How Many Oscars Will La La Land Win?

February 22, 2017

lalaland

Usually there is some kind of discussion about what film will win Best Picture on the night of the Oscars. It actually makes it a lot more fun when you don’t know or at least when there are two films in the running. Last year, it was anyone’s guess between The Revenant, Spotlight, and The Big Short. The year before that it was down to Boyhood vs. Birdman. The year before that was Gravity vs. 12 Years a Slave. And before that was Argo vs. Lincoln. I guess it has been 5 years since we had a guaranteed Best Picture winner (when The Artist won). Coincidence that both The Artist and La La Land have to do with the movie business?

That being said, no one is wondering what film will win Best Picture this year, but an interesting turn of events happened the day the Oscar nominations were announced. La La Land tied the all-time Oscar record for the most nominations (14)! Only two other films have done that before: All About Eve and Titanic. Now we have something to talk about! The discussion shifted from “Who will win Best Picture?” to “How many awards will La La Land win?”

This is significant because since the Oscars changed to having more than 5 Best Picture nominations, there hasn’t been this type of momentum for any one film. Here are the Best Picture winners since the change and how many total awards they won:

2016: Spotlight (won 2 awards)
2015: Birdman (won 4 awards)
2014: 12 Years a Slave (won 3 awards)
2013: Argo (won 3 awards)
2012: The Artist (won 5 awards)
2011: The King’s Speech (won 4 awards)
2010: The Hurt Locker (won 6 awards)

As you can see, no Best Picture winner has won more than 6 total awards since the change, and the average awards won by a BP winner in the past 4 years is just 3 awards! Why is that? The short and sweet answer is that there has been a split between what film is considered Best Picture and what film is the Best Technical Film. This year it’s different and it’s a reason why even though La La Land is locked to win Best Picture, it’s still worth watching.

The big number to keep in mind here is the number: 11. There have only been 3 films to win 11 Academy Awards in one night: Ben-Hur, Titanic, and The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King. Can La La Land win 11? Can La La Land win even more, becoming the biggest Oscar winner of all-time?!

According to my count, the answer is no. But it will come close. For starters, although La La Land has 14 nominations, it can only win 13 awards because it is nominated twice in the Best Original Song category. Will this split voters and lead the way for a Lin-Manuel Miranda EGOT? Maybe?

Here are the awards that I feel La La Land are LOCKED to win:

Best Picture
Best Lead Actress
Best Director
Cinematography
Film Editing
Original Score
Original Song
Sound Mixing

So La La Land is definite to win at least 8 awards. It will likely win more, but I really feel that these 8 categories are in the bag for La La Land. That being said, here are the categories in question:

Best Lead Actor
Best Original Screenplay
Costume Design
Sound Editing
Production Design

Let’s break them down one-by-one:

Best Lead Actor is a race between Denzel Washington and Casey Affleck. It is probably La La Land’s weakest chance to win out of every nomination. Bet against La La Land here.

Best Original Screenplay – La La Land very well could win this award. Its main contender is Manchester by the Sea and many consider Manchester the favorite here, but both La La and Manchester lost to Moonlight at the WGA. The funny thing is that while all three of those films mentioned were in the same category at the WGA, Moonlight was moved to Adapted Screenplay for the Oscars, leaving this match-up between Manchester vs. La La Land. Intriguing! To make matters even more deadlocked is that both Manchester and La La Land tied for Best Original Screenplay at the Broadcast Film Critics Association Awards! Will voters check the box next to La La Land like the rest of the categories? Or will voters side with Manchester trying to give them one award for the night?

Best Costume Design usually goes to a period piece. Sure, the costumes in La La Land are elegant, colorful, and flashy, but it’s not your traditional winner in this category. Past winners include: The Great Gatsby, Anna Karenina, The Young Victoria, and The Duchess. But to be fair, The Artist did beat out Jane Eyre during the 84th Academy Awards. Will La La Land have the same fate? Jackie is La La Land’s biggest opponent in this category.

