Film review – Manchester By The Sea (Kenneth Lonergan, 2017)

Manchester By The Sea is by no stretch of the imagination a happy film. That it was advertised in some channels as a comedy is beyond me. It’s a bleak look into one man’s struggles with his past during a particularly depressing period of his life, and I’m not sure that there was a particularly happy ending to it either. But it is absolutely deserving of its plaudits, and the results are both effecting and memorable.

WARNING! The next paragraph spoils the first twenty minutes or so of the plot, but only really covers what is in the trailer. If you don’t want to have anything ruined then just stop reading and simply watch a film that deserves your time.

The story, in a nutshell, is about Lee Chandler (Casey Affleck), a single man in a dead-end handyman job with no semblance of positivity for his or anyone else’s life. His brother Joe (Kyle Chandler) dies young due to a heart condition, forcing him to return home to Manchester, Massachusetts to sort out the funeral arrangements and look after his son Patrick (Lucas Hedges). However, he soon finds out that he has been named the sole legal guardian for Patrick, forcing him to take on unwanted responsibilities and confront his past relationship with former wife Randi (Michelle Williams).

Affleck’s performance is well-balanced and measured. It’s a role that doesn’t call for any big movements, and the beauty of it is in the understated reactions to the huge changes going on in his life. He is almost dead to life itself, so his reaction to his brother’s death or his new found responsibilities are equally lacking in emotion. A worse actor would have ruined the film, yet he brings the whole story to life. Kenneth Lonergan has a lot to thank him for.

The music is brilliantly effective. Lesley Barr has worked wonders with her fantastic score, her first in five years since 2011’s The Moth Diaries. There’s a great interview with her over at The Muse, in an article by Bobby Finger, which is well worth reading. It’s a shame it was deemed ineligible available for an Academy Award nomination.

There has been a bubble of negativity towards Casey Affleck that surrounds his personal life. He has been accused of physical abuse against two women working alongside him on the film I’m Still Here – Cinematographer Magdalena Gorka and producer Amanda White. Affleck denied any wrongdoing but settled both claims out of court in 2010. 

Many sections of the press clearly think there’s a lot of truth in the stories. There seems to be a media-led unspoken rule about how much time people in the film industry must live in penance until the world forgives them again. Mel Gibson has seemingly served his time now following his controversies with his ex, Russian pianist Oksana Grigorieva, but it seems we are all permitted to enjoy Hacksaw Ridge, even though The Beaver was a brilliantly-bizarre turn that came at the wrong time of his career and has been largely ignored as a result.

Should we rise above the noise and embrace Casey Affleck? Well, the Academy certainly thinks so, as do the Golden Globes and BAFTA, all three of whom awarded him a Best Actor prize.

In isolation, there is no doubt that Affleck has brought to life a wonderful story and put in one of the best turns of his career. If you can live with and forget about the settled accusations, you’ll be rewarded.

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Academy Awards 2017 – Full list of nominees (text only)

Here’s a full list of the nominees for the 89th Academy Awards, announced earlier today ahead of the awards ceremony on 26th February 2017.

Best picture
“Arrival”
“Fences”
“Hacksaw Ridge”
“Hell or High Water”
“Hidden Figures”
“La La Land”
“Manchester by the Sea”
“Lion”
“Moonlight”

Lead actor
Casey Affleck
Andrew Garfield
Ryan Gosling
Viggo Mortensen
Denzel Washington

Lead actress
Isabelle Huppert
Ruth Negga
Natalie Portman
Emma Stone
Meryl Streep

Supporting actor
Mahershala Ali
Jeff Bridges
Lucas Hedges
Dev Patel
Michael Shannon

Supporting actress
Viola Davis
Naomie Harris
Nicole Kidman
Octavia Spencer
Michelle Williams

Best director
Denis Villeneuve
Mel Gibson
Damien Chazelle
Kenneth Lonergan
Barry Jenkins

Animated feature
“Kubo and the Two Strings”
“Moana”
“My Life as a Zucchini”
“The Red Turtle”
“Zootopia”

