The career of Ben Affleck has been going on for long enough that at this point it’s best understood when broken down into eras.
The first era was obviously highlighted by Good Will Hunting, with the second one best described as the one where Affleck shot his shot to become a big-time movie star. The third starts around the beginning of this century and isn’t a particularly great one for Affleck, as it includes his relationship with Jennifer Lopez (not a negative) and their movie Gigli (definitely a negative.)
The fourth era is a little bit of a desolate wasteland before Affleck entered his fifth, where he staged one hell of a comeback. Nowadays, I would say that we’re firmly in the sixth era, and as a long-time fan of Affleck, I’m happy we’ve gotten to this point.
The most recent development in the current era is the release of The Way Back, a film where Affleck plays a former basketball star and current alcoholic who looks to get his life back on track while coaching his old high school team. While promoting the film, Affleck has been refreshingly candid while speaking about his own struggles with addiction, his failed marriage to Jennifer Garner, and (if pressed) his feelings about where Tom Brady will be playing in 2020.
It’s been fun and that’s because, in the end, Ben Affleck is fun.
We are significantly better off having him in our lives than not. Over the course of his long career, Affleck has managed to entertain us both in front of and behind the camera but has also done so while mixing it up during interviews, engaging in wonderful, high-profile relationships, and getting the kind of massive back tattoo that full-fledged nightmares are made of.
As a result, when I decided to embark on an Affleck retrospective of sorts, I felt it was best if I tried to include as much as possible, which meant going beyond movies and looking at television appearances, relationships, and more.
Let’s get into it. We have a lot to cover.
50. Man About Town
Released in 2006—just before the Benaissance really got going—Man About Town probably merits forgetting about, which is what has happened to it over time.
It’s like, just for the best.
All you need to know is that our guy plays “a top Hollywood talent agent who finds his cushy existence threatened when he discovers that his wife is cheating on him.” In an effort to come to terms with his feelings, Affleck’s character begins journaling only to have his journal stolen by a journalist.
From there, well…nevermind.
Let’s just move on.
Gigli currently has a 6% Tomatometer ranking and a 13% audience score on Rotten Tomatoes.
I could sum up its flaws but there’s no use wasting words when there’s already this review from Neil Norman of the London Evening Standard where the critic says “the serious problem with Gigli is the script.”
48. Surviving Christmas
I would have to check but I think every actor in Hollywood needs to do a lighthearted Christmas movie at some point in their career. It doesn’t even have to be a good one like Elf or Christmas Vacation.
It just needs to happen.
So congrats, Ben. You can cross that off the list.
47. Forces of Nature
Affleck and Sandra Bullock in a romantic road-trip comedy? What could go wrong?
Well, according to Peter Travers of Rolling Stone, the movie is “the cinematic equivalent of Styrofoam: a weightless romantic comedy of synthetic feelings”.
46. Ben’s Back Tattoo
If you saw that on someone while you were at the beach, it’d be all you’d talk about with your buddies for the rest of the day. You’d be wondering what the hell it is and why it’s so damn big. To be completely honest, it would be hard to not look at it.
You wouldn’t be alone in thinking this, either.
After a picture of the ink started to make the rounds, Affleck’s ex-wife Jennifer Garner said “You know what we would say in my hometown about that? ‘Bless his heart.” Ex-fiancée Jennifer Lopez also piled on when she called the back tattoo “awful.”
It’s not great, Ben. Not great at all.
In Bounce, Affleck’s character switches plane tickets with a guy (this was obviously filmed before 2001) and then that dude’s plane goes down. The guy dies.
Affleck responds by tracking down the dead man’s wife (Gwyneth Paltrow) and they fall in love.
What the fuck? I think most people forgot about this movie but we all need to remember just how absurd it is.
44. Changing Lanes
Well, at least this one isn’t a romantic comedy.
Instead, it’s a tasty little drama based around the never-ending ethical dilemma of what’s right and what’s wrong with Affleck starring alongside Samuel L. Jackson.
Guess what? Affleck plays a hotshot lawyer.
