Oscars Preview: 30 Movies to Watch Before the Nominations Come Out!

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Image courtesy of Roadside Attractions

Manchester by the Sea

What it’s about:

Lee Chandler is a quiet but troubled janitor living in Massachusetts. One day, he gets a call from a family friend to let him know that his brother, Joe, had a heart attack. Lee races to the hospital, only to find that Joe has died. As Lee mourns his brother and tries to help with funeral arrangements, he learns that Joe’s will specifies that Lee be given guardianship of Joe’s teenage son, Patrick. Lee’s shock and apprehension about serving as a father figure to Patrick lead to a reveal about a tragedy in his past. Lee must figure out how to support his nephew and manage his guilt, all while dealing with Joe’s death.

Major Players:

Lee is played by Casey Affleck, who garnered an Oscar nod for Supporting Actor back in 2008 via The Assassination of Jesse James. Michelle Williams, who has been nominated for Oscars three times, plays Randi, Lee’s ex-wife. Kenneth Lonergan, who was twice nominated for Best Original Screenplay for Gangs of New York and You Can Count On Me, wrote and directed the film.

What the Critics are Saying:

Almost everyone is loving it. David Sims of The Atlantic is calling it “a fantastic meditation of the long tail of trauma,” and the Wall Street Journal’s Joe Morgenstern says it’s “a drama of surpassing beauty.” But Lanre Bakare of The Guardian notes a weakness of the film, in that “the impact of this impressive drama is suffocated by the silence and suffering of its central character.” Additionally, many publications have reported on recently resurfaced allegations against Casey Affleck. He has been accused of mistreatment and abuse by multiple women he has worked with, particularly on the set of I’m Still Here. Such claims should never, ever be taken lightly.

Possible Nominations:

Best Picture, Best Director (Lonergan), Best Original Screenplay (Lonergan), Leading Actor (Affleck), Supporting Actress (Williams). Some sources are predicting a Supporting Actor nod for relative newcomer Lucas Hedges, who plays Patrick.