Best Sound Editing almost always goes to a war film or an action film. Past winners include: Mad Max Fury Road, American Sniper, Gravity, Zero Dark Thirty, Inception, The Hurt Locker, and The Dark Knight. This will put Hacksaw Ridge at a huge advantage over La La Land here. Do not confuse this with Best Sound Mixing, because that category usually goes to the musicals. Past winners include: Whiplash, Les Miserables, Dreamgirls, Ray, and Chicago. None of these films won Sound Editing. To bring this point even higher, West Side Story won 10 Oscars from 11 nominations. The only award it didn’t win was for Sound Editing.

Best Production Design – While La La Land is favorite to win this award, there is a lot of love for Arrival to come through here. Arrival was suppsoed to be this Oscars’ technical darling like in the way Mad Max was last year and Gravity was a few years ago. But La La Land has been stomping on everyone’s dreams like the happy-go-lucky kid at the beach knocking over your sand castle. Will the voters rally behind Arrival to give it one award? Or is the La La Land train too powerful to stop?

My Final Tally:

La La Land will win: 10 awards

Best Picture
Best Lead Actress
Director
Cinematography
Costume Design
Film Editing
Production Design
Original Score
Original Song
Sound Mixing

La La Land will lose:

Best Lead Actor
Best Original Screenplay
Sound Editing

Still, not too shabby if you asked me. If this happens, La La Land will tie West Side Story for 10 Oscar awards. Coincidence that they’re both movie-musicals?


Final Oscar Predictions

February 21, 2017

oscars-logo1

The 89th Academy Awards will take place this Sunday, February 26, 2017. Here are my final predictions:

Best Picture

Arrival

Fences

Hacksaw Ridge

Hell or High Water

Hidden Figures

La La Land

Lion

Manchester by the Sea

Moonlight

Leading the year with 14 nominations (also tying the record for most nominations of all-time), La La Land is the Best Picture to beat. It’s beloved by practically everyone and has been winning every precursor leading up to the Oscars. Is there any chance it will lose? Not likely, though there is still some love out there for Moonlight, and lots of technical love for Arrival (both Moonlight and Arrival have the second-most Oscar nominations with 8). There is also a lot of momentum in the Hidden Figures camp. Needless to say, if La La Land loses, it will certainly be up there with the biggest upsets in Best Picture history. I’m not counting on an upset here.

Prediction: La La Land

Actor in a Leading Role

Casey Affleck, Manchester by the Sea

Andrew Garfield, Hacksaw Ridge

Ryan Gosling, La La Land

Viggo Mortensen, Captain Fantastic

Denzel Washington, Fences

This might be the most interesting race of the Oscars. Casey Affleck was the clear frontrunner throughout most of awards season, but then SAG gives their award to Denzel Washington. And while it would be nice if the Oscars only looked at the acting performances in this category, the truth is that the extracurricular things count just as much. This is where Denzel has the clear edge. If the Oscars really want to put #OscarsSoWhite behind them, this would be a very strong message to have Denzel beat out Casey Affleck. On the other end, Affleck is still feeling the negativity from his alleged sexual harassment from 2010’s filming of I’m Still Here. Meanwhile, we can’t forget about Ryan Gosling completely because there is a sense that a lot of voters might just check off every box next to La La Land. If that’s the case, then Gosling could find himself up on stage as the winner. This might be the toughest pick of the night.

Prediction: Denzel Washington

Actress in a Leading Role

Isabelle Huppert, Elle

Ruth Negga, Loving

Natalie Portman, Jackie

Emma Stone, La La Land

Meryl Streep, Florence Foster Jenkins

This is one of the more competitive Best Actress races in a while. It looks as though Emma Stone is the clear frontrunner, but she is certainly receiving a good amount of heat leading up to Sunday. Mainly from Isabelle Huppert, who won the Golden Globes Drama Actress award, which really catapulted her into the conversation. Sure, the Academy loves to reward the young, popular actress such as Brie Larson (last year) and Jennifer Lawrence, but the Academy also loves to reward the deserving, veteran actress such as Julianne Moore and Kate Winslet. The main problem is that there is an overpowering amount of love for La La Land and I’m not sure how many people have actually seen Elle (only 1 nomination).

