Ben Affleck’s new directorial project “Live by Night” might be jumping into 2016

Well, it’s just speculation right now, but this is potentially some very exciting news. Word trickled down over the weekend that Warner Brothers has moved the release date of Ben Affleck’s next project behind the camera, the crime epic Live by Night. Originally, we were scheduled to get it in October of this year, before it was delayed a year to October of 2017, partly to accommodate Affleck becoming Batman. Now, we’ve gotten notice that the WB has it opening in early January of 2017, which is right where American Sniper hit a few years back. As such, it’s almost a foregone conclusion now that it’ll get a qualifying run in December and be a part of the 2016 awards season. Make room folks, as a huge new contender could be joining the early stages of the race, potentially as the last player we’ll get this year.

This film is an adaptation of the Dennis Lehane novel of the same name, the second time that Affleck has gone to Lehane for inspiration. It is set during the era of Prohibition and follows Joe (Affleck), the son of a cop who begins rising through the ranks of organized crime. Things will take place in Miami, Cuba, and elsewhere, as this is a generational and large scale tale. It seems incredibly ambitious too, with Affleck writing, directing, and starring. He’s got an interesting cast here too, including Elle Fanning, Brendan Gleeson, Zoe Saldana, Sienna Miller, Scott Eastwood, Chris Messina, Chris Cooper, Titus Welliver, Anthony Michael Hall, and more. Big time DP Robert Richardson is the cinematographer, while William Goldenberg edits and Harry Gregson-Williams handles the score. All the ingredients are here for something special.

Ben Affleck at Hollywood Film awards

Assuming it does hit in 2016, this movie does appear to be a big deal. First off, Affleck has gotten better and better with each outing, and his debut was something special to begin with. Gone Baby Gone was great, The Town was a step up in every way, and Argo deservedly won the Oscar for Best Picture. Live by Night could be a huge juggernaut, if the trend continues. My guess is that it likely won’t be quite that amazing, but the potential is there. At the very least, it sounds like something that Affleck knows how to do well and it should play well to Academy members. I’m certainly very excited for it, if nothing else.

Awards wise, it’s a crapshoot right now, but the across the board potential is easy to see. Obviously, things start with Best Picture, Best Director (for Affleck), Best Actor (for Affleck too), Best Supporting Actor (for Eastwood, Gleeson, and/or Messina), Best Supporting Actress (for Fanning, Miller, and/or Saldana), Best Adapted Screenplay (for Affleck as well), Best Production Design, Best Cinematography, Best Costume Design, Best Film Editing, and Best Original Score. When I update my predictions early next month, I have a hunch that I’ll be including a lot of these categories, just to see how it fits. Affleck could very well finally crack the Director lineup if things break the right way, among other things.

Quickly, here’s how I’d rank Affleck’s directorial efforts so far:

1. Argo
2. The Town
3. Gone Baby Gone

We’ll see more from this one once the fall festival season begins, if I had to guess. Still, whether this winds up at the New York Film Festival, AFI Fest, the Toronto Film Festival, etc, it’s something to look forward to. Live by Night appears like a serious contender and an interesting next step in Affleck’s career as a filmmaker, so you definitely want to pay attention. Sit tight for more information when we have it, as right now the 2016 qualifying run is just a guess, but consider that a very educated guess. Frankly, I’d be shocked if it didn’t happen. We shall see though, I guess…

Stay tuned for lots more on Affleck and Live by Night!

About Joey Magidson

A graduate of Stony Brook University (where he studied Cinema and Cultural Studies), resides in Brooklyn, New York. He contributes to several other film-related websites and is a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association.

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