BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. (AP) — After a long stretch in muddy waters, Casey Affleck has reached high ground, thanks to a small movie set in a small seaside town, and an old, more-famous friend.
He has for years been a small player in less-than-award-caliber movies, always a distant second-fiddle to his big brother Ben.
Affleck’s Oscar nomination — for 2007’s “The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford” — has become a distant memory, giving way to a list of credits that Affleck himself called total dog crap in a recent interview with The Associated Press.
But on Sunday, a career moment came with his win as best actor in a motion picture drama for “Manchester by the Sea,” the Kenneth Lonergan-directed film with Affleck as an emotionally scarred New England janitor.
He now is all-but-guaranteed an Academy Award nomination, and could arrive at the Oscars as the favorite.
Affleck’s victory also gives him a moment as the superior Affleck, with Ben plodding through a series of forgettable films.
Casey Affleck owes his once-in-a-decade role to his and his brother’s old friend Matt Damon, who produced “Manchester” and had once been slated to play the part before handing it off.
“I suspect you won’t be passing on any more movies in the future if I happen to be anywhere nearby,” Affleck told Damon during his acceptance speech.
Affleck’s win meant that no apparent negative consequences came from the reemergence of sexual harassment allegations against him as “Manchester” grew in acclaim. Affleck had been sued for sexual harassment by both a cinematographer and a producer on 2010’s “I’m Still Here,” which he directed.
He settled the cases out of court, and non-disclosure agreements kept him from having to answer questions about the cases in recent interviews.
The issue got increased attention because of the reemergence of an old rape allegation against “Birth of a Nation” director Nate Parker, which seemed to sink his chances for awards. Affleck, remaining mostly unscathed, was criticized as a double standard, and possibly a racial one in contrast to Parker, who is black.
In his acceptance, Affleck thanked his kids for helping him “keep at bay all of the noise that sometimes surrounds people publicly,” though it wasn’t clear what “noise” he was referring to. The actor did not appear in the Golden Globes press room, and could not be asked about the issue.