I think it’s safe to say at this point that Ben Affleck is no longer a Hollywood joke. Despite a stellar coming out in Dazed and Confused and Good Will Hunting, which he also wrote and won the Oscar for, he spent many year languishing in Hollywood Hell, making movies like Pearl Harbor, Daredevil, Paycheck, Clerks II, and worst of all Gigli. However, after a great directorial debut on Gone Baby Gone, followed by the stellar The Town, and finally directing the Best Picture winning Argo (despite receiving an infamous Best Director snub), as well as peppering in great performances in Extract, Hollywoodland and Gone Girl, Affleck seems to have surpassed redeeming himself and entered the realm of Comeback Kid previously reserved for Matthew McConaughey and Michael Keaton. He’s already put a definitive stamp on Batman in Batman V Superman and Suicide Squad, and he still has The Accountant this October. However, this doesn’t seem to be enough for him, as he-along with a worried Warner Brothers-seem insistent on getting him back on the Oscar Horse with his biggest directorial effort yet, Live By Night.
Based on the bestselling novel by Dennis Lehane (Mystic River, Shutter Island), the film follows the rise of Joe Coughlin (Affleck), the son of a beloved Boston Police Captain who becomes a bootlegger and rum runner during the 1920s. The film stars Brendan Gleeson (Harry Potter), Zoe Saldana (Avatar), Sienna Miller (Foxcatcher), Elle Fanning (The Neon Demon), Chris Cooper (American Beauty), Max Casella (Doogie Howser, M.D.), and Chris Messina (The Mindy Project).
I have mixed feelings on this trailer. It is fun, it is breezy, and it has a strong Town-like feel. However, nothing about this trailer screams “Oscar” to me. Outside of Fanning’s monologue (which, coupled with her great year and my knowledge of the role, tells me she could be a frontrunner), the film seems to be aimed solely at the commercial, instead of the Academy. If it’s only a commercial play, it’s a smart move, since it’s got the American Sniper slot and could dominate the normally-terrible January. But if it gets a limited release in December, then we’ll get a better feel for its chances. The film is scheduled for release on January 13, 2017. You can watch the trailer below.