MANCHESTER-BY-THE-SEA — When the Oscar nominations were announced last month, Paul Barclay paid close attention to “Manchester by the Sea.” His restaurant, 7 Central Public House, was a regular stop for the cast and crew of the movie during filming.
“We were hoping to see five nominations,” he said. “So when they got six, I was really impressed.”
In the weeks since the nominations were announced, Oscar pundits have run hot and cold on “Manchester” (while few expect the film to win best picture, GoldDerby.com has Casey Affleck running neck and neck with Denzel Washington for best actor, and Kenneth Lonergan could take home the award for original screenplay). But the buzz remains unconditionally optimistic on the North Shore, especially around Cape Ann, where scenes were shot in several different communities including Gloucester, Beverly, Essex, and Rockport.
Barclay plans to host an Academy Awards viewing party at 7 Central Public House Sunday night. “The regulars are all excited,” he said.
They’ll also be watching at Pratty’s C.A.V., a barroom on Parker Street in Gloucester that’s featured in the movie.
“It’s really nice to kind of see the North Shore involved in Hollywood a little bit,” said bar manager Nicholas Pratt. Pointing to where a fight scene was staged, he noted that the fictional fireworks were a lot of fun to watch, but that sort of thing “doesn’t happen too often. It doesn’t happen often at all.”
Erich Buddenhagen has lived in Manchester-by-the-Sea since 1969. He said he enjoyed the movie and regards it as an authentic portrait of our region.
“I think it did a pretty good job of representing the people, the area, and the feel [of it],” he said. “This is a great section of the world and we like it here.”
The namesake movie has been the talk of the town for some time now. Some fear it could bring hordes of tourists. Others feel it portrays Manchester-by-the-Sea as being too gritty.
“Most everybody agrees that it’s a really powerful movie,” said Barclay. “There will always be people who feel it doesn’t really portray the full Manchester, but if you live here, you know those people, you know the characters, you know . . . it’s not just a town of long driveways with ocean views. There are fishermen, contractors, and laborers. . . . That makes it real, that makes it beautiful to me. It actually shows there are two sides to our town.”
Ed and Julie Smith, lifelong residents of Manchester who grew up on the same street and ended up getting married, let the film crew use their commercial lobster boat, the Claudia Marie, in the movie. The vessel is named after their 13-month-old daughter, who died in 2001.
When Julie Smith went to the premiere, she hoped to see Claudia Marie’s name on the screen, if only for a moment. When she saw the opening scene, “I couldn’t move. I was frozen,” she said. She couldn’t believe how prominently their boat — and her daughter’s name — were portrayed in the film.
“We had no idea the boat would be so instrumental in the movie,” she said. “We were blown away by that.”
Their neighbors also took note, and were impressed.
‘[The film] actually shows there are two sides to our town.’
“The name of the boat, the Claudia Marie, that’s a real family that has gone through a tragedy, so the fact they used this boat named after this little girl who passed away . . . this whole town embraced that,” said Barclay, who also serves on the town’s board of selectmen. “To us, that little girl is not gone. Her life, her time on Earth was short . . . but her spirit’s going to live on forever.”
Oscar or no Oscar.Emily Sweeney can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.