Wednesday, February 1, 2017
Manchester By the Sea - 6 nominations
Best Picture - Matt Damon, Kimberly Steward, Chris Moore, Lauren Beck and Kevin J. Walsh
Actor in a Leading Role - Casey Affleck
Actor in a Supporting Role - Lucas Hedges
Actress in a Supporting Role - Michelle Williams
Directing - Kenneth Lonergan
Original Screenplay - Kenneth Lonergan
Manchester By the Sea appears to be the most controversial film among the people I know. There are those who hated it, I mean hated it so much they stalked me until I saw the movie to make sure that I would hate it too. And then there were those who loved it, loved it as in, "my favorite movie of the year" loved it. Now, that's a very wide spectrum to take into the theater! So, in effort to really give an honest view, I actually watched this 2 hour 17 minute movie twice. For those of you who have seen this film, you know that's a commitment, because it's not exactly a toe tapper.
Casey Affleck plays Lee Chandler, a lonely building maintenance man with a sad demeanor and a short fuse. He is called back to his hometown when his older brother dies, only to discover that he has been appointed guardian to his teenage nephew Patrick in his brother's will. But there is something haunting Chandler that is a lingering mystery, and his social ineptitude is troubling. More complicated is the fact that Patrick's biological mother is a recovering alcoholic and ill-equipped to take care of her son. Michelle Williams plays his ex-wife, and we are clearly meant to draw the conclusion that whatever tragedy befell Lee Chandler, his wife was deeply affected too.
My conclusion? Manchester By the Sea is an incredibly powerful, sad, slow paced film. The performances are haunting and the plot is deep. The characters are drawn in complicated ways, which means that they don't always act the way we expect them to; like young Patrick whose father has just died focusing more on band practice and getting laid than on grappling with his sadness. Lonergan's classic style of people talking over each other, how we do in real life, makes the film messy, and messy it should be. Manchester is not an easy watch and it's definitely not for everyone.
Though not nominated for Original Score (because the music is not original to the movie), I can't finish this review without preparing you for the magnificent score which serves as the backdrop to the story. Lesley Barber crafted a soundtrack that was perfect for this film, and she deserves recognition for it.
Bottom line, I fell into the "loved it" camp, and I hope my friends won't unfriend me for it! (You know who you are...)