Tom Hanks is becoming one of the great actors of our American generation, with two Oscars under his belt, plus assorted nominations, the buzz is that Hanks could very well find himself as a Best Actor Nominee for his powerful turn in Captain Phillips, and more chatter is following about  his fascinating portrayal of Walt Disney in Saving Mr. Banks.  It opens domestically on Dec. 13.

Hanks’s tour de force year is what industry insiders were buzzing about last night, along with how much this jaded crowd loved the movie, at the American Film Institute’s  opening of Disney and Essential Media’s Saving Mr. Banks, about the often thorny relationship between Walt Disney and Mary Poppins creator P. L. Travers, during the making of that  beloved 1964 musical classic.  The premiere took place at the newly restored TLC Chinese Theater, and deja vu was present in a big way since the premiere of Poppins, was held in the same theater almost 50 years ago.

The whole cast made an appearance, as well as the director John Lee Hancock, to introduce the film. Hanks is just his usual terrific self as Disney, and Emma Thompsonplays the role of the damaged, childlike Travers with sassiness and heartbreak.  She’s quickly garnering buzz as the Best Actress to beat. Jason SchwartzmanBJ Novak,Bradley Whitford and Rachel Griffiths round out this mega talented cast.

Travers was an Australian; a fact Chris Hilton, the CEO of Essential Media Entertainment, a noted producer worldwide as well as an Aussie himself, made sure he capitalized on. Essential first did a documentary on Travers, talking to her family and friends, which fueled the script of this wonderful, glorious and at times, heartbreaking film about a woman who gave the world one of the most cherished characters in literary lore.

The AFI Fest will screen Poppins again Saturday, Nov. 9 at the Chinese with Dick Van DykeKaren Dotrice and the Oscar winning Composer and Songwriter Hall Of Famer Richard Sherman attending.  Bravo Essential and Disney!  Long Live Mary Poppins!

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