Trailer and Poster for Gus Van Sant's 'Promised Land'

Matt Damon and Rosemarie DeWitt in Promised Land
Matt Damon and Rosemarie DeWitt in Promised Land
Photo: Focus Features

Only added to the release schedule less than a month ago, Focus Features' latest bid for some 2012 awards season attention is Gus Van Sant's Promised Land starring Matt Damon and John Krasinski, from a script by the two performers.

Damon was originally set to make this his directorial debut, but in pre-production his schedule just wouldn't allow for it so his Good Will Hunting helmer stepped in to take over as the two look to once again tap into some Oscar glory.

The film features Damon as Steve Butler, an ace corporate salesman who is sent along with his partner, Sue Thomason (Frances McDormand), to close a key rural town in his company's expansion plans. With the town having been hit hard by the economic decline of recent years, the two outsiders see the local citizens as likely to accept their company's offer, for drilling rights to their properties, as much-needed relief. What seems like an easy job for the duo becomes complicated by the objection of a respected schoolteacher (Hal Holbrook) with support from a grassroots campaign led by another man (Krasinski), as well as the interest of a local woman (Rosemarie DeWitt). Promised Land explores America at the crossroads where big business and the strength of small-town community converge.

I've added the trailer and poster directly below (via Apple). Give 'em a watch and let me know what kind of Oscar potential you see. Pundits are clearly keeping an eye on the film as a potential Best Picture contender with thoughts toward Director, Actor (Damon), Supporting Actor (Holbrook), Supporting Actress (McDormand), Director and Screenplay. You agree?

Promised Land will have an Oscar qualifying run beginning December 28.

Promised Land poster
Photo: Focus Features
  • drew

    This movie doesnt really seem very subtle.

  • Ilir Hyseni

    It looks like it's going to be a good film, and it brings up an important subject. An Oscar contender? Maybe, only maybe.

  • AS

    This looks like a dud. It tires to have it both ways: a look at how corporate greed is destroying the environment, while also trying to be sentimental. This can only end in failure. I wish John Krasinski would go away. Mcdormand is becoming an increasing irritating screen presence. Also, Hal Holbrook is now the male equivalent of Betty White. No one really wants to see them any more, but Hollywood just celebrates for... well... still being alive.

    • Hamza Zain

      Couldn't disagree more with you on Holbrook. While it is true that people cast Betty White for the sake of her being old sassy Betty White, but Holbrook is a pretty dynamic actor. They don't just hand out Oscar nominations, unless your last name is Streep.

      • AS

        Did ya see Water for Elephants? Yikes!

    • Movie_Lou

      I think part of your response hits the nail on the head. "...a look at how corporate greed is destroying the environment, while also trying to be sentimental..." However, this moral dilemma is just that - a dilemma. And it's ongoing. These kinds of efforts by large corporations in conjunction w/the "right or wrong" decision of a local farm owner, coffee house, book store owner etc., to sell out continue to this very day. I think that's why film-makers continue to tell stories such as these. Perhaps they want the country (via the audience) to continue the discussion.

      ...Just a thought

      • Michael

        Oops typo, let me start over. I don't find McDormand to be irritating as late (not even in Burn After Reading) and probably never. She's one of the best actresses around.

        • Michael

          Didn't mean to reply to you Movie_Lou. Sorry.

      • AS

        Don't misunderstand me, I think it's a compelling and important story. It's the sentimentality I object to. If you're going to deal with the issue, do it head on. Don't dress it up to make it more appealing to a mass audience.

        • SohoDriver

          You make a fair point, but aren't you forgetting something? The target audience of this trailer is the mass. There are SO many films which have rather schmaltzy trailers but actually turn out to be excellent. I'm a huge fan of Gus Van Sant, and although I prefer his indie work, I still love his more mainstream movies (Milk is actually my favourite of his) and I trust in him and the strong cast and writing team. I have high hopes for this one. Don't judge a film by it's trailer. Marketing for a film is very often misleading if you're a more serious film fan because they're aiming to make money and will therefore aim it at the mass, who are more interested in the sentimental.

          • AS

            I don't know about that. More often than not, trailers are pretty representative of the film. I can't think of a trailer that made a film look sentimental, and then the actual film wasn't.

            As far as Van Sant is concerned, I can't say I'm a fan. I think Milk is easily his best, but his body of work doesn't really do much for me.

    • Michael

      Disagree with you on Frances McDormand. I haven't found to be irritating lately pr never. She is one of the best actresses out around. I also find John Krasinski to be a good versatile actor. Yeah I find him boring in The Office and the only character I don't really care about in that but as an actor, he's pretty good.

    • Michael

      I meant, I never found McDormand irritating not even as of late (even in Burn After Reading). She's one of the better actresses around. My goodness, I had to type this 3 times. Typo at first & replying to the wrong person secondly. Geez, what a day.

  • Gautam

    Naah .. Oscars are not going to happen for this. It looks like one of those feel good movies. May be a screenplay nomination if the film is good. Box office results might have helped but it's releasing too close to the nomination dates.

    Infact I am getting "We bought a Zoo" vibes from it only with a more serious issue.

  • Movie_Lou

    While AS (above) is slightly correct - this premise is somewhat tired, and Matt Damon seems to ingratiate himself w/roles wherein he either represents the the meek of the earth / less powerful (Good Will Hunting, Green Zone) or he is the conduit to a corporation that seeks to take advantage of people (SYRIANA, Promised Land).

    For my money, Damon is one of the better performers on screen today, his characters are believable and he is a commanding force. That alone will send me to the theater to watch his movies.

    Interesting note: Had never heard of Abu Dhabi as film production company. Noticed it in the credits to Promised Land. They've supported quite a few good films.

  • Hello Kitty

    I think it could be good, like Silkwood or Erin Brockovich, calling attention to unethical practices, which most of us have no clue about. If you want to know more on the subject, check out the documentary, Gasland.

  • Hello Kitty

    I also want to add, that's a crappy-looking poster.

  • Bren

    I wasn't sure if this was a comedy or drama at times. There's some jokes/joking that kinda seems inappropriate for a movie with such a serious premise. The subject is interesting but this doesn't look like it will deliver.

  • Winchester

    It's the kind of film I would watch - just not necessarily by going to a theatre though.

  • Bob Leroe

    Sounds like Local Hero, which was an excellent movie BTW.