Prediction: Emma Stone

Actor in Supporting Role

Mahershala Ali, Moonlight

Jeff Bridges, Hell or High Water

Lucas Hedges, Manchester by the Sea

Dev Patel, Lion

Michael Shannon, Nocturnal Animals

There isn’t much to comment on here than Mahershala Ali is the favorite, with Dev Patel in a distant second place.

Prediction: Mahershala Ali

Actress in a Supporting Role

Viola Davis, Fences

Naomie Harris, Moonlight

Nicole Kidman, Lion

Octavia Spencer, Hidden Figures

Michelle Williams, Manchester by the Sea

This is a slam dunk category for those filling out their Oscar pools. Do not bet against Viola Davis. My only comment here is that Davis could have really been nominated (and possibly have won) in the Best Lead Actress category. How is this allowed? There has to be some kind of criteria that separates Lead and Supporting.

Prediction: Viola Davis

Best Director

Arrival

Hacksaw Ridge

La La Land

Manchester by the Sea

Moonlight

Prediction: La La Land

Best Writing (Adapted Screenplay)

Arrival

Fences

Hidden Figures

Lion

Moonlight

With the Moonlight win at the SAG awards, it’s the clear frontrunner here. Sure, that was for the Original Screenplay category (I still don’t know how that worked out), but that should give it more of a reason it will win here (because it beat out Manchester and La La Land). If there is any upset potential, it should be from Hidden Figures that has been gaining plenty of momentum throughout the awards season.

Prediction: Moonlight

Best Writing (Original Screenplay)

Hell or High Water

La La Land

The Lobster

Manchester by the Sea

20th Century Women

This is one of the categories where La La Land is actually an underdog to win. Manchester by the Sea is the favorite here for two reasons. First, (imo) it’s the better screenplay and Kenneth Lonergan deserves this award. But second, musicals never win this category. The prime example here is West Side Story, who won 10 of its 11 nominations. The only category they lost was the Screenplay category. Can La La Land break this mold and win over Manchester by the Sea?

Prediction: Manchester by the Sea

Best Cinematography

Arrival

La La Land

Lion

Moonlight

Silence

Prediction: La La Land

Best Costume Design

Allied

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

Florence Foster Jenkins

Jackie

La La Land

While it’s not a lock, La La Land has found its way to the frontrunner spot in this category, but there is some love for Jackie to win. Jackie is your more traditional period piece that usually goes on to win Best Costume, but it’s hard to go against La La Land here.

Prediction: La La Land

Best Film Editing

Arrival

Hacksaw Ridge

Hell or High Water

La La Land

Moonlight

Prediction: La La Land

Best Makeup and Hairstyling

A Man Called Ove

Star Trek Beyond

Suicide Squad

Prediction: Star Trek Beyond

Best Production Design

Arrival

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

Hail, Caesar!

La La Land

Passengers

There are a lot of people saying how Arrival should win this award. While I do agree with them, I don’t think that it’s going to stand a chance against the La La Land train on Sunday.

Prediction: La La Land

Best Score

Jackie

La La Land

Lion

Moonlight

Passengers

Prediction: La La Land

Best Song

“Audition (The Fools Who Dream)” from La La Land

“Can’t Stop The Feeling” from Trolls

“City Of Stars” from La La Land

“The Empty Chair” from Jim: The James Foley Story

“How Far I’ll Go” from Moana

Can Lin-Manuel Miranda win the EGOT? Don’t count on it.

