Oscar campaigns are not won with a single photograph. And yet, when you show we a picture of Tom Hanks playing famed entertainment mogul Walt Disney in the upcoming film ‘Saving Mr. Banks’...well, we're convinced the two-time Oscar winner can reserve a seat in the Dolby Theatre for the 2014 Oscars, because a nomination seems likely.

Directed by John Lee Hancock (‘The Rookie,’ ‘The Blind Side’), ‘Saving Mr. Banks’ tells the true-life story of author P.L. Travers (played by Emma Thompson, also pictured), whose 1934 novel ‘Mary Poppins’ was pursued by Disney for a feature-film adaptation. History tells us that Travers was unhappy with the sunny disposition given to the Poppins character in the films. (She’s an edgier character in the multiple ‘Poppins’ books, though that side of her personality was downplayed by Julie Andrews for the film.) The emotional conflict between Disney and Travers could give Hanks and Thompson a lot of material to chew on as they flesh out these roles on screen.

The first-look image, shared by TIME, has Disney (Hanks) walking Travers (Thompson) through Disneyland, courting the Australian author in 1961. Thompson tells the magazine that Travers is “the most difficult person I’ve ever played,” adding:

She was a woman of quite eye-watering complexity and contradiction. Often I play people who are controlled by some very clear guiding moral principles. Like Margaret Schlegel [in ‘Howards End’], guided by the early principles of feminism and equal rights, and Elinor Dashwood [in ‘Sense and Sensibility’], guided by the principles of decency and honor. There are very clear moral prisms these women pour life through, and I understand that very well. And [Travers] was not like that at all. She was far more chaotic and confused and morally various.

Hanks, meanwhile, could be competing against himself come Oscar time, as he also takes the lead in Paul Greengrass’ nautical thriller ‘Captain Phillips,’ which Sony will release in the fall for an obvious 2014 Oscar run.

Yet, if I had to put my eggs in only one of Hanks’ baskets, I’d lean toward ‘Banks’ sight unseen for a couple of reasons. Hollywood enjoys rewarding those who retell untold stories of its own past, as when Johnny Depp recently scored a nomination for playing ‘Peter Pan’ playwright in ‘Finding Neverland.’ And if Hanks can bring new shades to a recognizable icon like Walt Disney, he could deliver a memorable performance that resonates with Oscar members … some of which might have worked alongside Disney in his prime.

Plus, Hanks' resemblance to a younger Walt Disney is uncanny.

Life Magazine
Life Magazine

‘Saving Mr. Banks’ opens in theaters on December 13 – a prime slot for a biographical drama with Oscar aspirations.

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