That is not to be confused with movies featuring him playing a hotshot Hollywood talent agent or a hotshot advertising executive or a hotshot dude who is about to get married.
IT’S CALLED RANGE, PEOPLE!
In this one, Affleck isn’t a hotshot computer engineer but a brilliant computer engineer. Big difference.
Apparently, Affleck’s character is so brilliant that after completing the projects he’s working on, he has his mind erased, thus ensuring that he can’t divulge any choice details about said projects.
But wait, wouldn’t erasing his memory all the time start to take a toll on this brilliance of his? You know what? Nevermind. It’s probably not even worth it to bat this around.
And hey, speaking of bats…
42. Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice
Ugh, this fucking movie.
I saw this in theaters mainly out of obligation and there was literally only one other person there. With about 30 minutes to go, that other person bailed, leaving me all by myself.
This was actually a good development, as it meant I could say “What the hell is going on?” out loud as opposed to just thinking it. It was very liberating.
41. Jersey Girl
Guess what? Affleck is a hotshot again!
This time, he’s a hotshot music publicist in New York City. Pretty cool, huh?
Written and directed by Kevin Smith, this movie definitely had all the makings of something that could’ve been good. It’s Smith getting back to his Jersey roots, working with Affleck and even George Carlin, who plays Affleck’s father.
But hey, sometimes the ingredients don’t really matter if the recipe is junk.
It’s also worth noting that Affleck’s character is named Ollie Trinke. I just wanted to point that out.
40. That Time Ben Snuck Matt Damon Onto Jimmy Kimmel Live!
The Matt Damon/Jimmy Kimmel feud will outlive us and there’s nothing we can do about it.
We need to just accept it and move on.
39. Smokin’ Aces
You cannot will a movie into being a success, which is kind of what it feels like Smokin’ Aces was trying to do.
The “screwball crime movie with the large ensemble cast” was definitely a thing during the last decade and Smokin’ Aces is one of the more notable examples.
Affleck is part of that ensemble, playing a bondsman hired to bring Jeremy Piven’s character back to Las Vegas. The movie also features Ryan Reynolds, Ray Liotta, Alicia Keys, Common, Andy Garcia, Taraji P. Henson, and Peter Berg.
However, what probably says all that needs to be said about this movie is that Chris Pine plays the eldest of three brothers who are speed-freak redneck neo-Nazis.
What more do you need to know?
38. He’s Just Not That Into You
My god, the plot summary of this movie on IMDb is exhausting—and no, not in a good way.
I had to look because I never saw He’s Just Not That Into You (and no, I’m Just Not Going to Apologize For That). I have to say I’m glad I did because it is a wild ride.
This is one of those romantic comedies that somehow has a seriously stacked cast. Along with Affleck, the film stars Bradley Cooper, Scarlett Johansson, Jennifer Aniston, Jennifer Connelly, Justin Long, Kevin Connolly, and, Ginnifer Goodwin.
Get that rom-com money, y’all.
37. Jay and Silent Bob Reboot
This is Affleck’s second Kevin Smith movie to appear on this list so far. However, it’s the first one where he played Holden McNeil.
Affleck first played the character in 1997’s Chasing Amy, which will be on this list at some point. Don’t you worry about that.
On next week’s episode, we will discuss whether or not it’s low-key kind of lame that Smith keeps going back to the well with his ideas as opposed to coming up with new ones.
36. The Company Men
In 2010, the Benaissance had started to really become a thing, and by year’s end, it would be in full-swing after we all fell madly in love with The Town. Yet before Affleck gave us that movie, he went super serious in The Company Men.
The Company Men is a drama with a capital “D.” It’s about two executives (Affleck and Chris Cooper) who find themselves on the outside of corporate life looking in after they all fall victim to downsizing.
Yeah, super uplifting stuff.
You may also be surprised to learn that before Affleck’s character was let go, he was—wait for it…a hotshot.
35. Clerks II
I love the original Clerks. I couldn’t tell you how many times I’ve watched it in my life. It might be close to a hundred if I were to ballpark it.
