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Can Hilary Swank Make It Three Oscars?

Hilary Swank has tossed her hat back in the Oscar ring playing legendary pilot Amelia Earhart in Mira Nair’s new film called, of course, “Amelia,” from Fox Searchlight.

Last night “Amelia” got its big premiere with tons of celebs and VIPS including the cast: Richard Gere, Ewan McGregor, Joe Anderson. Mariska Hargitay, who came with actor husband Peter Hermann, brought a little gift for Hilary, too: a keepsake picture book she made of the two pals. You see, stars really are like regular people!

Also in the audience: Fox Searchlight’s dynamic honcho Nancy Utley, director Ang Lee, Sony Pictures Classics’ co chief Tom Bernard, Harry Connick Jr. and wife Jill Goodacre, Julia Ormond, Carey Lowell (aka Mrs. Gere) and, of all people, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos.

Not to mention there was also Mira Nair (pictured with Hilary Swank), whose films “The Namesake” and “Monsoon Wedding” are among the best of the last two decades.

But Nair had problems when she made “Vanity Fair” with Reese Witherspoon, and some of those problems persist here. While Swank and co. are just fine, the script doesn’t help Nair. She’s constantly working in spite of it to make Earhart’s trajectory a richer one. It’s tough going.

Swank, who’s won two Oscars — for “Million Dollar Baby” and “Boys Don’t Cry” — could certainly be nominated again. She’s got “it,” whatever that is. Amelia Earhart is probably unknown to people under the age of 40, but she’s going to be indelibly impressed as this commanding female pilot now for generations to come. Swank plays it simple, which always works. Even as Amelia becomes a national celebrity, commercial endorser, lover of Gore Vidal’s real life father, wife of a wealthy publisher, Swank keeps her grounded.

By the way: in real life, Earhart did have an affair with and married George Putnam, whose grandfather founded G.P, Putnam’s Sons publishers, now known as Putnam Penguin. Putnam’s original father-in-law was the creator of Crayons. Who knew? In the movie, Earhart and Putnam break up because she is seen having an affair with Gore Vidal’s father, Gene. But in a local Florida paper recently, George Putnam’s granddaughter said it never happened.

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