“Thank you Casey Affleck, Casey Affleck, Casey Affleck,” Lonergan said, continuing to recognize the film’s other stars. “This film is about people trying to take care of each other in the face of terrible adversity.”
The writer-director also thanked his stepfather for taking care of his mother in a way that “should be an example to everyone.”
The screenplay topped Damien Chazelle for “La La Land,” Mike Mills for “20th Century Women,” Taylor Sheridan for “Hell or High Water” and Yorgos Lanthimos and Efthymis Filippouf for “The Lobster.”
The category has been one of the most difficult to predict. BAFTA gave its screenplay award to “Manchester by the Sea” but the Golden Globes trophy went to “La La Land.” “Moonlight” won the original screenplay award at the WGA but as it was based on a play, was moved into the adapted category by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
Lonergan’s script for “Manchester by the Sea” wove sensitive storytelling into stunning emotional revelations about a profound family tragedy. He was nominated twice previously in this category for “You Can Count on Me” (2001) and “Gangs of New York” (2003).
“Manchester by the Sea” was nominated for best screenplay at Saturday’s Spirit Awards but lost to “Moonlight.”