Did I ever think to myself that I needed a sequel, though?
No, not really, but we got one anyway.
Affleck doesn’t have much of a role in this one—only playing “Gawking Guy”—but I’m still throwing it on the list because we will leave no stone unturned here!
34. Live By Night
I don’t read a lot of fiction but I did read the Dennis Lehane book that this film was based on, and while reading it, I definitely thought it’d be a cool movie. The book reads like one. It’s incredibly visual.
Live By Night was released while Boardwalk Empire was still on the air, and as a result, it was hard to draw parallels between the two and this just didn’t really measure up.
As for how it came to be? Affleck read the book and cashed in some of the juice he had gotten coming off of The Town and Argo to adapt it into a movie.
It’s the epitome of an “A for effort, C for execution” situation.
On the plus side, the movie looks really cool. It looks like something you’d want to see but sadly isn’t actually something you’d want to see.
33. The Sum of All Fears
In 2002, Affleck had reached the point in his career where he was big enough to take over a franchise—or try to take over a franchise.
Eight years after Harrison Ford once again played CIA analyst Jack Ryan in Clear and Present Danger, Affleck was given the chance to play a young, brasher version of the Tom Clancy character, who had also previously been portrayed by Alec Baldwin.
It was fine. The Sum of All Fears is fine. Ben Affleck is fine as Jack Ryan.
Since we’re already doing rankings here, if I had to pick, I’d put him ahead of Chris Pine (who played Ryan in Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit) and behind John Krasinski, who has been pretty rock solid playing the character on Amazon’s Jack Ryan.
32. When Ben Was An Extra On Curb Your Enthusiasm
You have to pay attention here because Affleck’s Curb cameo is a quick one. No, really, it’s about a second long.
If you didn’t know he was in the above clip, you either didn’t even notice him or did a double-take and wondered if “Hey, was that Ben Affleck?”
Yes, it was.
And because he’s Ben Fuckin’ Affleck, he nailed it.
31. Reindeer Games
The trap is set. The game is on. Yeah, the reindeer game.
I don’t know what any of that means and I don’t really remember the movie. I remember it happened, but this was back in 2000 and that was admittedly a hazy time in my life and I’ll just leave it at that.
This movie is actually kind of wild because Affleck plays Rudy, a guy who assumes the identity of his friend and cellmate after getting out of prison, starts dating that guy’s pen pal (Charlize Theron), and then gets messed up in a casino heist.
The lesson here is that no, you never assume someone’s identity no matter how appealing (i.e. Theron, Charlize) it may be.
After trying to take control of an existing franchise with The Sum of All Fears, Affleck said “Screw it” in 2003 and tried to launch one of his own based around his portrayal of the blind superhero Daredevil.
Did you know that Jennifer Garner’s character in Daredevil is named Elektra Natchios? That’s incredible. I knew she played Elektra but I did not know her last name sounds like a fancy pronunciation of “nachos”.
The cruel passage of time has made this movie all but a footnote, though, as it has since been surpassed by the Netflix series of the same name.
But really, Elektra Natchios?
Magnificent. Good job to whoever thought of that.
29. Ben as Dirty Dan the Garbage Man on Saturday Night Live
Affleck joined Saturday Night Live’s Five-Timers Club when he hosted the show in May 2013 but it was during his third time stopping by 30 Rock when he really came into his own.
Joining Jimmy Fallon as a DJ on Z-105, the two start out as friends before competitive juices get the best of them. Fallon’s character quickly realizes that while working down at a station in Florida, Affleck’s Dirty Dan the Garbage Man has developed a style that is a little too similar to his own (mainly the use of different voices to portray the members of his morning crew).
It’s ugly, funny, and ultimately kind of cringe-worthy some fifteen years later—especially when Dirty Dan reveals that he was recently fired for the use of his Notorious H.I.V. character. However, Affleck’s wig alone is worth the price of admission.
