Contender: ‘J. Edgar’

The Contenders 2011

As head of the FBI for nearly four decades, J. Edgar Hoover knew the secrets of some of the country’s most powerful men, but fiercely guarded his own.

Now a trio of Oscar heavyweights — star Leonardo DiCaprio (a three-time nom), director Clint Eastwood (who has four Oscar statuettes) and writing winner Dustin Lance Black — attempts to get inside his head in this ambitious, and frequently speculative, biopic.

Hot off a high-profile premiere at the AFI Film Fest, the half-century-spanning history lesson — which co-stars Naomi Watts as Helen Gandy, Hoover’s secretary for 54 years, and Armie Hammer (“The Social Network”) as trusted deputy Clyde Tolson — touches on such important 20th-century events as the Lindbergh kidnapping, JFK’s assassination and the civil-rights movement.

As one might expect from a bio-pic penned by the writer of “Milk,” the film also addresses the ongoing speculation and rumors that Hoover, who never married or had kids, was secretly gay and had an intimate relationship with Tolson (the two dined daily and even vacationed together).

Though Eastwood’s track record demands the film be taken seriously, reviews suggest its Oscar chances could be undermined by flaws in everything from the script to old-age makeup.

Release date: Nov. 11
Distrib: Warner Bros.
Read the Variety review

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