Manchester by the Sea

Recently in the Hamptons Film Festival ,  I had the opportunity to see a few upcoming new releases.   All of the Oscar runners will be coming out in November/Dec so as the weather changes you will get a chance to see the years best offerings.  Of the 2016 year so the best movie I have seen is Manchester by the Sea.  The story is well done family drama and I am certain that Casey Affleck will be nominated for his central role as an uncle that gains custody of his nephew due to his brothers passing. Another strong performance for Michelle Williams as well.  The movie is tense, funny and very real. Check it out in November opening mid month.  Here is some on the film and trailer.

The last person who’d ever want to watch a Casey Affleck movie is Casey Affleck. “I don’t like it, in the way you don’t like hearing your own voice on the machine,” Affleck says over a long lunch in a vegan restaurant in West Hollywood. The conversation starts with routine chitchat but twists at this revelation: Affleck hasn’t seen many of his big-screen appearances, including “The Finest Hours” (in which he plays the engineer of a sinking ship), “Triple 9” (a cop), “The Killer Inside Me” (a sociopath), the Eddie Murphy comedy “Tower Heist” (a concierge), or even Christopher Nolan’s “Interstellar” (the brother). “It’s a bummer,” Affleck says, “because I like Nolan, and I love science fiction. But I didn’t want to watch that.”

On a Saturday afternoon last January, Affleck broke his own rule when he quietly slid into an aisle seat at the Sundance Film Festival for the premiere of “Manchester by the Sea.” The Kenneth Lonergan-directed drama features a rare lead role for Affleck, as a lonely janitor coming to terms with a family tragedy. “There was some stranger sitting next to me who kept looking at me after every scene,” Affleck recalls. “The expression on her face was, ‘What did you think of that?’ And she’d lean in. Movie seats are pretty close as it is.”
All of Hollywood is going to want to get a good look at Affleck this awards season because of his sublime performance in “Manchester by the Sea,” which sparked a bidding war after its Sundance debut. (Amazon Studios snatched up the rights for a massive $10 million.) After months of deafening buzz and standing ovations at film festivals like Telluride, Toronto, and London, Affleck is the early favorite to win the Oscar for best actor. Don’t scoff: For once, the category isn’t stacked, with only a handful of serious contenders, including previous winners like Tom Hanks (“Sully”) and Denzel Washington (“Fences”).

The stakes aren’t high just for Affleck. “Manchester by the Sea” is a big gamble for Amazon, which is trying to establish itself as a player in the indie film business. And it will also be an important litmus test for Hollywood to see if audiences are still interested in dramas targeted to adults at a time when other popular Park City festival offerings like “Me and Earl and the Dying Girl,” “Sing Street,” and “The Birth of a Nation” have struggled at the box office.

Unlike Netflix, which simultaneously debuted “Beasts of No Nation” in select theaters and on TV screens last year, Amazon is relying on a traditional rollout strategy. “Manchester by the Sea” opens on four screens on Nov. 18 (as a co-release with Roadside Attractions) and will continue to expand to hundreds of theaters throughout the winter, before streaming on Amazon Prime in early 2017. “That’s the best way to release the film in terms of awards voters and audience,” says Bob Berney, Amazon Studios’ head of movie marketing and distribution, who believes that the quiet drama will “really benefit from word of mouth.” Amazon plans to spend competitively to get the film in front of Oscar voters. “We’re doing a solid awards campaign,” Berney says.

Affleck was on the cusp of stardom once before, earning an Oscar nomination for 2007’s “The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford.” That same year, he appeared in his brother Ben’s directorial debut, “Gone Baby Gone,” to rave reviews. “I was told things were going to change,” Affleck says, “and I would get more opportunities. And the opportunities never arrived. I feel like whenever I do a movie, people think, ‘Well, that’s good, but that’s probably the best he’ll do.’ I sort of bang and bang and kick in a door, and people say, ‘Now a million doors will open for you.’ And they don’t. I’m 41, and it’s been many years of banging and kicking.”

Matt Damon, a longtime friend and producer of “Manchester by the Sea,” thought Affleck’s career would change after “Jesse James,” too. “He didn’t work for a few years,” Damon says. “In his defense, if you look at the movies he was offered, I don’t think he passed on anything he should have done. The period of him being hot lapsed.”

It’s not that Hollywood hasn’t noticed Affleck’s talents. “I don’t think that he’s underappreciated,” says David Lowery, director of the independent drama “Ain’t Them Bodies Saints.” “If you talk about Casey Affleck to anybody in the industry, their eyes light up. I think there’s the perception that he marches to the beat of his own drum.”