28. Project Greenlight
Best buddies Matt Damon and Ben Affleck decided to put their Hollywood muscle to use in 2001 with Project Greenlight, a show where they helped give first-time filmmakers a chance to make a movie. The show started out on HBO, moved to Bravo after two seasons, and then a decade after Bravo pulled the plug, it was brought back to HBO for another go.
Affleck and Damon executive-produced the show and appeared from time-to-time to give advice and pointers, although Damon’s thoughts on diversity during that last season on HBO weren’t the best look (he’d eventually apologize).
The show was nominated for four Primetime Emmy Awards and The Battle of Shaker Heights (the movie that was the subject of the show’s second season) helped launch the film career of Shia LaBeouf.
So depending on how you feel about LaBeouf and/or how you feel about Damon apologizing, it wasn’t a total loss.
27. Pearl Harbor
Affleck’s run from Good Will Hunting up to around 2004 (which is when the rails kind of fell off) feels like a step-by-step guide in how to achieve movie stardom.
It’s really quite simple. I don’t know why more people don’t do it.
After your breakout role, you do a big-budget action movie (Armageddon), then a few movies to keep your street cred intact (Shakespeare in Love, Boiler Room, Dogma), then another action movie or two before sealing the deal with a historical piece like Pearl Harbor.
Just do that and you’re golden.
Unfortunately, our friend Ben also eventually subscribed to the foolproof plan of How to Derail a Successful Career.
At least no one can say he’s not a diligent student.
26. Ben’s Insistence That He Would Not Wear a Yankees Hat In Gone Girl
Sports fans are lunatics. It’s a proven fact. Things like logic and reason are completely lost on the hardcore sports fan.
Mr. Affleck, as most people know, is a hardcore supporter of Boston’s teams. My dude loves himself some Pats, Sox, Bruins, and Celtics. He probably even loves the Revolution.
In turn, my dude hates the Yankees as any good Sox fan does.
Affleck’s hatred of the Bronx Bombers is so strong that at one point during the filming of Gone Girl, he reportedly held things up for a bit when he refused to wear a Yankees hat in a scene. Affleck and the film’s director, David Fincher, went back-and-forth about it for a few days before Fincher finally relented.
“It was an uprising; it was a coup, I rioted,” Affleck said, “It was a one-man riot against the Yankees.”
I don’t care what team you root for. You have to respect that kind of devotion/stubbornness.
This was it. This one was the test.
Could Ben Affleck be a leading man?
Armageddon came out only two years after Good Will Hunting and features Affleck going toe-to-toe with big-timers like Bruce Willis and Billy Bob Thornton in a movie directed by Michael Bay.
It’s kind of like if you passed your driver’s test, but like, really nailed it, and then shortly after, someone told you to go be an ice road trucker as a way to prove yourself.
Affleck was a solid ice road trucker.
In 2006, Affleck was trying to right the ship. Things had gotten kind of weird for our guy and he needed to find some more low-key roles to help him get things back on course.
His gig in Hollywoodland was perfect; a very much right place/right time kind of deal.
In it, Affleck plays George Reeves, the star of the Adventures of Superman TV series in the 1950s. Reeves died at age 45 in 1959 and the death quickly became the subject of controversy. It was officially ruled a suicide but some thought it was foul play and connected with Reeves’ affair with the wife of an executive at MGM.
The film seems to side with the conspiracy theorists, but more importantly, Hollywoodland gave Affleck a chance to remind everyone that he was still Ben Fuckin’ Affleck despite what had gone down over the past few years.
23. Runner Runner
There’s a character in this movie called Handlebar Mustache.
Handlebar Mustache would be a great band name and I’d imagine the only reason it hasn’t been taken yet is because some people have no doubt considered it but ultimately decided against it because they assumed someone else had taken it already.
Anyway, Runner Runner is okay. It’s not as cool as naming your band Handlebar Mustache, but then again, few things are.
22. Justice League
The pros of Justice League:
- Affleck as Batman
- Jason Momoa as Aquaman
The cons of Justice League:
- Literally everything else
Reminder: these rankings are about Ben Affleck, so seeing as how he was actually really good as Batman, Justice League ranks this high.
