‘J. Edgar’ nabs coveted opening night slot at AFI Fest

To launch its silver anniversary edition, the AFI Fest is premiering the newest film — “J. Edgar” — from a fellow with four golden Oscars on his mantle, Clint Eastwood. This biopic of longtime FBI director J. Edgar Hoover (Leonardo DiCaprio) unspools on Nov. 3, just six days before its release. 


Eastwood had chosen to debut his more recent films such as “Hereafter” and “Changeling” earlier in the year at festivals such as Toronto in September and New York in October. 

Sight unseen, “J. Edgar” tops our poll of Oscar contenders for Best Picture as do Eastwood and DiCaprio. The script is by Oscar champ Dustin Lance Black (“Milk”).

Among the cast are Oscar winner Judi Dench (“Shakespeare in Love”) as Hoover’s domineering mother, Oscar nominee Naomi Watts (“21 Grams”) as his loyal secretary and last year’s hot newcomer Armie Hammer (“The Social Network”) as Clyde Tolson, who may have been Hoover’s lover.

Eastwood was feted with the American Film Institute’s lifetime achivement award in 1996. Since the AFI began naming its top 10 list of American films of the year in 2000, Eastwood has had four of his features make the cut: “Mystic River” (2003); “Million Dollar Baby” (2004), “Letters from Iwo Jima” (2006); and “Gran Torino” (2008).

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In making the announcement, AFI president and CEO Bob Gazzale said, “Clint Eastwood is an American icon, one whose work as a director, actor, producer and composer not only stands the test of time, but also continues to add new, rich chapters with each passing year. What a gift it is to be going to the movies when Clint Eastwood is making them, and what an honor it is for the American Film Institute to premiere his latest contribution to America’s cultural legacy.”

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