Ben Affleck’s “Live By Night” officially is a 2016 contender

Live By Night Ben Affleck
After what started as speculation, we can now confirm that Ben Affleck’s next film behind the camera, the gangster tale Live By Night, is officially hitting this year. Yes, that early 2017 release date is just a wide release marker. Before that, it now will be starting off with an Oscar qualifying run in New York and Los Angeles on December 25th. That’s right, Christmas Day just got even more crowded. Affleck could be crashing the party with this player. Honestly, it’s not smart to bet against him. There’s no telling how good this movie will be, but the possibilities are endless. At the very least, we now know it’s really going for the gold here in 2016. Affleck behind the camera has never been shut out, so it could be just to what degree this becomes a player.

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, Chris Sullivan, 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 with Live By Night.

Between the Trailer that hit last month or so and this news, it’s clear that Live By Night is a prestige picture. It hits on the gangster genre that voters love, plus we all know that Affleck isn’t hated by the Academy. Factor in how Oscar sort of owes him a Best Director citation, and you have to consider this something with a chance be a juggernaut. I’ll specifically speak to awards in a moment, but just in terms of quality, Warner Brothers has to be feeling confident in the final product, judging by this date. It worked for American Sniper a few years back, so there’s no reason why it couldn’t work for this as well.

Awards wise, it’s pretty much a crapshoot right at this moment, 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.

Right now, Live By Night has to be considered a question mark in the awards race, but the folks over at the WB clearly have high hopes for it. Frankly, with Affleck’s track record, why wouldn’t they? If this is half as good as Argo, it deserves to be a player. We’ll have to wait and see what happens, as I suspect we won’t have any screenings for at least another month or so. Still, with a late December qualifying run set in stone now, moves are being made. Sit tight, as we might have an 11th hour player shaking up the race on Christmas Day…

Stay tuned for much more on Live By Night between now and its new Christmas release date!

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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