HOME, ALONE: CASEY AFFLECK
Lee Chandler can't go home again in Manchester by the Sea (R) but the actor in line for an Oscar nomination playing him practically did.
Casey Affleck was born in Falmouth, Mass., a coastal town like Manchester by the Sea, where writer-director Kenneth Lonergan set Lee's story. Affleck and Lonergan discussed their movie after its Telluride Film Festival premiere in September, joining an open-air panel on dramatic concepts of home.
Falmouth is a roundabout distance from Manchester on the map, yet close enough to inform Affleck's performance, which earned best actor honors from the Gotham Awards and New York Film Critics Circle.
"Whether it's true or not, I had the feeling that I was an expert on the area," Affleck said, "to the degree of things that I thought were right about how this person would live. … I was in that place, moving through it, in a way that just felt right.
"Sometimes you do a movie in a place and you don't know that place. It is disorienting and you do often wonder where are we? There's sets and all these artificial things, anyway. You don't know the neighborhood you're in. It does make you feel you're having to fake more than you'd like."
False moves aren't found in Affleck's portrayal of Lee, a socially remote handyman who left Manchester in shame five years earlier. His brother's death brings Lee back, and surprising guardianship of a teenage nephew (Lucas Hedges) threatens to keep him there. Meanwhile, Lee comes to terms with the event that drove him away from Manchester, which means dealing with his ex-wife (Michelle Williams).
Manchester by the Sea is now playing at select theaters.
Writer-director Tom Ford's unduly bizarre and violent Nocturnal Animals (R) was supposed to open locally on Nov. 23 but we caught a break when Focus Features backed out. We can't stay lucky forever. Nocturnal Animals will debut Friday at select theaters.
Amy Adams stars as a posh art gallery owner whose husband (Armie Hammer) is having an affair. Her ex-husband (Jake Gyllenhaal) is an author whose latest book is a disturbing revenge saga that Ford stages in a parallel story. Nocturnal Animals is repellent when it isn't dull, with only the performances of Michael Shannon and Aaron Taylor-Johnson preventing the movie from being a total waste of time.
OFFICE CHRISTMAS PARTY
Well, Bad Santa 2 was worse than expected, so the pressure's on Office Christmas Party (R) to be the holiday wedgie needed to keep the season from being too serious.
Office Christmas Party stars Jason Bateman and T.J. Miller as executives with their jobs depending upon landing a mega client (Courtney B. Vance). They decide to throw a yuletide bacchanal that'll seduce him into signing on the dotted line, despite a boss (Jennifer Aniston) who's dead set against anything fun. Kate McKinnon and Olivia Munn co-star.
A review will be published at tampabay.com/movies.
GAME ON: ICE GUARDIANS
Former Tampa Bay Lightning players Chris Dingman, Todd Fedoruk and Zenon Konopka will attend the Florida premiere of Ice Guardians, a documentary about the role of enforcers in pro hockey. The movie begins at 7 p.m. Monday at Tampa Theatre, followed by a Q&A session with the athletes.
Directed by Brett Harvey, Ice Guardians focuses on one of sports' most punishing jobs, becoming a human missile with a stick on skates, earning payback for teammates or taking steam out of opponents. In recent years, enforcers have come under closer scrutiny as concussion rates rise.
Tough exteriors are shed to reveal the humanity behind a role that struggles to maintain its existence.
$42, $105 VIP . tampatheatre.org. A portion of the proceeds goes to Tampa Scorpions youth hockey, the StopConcussions Foundation and Shoot for a Cure.
in theaters: our Top 5
Current movies recommended by the Tampa Bay Times:
1 Manchester by the Sea: Meet your likely best actor Oscar winner, Casey Affleck.
2 Moonlight: Barry Jenkins' Miami story, one of 2016's finest films.
3 Arrival: Unique science fiction movie, with Amy Adams in top form.
4 Loving: True story — starring Ruth Negga and Joel Edgerton — of a 1967 court case over interracial marriage.
5 Bleed for This: Miles Teller moves up a weight class in solid boxing pic.
(Dates subject to change)
Dec. 16: Rogue One: A Star Wars Story; Collateral Beauty
Dec. 21: Jackie; Passengers; Lion; Assassin's Creed; Sing
Dec. 23: Why Him?
Dec. 25: Fences; Gold
Jan. 6: Hidden Figures; A Monster Calls; Underworld: Blood Wars; Resident Evil: The Final Chapter
Jan. 13: Patriots Day; The Bye Bye Man
Jan. 20: 20th Century Women