Would you choose Ben Affleck as entertainer of the year?
Well, wouldja? Entertainment Weekly did. The magazine tapped the Oscar-winning screenwriter of Good Will Hunting, star of Chasing Amy, and director of Argo as its entertainer of the year and who’s to argue? [Maybe David Thomson, who in 2002 roundly dismissed Affleck as “boring, complacent and criminally lucky to have got away with everything so far.” But that was then. Argo is now.]
The stranger-than-fiction saga of Tony Mendez (Affleck), the real-life CIA “exfiltrator” who spirited six U.S. State Department employees out of Iran in 1980 during the hostage crisis, Argo is Affleck’s directorial three-peat. First was the well-received missing-child melodrama Gone, Baby, Gone. Next was the bank-robber thriller, The Town. The streaky actor so memorable in Kevin Smith’s microbudget Chasing Amy and so forgettable in big-budget behemoths like Armageddon and Pearl Harbor has finally right-sized his career, proving himself a sympathetic director of actors and deft choreographer of movie action. Argo is almost certainly a lock for best picture, director and supporting actor Oscar nominations (with Alan Arkin as the supporting nom).
Although Affleck was widely considered the lightweight of the Good Will Hunting duo (Matt Damon being the heavyweight), I never thought he was a bad actor, just an uneven one who made some regrettable choices. When he doesn’t connect with the script (see: Pearl Harbor, Reindeer Games, Armageddon) he looks bored. When he does connect, he delivers low-key nuance (see: Chasing Amy, Changing Lanes, Forces of Nature and Bounce.) While I have nothing nice to say about Gigli, I thought him quite good in Jersey Girl, especially in the scenes with George Carlin as his character’s father.
Every Oscar winner needs a good story. Affleck has a peach: The promising newcomer widely perceived as killing his career and then resurrecting it after everyone wrote him off.
My favorite Affleck performance? Chasing Amy, where he’s funny and emotionally naked. Favorite Affleck-directed film: Argo. Your favorite Affleck film as an actor? Director?