Manchester By The Sea came out of festival season strong, with outstanding reviews and predictions for Oscar. Most award season experts still agree that Manchester will be nominated for several awards, including Best Picture, but I feel like in the last few weeks, people haven’t been talking about it as much, certainly not as much as La La Land. Or maybe it’s just me who hasn’t heard it, with everything being drowned out by the election. Maybe. But still. Still. Casey Affleck’s Best Actor buzz seems to be…muted …isn’t the right word. It’s not so much muted as it’s been deliberately tuned out?

While the Best Actress race is the most competitive it’s been in years, the Best Actor race, up to last week, was pretty weak. And it was in that weakness where we found Casey, put in the frontrunner position for lack of challengers. Then Denzel Washington’s Fences screened. And he started picking up momentum last week. And now Michael Keaton is back in the conversation for his performance in The Founder. Scott Feinberg reported in The Hollywood Reporter a few days ago after a screening that Michael Keaton is bringing Peak Michael Keaton to this film, as good as he was in Birdman and that The Weinstein Company seems to be moving to challenge for a Best Actor nomination for Michael who could make it three years in a row now with Oscar-contending films. Up to this point, Michael hasn’t really been a factor. The Founder has been scheduled and rescheduled a few times and, as Scott Feinberg notes, people stopped taking it seriously. I wonder though if they’re also not taking Casey Affleck seriously. Clearly the people behind Denzel Washington aren’t. And given how Michael Keaton is being positioned to enter the race, clearly his team, and the Oscar strategists supporting him, sense that Casey Affleck’s frontrunner status is pretty unstable. I’m not mad at that. Like it’s already a win for him that he coasted by without anyone caring about his problematic past, why should everyone else just let him ride hurdle-free to the Dolby Theatre?

With all that in mind, here’s Casey last night at the Manchester By The Sea premiere with Ben Affleck and Matt Damon. Of course, of course, they’re there to celebrate the film and family and that’s just what you do for people you love, sure. But don’t tell me they’re not also motivated by the campaign, that they’re also there to mobilise behind Casey as he’s now potentially up against Denzel and Michael Keaton, two major heavyweights.

You know what would be one bonus if Casey Affleck wins Best Actor though? Ben Affleck doesn’t have an individual Oscar. For Good Will Hunting he shared it with Matt Damon. For Argo’s Best Picture he shared that too. And he’s never, ever been nominated as an actor.