Affleck beat out Andrew Garfield for Hacksaw Ridge, Denzel Washington for Fences, Joel Edgerton for Loving and Viggo Mortensen for Captain Fantastic. Going into the show, Affleck was the favorite to win, considering he's been sweeping up at all of the pre-Oscar award ceremonies, including the Critics Choice Awards and the National Board of Review.
Affleck profusely thanked Manchester screenwriter and directer Kenneth Lonergan and the producers of the film, with a special shout out to producer and his childhood friend Matt Damon, who was at different points supposed to direct and star in the film. "I suspect you won't be passing on any movies in the future when I might be anywhere nearby, but I'll take this one," Affleck joked.
The actor ended his speech on a sentimental note by thanking his kids and their mother, Summer Phoenix, for allowing him to work. "Despite how I might think I might be in charge at my house, it's my kids that give me the permission to do this because they've got the strength of character to keep at bay all the noise that surrounds people who live publicly, and let me travel. I love you," he said. "And to their mom, who gave me every good acting idea I ever had."
Some of the "noise" Affleck may be referring to past allegations of sexual harassment from a director of photography and a producer of his mockumentary I'm Still Here. Affleck settled the matter outside of court, but the attention around the allegations have resurfaced during his award season campaign.
Manchester on the Sea follows Affleck's character Lee Chandler, who is called back to his hometown to take custody of his nephew after his brother dies. However, the homecoming brings back the demons of the greatest tragedy of Lee's life and he must figure out how best to move forward with his nephew as the ghosts of his past threaten to drown him in grief.