Animated short
“Blind Vaysha”
“Borrowed Time”
“Pear Cider and Cigarettes”
“Pearl”
“Piper”

Adapted screenplay
“Arrival”
“Fences”
“Hidden Figures”
“Lion”
“Moonlight”

Original screenplay
“Hell or High Water”
“La La Land”
“The Lobster”
“Manchester by the Sea”
“20th Century Women”

Cinematography
“Arrival”
“La La Land”
“Lion”
“Moonlight”
“Silence”

Best documentary feature
“Fire at Sea”
“I Am Not Your Negro”
“Life Animated”
“OJ: Made in America”
“13th”

Best documentary short subject
“Extremist”
“4.1 Miles”
“Joe’s Violin”
“Watani My Homeland”
“The White Helmets”

Best live-action short film
“Ennemis Interieurs”
“La Femme et le TGV”
“Silent Nights”
“Sing”
“Timecode”

Best foreign language film
“A Man Called Ove”
“Land of Mine”
“Tanna”
“The Salesman”
“Toni Erdmann”

Film editing
“Arrival”
“Hacksaw Ridge”
“Hell or High Water”
“La La Land”
“Moonlight”

Sound editing
“Arrival”
“Deep Water Horizon”
“Hacksaw Ridge”
“La La Land”
“Sully”

Sound mixing
“Arrival”
“Hacksaw Ridge”
“La La Land”
“Rogue One”
“13 Hours”

Production design
“Arrival”
“Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them”
“Hail Caesar!”
“La La Land”
“Passengers”

Original score
“Jackie”
“La La Land”
“Lion”
“Moonlight”
“Passengers”

Original song
Audition (La La Land)
Can’t Stop the Feeling (Trolls)
City of Stars (La La Land)
Empty Chair (Jim)
How Far I’ll Go (Moana)

Makeup and hair
“A Man Called Ove”
“Star Trek Beyond”
“Suicide Squad”

Costume design
“Allied”
“Fantastic Beasts”
“Florence Foster Jenkins”
“Jackie”
“La La Land”

Visual effects
“Deepwater Horizon”
“Doctor Strange”
“Jungle Book”
“Kubo”
“Rogue One”

Golden Globes 2017 – Full list of winners

Here’s a complete list of all the winners and nominees at the Golden Globes last night.

FILM

Best motion picture – drama
Winner: Moonlight
Hacksaw Ridge
Hell or High Water
Lion
Manchester by the Sea

Best motion picture – comedy or musical
Winner: La La Land
20th Century Women
Deadpool
Florence Foster Jenkins
Sing Street

Best performance by an actor in a motion picture – drama
Winner: Casey Affleck – Manchester by the Sea
Joel Edgerton – Loving
Andrew Garfield – Hacksaw Ridge
Viggo Mortensen – Captain Fantastic
Denzel Washington – Fences

Best performance by an actress in a motion picture – drama
Winner: Isabelle Huppert – Elle
Amy Adams – Arrival
Jessica Chastain – Miss Sloane
Ruth Negga – Loving
Natalie Portman – Jackie

Best performance by an actor in a motion picture – comedy or musical
Winner: Ryan Gosling – La La Land
Colin Farrell – The Lobster
Hugh Grant – Florence Foster Jenkins
Jonah Hill – War Dogs
Ryan Reynolds – Deadpool

Best performance by an actress in a motion picture – comedy or musical
Winner: Emma Stone – La La Land
Annette Bening – 20th Century Women
Lily Collins – Rules Don’t Apply
Hailee Steinfeld – The Edge of Seventeen
Meryl Streep – Florence Foster Jenkins

Best performance by an actor in a supporting role in a motion picture
Winner: Aaron Taylor-Johnson – Nocturnal Animals
Mahershala Ali – Moonlight
Jeff Bridges – Hell or High Water
Simon Helberg – Florence Foster Jenkins
Dev Patel – Lion

