6. Casey Affleck, 'Manchester by the Sea'
Moody, withdrawn men have been Casey Affleck's specialty for quite some time – see Ain't Them Bodies Saints, The Assassination of Jesse James, Gone Baby Gone. But he found the perfect vessel for his gift in the form of Lee Chandler, a working-class Bostonian whose sad life is about to get even sadder. In writer-director Kenneth Lonergan's consummate study of loss, regret and pain, our eyes are riveted on Lee as he copes with the death of his brother and chafes at the prospect of raising his teenage nephew, developments that force him to revisit past trauma that he's never fully escaped. Manchester by the Sea is a deep well of despondency, yet he brilliantly navigates his character's tragic backstory, showing every ounce of the self-loathing and raw misery that Lee wears around like a baggy old sweatshirt. A lot of Best Actor triumphs come in showy, stomping roles — Affleck's performance is still and muted, an apt portrayal of a haunted guy who wants to disappear. As to why he's not presenting this year's Best Actress award as is the ceremony's custom, well ... that's a whole other story.