FilmOpinion

The Top Ten Best Ben Affleck Performances

P.t. Philben ‘16 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer

10. Bobby Walker – The Company Men

Tommy Lee Jones and Ben Affleck in The Company Men. Photo Credit: The Weinstein Company.
Tommy Lee Jones and Ben Affleck in The Company Men. Photo Credit: The Weinstein Company.

“I am a highly qualified applicant for that position!”

The Company Men is an ensemble film about white collar workers experiencing a fall from grace as a result of the great recession. This films cast is an assembly of impressive performances, with Ben Affleck being arguably the most impressive of the bunch. You can feel for Bobby Walker’s frustration and humiliation as he is forced to scrape the bottom of the bottom of the job barrel by the unfair circumstances. It may be hard at times to remember that one-percenters are human, but Affleck conveys in many ways that they are capable of the same gut feeling of getting a raw deal in life as the rest of us.

9. Fred O’Bannion – Dazed and Confused

Ben Affleck in Dazed and Confused. Photo Credit: Universal Pictures.
Ben Affleck in Dazed and Confused. Photo Credit: Universal Pictures.

“You two are f**kin’ dead!!!”

In this widely recognized cult classic Affleck has a memorable bit part as Fred O’Bannion; the mean senior with a paddle on hand and a wicked swing, a role he plays to hilarious effect. He’s tough, good looking and cocky as all hell, but at the same time not smart and a bit of a coward. Its hard to respect a guy who does not pick on anyone his own size. You hate his character every step of the way and love it. This makes the moment he receives his just desserts, which would be funny enough out of context, all the more satisfying.

8. Ned Alleyn – Shakespeare in Love

Ben Affleck in Shakespeare in Love. Photo Credit: Miramax.
Ben Affleck in Shakespeare in Love. Photo Credit: Miramax.

“Pay attention and you will see how genius creates a legend.”

Shakespeare in Love is fictional account of how a young aspiring playwright by the name of William Shakespeare gained inspiration for Romeo and Juliet through a muse who he falls for in the process. In this bit part, Affleck portrays Ned Alleyn; a cocky, pompous theater star who is use to leading roles. So, more or less what people think about Affleck, minus tights and British twang. Ned and his entourage of yes men enters the play mid-production with an excessive amount of charisma and pretentiousness that would be very annoying if it wasn’t so funny. Affleck provides a lot of personality to the picture. Also; when the big show finally premieres in front of the Queen, Alleyn steals the show as Mercutio, a role he originally didn’t want. It is a bit part but it is memorable to say the very least in a film that is generally overrated as a whole.

7. Congressman Stephen Collins – State of Play

Ben Affleck in State of Play. Photo Credit: Universal Pictures.
Ben Affleck in State of Play. Photo Credit: Universal Pictures.

“Am I talking to my friend now or am I talking to a reporter?”

In this film adaptation of a BBC One drama Affleck portrays Congressman Stephen Collins. The story revolves around his relationship with a journalist (Russell Crowe) and the mysterious death of a member of Collins staff. The mysterious death after some “damn fine reporting” turns into a murder case, which turns into a premeditated murder, which turns into a professionally done murder which turns into a full blown federal level political conspiracy. Congressman Collins shows the confidence, charisma and smarts it would take to be a successful politician as well as the vulnerability and insecurity of a man who sees all of his world turning on him all at once.  For his portrayal Affleck drew inspiration from disgraced politicians such as Eliot Spitzer, Gary Condit and John Edwards, and the work shows. Not to mention that Affleck has the craft of late movie speeches down to an artform.

6. Tony Mendez – Argo

Ben Affleck in Argo. Photo Credit: Claire Folger/Warner Bros.
Ben Affleck in Argo. Photo Credit: Claire Folger/Warner Bros.

“I think my story’s the only thing between you and a gun to your head.”

In this Oscar-winning film (that he also directed), Affleck plays Tony Mendez; a mild-mannered but very intelligent and outspoken CIA exfiltration specialist with a sarcastic attitude. He takes up the task of rescuing the few Americans that were stranded in the Canadian after they escaped the Iranian hostage crisis. Affleck’s subtle portrayal of Mendez sees the actor take on the role of a calculating pragmatist with ambition, imagination, a bit of depression and some serious backbone. A non-expressive and yet very complex character that takes skill to not make boring or over the top. A bold everyday hero in extraordinary circumstances, Affleck maintains a subtle, calm demeanor for essentially the entire film and he carries the story all the way home with intelligence, heart and grace.

5. Holden McNeil – Chasing Amy

Ben Affleck and Joey Lauren Adams in Chasing Amy. Photo Credit: Miramax Films.
Ben Affleck and Joey Lauren Adams in Chasing Amy. Photo Credit: Miramax Films.

“If this is a crush, I don’t think I could take it if the real thing ever happened.”

In the most critically acclaimed of his many collaborations with writer/director Kevin Smith, Affleck portrays Holden McNeil, a laid back comic book writer. He befriends and quickly falls for Alyssa Jones (Joey Lauren Adams). Eventually he finds out that she is attracted to women, which sucks as they develop a close friendship until he can’t stand emotional intimacy without expressing his feelings. This leads to Holden giving a long (over three minutes), awkward, touching and by intentionally corny speech about what she means to him. After some resulting drama he starts a romantic relationship with the lesbian of his dreams. Naturally; hijinks ensues. Holden explores many complex themes in his relationship that leaves you asking a lot of serious questions. And yes; we are still talking about a romantic comedy.

