RANKED: Ben Affleck

20. BOUNCE (2000)

Photo: Miramax

Photo: Miramax

Somewhat the opposite of Forces of Nature, Bounce is a movie that fashions its romance into something creepy instead of cute and moulds its comedy into something dark instead of bubbly. Also contrary to Forces of Nature, however, is that Bounce gets dumber and more ridiculous in its ending scenes. That doesn’t negate how unexpectedly bold the majority is, but it does leave an unfortunate aftertaste.


19. MALLRATS (1995)

Photo: Gramercy Pictures

Photo: Gramercy Pictures

Mallrats’ biggest enemy is itself. It has a wonderful group of actors, but wastes them a bunch of the time. It has hysterical comedy and whip-smart jokes, but also gross-out humour and a schoolboy obsession with extraneous nudity. Breakout star Jason Lee keeps the whole affair from ever getting too average, as does Affleck as his yuppie nemesis.


18. SCHOOL TIES (1992)

Photo: Paramount Pictures

Photo: Paramount Pictures

Affleck’s first credited role in a feature film (and his first time working with Matt Damon on screen) was in this look at racism within a 1950s prep school. Working alongside Damon, Brendan Fraser, Chris O’Donnell, and Anthony Rapp, Affleck is very green here, but the movie is strong enough to lift everyone’s performances up, even if the script becomes a little too maudlin by the School Ties’ climax.


17. GONE GIRL (2014)

Photo: Twentieth Century Fox

Photo: Twentieth Century Fox

The most aggravating thriller since 2003’s The Life of David Gale, Gone Girl is two-thirds of a masterpiece with the last act of a Lifetime movie sutured on. Script issues aside, David Fincher does a wonderful job directing one of the most visually interesting of Affleck’s films, while the character of Nick Dunne gives Affleck’s one of his best roles since his indie days in the ‘90s.


16. THE COMPANY MEN (2011)

Photo: The Weinstein Company

Photo: The Weinstein Company

While Affleck’s no stranger to great ensembles, the pedigree of The Company Men’s cast is one of his most impressive. Working alongside Kevin Costner, Tommy Lee Jones, Chris Cooper, Rosemary DeWitt, Craig T. Nelson, and Maria Bello, The Company Men failed to connect with audiences who didn’t want to see a movie about downsizing that cut too close to the bone for many, but its willingness to ask uncomfortable questions is as strong as the impressive performances they elicit.


15. JERSEY GIRL (2004)

Photo: Miramax

Photo: Miramax

Jersey Girl is probably the most tragic case of a good Affleck movie subjected to contempt prior to investigation. The fact that Jennifer Lopez dies in the prologue — the movie is ultimately a romance between Affleck and Liv Tyler — did nothing to draw in audiences. Still, it’s one of the most genuine romantic comedies of the mid-‘00s and offered Affleck a great chance to play a different type of lead: a father.


14. PAYCHECK (2003)

Photo: Paramount Pictures

Photo: Paramount Pictures

With direction from John Woo, a script based on a Philip K. Dick story, and a cast that includes Affleck, Uma Thurman, Paul Giamatti, Aaron Eckhart, and Colm Feore, Paycheck works better than many assumed when they dismissed it during the “Bennifer” days. Paycheck‘s only problem is that as good as each of its facets are, they don’t add up to anything more than their sum.


13. BOILER ROOM (2000)

Photo: New Line Cinema

Photo: New Line Cinema

The middle child between Glengarry Glen Ross and The Wolf of Wall Street, Boiler Room made a big impact on those who saw it in when it snuck into theatres in 2000 and has grown a cult following in the years since. Affleck makes the biggest splash in the showiest scene near the beginning, setting the tone for the power and success the movie trades in.


12. HE’S JUST NOT
THAT INTO YOU (2009)

Photo: New Line Cinema

Photo: New Line Cinema

2009 was the year of Affleck’s recovery as an actor, after taking some time off to grow and try his hand at directing, and it began with He’s Just Not That Into You. One of the better massive-ensemble pictures to come in the wake of Love, Actually, Affleck shared natural chemistry with Jennifer Aniston in the most realistic relationship of the movie.


11. DAZED AND
CONFUSED (1993)

Photo: Gramercy Pictures

Photo: Gramercy Pictures

Much as Kevin Smith took his formula for Clerks and supplanted it to a new setting in Mallrats, Dazed and Confused was Richard Linklater using the structure of his debut Slacker and inserting it into the ‘70s. While some of the character threads go nowhere interesting or new, the movie’s greatest power is in evoking its decade so authentically. It doesn’t hurt that it’s also a great time capsule for soon-to-be-superstars like Affleck, Matthew McConaughey, and Renée Zellweger.


ON THE LAST PAGE: Argo, The Town, and Chasing Amy…

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