As awards season began, the lead actor category appeared to be dominated by one person. Casey affleck (otherwise known as the other Affleck) was finally able to show his enormous range in the film “Manchester by the Sea.” Though glib in its pacing and plot, the film does a great job in showcasing Affleck and makes the audience empathetic to this man’s journey. However, when Affleck seemed to be unstoppable a ghost from his past, in the form of forgotten sexual assault accusations, may derail his chances. In the wings, is the ever reliable and consistently phenomenal, Denzel Washington.

In a film that is a passion project, Washington gave one of the most powerful performances of his career. And with a near perfect reputation, he could become one of only six actors to win three or more Academy Awards.

Both actors portray complex men

If you were to stack up the performances of Affleck and Washington against one another, there would not be much to differentiate. They both play men that are just trying to get by and have familial pressures standing in their way. Affleck gives a rather understated performance while Washington (who won a Tony Award for this same role) gives a much more theatrical performance. Affleck’s film is very much well-acted and captures the New England small town feel.

Affleck is able to convey several types of emotions without saying much. He really uses beats and breaks in his dialogue to expose the deeper meaning of silences and how those quiet moments often speak volumes. Washington has what Academy votes love in that he has several grandiose moments where he can really show off his acting prowess.

Complex, multi-faceted characters are ones that really grab the attention of the voters and both of these men chose projects that could really allow them to breathe life into someone else’s experience.

The artist and the art are two different things

There are several celebrities that seem to have some kind of skeleton in their closet.

From drug problems to accusations ranging from sexual assault to a bad temper, a plethora of them spend as much time defending themselves as promoting their films. Whenever awards season comes up, the person who is the clear favorite must be hoping that something they said or did in the past does not haunt them. For Affleck, accusations of sexual assault may knock him out of the running. Although he was never formally charged with anything, even the possibility that you may have done something terrible could leave Academy voters feeling uneasy.

His success will depend on whether the Academy can separate the artist from the art. His performance is layered and in essence, the film is a character study on anguish and how it effects a person’s life. Affleck has swept several of the awards this season by it should be noted that Washington won the SAG award. Several SAG voters are also part of the Academy.