BWW Profile: MANCHESTER BY THE SEA's Oscar-Nominated Stage and Screen Writer, Kenneth Lonergan
MANCHESTER BY THE SEA is without a doubt one of the most praised films coming out of this awards season. It's been nominated for six Academy Awards, and has already taken home a Golden Globe and two BAFTAs. Starting Casey Affleck, Michelle Williams, and Lucas Hedges, the film tells the story of a man who, in the wake of his brother's death, finds himself named sole guardian of his nephew. The movie, written and directed by four-time Oscar nominee Kenneth Lonergan, will make you cry, and if it doesn't, you need to watch it again because you clearly missed something the first time around.
A New York City native, Lonergan has enjoyed a successful theater career. After graduating from Wesleyan University and completing NYU's Playwriting Program, one of his first plays, THIS IS OUR YOUTH, premiered in 1996. It was extremely well received, and even picked up a Drama Desk Award nomination. His next play, THE WAVERLY GALLERY, tells the story of a grandson who watches his grandmother slowly die from Alzheimer's Disease. It premiered Off-Broadway in 2000 and received critical acclaim, nabbing a nomination for the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 2001.
By the time The Waverly Gallery premiered, Lonergan had already started to branch out into film. He wrote the 1999 film ANALYZE THIS, as well as the 2000 film THE ADVENTURES OF ROCKY AND BULLWINKLE. He nabbed his first Oscar nomination for Best Original Screenplay with the 2000 Martin Scorcese-produced film YOU CAN COUNT ON ME, which was also his directorial film debut. In 2005, Lonergan directed his second self-penned film, MARGARET. The movie had a star-studded cast, including Anna Paquin, Krysten Ritter, Mark Ruffalo, John Gallager Jr., Matthew Broderick, and Matt Damon, who later would work with Lonergan again as a producer on MANCHESTER BY THE SEA. MARGARET spent five years in post production - no one could agree on an edit - before finally being released in 2011.
It might be difficult to achieve the level of success that MANCHESTER BY THE SEA has enjoyed this awards season, but Lonergan isn't letting that thought slow him down. His next project is a BBC/Starz miniseries called HOWARDS END, which he's adapting for television and is based on the E.M. Forster novel of the same name. The series stars Hayley Atwell and is set to be released some time in 2017.
Lonergan is up against some major Hollywood power players for the coveted Best Director Academy Award: Denis Villeneuve, Barry Jenkins, Mel Gibson, and Damien Chazelle are all also chasing that golden statue. Lonergan is also up against Damien Chazelle for Best Screenplay - do I smell a rivalry brewing?!
The 89th Academy Awards telecast will air live coast-to-coast on Sunday, February 26, 2017 (8:30 p.m.ET/5:30 p.m.PT) on ABC. Be sure to visit BWW for live coverage of the 2017 Academy Awards, with a theatrical slant.
Will you be rooting for Kenneth Lonergan on Oscar night? Let us know on Twitter @BroadwayWorld.