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Critics Say Tom Hanks is Great in Mister Rogers Movie, But He’s Not the Real Star

Hanks is apparently fantastic in 'A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood'; but the film is about so much more than Oscar-bait.

Sony Pictures Entertainment

A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood premiered last night at the Toronto Film Festival, and it seems that the decision to cast America’s most beloved actor—Tom Hanks—as America’s most beloved TV personality (and, quite possibly, person)—Fred Rogers—paid off handsomely.

At least that’s according to the consensus of the critics who’ve seen the film. They agree that the film avoids sappiness (our greatest fear about the project),  and the choice to tell the story through a journalist working on a story (our second greatest fear about the project) actually works.

But the highest praise is reserved for Hanks. More than one critic says he’s in line for his first Oscar nomination since 2000’s Cast Away.

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Variety‘s Owen Gleiberman writes that “Hanks isn’t just good — he’s transporting. He takes on Mister Rogers’ legendary mannerisms and owns them, using them as a conduit to Rogers’ disarming inner spirit. He makes you believe in this too-nice-for-words man who is all about believing.”

The most surprising thing we’ve heard about the biopic is that it’s not really a biopic at all. Many of those critics who think Hanks deserves an Oscar don’t think it will be for best actor.

“This movie isn’t about Rogers himself: He takes a backseat here,” writes USA Today’s Brian Truitt, continuing which should worry anybody who might face Hanks for a best-supporting-actor Oscar.”

Matthew Rhys is the true lead actor, as a skeptical journalist writing a profile of Rogers. His character is based on Tom Junod, whose 1998 profile of Rogers for Esquire inspired the film.

This heaping praise is making us even more excited to see When A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood hits theaters on November 22. And when we go, we’ll be sure to bring the tissues. Gleiberman says that “When the film comes out, there won’t be a dry eye in the megaplexes of America.”

A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood is out in wide release in theaters on November 22, 2019.