Soldifiying the talk of Oscar inevitability that has followed him since the film’s debut, Casey Affleck tonight won the Golden Globe for Best Actor in a drama for his Manchester By The Sea performance. It’s the second time in as many days that Affleck has landed a top prize for the role, yesterday being named Best Actor by the National Society of Film Critics.
For the win, Affleck beat back competiton from Joel Edgerton for Loving, Andrew Garfield for Hacksaw Ridge, Viggo Mortensen for Captain Fantastic, and Denzel Washington for Fences. But of course, his likely closest competition is going to come from Ryan Gosling, who tonight won the same award in the Comedy or Musical category for his turn in tonight’s biggest winner, La La Land.
If Affleck gets his Oscar nomination, it’ll be the first since he was nominated for his supporting work in 2007’s The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford. It’ll also come, as he noted in his acceptance speech tonight, thanks to picking up a role his friend (and Manchester co-producer) Matt Damon turned down.
Initially conceived of by Damon and co-producer John Krasinski, director Kenneth Lonergan was brought on to write the screenplay with the idea that Damon would star. When schedules changed, Affleck stepped in to take on the demanding work, based on Damon’s statement that he would only surrender the role for the talented younger Affleck.
In Manchester, Affleck plays Lee Chandler, a solemn, soft-spoken Bostonian janitor who must look after his nephew Patrick following the untimely death of his brother. Placed in a situation he would have never asked for, Chandler finds in Patrick an unlikely comedic foil and intimate partner in grief. “The happy moments and the very, very tragic moments in this character’s life are very hard to pick apart, even though they’re very distinct,” Affleck told Deadline in November. “It was very much about how all these memories are all mingled together: it’s what makes up a life.”
Manchester was nominated for five Golden Globes tonight, but only won for Affleck’s performance. It has however picked up four SAG Awards, five Independent Spirit Awards, and has already won Best Picture, Actor, Screenplay and Breakthrough performance from the National Board of Review. Lonergan was nominated for best original screenplay by the WGA.