This year's Oscar campaigns are quickly linking up to the prestige that comes with the real world of presidential politics.

The latest is Fox's "The Book Thief," which screened to former President George H.W. Bush and former First Lady Barbara Bush, along with several hundred others, at a private screening in Houston. Afterward, according to Fox, stars Geoffrey Rush and Sophie Nelisse and director Brian Percival appeared at a panel along with author Markus Zusak. Also present were producer Karen Rosenfelt and Fox 2000 President Elizabeth Gabler.

Fox sent out a release on the event, along with a number of photos and an endorsement of the movie from Bush 41, who said, "I was deeply moved by this truly wonderful movie, which dramatized in a powerful way both the horrors of any war but also the abiding humanity that helped to sustain and save so many against a rising tide of evil so many years ago." The movie is set in Nazi Germany and centers on a young girl who steals books and gives them to others as tragedies unfold around her. Barbara Bush also gave a quote endorsing the movie, saying, "I would have loved this incredible film under any circumstance, but the fact that one of the key plot lines involved a caring adult teaching a precious child to read, well, that was icing on the cake." One of her signature initiatives as first lady was literacy, and she has continued that via the Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy.

In last year's Oscar race, the White House hosted a special screening of "Beasts of the Southern Wild," along with a panel with some of the filmmakers, as well as a screening of "Lincoln"; former President Bill Clinton endorsed "Lincoln" by introducing a clip of the movie at the Golden Globes; and former President Jimmy Carter appeared in promotional clips for "Argo."

The difference this year seems to be that such prestige events are happening earlier in awards season.

Tonight, President Obama is hosting a screening at the White House of The Weinstein Co.'s "Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom," and Hillary Clinton is hosting a screening of the movie on Nov. 20 at the Kennedy Center.

Also present at the screening of "The Book Thief" were two of the Bush's sons, Marvin and Neil, former Houston Mayor Bill White and former California representative Michael Huffington.

 

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