My Film Of The Year

Manchester By The Sea

I saw just over 140 films in 2016 and out of all of those, my favourite film of 2016 is hands down Manchester By The Sea. I walked into the Pentastar theatre on the last afternoon of the Windsor International Film Festival, emotionally exhausted and prepared for a serious, heavy, critical darling. All of the stills and screens released in promotional images set a somber cast with few smiles, with a harsh New England winter taking the backdrop. The film caught me by surprise and I found myself leaning over to my friend Rocco and repeatedly whispering, “this movie is the best!” a handful of times in the first thirty minutes. It took on the challenge of telling a heavy story and brought levity and humour in the most unexpected places. I was not expecting to see a 16-year-old play puck-bunnies for sympathy sex after his father’s death, and it made it all the better. It’s a film that both breaks your heart and warms it in quick turn and I can’t help but love every minute of it.

Manchester By The Sea’s themes of obligation, forgiveness, and moving on hit a chord with me. While it never quite puts a fine point on any one of the lessons tucked within it, likely because it doesn’t hit you over the head with any formulaic conclusion, I took a good deal away from it. The most remarkable thing I find about the film though is how natural it all felt. I bought the pain and hesitation to return home from Casey Affleck, the life happens, dark humour ethos of Lucas Hedges, and the general awkwardness of the rest of town not knowing what to say or how to act. By the end, I felt like they could be real people and I wanted to spend more time in the world Lonergan created.

And The Rest Are…