: Endgame theory years ago?

MORE: Margot Robbie and Black Panther among 2019 Bafta nomination snubs and surprises

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