Prediction: City of Stars from La La Land

Best Sound Editing

Arrival

Deepwater Horizon

Hacksaw Ridge

La La Land

Sully

Prediction: Hacksaw Ridge

Best Sound Mixing

Arrival

Hacksaw Ridge

La La Land

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi

Prediction: La La Land

Best Visual Effects

Deepwater Horizon

Doctor Strange

The Jungle Book

Kubo and the Two Strings

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

Prediction: The Jungle Book

Animated Feature Film

Kubo and the Two Strings

Moana

My Life as a Zucchini

The Red Turtle

Zootopia

Prediction: Zootopia

Best Foreign Language Film

Land of Mine

A Man Called Ove

The Salesman

Tanna

Toni Erdmann

Prediction: The Salesman


Podcast: Best Lead Actress

February 19, 2017

best-actress-stone-huppert

My buddy, Mike, and I recorded a podcast episode discussing the race for Best Lead Actress. Is Emma Stone really a lock to win for her performance in La La Land? How much of a threat is Isabelle Huppert? Listen up!

Listen to the episode here.


2017 SAG Awards Predictions

January 28, 2017

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I’ll make this post quick. The SAG Awards take place this Sunday and while La La Land has been racking up all of the attention and buzz (both good and bad), this year’s SAG Awards are a bit unpredictable mainly because La La Land is not nominated for the main award: Best Film Ensemble. Weird. So what does this mean?

This is Moonlight’s big chance to gain some ground while behind La La Land. With a SAG Ensemble win for Moonlight, it will certainly boost its momentum to try and upset for Best Picture at the Academy Awards. But if Moonlight loses, possibly to Fences or Manchester by the Sea, you can practically kiss its chances goodbye.

That being said, there is another big story surrounding this awards, and that is the opposite of the #OscarsSoWhite discussion from last year. It seems like in the supporting acting categories, Mahershala Ali and Viola Davis should win. There is even a good amount of talk saying that Denzel Washington could very well win his FIRST SAG award trophy. You read that corrently, Denzel has never won a SAG award before. Just for that reason alone, I feel like he has a slight edge over Casey Affleck.

But if Washington, Davis, and Ali go on to win, that is 75% of the acting awards going to African Americans. Quite the turn-around from years past. Then again, if Stone, Affleck, Hedges, and Williams win then we might have some more complaints.

Anyway, here are my predictions:

Best Film Ensemble: Moonlight
Best Actor: Denzel Washington (Fences)
Best Actress: Emma Stone (La La Land)
Best Supporting Actor: Mahershala Ali (Moonlight)
Best Supporting Actress: Viola Davis (Fences)


2017 Oscar Nominations (and snubs)

January 24, 2017

oscars-logo

Here are a few snippets of my opinions from the Tuesday announcement of Oscar nominations.

The Nominations:

To no one’s surprise, La La Land received a ton of nominations, but did anyone really expect the romantic musical to tie the record for most Oscar nominations ever? With 14 nominations, La La Land now finds itself with the company of All About Eve and Titanic with 14 Oscar noms. Both preceding films went on to win Best Picture.

I haven’t seen Nocturnal Animals, but I predicted that Aaron Taylor-Johnson would pick up a nomination in the Best Supporting Actor category. The Academy went for another actor in the same film, Michael Shannon, giving him his second Oscar nomination.

One of the biggest surprises to me was how Mel Gibson received a nomination for Best Director for his film Hacksaw Ridge. I thought that Martin Scorsese and Garth Davis had the upper hand in front of Gibson, but I was wrong. Has The Academy forgiven him? It seems likely so.

Biggest Snubs:

Amy Adams for Best Actress – She has received recognition and nominations throughout the awards season, including the nominations from the Golden Globes, SAG Awards, and the BAFTAs. She is a five-time Oscar nominated actress. Yes, this is the biggest surprise from Tuesday’s nominations.

Another snub in the Best Actress category goes to Annette Bening for her performance in 20th Century Women. With four Oscar nominations to her resume, I had her as the fifth slot to get in, but my prediction was wrong. Never underestimate the power of Meryl Streep.

While I wouldn’t really consider this a snub, the Deadpool possibility was a fun one to monitor throughout awards season. Starting with nominations from the Golden Globes and recognition from the DGA, WGA, and PGA, Deadpool looked like it was on its unlikely way to a Best Picture nomination. But the Cinderella story ended with a thud with Deadpool being completely shut out of The Academy Awards. Let’s be honest, it would’ve been really strange to see “Best Picture nomination” on every Deadpool DVD.

