About a week ago, I had to listen to some out-of-the-loop fellas disparage my boy, Ben Affleck. Now maybe this comes as a surprise to some of you, but if you think I really like Nic Cage, then hold on to your fucking hats because there is perhaps no actor alive who I am more a fan of than Ben Affleck.
To give you an anecdote, an old friend/co-worker (Hannah Kaufmann, who will no doubt appreciate being able to google her name and Ben Affleck's and be featured on the same page) and I once struggled with the following hypothetical situation: If we had a gun to our heads and sacrificing ourselves was not an option, and we were forced to choose which one had to die, Matt Damon or Ben Affleck, who would we choose?
Well, I would save Ben Affleck.
If ever you needed to know why, listen to the commentary track on the Chasing Amy DVD. Watch him on "Real Time with Bill Maher" when he shows up. Read up on his political activism. Take in an interview on a talk show. Listen to him talk about sports and how evil the Yankees are. Or just watch anything he's ever done.
Obviously, there are films that he's great in that everyone knows and appreciates: Good Will Hunting, Phantoms, Chasing Amy, Dogma, Boiler Room, and Dazed and Confused. There are lesser films that were arguably solid that he was great in as well, like The Third Wheel, Armageddon, Mallrats, Going All the Way, and 200 Cigarettes.
Take The Sum of All Fears. All in all, it's not a great film, but Affleck is awesome. There are about three moments in the film where it feels like he is breaking character and delivering Jack Ryan lines as Ben Affleck, which are totally awesome.
Daredevil is also not particularly good, but as is the case with many Ben Affleck movies, fault does not lie with him. In Daredevil's case, Mark Steven Johnson blew it, just like he did with Ghost Rider. Like Cage with Johnny Blaze, Ben Affleck was a big fan of the character from the comics and this was a passion project.
But back to the issue that set this all off, there is still a misguided idea of Ben Affleck that is not informed by his recent works. Even if you want to write off his late 90s - early 00s output like Armageddon, Bounce, Forces of Nature, etc., I can at least understand that. Many of these roles were attempts to capitalize on star power and appeal to the masses. They're moves I understand. Sure, I have little desire to own Gigli, but I could list off a ton of movies that are legitimately worse than "one of the worst movies ever"--the hatred of that film (that no one actually saw, mind you) still baffles me*.
*Speaking of inexplicable backlash against a film, it still blows my mind that Hudson Hawk was universally panned. What the fuck is wrong with people? What movie were you watching, dickheads? Hudson Hawk was the fucking bomb.
But of late, Affleck has his shit together. Hollywoodland was very good, and Affleck was great. Not that I like to use the Oscars as a means by which I can support a case, but he did get a nomination for his portrayal of George Reeves, and all praise was justified. [Correction: Thanks for the note Mark, it was the Golden Globes who nominated him for Best Supporting Actor, and then the Academy criminally overlooked Affleck, opting for Eddie Murphy in Dreamgirls and Djimon Hounsou in Blood Diamond. Lame.] Gone Baby Gone, which he directed and adapted the screenplay for, was great, and he managed to do what Clint Eastwood was unable to do--adapt a Dennis Lehane book without making an awful movie. Yes, I'm knocking Mystic River.
So, to all you Affleck-hating fools, it might be time to re-examine your lives. If you were misinformed about this, what else are you missing out on because by the end of this year there will be two more films in the canon, State of Play and Extract,
and you'll be feeling like a dick if you're sitting around badmouthing Affleck based on eight year old tabloid bullshit and Armageddon.