Ben Affleck’s journey represents probably the most dramatic Hollywood comeback story in modern cinematic history. In the span of just five years Affleck transformed himself from being the butt of everyone’s jokes to gaining back some respect as an actor and also proving that he is a creative force to be reckoned with behind the camera. In the next year Affleck is set to reach new heights in his professional life, with a leading role in Terry Malick’s new film, (the cryptically titled, To The Wonder), and with the premiere of his latest, and most complex looking opus, Argo, which has already been tapped to take home the Oscar for Best Picture this year. As this man sits posed to fully claim his spot at the top of the Hollyweird food chain, a retrospective on his best performances is more than appropriate. So, let’s jump in my dears! This is Top Five: Ben Affleck.
5. State of Play - 2008
An unfairly overlooked American adaptation of the beloved BBC series, 2008‘s State of Play offered excellent parts to Russell Crowe, Helen Mirren and, of course, Ben Affleck. Helping to anchor this star-studded extravaganza, Affleck showed humility, (something learned from almost a decade of critically maligned starring performances), by playing second fiddle to Crowe’s greasy-haired lead. His solid performance still offered the opportunity for plenty of fireworks however and his scenes with Crowe are some of the best in the film.
4. Good Will Hunting - 1997
With roles tailor fit for both of them, (hell, they wrote the damn thing), Good Will Hunting showcased some of Matt Damon and Ben Affleck’s best work. While not an overly challenging dynamic to capture, (as they play two dudes working dead-end jobs in Boston), the duo nevertheless put forth a portrayal of friendship that felt both complex and real. Possessing certainly the smaller of the two parts Affleck still managed to imbue his character with a lot of dimension, slowly showing his character’s connection with Damon’s to be a mixture of envy, hope and most predominantly love.
3. Chasing Amy - 1997
The second of several films that Affleck would make with director Kevin Smith and the third film in Smith’s “New Jersey Trilogy,” Chasing Amy offers an elucidative picture on the inability for one to perceive reality while in love. Affleck is perfect in this film, beautifully exploring Holden’s multi-faceted nature as brutish slacker, respectful companion, smitten puppy, and obsessive lover.
2. The Town - 2010
Affleck’s sophomore directorial effort, while sadly missing Gone Baby Gone’s great moral ambiguity, is still a powerful film containing great performances. Now, it is true that Affleck in the lead role was somewhat overshadowed by Jeremy Renner’s bombastic psychopath. That being said, Affleck was the acting gel that held the entire film together. The story completely revolves around his excellent, almost archetypal performance of a criminal anti-hero who just can’t leave his past behind him.
1. Hollywoodland - 2006
This, and not Gone Baby Gone was the beginning point of Ben Affleck’s epic star turn. The role gained him his best acting reviews in years in addition to Best Actor award at the Venice Film Festival. As George Reeves, TV’s ill-fated Superman, Affleck offers a big, charismatic performance that becomes ultimately heartbreaking to watch through his intense decline into humiliating despondency.
What are your favorite Ben Affleck moments or performances? Let us know in the comments section.