Whether you’re a fan of his work or not, chances are you have some opinion about the body of work of Ben Affleck.
He’s been inescapable. The actor has close to 50 credits to his name over a career that has quite a few highs and as many lows.
And in a career not lacking for sharp criticism (whether it be over his questionable ascent to leaning-man roles or his work opposite onetime fiancée Jennifer Lopez), he’s opened the gates for what could be epic blowback from fans by taking on Batman in the much-anticipated “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice,” out March 25.
Before we start nitpicking about his version of the Dark Knight, though, let’s rank his best and worst performances so far.
In what can only be explained as a favour to the Weinsteins for making 'Good Will Hunting' (this was released by the company's genre arm, Dimension), Affleck stars in this campy thriller/love story in which he plays an ex-con who is forced into robbing a casino.
When a movie with Christmas in the title comes out in October, you know something is wrong. In fact, this comedy starring Affleck as a millionaire who spends Christmas in the house he grew up in (along with the family that currently lives there) was supposed to come out around Christmas 2003, but it got pushed back. We're guessing test screenings weren't favourable, because there's a reason you don't see Affleck in comedies like these anymore: He's just not good at them.
It's understandable why Affleck was drawn to the role of a crooked entrepreneur who runs an offshore betting site: He's a big fan of poker. But why Justin Timberlake or anyone else followed along is anyone's guess. Perhaps because the movie was written by the same guys who did 'Rounders,' but the end result this time is a messy story with laughable dramatic moments.
Plagued by problems that only started with a title no one could pronounce, this hostage movie misleadingly marketed as a rom-com was dead before it hit opening weekend. The tabloid fodder over its two leads (Affleck and Lopez were a couple for months before the movie opened), and rumours that the director and studio were at odds over the cut of the movie, led to a perfect storm of horrific proportions. Only making $7.2 million worldwide (on a $54 million budget) the movie's historic bust can't be fully put on Affleck and Lopez. But as the stars they still take the brunt of it.
A year after the 'Gigli' disaster, Affleck returned to his old pal Kevin Smith for a grounded movie about family. Though Lopez is briefly in the movie, 'Bennifer' doesn't deserve the blame for this one. Affleck has zero likability in the role of a single father trying to balance caring for his daughter and getting his career back on track. Working with one of the worst scripts Smith has come up with, Affleck has none of the energy and passion he gave in 'Chasing Amy.' 2004 was an awful year for Affleck. He and Lopez broke up, and he received a Worst Actor Razzie nomination for his performances in 'Jersey Girl' and 'Surviving Christmas.' At least better days were ahead.
It's hard to have a memorable cameo. You have to command the screen, and the screenwriter has to give you something pretty good to say for your limited time on it. Affleck had both in this appearance as the cofounder of a shady brokerage firm who gives a scared-straight presentation to potential employees on how to do things. Giving homage to Alec Baldwin's 'always be closing' speech in 'Glengarry Glen Ross,' Affleck plays the take-no-prisoners honcho perfectly.
And while we're on the subject of tough types, who can forget Affleck's Fred O'Bannion in 'Dazed and Confused'? The epitome of every schoolyard bully, O'Bannion loved hazing incoming freshman so much he was rumoured to have failed his senior year so he could come back and do the hazing a second time. Affleck is sinister and funny in the role, launching his career.
For his second directing effort, Affleck cast himself as the leader of a group of Boston crooks who are planning one final score. This was at a point where Affleck was concentrating on more serious roles for himself, and he proved to be quite the double threat as his work both in front of and behind the camera constitutes a highlight of his career.
Under the obsessive eye of director David Fincher, Affleck gives a thrilling performance playing a husband who is the prime suspect of his wife's disappearance. Fincher casting Affleck was perfect in a way since the role of a man running from media attention mirrors the actor's own personal life.
Playing a guy who falls madly in love with a lesbian is the highlight of Affleck's acting career (so far) because of the vulnerability he gives in the role. In his first time as the unquestioned lead, Affleck gets the outlet he needs from director Kevin Smith to show an unmolded talent worthy of stardom.
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