Ben Affleck has had a more tumultuous career than most. From the indie career he self-started with Matt Damon to his paycheque blockbusters of the early ‘00s, from the drought brought by post-Bennifer fatigue to his resurgence through adding “Director” to his job titles, Affleck’s seen his share of incredible highs and lows. And much like those extremes in his life — you could argue largely because of them, in fact — Affleck been in some impressive masterpieces and some rank bombs.
It should be noted, this list will deal with solely with movies Affleck’s acted in — thus making his directorial debut, 2007’s Gone, Baby, Gone, ineligible. My criterion when deciding what constitutes a “Ben Affleck movie” included every theatrical feature in which he appeared and was credited. (That uncredited, blink-and-you’ll-miss-it, appearance in 1992’s Buffy the Vampire Slayer or the straight-to-video Joseph: King of Dreams, for example? Yeah, that those count.)
These are the movies of Ben Affleck, from worst to best.
40. MAN ABOUT TOWN (2006)
Dead-smack in that mid-‘00s period when Affleck had to take whatever movies he was offered, Man About Town spends most of its time being painfully unfunny — when it doesn’t have the audacious despicability to wallow in racism and bigotry under the guise of satire.
39. PHANTOMS (1998)
The worst part about this confusing muddle of a horror film is that the first half-hour of Phantoms is actually pretty scary — and then the whole thing falls to pieces.
38. GLORY DAZE (1996)
Judging by the cast — including Affleck, Sam Rockwell, and Alyssa Milano, all on the verge of exploding — you’d think Glory Daze would have been Gen X’s National Lampoon’s Animal House. The difference is the latter actually had something new to say.
37. 200 CIGARETTES (1999)
A feeble attempt to present a hip, new version of American Graffiti to twenty-somethings making the most of the end of the millennium, 200 Cigarettes feels hollow and phony, right down to all of the actors’ inabilities to hold a single cigarette believably.
36. REINDEER GAMES (2000)
If a legendary director like John Frankenheimer wants you to star in his next (and what would turn out to be his last) movie, you star in it, even if the script is as bad as Reindeer Games’ was.
35. GIGLI (2003)
Gigli’s reputation now precedes it, but it’s gotten a slightly unfair rap, as the culturally-designated lightning rod for everyone’s fatigue with the inescapable romance of Affleck and Jennifer Lopez in 2003. It’s by no means a good movie, but it’s more a disappointment than a disaster.
What could have been one of the sharpest dark comedies of the ‘00s is instead dulled by a director and cast who milk the material for belly laughs that aren’t naturally there. Only Affleck, portraying the festive interloper to a family living in his childhood home as the unhinged psychopath he truly is, seems to get it.
33. THE THIRD WHEEL (2002)
The sitcom-y premise of a meek office worker taking his dream girl out on a date only to hit a homeless man with his car and end up stuck looking after him all night is mildly rescued by a cast of co-workers played by the likes of Affleck, Matt Damon, and Melissa McCarthy, betting on how their date goes in real-time.
32. RUNNER RUNNER (2013)
A really good first act is undone by a dull second one and a stupid third. Affleck’s a smarmy enough villain, but you can tell his heart’s not in it, nor is Justin Timberlake’s as the hero. As far as poker movies go between Affleck and Damon, Runner Runner’s a losing hand against Rounders.
31. EXTRACT (2009)
Writer-director Mike Judge has a great cast to work with — Jason Bateman, Mila Kunis, Kristen Wiig, J.K. Simmons, and Affleck — but fails to make you care enough about Bateman’s protagonist to be invested in his humiliating failures. Affleck, as his half-baked bartender friend, steals every scene of the movie he appears in.