I’ll have some more detailed posts about the Oscar nominations this week. But for now, what do you think? My initial thought is that this is going to be a boring Oscars telecast. I would much rather prefer a number of races where we really don’t know who’s going to win. But this year isn’t about whether or not La La Land will win, it’s about how many will La La Land will win. Don’t get me wrong, I love La La Land, but this makes for a much more boring (than usual) Oscars ceremony. For now, here is the complete list of Oscar nominees (via Variety):

Best Picture:
“Arrival”
“Fences”
“Hacksaw Ridge”
“Hell or High Water”
“Hidden Figures”
“La La Land”
“Lion”
“Manchester by the Sea”
“Moonlight”

Lead Actor:
Casey Affleck, “Manchester by the Sea”
Andrew Garfield, “Hacksaw Ridge”
Ryan Gosling, “La La Land,”
Viggo Mortensen, “Captain Fantastic”
Denzel Washington, “Fences”

Lead Actress:
Isabelle Huppert, “Elle”
Ruth Negga, “Loving”
Natalie Portman, “Jackie”
Emma Stone, “La La Land”
Meryl Streep, “Florence Foster Jenkins”

Supporting Actor:
Mahershala Ali, “Moonlight”
Jeff Bridges, “Hell or High Water”
Lucas Hedges, “Manchester by the Sea”
Dev Patel, “Lion”
Michael Shannon, “Nocturnal Animals”

Supporting Actress:
Viola Davis, “Fences”
Naomie Harris, “Moonlight”
Nicole Kidman, “Lion”
Octavia Spencer, “Hidden Figures”
Michelle Williams, “Manchester by the Sea”

Best Director:
“La La Land,” Damien Chazelle
“Hacksaw Ridge,” Mel Gibson
“Moonlight,” Barry Jenkins
“Manchester by the Sea,” Kenneth Lonergan
“Arrival,” Denis Villeneuve

Animated Feature:
“Kubo and the Two Strings,” Travis Knight and Arianne Sutner
“Moana,” John Musker, Ron Clements and Osnat Shurer
“My Life as a Zucchini,” Claude Barras and Max Karli
“The Red Turtle,” Michael Dudok de Wit and Toshio Suzuki
“Zootopia,” Byron Howard, Rich Moore and Clark Spencer

Animated Short:
“Blind Vaysha,” Theodore Ushev
“Borrowed Time,” Andrew Coats and Lou Hamou-Lhadj
“Pear Cider and Cigarettes,” Robert Valley and Cara Speller
“Pearl,” Patrick Osborne
“Piper,” Alan Barillaro and Marc Sondheimer

Adapted Screenplay:
“Arrival,” Eric Heisserer
“Fences,” August Wilson
“Hidden Figures,” Allison Schroeder and Theodore Melfi
“Lion,” Luke Davies
“Moonlight,” Barry Jenkins; Story by Tarell Alvin McCraney

Original Screenplay:
“20th Century Women,” Mike Mills
“Hell or High Water,” Taylor Sheridan
“La La Land,” Damien Chazelle
“The Lobster,” Yorgos Lanthimos, Efthimis Filippou
“Manchester by the Sea,” Kenneth Lonergan

Cinematography:
“Arrival,” Bradford Young
“La La Land,” Linus Sandgren
“Lion,” Greig Fraser
“Moonlight,” James Laxton
“Silence,” Rodrigo Prieto

Best Documentary Feature:
“13th,” Ava DuVernay, Spencer Averick and Howard Barish
“Fire at Sea,” Gianfranco Rosi and Donatella Palermo
“I Am Not Your Negro,” Raoul Peck, Remi Grellety and Hebert Peck
“Life, Animated,” Roger Ross Williams and Julie Goldman
“O.J.: Made in America,” Ezra Edelman and Caroline Waterlow

Best documentary short subject:
“4.1 Miles,” Daphne Matziaraki
“Extremis,” Dan Krauss
“Joe’s Violin,” Kahane Cooperman and Raphaela Neihausen
“Watani: My Homeland,” Marcel Mettelsiefen and Stephen Ellis
“The White Helmets,” Orlando von Einsiedel and Joanna Natasegara