Best performance by an actress in a supporting role in a motion picture
Winner: Viola Davis – Fences
Naomie Harris – Moonlight
Nicole Kidman – Lion
Octavia Spencer – Hidden Figures
Michelle Williams – Manchester by the Sea

Best director – motion picture
Winner: Damien Chazelle – La La Land
Tom Ford – Nocturnal Animals
Mel Gibson – Hacksaw Ridge
Barry Jenkins – Moonlight
Kenneth Lonergan – Manchester by the Sea

Best screenplay – motion picture
Winner: Damien Chazelle – La La Land
Tom Ford – Nocturnal Animals
Barry Jenkins – Moonlight
Kenneth Lonergan – Manchester by the Sea
Taylor Sheridan – Hell or High Water

Best animated feature film
Winner: Zootopia
Kubo and the Two Strings
Moana
My Life as a Zucchini
Sing

Best foreign language film
Winner: Elle
Divines
Neruda
The Salesman
Toni Erdmann

Best original score – motion picture
Winner: Justin Hurwitz – La La Land
Hans Zimmer, Pharrell Williams, Benjamin Wallfisch – Hidden Figures
Dustin O’Halloran, Hauschka – Lion
Johann Johannsson – Arrival
Nicholas Britell – Moonlight

Best original song – motion picture
Winner: City of Stars – La La Land
Can’t Stop the Feeling – Trolls
Faith – Sing
Gold – Gold
How Far I’ll Go – Moana

TELEVISION

Best television series – drama
Winner: The Crown
Game of Thrones
Stranger Things
This is Us
Westworld

Best television series – comedy or musical
Winner: Atlanta
Black-ish
Mozart in the Jungle
Transparent
Veep

Best mini-series or motion picture made for television
Winner: The People v OJ Simpson: American Crime Story
American Crime
The Dresser
The Night Manager
The Night Of

Best performance by an actor in a television series – drama
Winner: Billy Bob Thornton – Goliath
Rami Malek – Mr Robot
Bob Odenkirk – Better Call Saul
Matthew Rhys – The Americans
Liev Schreiber – Ray Donovan

Best performance by an actress in a television series – drama
Winner: Claire Foy – The Crown
Caitriona Balfe – Outlander
Keri Russell – The Americans
Winona Ryder – Stranger Things
Evan Rachel Wood – Westworld

Best performance by an actor in a television series – comedy or musical
Winner: Donald Glover – Atlanta
Anthony Anderson – Black-ish
Gael Garcia Bernal – Mozart in the Jungle
Nick Nolte – Graves
Jeffrey Tambor – Transparent

Best performance by an actress in a television series – comedy or musical
Winner: Tracee Ellis Ross – Black-ish
Rachel Bloom – Crazy Ex-Girlfriend
Julia Louis-Dreyfus – Veep
Sarah Jessica Parker – Divorce
Issa Rae – Insecure
Gina Rodriguez – Jane the Virgin

Best performance by an actor in a mini-series or motion picture made for television
Winner: Tom Hiddleston – The Night Manager
Riz Ahmed – The Night Of
Bryan Cranston – All the Way
John Turturro – The Night Of
Courtney B Vance – The People v OJ Simpson: American Crime Story

Best performance by an actress in a mini-series or motion picture made for television
Winner: Sarah Paulson – The People v OJ Simpson: American Crime Story
Felicity Huffman – American Crime
Riley Keough – The Girlfriend Experience
Charlotte Rampling – London Spy
Kerry Washington – Confirmation

Best performance by an actor in a supporting role in a series, mini-series or motion picture made for television
Winner: Hugh Laurie – The Night Manager
Sterling K Brown – The People v OJ Simpson: American Crime Story
John Lithgow – The Crown
Christian Slater – Mr Robot
John Travolta – The People v OJ Simpson: American Crime Story

Best performance by an actress in a supporting role in a series, mini-series or motion picture made for television
Winner: Olivia Colman – The Night Manager
Lena Headey – Game of Thrones
Chrissy Metz – This is Us
Mandy Moore – This is Us
Thandie Newton – Westworld