Best Actor is not an award given to the best actor in the best film of the year. Objectively speaking, this award is for the best male actor who gives the best performance period, regardless of the quality of the movie.
It’s certainly possible to make the argument that “Manchester by the Sea” is unoriginal. It does, after all, star an Affleck playing a blue collar New Englander — and there is no question that this has been done before. The plot itself, heartbreaking though it may be, is nothing terribly new — a troubled teen receives guidance from an equally troubled mentor.
Having said that, Casey Affleck’s acting embodies an Oscar-worthy quality. His performance in “Manchester by the Sea” was achingly human — a tour de force of stifled tears and simmering resentment. When audiences watch Casey Affleck, they see the blue-collared worker with compromised dreams and small town tragedies of all kinds.
There’s no doubt Denzel Washington — Casey Affleck’s main competition for the award — gave an exceptional performance in “Fences.” However, Washington does not deserve the Oscar for Best Actor — not that he really needs another one.
Affleck’s performance was not only exceptional — it was transcendent. If the Academy is truly objective, he will win the Best Actor award this Sunday.