Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Ben Affleck's Finest Works

The Accountant is the number one film in America and its leading star, Ben Affleck, is a two-time Oscar winner (neither of which were for acting, oddly). Therefore, this month felt like as good a time as any to recognize the writer, director and actor's most notable career achievements (September's list). So here they are, the finest films either written by, directed by, or starring Ben Affleck:

Honorable Mention: Chasing Amy, Dazed and Confused and Mallrats.

#5. Gone Girl (2014)

David Fincher's no holds barred mystery-thriller, Gone Girl, also happens to be the only film in the top 5 in which Affleck's only connection is as an actor. Affleck stars as Nick Dunne, a disgruntled husband whose wife (Rosamund Pike) goes missing and all signs quickly point to him as the main suspect. There are twists, turns, gore, and so much more that help transform this brilliantly acted film into a thriller classic. And although Affleck's performance never quite resonated with the awards season voting bodies, co-star Rosamund Pike earned herself an Oscar Nomination.

#4. The Town (2010)

As Affleck's second directorial effort, The Town also represents the first time the actor starred in his own film. This gripping crime-drama follows Doug MacRay (Affleck) and his lifelong friends who execute masterfully crafted bank robberies. But when MacRay becomes too closely entangled with a witness (Rebecca Hall), it puts their entire operation in jeopardy. The Town was regrettably ignored as a Best Picture selection during the Oscar season, yet co-star Jeremy Renner managed to walk away with an Oscar Nomination for his fabulous role in Affleck's exceptional film.

#3. Argo (2012)

The top three selections on this list are so difficult for me to rank, but earning the bronze is Affleck's most accomplished work and most recent film, Argo. In a strange Oscar twist, Affleck failed to earn a Best Director Nomination despite his film earning the Best Picture crown (in which Affleck earned his second statue as a producer). This intense historical-drama centers around the CIA's covert extraction mission to rescue 6 Americans in a hostile Iran after their embassy was invaded by militants. The only minor flaw in the film is its middling character development. However, Argo's thrilling story, perfectly-timed humor and superb acting solidify Affleck's film as a worthy Best Picture winner.

#2. Gone Baby Gone (2007)

Affleck's phenomenal directorial debut, Gone Baby Gone, also stands as the only film on the list in which he wasn't an actor. This vastly under-seen and roller-coaster ride of a mystery-drama demonstrates just how impressive of a filmmaker Affleck truly is. His brother, Casey Affleck, stars as a private investigator who's brought int o investigate the disappearance of a little girl, but the truth proves to be more than he ever bargained for. The film's elements of mystery are masterful and Casey Affleck's performance is something to be treasured. Gone Baby Gone transports you inside of a deeply controversial story that will leave you discussing the finale long after its credits roll. I recognize this film wasn't quite the Oscar juggernaut that Argo was, but's it's an absolute must-see film that deserves to be savored.

#1. Good Will Hunting (1997)

As I mentioned before, my top three picks were insanely difficult to rank. Yet, I'm going with the classic, Good Will Hunting, as my choice for Affleck's best career work. Co-writer and leading star Matt Damon plays Will, a remarkably intelligent janitor who was raised through the state's foster care system. After landing in a bit of trouble with the law, Will is required to meet with a psychiatrist (Robin Williams) in exchange for an early release into the custody of a Mathematician who hopes to groom him. Damon and Robin Williams give career-defining performances in this beautifully complex story of overcoming your past and facing your demons. Good Will Hunting not only landed the late-great Robin Williams in Oscar immortality with a win, it also handed Damon and Affleck Oscar statues of their own (Best Screenplay). Clearly, Affleck is an immensely talented individual both on the screen and behind the camera. Here's to many more magnificent films!

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