I just wanted to clear that up.
21. Chasing Amy
Kevin Smith swung for the fences with his third film, Chasing Amy, and he brought Affleck with him. Affleck plays Holden McNeil, a comic book artist who falls in love with another comic book artist who is a lesbian. What follows is a classic love story.
Well, not really. Things actually get pretty messy for everyone involved.
I’m not sure how well this movie has held up over the years but it was definitely a statement when it was released in the late ’90s. It also helped lay the groundwork for the Jay and Silent Bob movies that would come later on (although I’m not sure if that’s a good thing or a bad thing).
Nah, it’s a good thing. Jay and Silent Bob are legends.
20. Ben’s ESPN Appearances While Promoting The Way Back
Affleck swung by ESPN recently to promote The Way Back and the diehard Boston fan was more than willing to tackle some Boston-related subjects, whether it was the future of Tom Brady or the Red Sox’s involvement with the Astros’ sign-stealing scandal.
It was great.
Affleck also managed to air some Deflategate-related grievances because, let’s face it, all Pats’ fans still have them, saying that “I can tell you that Deflategate was bullshit. That was some totally made up, fraudulent claim. Excuse me for saying that.”
You’re excused, Ben.
Later, while appearing on First Take, Affleck went right after one of the show’s hosts, Max Kellerman, who has been notoriously critical of Brady over the past few years.
Ben Affleck: Man of the People—provided you’re a Boston fan, I guess.
19. Triple Frontier
Did I get excited when I saw that first trailer for Triple Frontier? Of course.
Did I think that someone at Netflix had stolen my dream journal because the movie looked so perfect that it could have only come from something I dreamed up? Most definitely.
Did I get damn near giddy when I was in L.A. for work and saw a massive Triple Frontier advertisement outside of the Staples Center? Guilty as charged.
Did I then see what a marijuana dispensary was like? No comment.
Was I super disappointed in the movie because it wasn’t nearly as cool as it seemed in the trailer? One hundred percent.
I still ride with the first half, though. That part was pretty dope and helps this rank as high as it does.
18. School Ties
In Affleck’s first movie, he plays Chesty Smith, a character who (like everyone in this damn movie) hates Brendan Fraser’s character.
I honestly didn’t remember Affleck in the movie, but IMDb says he was in it and I believe IMDb. Plus, School Ties featured a bunch of actors like Affleck so it totally makes sense that he was in it.
I ended up searching YouTube and found a clip from the movie that features both guys being dudes and some casual anti-Semitism. Lo and behold, there’s Affleck, shirtless and singing along to “Smokey Joe’s Cafe.”
Ben Affleck was in fact in School Ties.
17. Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back
Affleck pulls double-duty in Smith’s 2001 film about his beloved stoners.
In the movie, Jay and Silent Bob head to Hollywood to torpedo the film adaptation of the comic book Affleck’s Holden McNeil co-created in Chasing Amy.
Affleck reprising his role as McNeil is great and all but the real joy comes from watching him and Damon play themselves.
You can say what you will about Smith but he’s really good at having actors make fun of themselves.
16. State of Play
Gone Baby Gone, which came out in 2007, was the opening bell of what would become the Benaissance. However, if the shift in public perception regarding Affleck was truly going to happen, he needed to re-establish himself as an actor.
State of Play was the first step in making that happen.
Affleck plays a congressman whose life grows increasingly complicated following the sudden death of one of his aides. Like with Hollywoodland, Affleck isn’t the lead, instead ceding those duties to Russell Crowe and Rachel McAdams.
He also surrounds himself with a deep bench, as the film features Robin Wright, Helen Mirren, Jason Bateman, and Jeff Daniels.
Let the record show that Ben Affleck is smart.
15. Ben’s Commentary for Armageddon
Armageddon is, at its core, a ridiculous movie.
There is an asteroid heading straight for Earth and the only people that can stop it are a team of oil drillers.
Wait, so, like, no astronauts? No. A misfit team of deep core drillers.