4. Chuckie Sullivan – Good Will Hunting

Ben Affleck and Matt Damon in Good Will Hunting. Photo Credit: Miramax Films.
Ben Affleck and Matt Damon in Good Will Hunting. Photo Credit: Miramax Films.

“No. No, no no no. F**k you, you don’t owe it to yourself man, you owe it to me.”

Good Will Hunting sees Affleck play a vital supporting role as Chuckie Sullivan; wise-ass best friend to the main character; Bostonian boy genius Will Hunting, portrayed by real life best friend Matt Damon. The pair also co-wrote the incredible Oscar winning screenplay. Hunting is Afflecks greatest achievement in film between the screenplay and acting. His performance specifically is one of the many greats. Among Oscar winner Robin Williams and nominee Matt Damon; Affleck still stands tall. Chuckie was obviously written for Affleck by Affleck, and that is not a bad thing because it takes full advantage of his greatest talents. Ben Affleck has great comedic ability that has gone mostly untapped since Hunting. Chuckie Sullivan is simply hilarious. Additionally, Affleck gives the best of his standout speeches. The sample quote above is from a soliloquy that Chuckie gives Will; chastising him for not living up to his potential. Beautifully written, it puts all of the prior events into perspective. It is delivered with both affection and brutal honesty. This is the best film of essentially everyone involved in the production and Affleck shows greatness in his acting alone.

3. Doug MacRay – The Town

Jeremy Renner and Ben Affleck in The Town. Photo Credit: Warner Bros.
Jeremy Renner and Ben Affleck in The Town. Photo Credit: Warner Bros.

“Alright. I’m in. But if anything happens to her, if I think anything might happen to her… I’m gonna come back here, and I’m gonna kill both of you in your own shop.”

Ben Affleck’s second directing effort and first time he directed himself in a film. He portrays professional robber and Boston native (shocker) Doug MacRay. Along side his life long friends, one of which is borderline sociopath James Coughlin (Jeremy Renner). The gang pulls the heist off without too much trouble but MacRay’s trouble really begins when he falls for the same woman that he used as a hostage in his last getaway, Claire Keesey (Rebecca Hall). MacRay has to balance out his new romance with a woman who is scarred by a kidnapping he himself committed with his secret criminal life. He uses his resources to help her in her life, he comforts her in the moments the stress he caused come back to he, all while being under the watchful eye of law enforcement. He wants to make a life with this woman but he hesitates to leave his life behind. Affleck wrote this part for himself as well, but that does not take anything away from the performance itself or his maturity as an actor.

2. George Reeves – Hollywoodland

Ben Affleck and Diane Lane in Hollywoodland. Photo Credit: Focus Features.
Ben Affleck and Diane Lane in Hollywoodland. Photo Credit: Focus Features.

“I look like a dammed fool!”

In a weird twist of hindsight irony; one of Ben Afflecks most impressive roles is his rendition of George Reeves, the first actor to ever portray Superman. The circumstances surrounding the death of Reeves, who appeared to have committed suicide, have been the subject of a lot of speculation. The investigation of his death is the main focus of Hollywoodland. As Reeves, Affleck brings on a great amount of charm with distinct posture and accent and a good amount of melancholy. This provides an interesting character and some genuine mystery to the story. The story does not dwell on Reeves’ career so much as his personal life and how being America’s first Superman impacted that and getting a glimpse of all aspects of his life gives Affleck plenty of chances to impress. The early 1950s storyline surrounding the life of Reeves and his work on the TV series is far and wide the most interesting aspect of an all around intriguing film.

1. Nick Dunne – Gone Girl

Ben Affleck in Gone Girl. Photo Credit: Merrick Morton/Twentieth Century Fox.
Ben Affleck in Gone Girl. Photo Credit: Merrick Morton/Twentieth Century Fox.

“What are you thinking? What are you feeling? What have we done to each other? What will we do?”

In Gone Girl Ben Affleck plays Nick Dunne; a husband dissatisfied with his life and jaded from his marriage who suddenly becomes the center of attention from the media when his notable wife mysteriously disappears. The story for the most part is told out of order and is in large part about Nicks wife. Amy Dunne is portrayed by Rosamund Pike who gives a performance for the ages. That being said, takes nothing away from Affleck’s tour-de-force. When we first meet Nick he is introduced as a unusually laid back and slightly apathetic individual. When the plot is launched by the absence of his wife Affleck does something to set up the movie in such a way that contributes to the incredible experience it is; he makes us genuinely unsure of whether or not he killed his wife. What is so brilliant about Affleck’s work is that he carries a very distinguished character whose internal struggle is both plainly visible and yet near impossible to interpret clearly. Pike is the film’s greatest feature, but Affleck is absolutely vital. In fact, the fact that Pike outshines Affleck is the result of Affleck playing his part right. Nick is an understated character who serves the primary driver to the narrative so the story can put its focus where it needs to be. Amy is made to shine by the presence of Nick. Gone Girl is one of the best films made this decade thanks in no small part to Ben Affleck’s career defining work.

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