Ben Affleck: An Appreciation

You could argue that the first phase of Ben Affleck’s career ran through the end of 2004, which saw the release of two very terrible films, Jersey Girl and Surviving Christmas.  Audiences had started to grow weary of him the year before in 2003.  Although Mark Steven Johnson’s Daredevil was surprisingly good (the director’s cut is an even stronger film that hasn’t been seen enough), the release of the very awful Gigli that summer would mark a steep decline for him, which was furthered by the John Woo action misfire Paycheck at the end of the year.  He would take a break in 2005, a year which saw him get married to Jennifer Garner, and apparently he also took some time to rethink his career.

The second phase of Ben Affleck’s career started in 2006 with his appearance as George Reeves (the man who played Superman in TV’s The Adventures of Superman in the 1950s) in the underrated Allen Coulter film Hollywoodland.  The following year saw the release of his critically-acclaimed directorial debut Gone Baby Gone, which starred his younger brother Casey and brought Amy Ryan a Best Supporting Actress Oscar nomination.  2009 brought roles in the crappy ensemble film He’s Just Not That Into You, the excellent Kevin Macdonald film State of Play, and Mike Judge’s underrated Extract.  2010 brought the outstanding but underseen ensemble film The Company Men and his second directorial effort, the critically-acclaimed The Town, which he also starred and brought co-star Jeremy Renner a Best Supporting Actor Oscar nomination.

2012 would bring two more films: the newest Terrence Malick film To the Wonder, which premiered to mixed reactions at the Toronto Film Festival, and his third critically-acclaimed directorial outing Argo, which he also stars in.  The film is based on the Wired article “How the CIA Used a Fake Sci-Fi Trick To Rescue Americans from Tehran” by Joshuah Bearman.  Affleck portrays Tony Mendez, a CIA specialist who, following the sacking of the U.S. embassy in Iran in 1979, comes up with a plan to rescue the six American hostages who are hiding out at the home of the Canadian ambassador.  The plan involves shooting a fake science fiction film in Iran as a cover for the rescue of the American hostages.  The ensemble cast includes Affleck, Alan Arkin, Bryan Cranston, John Goodman, Kyle Chandler, Clea DuVall, Taylor Schilling, and Victor Garber.  Reviews for Argo have been mostly excellent, and it looks like a sure Oscar contender.  You can definitely count me among those who are looking forward to its release tomorrow.

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