Christopher Plummer & Viggo Mortensen Tributes: AFI FEST

James McAvoy Christopher Plummer The Last Station
James McAvoy, Christopher Plummer in The Last Station.

AFI FEST 2009 has selected Christopher Plummer, who'll turn 80 next December, and Viggo Mortensen, 51, as this year's tribute honorees.

Sponsored by the Skirball Cultural Center, Plummer's tribute will precede the screening of The Last Station, in which he plays Leo Tolstoy, on Tuesday, Nov. 3. Mortensen's tribute will precede the US premiere of John Hillcoat's futuristic drama The Road on Wednesday, Nov. 4. Both tributes will take place at Grauman's Chinese Theatre in Hollywood.

A stage, film, and television and television veteran, during the course of his 50-plus-year career Plummer has won two Tony Awards (for Cyrano and Barrymore), three Drama Desk Awards, the National Arts Club Medal, and two Emmys. Additionally, he was a leading member of Laurence Olivier's Royal National Theatre and Peter Hall's Royal Shakespeare Company.

Among Plummer's dozens of screen appearances, whether in leading or supporting roles, are Stage Struck (1957), The Sound of Music (1965), The Night of the Generals (1967), The Silent Partner (1978), Malcolm X (1992), The Insider (1999), A Beautiful Mind (2001), and Inside Man (2006). Curiously, he's never even been nominated for an Academy Award – though this year he has a good chance of landing a Best Supporting Actor Oscar nomination for The Last Station.

Christopher Plummer can also be seen in the AFI FEST's Centerpiece Screening Gala presentation, Terry Gilliam's The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus, in which Plummer stars as the leader of a traveling theater troupe who, following a deal with the devil, takes audience members through a magical mirror to explore their imagination. Supporting Plummer are Heath Ledger, in his last screen appearance, Johnny Depp, Jude Law, Colin Farrell, and Tom Waits. Both Gilliam and Plummer are scheduled to attend the AFI FEST screening.

Since his debut in Peter Weir's Witness (1985), Viggo Mortensen's most notable screen roles include those in Indian Runner (1991), The Portrait of a Lady (1996), A History of Violence (2005), Alatriste (2006), and Eastern Promises (2007), for which he received a best actor Academy Award nomination. Thanks to his portrayal of Aragorn in Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings trilogy, Mortensen has now an iconic place in film history.

Mortensen is also a likely best actor Oscar contender for his role in The Road. He is scheduled to attend the AFI FEST screening, along with director Hillcoat and co-star Charlize Theron.

Sony Pictures Classics will release The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus in the US on December 25.

The Weinstein Company will release The Road on November 25.

 

AFI FEST website.

Gay drama 'A Single Man'

Colin Firth, Matthew Goode in A Single ManColin Firth, Matthew Goode in A Single Man

AFI FEST 2009's Closing Night Gala presentation, the US premiere of Tom Ford's A Single Man, will take place at Grauman's Chinese Theatre in Hollywood on Thursday, November 5. (The festival, with screenings in Santa Monica, actually ends on Nov. 7.)

Based on a Christopher Isherwood novel, A Single Man chronicles a day – possibly the last one – in the life of a gay British college professor (Venice 2009 best actor Colin Firth) in the Los Angeles of the mid-'60s, as he seriously considers suicide following the unexpected death of his partner (Matthew Goode).

Written by Ford and David Scearce, A Single Man also features Julianne Moore (a likely Best Supporting Actress Oscar contender) as a married woman attracted to the suicidal prof, Ginnifer Goodwin, and Nicholas Hoult.

Tom Ford, Colin Firth, and Julianne Moore are all scheduled to attend the Nov. 5 screening.

The Weinstein Company release of A Single Man is due in US theaters on December 11.

'Precious' & Heath Ledger

AFI FEST 2009, the AFI Los Angeles International Film Festival, kicks off next Friday, Oct. 30, with a screening of Wes Anderson's animated feature Fantastic Mr. Fox, featuring the voices of George Clooney, Meryl Streep and Owen Wilson, among others.

Other gala presentations include Terry Gilliam's The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus, starring Christopher Plummer – who'll be the recipient of this year's AFI FEST Lifetime Achievement Award – and featuring Heath Ledger's last performance; Kirk Jones' Everybody's Fine, starring Robert De Niro in this remake of Giuseppe Tornatore's melodrama about a widower on his way to meet his family; and Sundance 2009 winner Precious: Based on the Novel 'Push' by Sapphire, a coming-of-age drama directed by Lee Daniels, and starring Gabourey Sidibe, Mo'Nique, Paula Patton, and Mariah Carey.

The festival, which runs until Nov. 7, will showcase 67 features (54 narrative, 13 documentary) and 26 shorts for a total of 93 films from 32 countries.

AFI FEST 2009 is headquartered at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel. All screenings from October 30–November 5 will take place at the Grauman's Chinese and Mann Chinese 6 theaters in Hollywood with the final two days of the Festival (Nov. 6-7) screening at the Laemmle's Monica 4-plex in Santa Monica.

Free tickets to all Festival screenings are available online at AFI.com/AFIFEST or by phone at 866-AFI-FEST beginning October 16, at the Mann Chinese 6 Theatre (6925 Hollywood Blvd.), in the Hollywood and Highland Center beginning October 26, and on the day of scheduled screenings via Rush Lines.

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