Casey Affleck has won his first-ever Academy Award.
The Manchester by the Sea star took home the Oscar for Best Actor, winning for his gut-wrenching portrayal of a man tasked with raising his teenage nephew after the death of his brother.
Affleck notably beat out Denzel Washington for Fences, who had made a late push for his third Oscar — and even won at the Screen Actors Guild Awards last month.
“One of the first people who taught me how to act was Denzel Washington, and I just met him tonight,” Affleck said in his acceptance speech, while Washington teared up in the crowd. “I’m only here really because of all the talents and good will of so many people that are impossible to name, but most of all, Kenneth Lonergan who made this part, and without this part and without his writing, I wouldn’t be here for sure. I wish I had something bigger and more meaningful to say, but I just look out at you, and I’m proud to be a part of this community. I’m just dumbfounded that I’m included.”
Affleck had long been considered the Oscar frontrunner, thanks to his powerful performance in Kenneth Lonergan’s drama, but many had objected to his nomination because of sexual harassment allegations dating back to 2010. Affleck has repeatedly denied the allegations, and the claims were settled out of court. The 41-year-old actor did not mention the claims during his acceptance speech, but many viewers took issue with his win, posting their criticism on Twitter.
Other nominees in the category were Washington for Fences, Andrew Garfield for Hacksaw Ridge, Ryan Gosling for La La Land, and Viggo Mortensen for Captain Fantastic. He was previously nominated for Best Supporting Actor in 2008 for his role in The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford.
In all, Manchester by the Sea earned six nominations, including Best Picture, Best Director for Lonergan, Best Supporting Actor for Lucas Hedges, and Best Supporting Actress for Michelle Williams.