Favorite Thespians #3 – Ben Affleck

Favorite Thespians - Ben Affleck

In honor of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice being released in March, I am moving my Favorite Thespians-schedule around a bit. For one time only, Favorite Thespians is being released the day before I’m seeing the thespian’s latest film. This time it’s all about Ben Affleck!

Favorite Thespians is a monthly opinion piece wherein I name one of my favorite actors or actresses. Favorite Thespians contains three separate sections: one section on the first film I saw the thespian in (“On My Radar”), another section on 5 films you need to see to know the thespian (“Homework”), and a section on my favorite performance from him/her.

I suspect that this will be one of the longer Favorite Thespians-posts, seeing as I have a point to make in a moment. I feel like Ben Affleck has transformed his career a couple of times. I loved him in the early days, he lost me in the early 2000s, but won me over when he transformed himself into one of the most promising directors out there. There are times when I think he might even be a better director than he is an actor, but I digress. The internet gave him a lot of hate, mostly, due to two films that I have a tough time stomaching as well. And I feel I must own up to the fact that the internet hate lessened my love for an actor I really, truly loved when I was younger.

Okay, so I’ll be the first to admit that I was really, really worried about Ben Affleck being the new Batman in the newly launched DC Cinematic Universe (or whatever they are calling it these days). I don’t know if I ended up deleting the tweets, but I’ll say it here. When they announced that he was the new Batman, I didn’t really like the decision. That was my knee-jerk reaction. I didn’t like his Daredevil, and everyone remembers Gigli. But I had forgotten how much I loved him in other films, and I had forgotten how much he had evolved as an actor.

On the same night that I had, at first, worried about Affleck’s newest superhero role, I changed my opinion. Actually, it was Kinda Funny’s Greg Miller who reminded me about why we used to love Ben Affleck. I remembered how much I actually used to love him. I flip-flopped in a major way, suddenly I loved the idea of Affleck being Bruce Wayne. I even ended up defending him on Twitter, and being lambasted as a result. At the time of writing, I have yet to see him in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, but I’ll reiterate that he is a great choice, and I’ve loved his character in every trailer he has been in.

With that out of the way, let’s get to the usual three sections:

ON MY RADAR:
Michael Bay’s Armageddon (1998)

Okay, so I’m still a pretty young guy, and the first Ben Affleck-film my parents introduced me to was Michael Bay’s Armageddon. This definitely falls into the category of guilty movie pleasures, but let me just admit it – I flat out love this film. A great cast, some awesome action moments, and animal crackers. There are probably a lot of things in this film that doesn’t make any sense, but I just love it so much. I’m not afraid to admit it. And, to be honest, Ben Affleck is a huge part of why I love it. Ben Affleck’s character, A.J., is just a regular dude who fell in love his boss’s daughter.

HOMEWORK:
Kevin Smith’s Chasing Amy (1997)
Gus Van Sant’s Good Will Hunting (1997)
Michael Bay’s Pearl Harbor (2001)
Ben Affleck’s Argo (2012)
David Fincher’s Gone Girl (2014)

Chasing Amy is my favorite Kevin Smith-film. A great comedy that tests the boundaries of friendship, and gender roles all at the same time. It is a nice little film, and I love seeing Ben Affleck and Jason Lee’s interplay. I feel that it is a nice place to start, as it sets up the ‘universe’ that Ben Affleck inhabits every time he signs on to play a character in a Kevin Smith-film.

The very same year that he played Holden in Chasing Amy, Good Will Hunting was released, which is probably still the best thing Ben Affleck and Matt Damon have ever been associated with. It is a great film, with wonderful performances, and it constantly amazes me that Damon and Affleck wrote the screenplay that early into their careers.

Pearl Harbor isn’t the best representation of Ben Affleck’s talents, but hear me out. If you want to properly go over someone’s career, then you have to take the good with the bad. And I still think Pearl Harbor is one of the better less-than-pleasing films starring Affleck in the early 2000s.

And then we make a huge jump in his career. I would have put The Town on here, were it not for the fact that it appears in the next section, but Argo is probably the best representation of how Ben Affleck turned his career around. I still can’t believe that Affleck didn’t score an Academy Award nomination for his directing performance in Argo, but at least he did score an Academy Award for Best Picture, serving as the co-producer on the film.

Gone Girl is such a messed up film, but it is so elegant all the same. Ben Affleck was back in a huge production, and he was the star of the film. It’s one of those films I really don’t want to talk about too much, you just need to experience it.

FAVORITE PERFORMANCE:
Ben Affleck’s The Town (2010)

The Town isn’t just Ben Affleck’s most approachable feature film, it also might be his very best. I can sit down any day of the week to watch this film. I love this film so much. Ben Affleck’s interplay with Jeremy Renner and Rebecca Hall is so, so good. It is one of the best heist films of the 21st Century. You owe it to yourself to watch this one if you haven’t yet. A mature acting performance, a stunning directorial performance (he even perfectly handled action!). I can’t recommend this one enough.

Favorite Thespians will return at the end of April

– I’m Jeffrey Rex

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