If you think that makes absolutely zero sense, you’re not alone.
The relationship between Affleck and Jennifer Lopez holds two major distinctions.
It is generally considered to be the first “super couple” of the internet era and it’s also the first notable instance of the super couple to have a nickname.
After Bennifer, there was TomKat (Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes), Posh & Becks (Victoria and David Beckham), and, of course, Brangelina (Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie). By now, the idea of naming super couples (or any couple for that matter) something that is a cute combination of their two names has become cliché.
That doesn’t mean it still doesn’t happen but we’re generally not as excited about it as we used to be.
13. The Accountant
I love some of the premises of these Ben Affleck movies.
For instance, there’s The Accountant, where Affleck plays a math savant who works the books for criminal organizations on the down-low.
So, he’s an accountant, but like, a dangerous accountant. Would Affleck play any other kind of accountant?
I can answer that.
No, no he wouldn’t.
12. Gone Baby Gone
We knew Affleck could write and we knew he could act but we didn’t know our dude could direct.
Hell, in 2007, we weren’t even totally sure he could act anymore.
However, Affleck flexed on Hollywood when he turned Dennis Lehane’s novel into a movie and brought his younger brother Casey Affleck on to star in it. From that point on, the conversation about Affleck had changed completely.
The film also starred Amy Ryan, who would go on to be nominated for an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress.
From there, the Benaissance was up and running!
11. The “Jenny From The Block” Video
I told you Affleck and Jennifer Lopez dated.
10. Boiler Room
Boiler Room is like an urban legend, a myth friends talk about while sitting around the campfire.
If you’ve seen it, then you know.
If you haven’t, then this friendship is over. It’s that simple.
Affleck doesn’t have a big role in the movie but he does have one of the best speeches ever delivered on film, particularly when it comes to one about making money. He’s not about saving the manatees. No, he’s about cashing checks, being liquid, and being a 27-year-old millionaire.
It’s Affleck at his give-no-fucks best and it’s pure gold.
If Chasing Amy was Smith swinging for the fences, then Dogma was him injecting all the steroids he could find and attempting to bash the living shit out of the ball so far that no one would ever see it again.
There’s fallen angels, prophets, demons, God, and something called “Buddy Christ” (and, of course, there’s Jay and Silent Bob).
In short, there’s a good deal going on in this film and it’s awesome.
Affleck and Damon play the fallen angels who are banished to Wisconsin but learn of a way to get back to heaven thanks to a church dedication in New Jersey.
Spoiler Alert: Affleck gets killed by God, who is played by Alanis Morrissette. Yeah. It’s a trip.
8. Gone Girl
Jon Hamm was supposed to play Affleck’s character in Gone Girl but he couldn’t due to filming Mad Men. It’s interesting to imagine how different the movie would be with Hamm as opposed to Affleck.
However, it’s hard to say it’d be better because Affleck is really, really good in this movie.
He’s actually kind of perfect, which makes it even harder to picture anyone else playing Nick, let alone someone as good as Jon Hamm.
Also, if you’ll allow me to go off on a bit of a tangent, I can’t decide if “The Bar” is a great name for a bar or an absolutely terrible one for a drinking establishment. I feel it has to be one of the other. There’s no in-between.
I’m going to go with great. Moving on!
7. Sad Affleck
Acting is a tough job. One of the reasons it’s tough is that sometimes you have to put on a brave face and promote something you know deep down in your heart is a complete turd and do it with a smile on your face.
We all have our breaking points, though. This right here? This is a breaking point.
That is a look of a man who has realized that he hasn’t just made a huge mistake but the kind of mistake that might be incredibly hard to come back from. And shit, man, Affleck had just worked so hard to come back from such a mistake (or a series of mistakes).
In those eyes, you can see Affleck asking himself if it was worth playing Batman when he had become a highly regarded director and was on his way to becoming a sought-after movie star again.
Affleck’s version of Batman was actually pretty cool and we’ll look back at it as a missed opportunity because it was wasted on two truly terrible movies.
