Universal has released the first trailer for Damien Chazelle's Neil Armstrong biopic, First Man. It hasn't taken long for the director to earn a place among this generation's elite filmmakers. He first made a name for himself with the Oscar-winning Whiplash, and soared to even greater heights with 2016's La La Land. The critically-acclaimed musical grossed $446 million at the worldwide box office and earned a record-tying 14 Oscar nominations. It ended up winning six of those awards, including Best Director for Chazelle. After the overwhelming success of La La Land, many cinephiles were excited to see what he'd do next.
First Man reunites Chazelle with leading man Ryan Gosling, who takes on the role of Armstrong in the film. Described as a "mission movie," the biopic takes place from 1961 to 1969, depicting the events leading up to the famed Apollo 11 mission that saw Armstrong become the first person to walk on the moon. First Man was part of Universal's CinemaCon presentation, where screened footage went over very well with those in attendance. Now, the general public as an opportunity to get a taste of what the film will be like with the debut of a teaser trailer. Watch it for yourself in the space above.
While extremely different tonally, Chazelle's previous outings are quite similar thematically in that they explore their lead characters' trials and tribulations as they try to balance their personal and professional lives. First Man appears to be cut from that cloth, as the trailer plays up not only Neil Armstrong's work at NASA, but also his relationship with his family. The exchanges Armstrong has with his wife and young son at various points in the footage hammer home the inherent danger of what he's attempting to do. As Claire Foy's Janet Armstrong says, Neil's mission to the moon isn't a routine drive to the office, and there is the possibility he doesn't return.
Much like Whiplash's Andrew Neiman and La La Land's Sebastian and Mia, Armstrong is another Chazelle protagonist who is going to have to make a plethora of sacrifices as he looks to accomplish his goal. Deke Slayton (Kyle Chandler) irons out the stakes clearly as he briefs the astronauts. NASA is starting from scratch due to the complexity of sending a man to the moon. Based on the footage, it looks like the tests are going to be just as rigorous (and risky) as the actual flight to outer space. First Man impressed during Universal's CinemaCon presentation earlier this year and it's easy to see why. Chazelle seems to be taking his next step forward as an artist with another ambitious project.
Chazelle's last two features were major players on the awards circuit, securing nominations for Best Picture. It's too early to say for certain First Man will follow suit, but it certainly has all the ingredients on-paper of an Oscar contender. The Academy has long has a soft spot for a well-crafted biopic, and Chazelle has quickly established himself as one of their darlings. At this point, it would be quite surprising if First Man doesn't live up to its potential and soar to tremendous heights when it opens this fall.
- First Man (2018) release date: Oct 12, 2018