One of the advantages of opening extremely late -- though we hate to encourage it! -- is that you're fresh in the minds of voters when ballots arrive. With a film like Live By Night, which would probably not be a player next year if it had opened first quarter as originally planned (it's doing a qualifying week at Christmas) that could mean multiple nominations for its team. Ben Affleck is no fool and lined up a murderer's row of behind-the-scenes giants. Here are the most likely ways that it could affect the Oscar race...
Costume Design by Jacqueline West (3 previous nominations)
Like all mobster movies there are scads of oversized men's suits but with two very different locales (Boston and Tampa) Jacqueline West is at least able to play with the color schemes on the men and gives Ben Affleck a wider than usual array of looks. But where she really pulls out the stops is with the films three showy female roles (alas, no, the movie does not pass the Bechdel Test as each of them only interact with Ben): Sienna Miller as a glamorous gangster's moll, Zoe Saldana as a rum-running Cuban sexpot, and Elle Fanning as the tragic daughter of a local police chief. Jacqueline West's credits include Oscar nominations for Quills, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, and The Revenant and several others including The Tree of Life and Water for Elephants
Film Editing by William Goldenberg (5 previous nominations and a win)
Goldenberg has done three of Affleck's four films (all but The Town) and keeps this very plotty movie rolling along with brisk rhythms and one unusually exciting car chase. I say unusually because I almost never get excited during car chases. That said his Oscar nominations have always been connected to Best Picture nominees and I can't see this film managing one of those.
Production Design by Jess Gonchor (1 previous nomination)
Gonchor was previously nominated only for True Grit but that doesn't paint the whole story of his career since he also excels at contemporary comedy (Devil Wears Prada), blockbuster madness (The Lone Ranger), Coen Bros specifity (A Serious Man) and so on. In short he's got range and this film really tests it with multiple key locales, wealthy homes, bayou joints, revival tents, unfinished mammoth buildings, underground tunnels, you name it.
Cinematography by Robert Richardson (9 previous nominations and 3 wins)
Scorsese, Stone, and Tarantino all swear by him. It's not just the auteurs. Oscar also worships him. Richardson's last two nominations (Django Unchained and The Hateful Eight) have utterly perplexed me given their non-nominated competition, so he's clearly reached that Roger Deakins level of prestige wherein if he makes a movie he's in the running for a nomination, period. Live By Night is more beautifully shot than either of those last two films so even if people don't like this movie, he'll still be a threat for this particular nomination.