It’s not your fault, Ben. It’s not your fault.
Whew, Affleck’s character in Mallrats has not aged well.
And no, it’s not because he’s the manager of the mall’s Fashionable Male store who has “no respect for people with no shopping agenda.”
It’s because he’s a legitimate dirtbag who ends up going to jail for statutory rape. That’s why.
But hey, Affleck plays a hell of a dirtbag, though.
5. Dazed and Confused
Another legendary Affleck dirtbag is easily his most famous.
I’m talking about O’Bannion, the super-senior in Dazed and Confused.
In a movie overflowing with memorable characters, Affleck’s O’Bannion is in the top five (if not the top three). He’s also one of the biggest assholes to ever appear in a movie.
I love everything about Dazed and Confused and wouldn’t change a thing about it. However, I wouldn’t have been mad if we had one more scene with O’Bannion in it.
Just one more. Just a taste. Maybe one during the next morning where O’Bannion wakes up in his bed or the back seat of his car covered in white paint or milk or whatever that substance was.
It’s just a thought (Richard Linklater, if you’re reading this, that idea is all yours).
At this point in the Benaissance, Affleck had directed two movies, both of which had been extremely well-received. As a result, when it came to what he would do next, there was a good deal of anticipation.
Our dude had started to establish a track record for himself as a director. It was all very exciting.
What came next was Argo, a film based on true events involving the Iranian hostage crisis of the late 1970s. As he had with The Town, Affleck not only directed but played the main character.
I like how Affleck directed one movie (Gone Baby Gone) where he wasn’t in it only to be like “Screw it, I got this” and made himself the lead in the next three (including Live By Night.)
Get it, Ben Affleck.
3. When Ben Ran Away With The Premiere Of Bill Simmons’ HBO Show
Bill Simmons had a short-lived show on HBO, Any Given Wednesday, and for the premiere, he brought on fellow Bostonian Affleck to talk about (among other things) Deflategate.
The show aired at the end of June 2016, right when Tom Brady was in the middle of appealing his four-game suspension. Needless to say, tensions were a little high if you were a Pats fan.
Immediately following the premiere, rumors started making the rounds that Affleck was intoxicated during his appearance, which was quickly denied by Simmons.
Affleck also took to Twitter to address his appearance on the show.
As a New England fan who struggled to make it through Deflategate, 18 fucks was perfectly reasonable.
2. Good Will Hunting
If this were The Definitive Rankings of All Things Ben Affleck and Matt Damon, then Good Will Hunting would be a lock for the top spot. The rankings would actually be pretty anticlimactic because everyone would know what would be first.
This is about Ben Affleck, though, and Good Will Hunting was a group project. It was an amazing group project, but still, it was a group project.
We here are all about recognizing individual accomplishments, and while there is no shortage of top-notch Affleck moments in Good Will Hunting, there’s one that really helped cement the film’s placement on this list.
No, it’s not the “the best part of my day” speech.
It’s all about the retainer, fellas.
As an actor, it might be the best work Affleck has ever done.
It’s definitely the best work a pair of white socks have ever done, that’s for damn sure.
1. The Town
Live By Night might have been Affleck’s passionate project or his “one-for-me” movie but The Town was his flex.
Based on the novel Prince of Thieves, it had been kicked around offices in Hollywood for a few years before Affleck signed on to direct, write, and star in it in 2008. He had success exploring Boston with Gone Baby Gone, but in The Town, he got to dive into a part of the city that was a mystery even to him, as he had grown up over in Cambridge.
In what would become a homage to bank-robbery classics like Heat as well as the city of Boston itself, The Town doesn’t ever stop. From the moment it opens with that first bank robbery, it’s running full-bore until Doug eventually ends up down in Florida following the Fenway heist.
It was one of the best movies of the decade and definitely one of the most rewatchable. More importantly, it was the movie that completely restored our faith in Affleck. He really was what we thought he was and what we had thought he could be when we first saw Good Will Hunting.
The Benaissance is happening, folks. Long live The Benaissance.