Best live action short film:
“Ennemis Interieurs,” Selim Azzazi
“La Femme et le TGV,” Timo von Gunten and Giacun Caduff
“Silent Nights,” Aske Bang and Kim Magnusson
“Sing,” Kristof Deak and Anna Udvardy
“Timecode,” Juanjo Gimenez

Best Foreign Language Film:
“A Man Called Ove,” Sweden
“Land of Mine,” Denmark
“Tanna,” Australia
“The Salesman,” Iran
“Toni Erdmann,” Germany

Film Editing:
“Arrival,” Joe Walker
“Hacksaw Ridge,” John Gilbert
“Hell or High Water,” Jake Roberts
“La La Land,” Tom Cross
“Moonlight,” Nat Sanders and Joi McMillon

Sound Editing:
“Arrival,” Sylvain Bellemare
“Deep Water Horizon,” Wylie Stateman and Renee Tondelli
“Hacksaw Ridge,” Robert Mackenzie and Andy Wright
“La La Land,” Ai-Ling Lee and Mildred Iatrou Morgan
“Sully,” Alan Robert Murray and Bub Asman

Sound Mixing:
“Arrival,” Bernard Gariepy Strobl and Claude La Haye
“Hacksaw Ridge,” Kevin O’Connell, Andy Wright, Robert Mackenzie and Peter Grace
“La La Land,” Andy Nelson, Ai-Ling Lee and Steve A. Morrow
“Rogue One: A Star Wars Story,” David Parker, Christopher Scarabosio and Stuart Wilson
“13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi,” Greg P. Russell, Gary Summers, Jeffrey J. Haboush and Mac Ruth

Production Design:
“Arrival,” Patrice Vermette, Paul Hotte
“Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them,” Stuart Craig, Anna Pinnock
“Hail, Caesar!,” Jess Gonchor, Nancy Haigh
“La La Land,” David Wasco, Sandy Reynolds-Wasco
“Passengers,” Guy Hendrix Dyas, Gene Serdena

Original score:
“Jackie,” Mica Levi
“La La Land,” Justin Hurwitz
“Lion,” Dustin O’Halloran and Hauschka
“Moonlight,” Nicholas Britell
“Passengers,” Thomas Newman

Original song:
“Audition (The Fools Who Dream),” “La La Land” — Music by Justin Hurwitz; Lyric by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul
“Can’t Stop the Feeling,” “Trolls” — Music and Lyric by Justin Timberlake, Max Martin and Karl Johan Schuster
“City of Stars,” “La La Land” — Music by Justin Hurwitz; Lyric by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul
“The Empty Chair,” “Jim: The James Foley Story” — Music and Lyric by J. Ralph and Sting
“How Far I’ll Go,” “Moana” — Music and Lyric by Lin-Manuel Miranda

Makeup and hair:
“A Man Called Ove,” Eva von Bahr and Love Larson
“Star Trek Beyond,” Joel Harlow and Richard Alonzo
“Suicide Squad,” Alessandro Bertolazzi, Giorgio Gregorini and Christopher Nelson

Costume design:
“Allied,” Joanna Johnston
“Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them,” Colleen Atwood
“Florence Foster Jenkins,” Consolata Boyle
“Jackie,” Madeline Fontaine
“La La Land,” Mary Zophres

Visual effects:
“Deepwater Horizon,” Craig Hammack, Jason Snell, Jason Billington and Burt Dalton
“Doctor Strange,” Stephane Ceretti, Richard Bluff, Vincent Cirelli and Paul Corbould
“The Jungle Book,” Robert Legato, Adam Valdez, Andrew R. Jones and Dan Lemmon
“Kubo and the Two Strings,” Steve Emerson, Oliver Jones, Brian McLean and Brad Schiff
“Rogue One: A Star Wars Story,” John Knoll, Mohen Leo, Hal Hickel and Neil Corbould


