The Culture Movies

Casey Affleck, troubled janitor in 'Manchester by the Sea,' receives 2017 best actor Oscar

Affleck has been nominated before, as best supporting actor for his work in 2007's 'The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford.' He stars in 'Manchester' with Lucas Hedges and Michelle Williams.

Casey Affleck stars in 'Manchester by the Sea.'
Claire Folger/Roadside Attractions and Amazon Studios/AP/File
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Actor Casey Affleck has won the Academy Award for best actor for his work in the acclaimed 2016 film “Manchester by the Sea.”

Mr. Affleck, whose work attracted the attention of the Academy for the second time with “Manchester” after he had previously been nominated for best supporting actor for his work in the 2007 movie “The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford,” also recently appeared in such films as the 2016 movie “The Finest Hours” and 2014’s “Interstellar.”

“Manchester” was also nominated for multiple other Oscars, including nods for best picture and for best director for Kenneth Lonergan. In the movie, Affleck portrays janitor Lee Chandler, who is attempting to recover after a family tragedy. Lucas Hedges, Kyle Chandler, and Michelle Williams co-star. 

Monitor film critic Peter Rainer gave the movie an A grade and also called a sequence in which Affleck and Ms. Williams appear “the strongest scene in any movie I’ve seen all year … I thought that, up until this point, Affleck, good as he is, sometimes overdid the brittle cheerlessness, but in this sequence, the full measure of his performance comes through.” 

In an interview with NPR, Mr. Lonergan singled out a scene in which Affleck had to identify his brother’s body. Lonergan said Affleck improvised and began to cry. 

“I was so surprised,” he said. “And I was so happy. It was so beautiful. It was one of those great, great moments you have on a film set … My admiration for Casey, which was already very high, just soared that day … That's the biggest fun you can have out of doing this kind of work, is when the actors surprise you with something that you didn't think of but that fits in the story and also enhances it and makes it better.”

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