The roller coaster of one of Hollywood’s most compelling, unpredictable actors, here are his best (and worst) moments on screen, It’s hard to find a movie star career that has been more of a roller coaster than that of Ben Affleck. Upon breaking through with an Oscar win in 1998 for writing Good Will Hunting, he and Matt Damon looked primed for a Hollywood takeover. But while Damon’s been the model of consistency ever since, Affleck has managed to have as many highs as lows, navigating box office bombs, personal issues, and viral Dunkin’ Donuts runs.
But Affleck is thriving once again thanks to a pair of critically adored performances and the reboot of Bennifer. And yet, it wasn’t so long ago that people were seriously putting Mark Wahlberg ahead of him in the Boston actor rankings. Part of what separates Affleck from the likes of Wahlberg and other A-list actors of their generation is that he never appears to be following a playbook or master plan; he’s unpredictable. Now, that can lead both to pleasant surprises and disastrous misses. While Wahlberg is constantly either trying to launch his own franchise or find a new true story to tell, take a look through Affleck’s filmography and attempt to find a through line or pattern—no one with a methodical strategy plots out a two-year run of Daredevil, Gigli, Paycheck, Surviving Christmas, and Jersey Girl. And more recently, Affleck has gone against the industry’s superhero and IP wave by becoming the movie star most invested in the adult drama, as evidenced by five of his six projects from 2020 and 2021. (Ironically, Zack Snyder’s Justice League somehow was the only one deemed Oscar-worthy.)
With the release of Deep Water—the erotic thriller that neither Affleck nor Ana de Armas will ever acknowledge the existence of—it’s the right time to go full accountant and crunch the numbers to rank every single Affleck performance. To be clear, this will be an examination of the actor’s performance, not the movies overall, which means Pearl Harbor—as a very, very hypothetical example—could be higher than expected! But most of all, assessing what Affleck has done with each of these performances should forever prove how baffling it is that this winner of Best Original Screenplay and Best Picture has never been nominated for an acting Oscar. Good hunting to us!