Audio Review: Hidden Figures & Fences

January 23, 2017

I am currently involved with two podcasting projects, both pop culture related. In the one titled Popcorn and Pop Culture, I review the films Hidden Figures and Fences separately. Instead of writing my review of both films, check them out here:

Hidden Figures Review

Fences Review

Popcorn and Pop Culture site


Movie Review: Manchester by the Sea

December 4, 2016

Manchester by the Sea (2016)
137 minutes
Rated – R
Starring: Casey Affleck, Kyle Chandler, Michelle Williams, Lucas Hedges
Directed by Kenneth Lonergan

manchester-by-the-sea

Grade: A

When given the attention and depth necessary, the location of a film could be as important as any character. In Manchester by the Sea, the large city of Manchester, New Hampshire is a well-developed and integral part to the plot with its brutal winters, its steady sea, and the close-knit community that can either pick you up or kick you further when you’re down.

We meet our anti-hero from the beginning. Lee Chandler (Casey Affleck) is caring and responsible, as shown through flashbacks of spending time with his brother Joe (Kyle Chandler) and Lee’s nephew Patrick (Lucas Hedges). We also see the dark side of Lee when he angrily responds to a rude woman while fixing a leak as an apartment-complex janitor, or when he gets into a fist-fight with two men at a bar. There is damage behind those weary eyes of Lee, but we don’t find out the reason until about halfway through the movie.

What we are thrown into from the get-go is the death of his brother, Joe, who was a strong and compassionate older brother to Lee throughout his life. While Joe’s death wasn’t entirely surprising to Lee and the rest of the family, what takes Lee by surprise is what is written in Joe’s will, that Lee will be the primary guardian of Patrick. In a very revealing scene as Lee is given this news, we discover the tragedy that plagues Lee’s past and his memory of Manchester.

Watching Lee and Patrick deal with the loss of their loved one differently is meaningful to both of their characters. Patrick, a high-schooler with a kind heart but also an edge that resembles both his father and uncle, provides us with a mixed reaction to his father’s death. He’s capable of hiding his sadness with his friends, girlfriends, hockey team, and rock band, but when he’s told his father would be in a freezer for months until the ground at the cemetery is soft enough, he’s unable to accept it. But seeing how Patrick handles this situation is like how a teenager would do so, with distractions and the inability to express his feelings openly. This is also the result of being raised by his father and uncle as his alcoholic mom went in and out of psych wards.

Meanwhile, what is going on in Lee’s mind and heart is much more complex. Having to deal with his brother’s death is tough enough, but coming back to the one city he never wanted to come back to was just one grain of salt in the wound. There is plenty of salt though, like hearing that his ex-wife Randi (Michelle Williams) is pregnant and struggling to keep up with the demands of his teenage nephew. But Lee tries his best to be there for Patrick, and he tries his best to make a life for himself in Manchester to keep things as normal as possible. But there are just some things that are too difficult to forget.

Some of my favorite moments throughout the film were the interactions between Casey Affleck and Lucas Hedges, who shared great chemistry as their characters dealt with a mutual sadness but a similar personality. What Kenneth Lonergan is so great at doing during this film is displaying pure honestly within all of the characters. From Lee, who is thoroughly developed, to supporting characters like Patrick’s mom, everyone is full of incredible depth and their actions ring true to their maturation. Lonergan also tackles on themes of family and tragedy in a way that doesn’t hold back any punches, even though you might be begging for a break for the sake of our anti-hero. The strength inside of Lee may not overwhelmingly be explicit to everyone who holds a conversation with him, but the way he keeps pushing himself against all of his inner turmoil and does it without complaining shows incredible ruggedness.

This film will confront your own ideals and how you would handle what Lee is going through. We have all dealt with tragedies in our lives and the way we handle them builds us to the grownups we have to become. But in the same way we attribute certain feelings to a song, we can attribute feelings to a place and a location. Sometimes when you want to escape a situation, you walk away from it, but how is that possible when everything you see reminds you of the one thing you’re trying to forget? While they say when the going gets tough, the tough gets going, it is certain that there are situations when that is simply impossible.


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