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Empire of Light, which could be a major 2023 Oscars player, gets a trailer

Did the trailer for 2023's Best Picture Oscar winner just debut? 

Searchlight Pictures has dropped our first look at Empire of Light, a new drama from the director of 1917 that could be a major player at next year's Academy Awards. Starring Olivia Colman and Colin Firth, the film is a romance that takes place around an old movie theater in the 1980s. 

The teaser centers around Toby Jones' character delivering a monologue about the magic of motion pictures and the idea that still images assembled together can create the illusion of motion. Searchlight says the film tells a "powerful and poignant story about human connection and the magic of cinema." Oscar-winner Roger Deakins is re-teaming with Mendes as cinematographer, and Oscar-winners Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross composed the score.

Mendes' last film was the World War I drama 1917, which was considered the Best Picture frontrunner for most of the 2020 Oscar season. But it ultimately lost to Parasite, which gained a last minute surge in momentum. Mendes previously directed Best Picture winner American Beauty

So could Empire of Light be his second film to snag the top prize? The Academy has been known to embrace movies about the magic of movies in the past, e.g. The Artist. Then again, Mendes isn't the only director covering that subject this year. There's also Steven Spielberg with The Fabelmanswhich covers the "power of movies to help us see the truth about each other and ourselves." La La Land director Damien Chazelle is also likely to be in the mix with his 1920s Hollywood film Babylon. 

Empire of Light is set to debut at the Toronto International Film Festival in September. Read more about next year's Best Picture field here.