Mark Wahlberg's Oscar Hopeful 'The Gambler' Set For AFI Fest World Premiere

The American Film Institute’s 2014 AFI Fest has snagged another major world premiere as it said today that Paramount Pictures’ The Gambler starring Mark Wahlberg will make its official debut at the Dolby Theatre on Monday, November 10. The film, not being released until December 19, pete_hammond_300x100marks a big coup for AFI and its placement at the Dolby is also a subtle hint that that’s where the studio would like to see Wahlberg competing as Best Actor come February 22nd.

The much-awaited remake of the 1974 film that starred James Caan was directed by Rupert Wyatt and written by William Monahan, who based his script on  James Toback’s original screenplay. Producers are Wahlberg, Stephen Levinson, David Winkler and Irwin Winkler, and Robert Chartoff, the latter two having produced the first film. Co-stars are John Goodman, Brie Larson, Michael Kenneth Williams and Jessica Lange.

AFI FestAlthough, as often noted here, the Best Actor race is very overcrowded this year and Paramount has other contenders on deck including Interstellar’s Matthew McConaughey and Selma’s  David Oyelowo, this is the kind of role that could bring Wahlberg back into the Oscar conversation. His only previous acting nomination came for his 2006 supporting role in The Departed — also written by Monahan, who won an Oscar for his script. But Wahlberg was a nominee in 2010 as a producer of the Best Picture nominee, The Fighter, which ironically also had its debut at AFI Fest when it showed up unannounced as a special sneak preview.

Walhberg made a surprise appearance there.  This time there will be no surprise.  He’s going. Will AFI Fest be another good luck charm this awards season?

Already announced for the fest is the opening-night Gala film, A Most Violent Year, on November 6 and closer Foxcatcher on November 13. Sophia Loren will also be getting a special tribute November 12.  The rest of the lineup is expected to be announced shortly.

  1. Because it was long past copyright coverage, Toback got away with calling his script original. But it was obvious at the time that it was a modernization of Dostoyevsky’s novel of the same name, which has seen multiple other adaptations, including a 1997 one which had Luise Rainer in her final performance (something of a comeback for her) and also Dominic West in a supporting role.

  2. For someone of such meager acting abilities, Mark Wahlberg’s hubris is quite something. Remember all the advertisements around town for his Lone Survivor Oscar “bid”? LOL. The “original” Gambler wasn’t very noteworthy either…

    1. Mark Wahlberg is highly talented…Terrific actor but more important is involved in television and film on many levels…He is a multi talented guy who has been involved in A list films not to mention ‘ Entourage’ and ‘ In Treatment to name a few….While you are sleeping he’s me

      1. He’s a hard-working man, no doubt about that, but the original commentator was correct about his limited acting capabilities.

        1. I understand what you are saying in terms of limited however Mark Wahlberg is a money machine……I have a lot of respect for him to be clear……He wears many hats in this tough industry and is successful…I think he knows his limitations as an actor..Next..

  3. I don’t know what this commenters talking about. I have read Dostoyevsky’s novella the gambler, and it has nothing to do with Toback’s movie. It details a grandmother blowing her fortune at roulletenberg, while various family members go through their own storylines. That has no resemblance to the story of axle freed, college professor who gets in over his head and has to persuade students to throw a game. The person who wrote the comment below clearly has a vendetta against James Toback, probably because they didn’t get picked for one of his movies, but beyond my speculation the fact is the Toback screenplay was originally based upon his own life, and not in anyway an appropriation of Dostoyevsky. Monahan screenplay on the other hand, is weak copy of Toback with no new insights and in fact many that detract from the original.

    1. Well, “Jimmy”, you apparently haven’t read Monahan’s screenplay, which is a Monahan rejection of Toback’s infantile, Freudian mess—which Toback has been dining out on like a subway lunatic for 45 years—and blows it out of the water.The original script was an illiterate mess saved by Karel Reisz. Monahan doesn’t believe in pussies with “addiction”, and, being a Shakespeare man, as you can see in almost every interview, he doesn’t do “adaptations” without making them utterly original and in his own image, as he did with the four-Oscar “The Departed”, which disconnected from “Infernal Affairs” as neatly as “Romeo and Juliet” did from the original Bandello. I have read Monahan’s “The Gambler”. He named the hero “Jim” apparently as a courtesy, and did his own thing. The script has nothing to do with Toback. In fact there is a joke bit where Monahan writes “BACK TO THE TOBACK” for one paragraph about the basketball game—and then he changes _that_. That is all that remains of “Toback” in the script, apart from Monahan’s generosity in calling the character “Jim”. Have another drink and relax brother: it will all be over soon. It’s no dishonor to anyone to get smoked on the ice by Bobby Orr. You can’t fight it. You just have to deal with it. Monahan’s John Goodman’s speeches alone have already passed into the language on the basis of a trailer.

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