Tom Hanks

HOLLYWOOD — Tom Hanks is a shoo-in for a Best Actor Oscar nod for “Captain Phillips.” Hanks, who won back-to-back Best Actor Oscars, for “Philadelphia” (1993) and “Forrest Gump” (1994), also was nominated for “Big,” “Saving Private Ryan” and “Cast Away.” Pitting him against the formidable Emma Thompson, who also will be nominated, was a stroke of genius. Thompson won her two Oscars for “Howard’s End” (Best Actress) and “Sense and Sensibility” (Best Adapted Screenplay), and also had Best Actress nominations for “The Remains of the Day” and “Sense and Sensibility,” and as best Supporting Actress for “In the Name of the Father.”

Hanks, a top-notch producer, usually hits gold at the box office, as he did with “Cast Away” ($90 million cost/$430 million gross), “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” ($5 million cost/$369 million gross), “Polar Express” ($165 million cost/$306 million gross), “Charlie Wilson’s War” ($75 million cost/$120 million gross) and “Mamma Mia” ($52 million cost/$610 million gross). He must have been very disappointed by “Parkland” (about JFK’s assassination with Zac Efron, Marcia Gay Harden, Ron Livingston, Billy Bob Thornton and Colin Hanks), which cost $10 million to produce and only took in $654,000 at the box office. However “Captain Phillips,” which he only acted in, took in $200 million, and “Saving Mr. Banks,” in which he plays Walt Disney, is sure to be a juggernaut at the box office.

Emma Thompson has “Effie” with Dakota Fanning, James Fox and Claudia Cardinale out in May, and “The Love Punch” with Pierce Brosnan on deck.
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For the past 25 years, Los Angeles businessman Sam Leslie has hosted a holiday toy drive. This year, his toy-raiser benefited The Lauren Foundation, which helps families affected by HIV and AIDS. The event was held in Leslie’s home, formerly owned by Sandra Bullock. If you’d like to help this worthy cause, go to its website at http://www.laurel-foundation.org/donate/.

Everyone’s favorite “Nanny,” Fran Drescher, will play the wicked stepmother of “Cinderella” in the Rogers and Hammerstein Broadway musical of the same name, Feb. 4-April 13. Can you imagine that voice in song?

Carrie Underwood’s “The Sound of Music Live!” triumph, which cost $9 million and brought in 19 million viewers, reminded us of Eleanor Parker, the film version’s Baroness Elsa, who coincidentally passed away Dec. 9 of pneumonia at 91. She received three Best Actress Oscar nominations for “Caged” (1950), “Detective Story” (1951) and “Interrupted Melody” (1955). NBC is planning another musical epic for next year. Critics who panned Carrie Underwood’s acting missed the point. She was young, naive and innocent in her acting, as Maria was at that time. Nevertheless, NBC turned a deaf ear to the reviews and only heard The Sound of Money!

© 2013 King Features Synd., Inc.