Casey Affleck is nominated for best supporting actor in The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford; the results of which will be known within a week of the writing of this review. Affleck will probably not win, but he certainly deserves the nomination. In my mind, he is the star of The Assassination... - a film I did not enjoy even though the acting and the production values were superior. In my mind, if you want to see Casey Affleck at his very best thus far, watch Gone Baby Gone.
Gone Baby Gone is a gritty morality tale directed and co-authored by Casey's more famous brother, Ben. It is one of four novels know as the Patrick Kenzie and Angie Gennaro mysteries written by Dennis Lehane. The story takes place in a working-class neighborhood of Boston where there is nothing glamorous - drugs and crime seem to reign supreme in this place where the residents eke out meager subsistence. Kenzie and Gennaro are asked by the relatives of a missing girl to take up the search as they feel that the police are not doing their best efforts.
The missing girl's mother, Helene McCready, is an addicted slattern who doesn't seem worthy of motherhood or, for that matter, any modicum of human sympathy. In the part of McCready is Amy Ryan who is nominated for an Oscar as best supporting actress. Ryan surely deserves the nomination for she gives us a character whom we must certainly hate, but for whom we feel sympathy. Ryan is really good in this part.
As the investigation proceeds there are many twists and turns - none of which I'll relate in fear of spoiling the film for anyone who has not yet seen it. In the end, it all comes down to a weighty moral decision that must be made by investigator Kenzie. I must admit that I do not agree with his decision, but the superior acting of Casey Affleck enables me to understand the choices made by Kenzie.
These two Affleck brothers are a powerhouse of talent, and I am sure that their gifts to cinema will continue for many years to come. They both know the Boston neighborhood and the people who inhabit that space and bring nobility to persons who would most surely be considered ignoble by the majority of society.