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Ben Affleck – Ten Of The Best

As Ben Affleck prepares to don the Bat Cowl for Zach Synder’s superhero mash-up, Batman Vs. Superman, many remain still skeptical about Affleck’s acting talent.  There’s no denying that 2003’s Daredevil looms large over his career but a closer look at Affleck’s work shows that, while he has bloomed behind the camera as a director, he’s also got the acting chops to square-jaw-off against Henry Cavill’s Man Of Steel.  Editor Alex Moss takes a look at Ten of the Best Ben Affleck performances.

Boiler Room
Affleck’s role here is more of a cameo than anything else but he gets to take centre stage in one very key scene.  With brokering firm JT Marlin’s new recruits gathered round a table, Affleck enters as the Faustian devil in a black suit.  He’s aggressive, arrogant – your typical alpha-male swinging his Ferrari keys round the room to make the new trainees believe that they’re about to become millionaires.  If that’s not enough to show the blinkered influence of Affleck’s Jim Young, he watches and can quote – word for word – every corrupt line of dialogue from Oliver Stone’s Wall Street, as if it’s Biblical.  Trust this man at your own peril.  Bruce Wayne would be proud.

Dazed And Confused
Richard Linklater’s ‘70s-set high school comedy drama is filled to the brim with memorable characters and Affleck went onto become the biggest star of the cast.  His Fred O’Bannion is the quintessential jock – a guy so insecure about himself that he gets kicks out of bullying the freshman on the last day of school.  Affleck’s turn here is endlessly entertaining with his character injected with enough rage to make the Hulk look calm by comparison.  Of course it’s made all the more enjoyable when he finally gets his comeuppance.

Chasing Amy
Questionable facial hair aside, Affleck’s role as Holden McNeil is one of his more likeable characters.  Playing a comic book artist who falls for a gay girl, Affleck manages to make Kevin Smith’s endlessly foul-mouthed dialogue seem almost charming with his cool and lethargic delivery.  What’s more, he’s able to inject just enough heart and false confidence into the film to make you root for him even when he is being a grade-A idiot.

Smockin Aces
Director Joe Carnahan must have called in a lot of favours to fill out the cast of his crime-action-thriller-comedy mash-up, as there isn’t a part played by anyone other than a famous face.  None less so than Affleck’s seedy Jack Dupree – a Las Vegas bail bondsman hired by Jason Bateman’s disgusting lawyer. While much of the cast go for over-the-top cartoonish characters, Affleck’s utilises his Boston accent to tough, yet calming effect to prove that less is sometimes more.  That he’s unceremoniously killed by neo Nazi Chris Pine, who then proceeds to play with his corpse, only adds to Affleck’s performance points here.

Hollywoodland
The film that set Affleck on the comeback trail, and nabbed him a Golden Globe nomination in the process, sees the former 50% of Bennifer as George Reeves.  That’s right. In a brilliant twist of irony, Affleck has already played Superman – the character he’ll face off against in his Batman-guise.  Affleck plays Reeves with an intelligent combination of arrogant actor and insecure star straining under the weight of his fans’ expectations.  This is a powerhouse performance that put Affleck back in casting directors’ heads for all the right reasons.

The Company Men
Although he’s part of an ensemble cast that includes the likes of Chris Cooper, Kevin Costner and Tommy Lee Jones, it’s Affleck who walked away from this film with the most kudos.  He plays Bobby Walker, a cooperate man who is made redundant as the recession hits.  At first Affleck’s character is imbued with a sense of arrogant injustice before he melts into a wonderfully insecure individual questioning his own self-worth.  While it’s easy to look at the credit crunch and blame the moneymen, Affleck’s performance puts a face and, more importantly, a heart into the whole sordid affair.

State Of Play
Replacing Edward Norton on Kevin Macdonald’s adaptation of the BBC drama, Affleck plays Congressman Stephen Collins.  At first his character is hugely sympathetic as he learns that his assistant, with whom he was having an affair, has supposedly killed herself.  But as best friend Russell Crowe digs a little deeper into the story, Affleck’s character finds a new resolve before eventually descending into villainous duties.  It’s rare Affleck gets the chance to show this much range but watching him go up against the powerhouse that is Crowe makes you understand he’s no push-over either.

Argo
The film that cemented Affleck as the King Of Come-Backs also managed to make him something of a darling at Warner Bros. studios.  Helped no end by the film’s seven Oscar Nominations and three wins (although Affleck himself was over-looked in the acting and directing category) Argo showcases one of his best performances.  He plays CIA Agent Tony Mendez who, in order to get American Embassy workers out of Iran, fakes a movie production.  The film contains moments of humour, mainly from John Goodman and Alan Arkin, but Affleck plays it straight, as his anxiety at helping the group begins to weigh on his mind.  Throw in his calm, collected nature, and a ‘70s beard that he managed to make cool, and Argo proved once and for all that the star of Gigli was back, in a big, big way.

Good Will Hunting
The film that kick-stared Affleck to full on stardom, and which saw him pick-up his only Oscar to date for co-writing the script with Matt Damon, is arguably Affleck’s greatest performance.  He plays Chuckie, best friend to Damon’s mathematical genius Will Hunting, who grows increasingly angry with Will’s blasé attitude towards his obvious talents.  While the film might focus on Damon’s character, Affleck provides some of the best scenes with a street-smart character that’s often foul-mouthed but endlessly magnetic.  Whether or not friends Damon and Affleck ever discussed switching roles is still debated but in truth, Affleck’s performance is wonderfully understated. With a sense of maturity that Will lacks, his Chuckie is the grounding force of the film.  His final scene, in which he arrives at Will’s house only to find his friend gone, is easily one of Affleck’s career highs.

The Town (Main Picture)
If ever there was a role that proved Affleck’s Batman credentials this is it.  For his second directorial effort, Affleck takes centre stage as Doug MacRay, a ruthlessly efficient thief who falls for his hostage Rebecca Hall.  Like Argo, Affleck’s strength here is to play the strong silent type, letting the actors around him do much of the talking while he quietly digests them.  Affleck brings a brooding, violent cool to the role.  He never loses sight of MacRay’s humanity either. Despite his violent ways, Affleck maintains a sense of power, dignity and often guilt at the crimes he’s committing. All qualities which The Dark Knight must posses. That he’s starring opposite the even more enraged Jeremy Renner, who would go on to be Oscar nominated for his role, doesn’t hurt either.

Ben Affleck will next be seen opposite Justin Timberlake and Gemma Arterton in Runner Runner. Check out the trailer, below, before its release on 27th September 2013.

Alex Moss Editor

Alex Moss’ obsession with film began the moment he witnessed the Alien burst forth from John Hurt’s stomach. It was perhaps ill-advised to witness this aged 6 but much like the beast within Hurt, he became infected by a parasite called ‘Movies’. Rarely away from his computer or a big screen, as he muses on Cinematic Deities, Alex is “more machine now than man. His mind is twisted and evil”. Email: alex.moss@filmjuice.com

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