Ever since it premiered at the Sundance Film Festival all the way back in January, Manchester By The Sea has been heavily touted as an awards season contender. With a limited November release date that's set to expand across the country in December, it's clearly being lined up for critical prizes, Oscar gongs and, at least, nominations. And from the first trailer for the film, it's clear to see why.
The plot for Manchester By The Sea hardly breaks new ground, as it sees Lee Chandler (Casey Affleck) struggling to come to terms with the sudden revelation that he's the legal guardian of his nephew Patrick (Lucas Hedges), following the death of his older brother Joe Chandler (Kyle Chandler). Because of this revelation, Lee Chandler moves back to his hometown of Manchester-by-the-Sea, Massachusetts, where he is confronted by his separated wife Randi (Michelle Williams), and also looks to reacclimatize to the surroundings that he left behind.
But while it's not exactly original, the trailer suggest that Manchester By The Sea should be buoyed by some tip-top performances from Casey Affleck, Michelle Williams, and Lucas Hedges, who is all set to break out with this film following his smaller roles in Moonrise Kingdom, Kill The Messenger and The Grand Budapest Hotel.
At the same time, there's clearly plenty of humor, heart, and drama that all looks as though it's presented in a touching and powerful way, too. That's despite the fact that the trailer's over the top and heavy handed ballad song choice is immediately enough to make anyone wary.
Another reason to be excited about Manchester By The Sea is that it marks the return of Kenneth Lonergan to the big screen following a five-year absence. Lonergan's most famous piece of work is probably his Academy Award nominated screenplay for Gangs Of New York, but he drew a plethora of plaudits and accolades for his work on You Can Count On Me, including another Oscar nomination for Best Original Screenplay.
Sure, he also wrote the truly awful The Adventures Of Rocky And Bullwinkle all the way back in 2000, but he also came up with the story and cowrote Analyze This, wrote _Margaret _-- which Lonergan spent five years in post-production on trying to agree on its final cut - and has repeatedly dabbled in theatrical works, too.
There's actually a bit of pressure on Manchester By The Sea to perform well at the box office, which you don't usually associate with an indie film. That's because Amazon Studios spent $10 million acquiring it at Sundance, meaning that they'll want to see a decent return on their investment.
If they don't then Amazon Studios might decide to release similar films they purchase online instead, which would diminish the impact of such cinematic fare. We'll see what Manchester By The Sea can muster up when it's finally released on November 18.