In Memoriam 1942 – 2013 “Roger Ebert loved movies.”

RogerEbert.com

Thumb feegmvmhwfot6wdiu0ymsxzyz12

Judy

Try as she might, Zellweger’s Judy never goes beyond an impression of the multi-talented artist; her all-caps version of acting failing to allow the role…

Thumb uoaqjg7zsmftnbgokupu1yszqu0

Dolemite Is My Name

Dolemite is My Name is a typical biopic buoyed by its unrelenting hilarity, its affection for its subject and commitment to the time and place…

Other Reviews
Review Archives
Thumb xbepftvyieurxopaxyzgtgtkwgw

Ballad of Narayama

"The Ballad of Narayama" is a Japanese film of great beauty and elegant artifice, telling a story of startling cruelty. What a space it opens…

Other Reviews
Great Movie Archives
Other Articles
Blog Archives
Primary manchester

If We Picked the Winners 2017: Best Original Screenplay

In anticipation of the Academy Awards, we polled our contributors to see what they thought should win the Oscar. Once we had our winners, we asked various writers to make the case for our selection in each category. Here, Scout Tafoya makes the case for the Best Original Screenplay of 2016: "Manchester by the Sea" Two winners will be announced Monday through Thursday, ending in our choices for Best Director and Best Picture on Friday.


It's not simply that "Manchester by the Sea" is so devastating you'll want to hug whoever may be next to you in the theatre when the credits roll, but that it orchestrates its tempestuous crescendos in between the most screamingly funny dialogue you've ever heard. And it does all that without making the contrapuntal relationship between its tonal registers seem like the point of this still gentle exercise. 

Advertisement

Kenneth Lonergan knows we suffer enough in our lives and at the movies without making his audience pay for his desire to see grief and loss treated realistically. The laughs come because they would. Unfortunate accidents pile up, people misunderstand the easiest sentiments, cell phone service is interrupted during tough phone calls, wheels on a gurney don't always cooperate, and people say funny things when backed into corners. These things happen and "Manchester by the Sea"'s deeply intelligent script lets them appear and disappear without so much as a backward glance. 

This is most purely a film about people missing the one thing they need in any given situation. The days of having enough beer and the right touch with his kids is over for broken Lee Chandler. He doesn't have the family he once relied on, the fortitude to deal with his needy nephew, the resilience to overcome tragedy; he doesn't even have the garage door opener. This neo-weepie takes it all from him and watches him try to swim through rough seas. The script arms him only with his sense of humor and the solidity granted to anyone who knows that life can always get worse. The surreality of the tragedy he deals with always seems like one more thing on life's long and arduous to-do list. Lonergan's beautifully busy writing keeps us hooked through every new addition. 



Popular Blog Posts

Ebert's Most Hated

EDITOR'S NOTE: Sometimes, Roger Ebert is exposed to bad movies. When that happens, it is his duty -- if not necessari...

Netflix’s The I-Land is Almost So Bad That You Should Watch It

A review of Netflix's The I-Land, the worst show in the streaming service's history.

Who do you read? Good Roger, or Bad Roger?

This message came to me from a reader named Peter Svensland. He and a fr...

TIFF 2019: Bad Education, A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, Hearts and Bones

On three films from TIFF that all feature journalists, and that are all good!

Reveal Comments
comments powered by Disqus