List Compiled by Eddie on 23/10/2020
To say Ben Affleck has had an up and down career would be a severe understatement.
From Oscar high’s with Good Will Hunting/Argo to dare we even mention it, starring roles in films such as Gigli, there have been numerous moments where Affleck’s career seemed to have both peaked and fallen sharply off the cliff but against all the odds the sometimes undervalued actor has proven time and time again that he is a seriously talented Hollywood player both in front of and behind the camera.
Sometimes guilty of easy paychecks with forgettable actioners, thrillers and comedies littering his career throughout, Affleck has over a number of years shown himself willing to tackle big property items such as Argo, The Town and roles in features like the controversial Gone Girl and is more than comfortable on the big stage when the material he is working with plays to his strengths.
In a career that has now spanned multiple decades and facets, below is a list of quality Affleck films that no doubt showcase a career that is still one to be proud of, despite all the missteps along the way.
Happy reading and happy watching.
10. Armageddon (1998)
Affleck plays – A.J. Frost
Aerosmith, Michael Bay and Bruce Willis, Armageddon is about as 90’s over the top as you can get but there’s no doubt that this blockbuster is also a hell of a lot of fun. One of the biggest films Affleck had been a part of at the time, he proved himself to be a capable big screen performer that led to some questionable roles in the early and mid-2000’s.
9. Changing Lanes (2002)
Affleck plays – Gavin Banek
An underseen little thriller that provided us with the great double act of Affleck v Samuel L. Jackson in some road rage turned extreme, Changing Lanes is a nice little thriller from director Roger Michell and a performance centric piece that allowed its A-list stars some good time to shine.
8. State of Play (2009)
Affleck plays – Stephen Collins
An update of the BBC title of the same name, State of Play may follow a fairly familiar thriller rule book but its strong cast and well-scripted twisting and turning narrative makes for solid entertainment. Overshadowed by the films main star Russell Crowe, Affleck gets some good airplay as politician Stephen Collins.
7. Dogma (1999)
Affleck plays – Bartleby
Proving that he wasn’t all drama and thriller, Affleck played a pivotal role alongside his lifelong friend Matt Damon in Kevin Smith’s cult comedy favorite Dogma. A wild ride that tackles some taboo subjects and religious comedy that most would steer clear from, Dogma is a controversial offering but one worth seeking out.
6. Boiler Room (2000)
Affleck plays – Jim Young
One of the more underappreciated Wall Street centric features of the modern era, Boiler Room is a white knuckle look into the world of stockbrokers and traders that features a loaded ensemble, many of whom were at the early stages of their career. A must watch for anyone looking for a solid fix of Wall Street action.
5. Argo (2012)
Affleck plays – Tony Mendez
The film that swept many an Oscar in 2013 and officially reinstated Affleck into the big league, Argo may now be looked at as a slightly overrated and unduly praised thriller but it’s an impressively staged outing regardless of how you feel. Taking on duties as star and director, many would say that this is the peak of Affleck’s directing career and one of his high’s as a lead performer.
4. The Way Back (2020)
Affleck plays – Jack Cunningham
In what first appears to be another generic sports movie centered on underdogs rising to the top, The Way Back subverts expectations to become a moving drama with sports in it as it chooses to instead shine a light on Affleck’s alcoholic and troubled ex-basketball star turned coach Jack Cunningham. Featuring what I would argue to be Affleck’s best acting turn (made even more impressive by his close dealings with alcoholism), The Way Back is one of 2020’s hidden gems.
3. The Town (2010)/Gone Baby Gone (2007)
Affleck plays – Doug MacRay
The Town – Easily one of the modern eras most enjoyable and accessible crime films, Affleck struck gold with his directing/star vehicle The Town where he returned to his hometown of Boston to deliver a box office and critical hit that bought him back from the brink of years of irrelevant work. It may not quite be Heat but this is about as close as it gets when it comes to classic crime capers done on a Hollywood scale.
Gone Baby Gone – In what acted as his feature debut as a director, Ben Affleck shocked critics around the world at a time when his career felt as though it may never achieve what it once promised to do with a fantastic adaptation of Denis Lehane’s crime book of the same name. Directing his brother Casey in what is still one of his best lead roles, Affleck proved to be one of the most exciting new directional talents going around which has lead to more well-regarded films on the years that followed.
2. Good Will Hunting (1997)
Affleck plays – Chuckie
In what remains one of the great writing debuts and Oscar wins in history, Affleck and offsider Matt Damon launched themselves into the industry with their Oscar winning Good Will Hunting. Taking on writing duties and acting roles in the film, Good Will Hunting proved to be a winner in more ways than one. Remains to this day one of the most liked and fondly remembered movies of the 90’s.
1. Gone Girl (2014)
Affleck plays – Nick Dunne
Teaming up with legendary director David Fincher, Ben Affleck got one of the roles of his career when he took on the job of portraying Nick Dunne in this unforgettable thriller. While overshadowed by an Oscar worthy Rosamund Pike as Amy Dunne, Affleck is a key part of Gone Girl’s success in what is a reminder of the talent Affleck possesses when given the write material to work with.
Nice list of movies there – a few I haven’t seen as well but I agree with quite a few of these films especially Good Will Hunting, The Town and Gone Girl. Ben Affleck really is a force to be reckoned with in all of these films.
No love for gone baby gone??
Great film, an oversight not having it in here.
I haven’t seen Argo or The Way Back, but I really dig this list. It’s quite comprehensive and reflective of Affleckness. Mallrats would have to be an honorable mention. And even Shakespeare in Love? He doesn’t look horrible in tights.
Not many people can pull tights off!
I watched The Way Back recently and it’s gone straight to the top of my list of Baffleck performances. He’s shown throughout his career that he’s capable of decent work with the right material and right directors,but he’s definitely coming into his own as he approaches middle age.
In terms of film quality – with the addition of Gone Baby Gone if we’re counting films he doesn’t act in – I can’t really argue with these rankings.
In a just world I honestly think he should be Oscar nominated for Way Back, it is as good as I’ve seen him!
Will amend this list to reflect Gone Baby, cant believe I forgot he directed it.
I thought Argo was so overrated but I agree with the rest of your list!
Yeh I enjoyed Argo but never understood why it was so hyped up!
The key to your essay is when you say Affleck “is more than comfortable on the big stage when the material he is working with plays to his strengths.” He’s an example of the type of actor that has a narrow range but is incredibly good when working within those parameters. “The Way Back” is great and really challenges people’s perceptions about alcoholism.
Spot of 100. I was so impressed by him in The Way Back, to me its an Oscar nomination type of performance.
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