‘The Fighter’ scores knockout in first public screening

“The Fighter” was screened for the first time to the public Tuesday night as part of the AFI filmfest in Los Angeles. From all reports, the picture was greeted with great enthusiasm. The Paramount release stars Mark Wahlberg as real-life pugilist Mickey Ward with Christian Bale as his wayward brother, Melissa Leo as their tough-talking mother and Amy Adams as his girl.

The David O. Russell-helmed biopic had already figured in our first set of predictions with our experts foreseeing strong supporting bids by both Bale and Leo. In our next round, the film itself may well inch up the Best Picture chart; it currently sits at No. 9 with both our experts and the Gold Derby editors.

The one question mark remains whether Wahlberg can crack the highly-competitive Best Actor category. The one-time Oscar nominee (“The Departed”) has stickhandled this project for years and his producer credit was well-earned. Reporting from the screening Deadline‘s Pete Hammond says, “the crowd ate it up and seemed to be with it, and him, all the way. ” And, as Jeff Sneider notes over at The Wrap, “I wouldn’t count him out just yet, as I expect the film to be warmly embraced by both critics and audiences alike.”

Photo: Mark Wahlberg and Christian Bale in “The Fighter” (Paramount)

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