Will ‘Men, Women & Children’ Be an Awards Season Contender?

The trailer for Jason Reitman’s latest movie, Men, Women & Children, was just released on Tuesday, but it’s already garnering a lot of attention. The movie marks the Oscar-nominated director’s first project since last year’s not-so-well-received Labor Day. But what really makes the 2-minute teaser stand out? It features absolutely no dialogue.

The ensemble dramedy, based on Chad Kultgen’s novel of the same name and co-written by Reitman and Erin Cressida Wilson, features a large cast that includes Adam Sandler, Jennifer Garner, Emma Thompson, Rosemarie DeWitt, Judy Greer, and Dean Norris, alongside young actors Ansel Elgort and Kaitlyn Deve.

The clip – silent other than the background song, a Plantains cover of Donna Summer’s “I Feel Love” — sets the melancholy and moody tone of the film, showing the characters as they go about their lives with their eyes and hands glued to their devices, completely and emotionally disconnected from the physical world around them. In one scene, Sandler’s character, stuck in an unhappy marriage, looks up neighborhood escort services on his computer. In another, his wife types, “I’ve forgotten what it’s like to be desired” into a chat window on her work computer.

It’s a poignant and telling introduction to a film meant to capture how the modern Internet age has changed the relationship between friends and couples both young and old, as well as affected everyone’s ability to communicate offline. Per the synopsis, the movie “attempts to stare down social issues such as video game culture, anorexia, infidelity, fame hunting, and the proliferation of illicit material on the internet.”

The subject may not make for the most uplifting work, but the film already looks to be a unique take on a culturally relevant matter. As evidenced by the trailer, the film utilizes a novel storytelling technique, employing on-screen text messaging and IMs to give insight into each character’s mindset. That, combined with the noteworthy cast (it’s not every day Sandler gets serious and Garner reunites with her Juno director), is already inspiring awards season talk.

It’s far from the first time Reitman has stirred up that kind of discussion. The director has been pretty much a fixture in awards season buzz since 2007’s Juno, which was nominated for both Best Picture and Best Director. While his 2009 effort, Up In The Air, was again a serious contender, his 2011 film Young Adult was apparently too cynical for the Academy.

His last movie, Labor Day (also produced by Paramount Pictures), initially seemed poised to enter the award show circuit but failed to impress upon its debut. Now, critics are speculating how this new flick might fare after its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival in September.

Only time will tell where exactly Men, Women & Children will fall in the Oscar conversation, but one thing’s for certain: the movie, out in limited release on October 3 before expanding on October 17, will face tough competition during both weekends. The film will first face off against the highly anticipated Gone Girl adaptation, due for wide release on October 3. During its expansion in mid-October, it will go up against Brad Pitt’s World War II drama Fury and Jake Gyllenhaal’s Nightcrawler.

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