Ben Affleck has, without question, become one of our greatest modern actors. However, even more importantly, he's found himself in some great films (because that doesn't always go hand in hand). While we're looking forward to his newest movie, The Accountant, we're also looking back at some of the great films that Affleck has been in over the last several years.
To be clear, these are not necessarily Ben Affleck's best performances. These are the great movies that the actor has been in, regardless of his own abilities. Most of the time, we are talking about great performances, or possibly great direction, from Affleck, but the focus here is the finished product. Simple cameos don't count, but anything where he at least had a significant supporting role is good enough. Let's roll.
While Mallrats often is overlooked among Kevin Smith's early work, we had to let it sneak into the back of this list. It doesn't try to be anything it's not, and it is by far the most laugh out loud funny of the movies within the View Askew-naverse. Ben Affleck plays Shannon, the proprietor of the Fashionable Male clothing store, and one of the truly great douchebag characters of all time. Kevin Smith's trademark humor is on display here and it's all great. Affleck's role is small, but he does his job and that's ok because Jason Lee does all the heavy lifting and he's well equipped to the task.
9. Smokin' Aces
Smokin' Aces didn't get a great deal of love when it was originally released back in 2006. However, it has built itself up as something of a cult classic over the last decade. It's not surprising since this is a movie that stars basically everybody. Ryan Reynolds, Ray Liotta, Jeremy Piven, Alicia Keys, Andy Garcia...oh yeah, and Ben Affleck. Piven plays a casino magician who's going to give evidence against organized crime. Pretty much everybody else is trying to kill him. It's a wildly fun movie with great humor and great action sequences. One of the best films by Joe Carnahan. If you've missed this one all these years, you should fix that.
8. Boiler Room
Boiler Room is the movie that Wall Street 2 really wanted to be. It's a smart film with great dialogue and a solid cast including Affleck, Giovanni Ribisi, and even Vin Diesel. Nearly a decade before the economy went to hell Boiler Room showed how some of those in charge of money had absolutely no scruples about lying to people to line their own pockets. It feels like a prophetic movie now considering the economic disaster we later found ourselves in. Affleck does his best "Alec Baldwin from Glengarry Glen Ross" impression, and while he's not quite that good, he makes it work.
7. Chasing Amy
While Kevin Smith's modern films are a shell of their former glory, his best work overall is likely Chasing Amy. It was the director's first film that didn't feel like the entire thing was an inside joke that we only partially got. Ben Affleck plays a guy who falls for a girl, which is an old story, except in this case the girl is gay. The story and the relationships felt real and a large part of that is chalked up to the work of Ben Affleck and Joey Lauren Adams. The thing that keeps Amy from being higher on the list is that the film doesn't seem to know how to end, and as a result, the ending we get falls flat. It's disappointing, but we're not going to let it overshadow the great movie that came before.
6. Gone Girl
What is there that we can say about Gone Girl that won't involve saying too much about Gone Girl? Ben Affleck plays the husband of a woman who has disappeared, under apparently violent circumstances. He is, of course, the prime suspect, but there's so much more going on here that we still don't want to give away if you've never seen it. It's a film with numerous twists and turns that keep the audience engaged from beginning to end. It's the sort of thing that director David Fincher excels at. Ben Affleck isn't the star of the movie. Rosamund Pike steals the film. There's a reason she was nominated for numerous awards including the Oscar. Gone Girl is everything great about mystery films.
5. Dazed and Confused
There's a good chance that, if you saw it when it was first released, Dazed and Confused was your introduction to the young actor named Ben Affleck. A coming of age story set in the 1970s, the film succeeds at simultaneously being a time capsule of the era, while also being completely timeless. You don't have to have experienced the 1970s to "get" this movie, just high school. It may be Richard Linklater's best film which, considering the achievements he's had, is saying quite a bit. Dazed launched several young careers, so we'd owe it a lot even if it wasn't a stellar film, but it is.
4. Shakespeare In Love
Two films on this list won the Academy Award for Best Picture, so it's little surprise that they would make the cut. While Shakespeare in Love possibly hasn't aged quite as well as it could have (better than Saving Private Ryan, really?) there's no question that it's a great film in its own right. Joseph Fiennes and Gwyneth Paltrow give great performances in a beautiful and stylized fiction about the life of William Shakespeare and the creation of Romeo & Juliet. It's a beautiful movie in every possible sense of the words. Ben Affleck shows up midway through the film as actor Ned Allyn who chews scenery with the best of them. It's a great romance and an always entertaining escape.
3. The Town
While The Town wasn't Ben Affleck's directorial debut, it was the first time he did the triple duty of writing, directing, and acting in the picture. Four friends from Boston rob a bank and take the manager hostage. While she never sees their faces, Affleck's character Doug gets to know her later in order to figure out what she knows. You can probably guess where things go from there. This is one movie that we can give Affleck a lot of direct credit for making it great. His writing and directing are smart and he not only puts in a solid performance himself but gets Jeremy Renner to put together the best performance of his career.
Over the years, there have been many movies about making movies. Argo adds the fun new twist that it's about people who are only pretending to make a movie, in order to get into Iran on the pretext of doing location scouting, in order to rescue a number of civilians who are hiding following a hostage crisis. Ben Affleck didn't receive a Best Director nomination at the Oscars for this one, which feels like a major oversight considering Argo would go on to win Best Picture. While the film takes some liberties with the actual events, it does so in order to make a better movie, which it absolutely succeeds at doing. Once again, Affleck gets his actors to do great work and that makes a great movie, even if Affleck went so far as to cast himself as a Hispanic guy.
1. Good Will Hunting
While movie fans would have recognized Ben Affleck and Matt Damon prior to Good Will Hunting, even most of them would likely have had no idea just how talented the pair truly were. They wrote an absolutely phenomenal movie in Good Will Hunting. Will Hunting, played by Matt Damon, is a self-taught genius whose mathematical abilities are recognized by a professor at Harvard. However, Will Hunting is a bit of a hard case, and so he's ordered to undergo therapy by the court, leading him to cross paths with Dr. Sean Maguire, played by Robin Williams. While Affleck's role is as small as any movie on this list, the movie itself is still one of the best that he's ever been part of. It won Robin Williams his long overdue Oscar, and got the two young writers the same award for their fantastic screenplay. It's still the best film Ben Affleck has ever done.
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