Jaimie Kanwar’s review published on Letterboxd :
Every year there's at least one US movie that's grossly overhyped and critically overpraised to a ridiculous degree, and this year, it's Manchester By The Sea. Jesus, give me a break with the mewling, undeserved adulation. Critics and film snobs are going on about this movie like it's the second coming of cinema, but it's nothing of the sort. It's a decent movie, that's it. In my view, there's nothing remotely exceptional about it, and it's mind-boggling to me that Casey 'three expressions' Affleck is apparently a top contender for the Best Actor Oscar. A few thoughts:
* Visuals: Obviously shot on digital cameras, and it shows as there's very little warmth, artistry, or depth to the images. In this respect, it's very similar to 'Spotlight', last year's grossly overpraised Oscar darling, which also suffered from zero directorial imprint, and a drab, uninspiring style.
* Music: Maybe it's just me, but the score just didn't fit, and for most of the movie, it was either overly obvious, or unnecessarily intrusive.
* Acting: The acting was serviceable, but not Oscar-worthy. Casey Affleck just doesn't have the range for this type of role, and there was very little variety to his performance.
* Subtext: Everything is on the surface in this movie. There's nothing underneath, and no subtext, visual metaphor, or basically anything other than a very basic story. This may not bother some people, but it makes the movie a 'watch once, and never watch again experience'. For me, this movie has zero rewatch value (just like Spotlight).
* Characters: Ciphers, not 3D characters. I just didn't care about any of them. As a comparison: I absolutely love 'You Can Count On Me' (also directed by Lonergan) and the characters are the main reason for that. Williams and Affleck are no Ruffalo and Linney.
I just don't get what's so great about this movie, just as I didn't understand why, last year, a TV Movie like Spotlight won Best Picture.
It bugs me that movies like this and Spotlight get the glory whilst dozens of better, more memorable movies are ignored every year.
For a vastly superior movie about dealing with grief (which is also set in New England), check out 'In The Bedroom', which is ten levels above Manchester By The Sea.