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Live By Night's All-Star Team

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.

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Reader Comments (10)

You really hated it, didn't you?

November 19, 2016 | Unregistered Commentercal roth

I keep trying to read between the lines of this damn embargo and get some insight on it. I imagine this will be on the level of The Town, an accomplished and exciting crime drama that wont figure into the awards race outside some techs and a showy supporting role.

And thats fine!

November 19, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterJeremy

Sounds like a good movie. Ben has done some fine movies. Argo Gone Baby Gone

November 19, 2016 | Unregistered Commenterrick

I really liked Argo (not best picture worthy, but still very good), but I thought Gone Baby Gone and The Town were so blahhh. I've never understood the exorbitant praise Affleck has received as a director. He's competent, for sure, but never achieves real greatness like another actor-turned-director I'm thinking of (*cough* Warren Beatty).

November 19, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterAaron

Gone Baby Gone was terrific. The Town and Argo are both good but not as great.

Affleck is a MUCH better director than he is an actor. The fact that he enjoys casting himself in key/lead roles in his own movies is beyond frustrating. Just cast your brother dude.

November 19, 2016 | Unregistered Commenterhuh

huh: I'd be a little more nuanced. He's a much better director than he is a DRAMATIC actor. He's probably equally good as a comedic actor (just watch Extract or Dogma) as he is a director.

November 19, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterVolvagia

Did you really like the cinematography ?
judging from the trailers, I really don't like the digital look of it.

I don't care for Argo, or Gone Baby Gone -
I fucking LOVE the Town, though.

November 19, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterUlrich

Ulrich: I didn't love any of them. He massively improved, as a director, between Gone Baby Gone and The Town, but I'd agree with the idea of "just cast your brother, dude" as the main thing that's held everything past Gone Baby Gone (where his brother was the best or second best part) back. If being in the lead chair is so important? Try to be Woody Allen, not Michael Mann and don't waste our time.

November 19, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterVolvagia

It looks terrible and Affleck's casting of himself as a 1920s Florida mob boss really appears to be a joke. People complain about Holocaust movies and movies about Kennedys and movies starring Meryl. Personally, I would like a moratorium on movies glorifying the toxic masculinity of the mafia.

November 20, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterSuzanne

Suzanne -- amen. but the toxic masculinity genres are all still going strong :(

November 20, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterNATHANIEL R

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