Ben Affleck has been a very intriguing figure in American cinema for the past few decades. From struggling to find roles in the 90s to being the youngest winner of the Original Screenplay Oscar in 1997 for Good Will Hunting, and then finding his career go downhill during the 2000s with successive flops to not only revitalizing his acting career with Hollywoodland, Gone Girl and To the Wonder but evolving into an intelligent filmmaker with movies like The Town and Argo. In this article, we’ll be taking a look at his works as a filmmaker, considering how it has been his strong attribute for the past ten years.

Honorable Mention:

 I Killed My Lesbian Wife, Hung Her on a Meat Hook, and Now I Have a Three-Picture Deal at Disney (1993)

Let’s begin with his first tryst with filmmaking, an oddly titled short film. ‘I Killed My Lesbian Wife……’ was Ben Affleck’s directorial debut, and let’s just say, the less we talk about it, the better. Affleck himself disowned the movie in a 2010 interview, saying, “It’s horrible. It’s atrocious. I knew I wanted to be a director, and I did a couple of short films, and this is the only one that haunts me. I’m not proud of it. It looks like it was made by someone who has no prospects, no promise”. This isn’t one of those weird moments like when Hitchcock disowned Rope, despite the movie being outstanding. Affleck’s directorial debut is extremely edgy and corny, and though you might understand and also appreciate his intentions, the execution is loaded with shortcomings.

You can watch this Ben Affleck Short Here

Also Read: 10 Best Matt Damon Movies According to Rotten Tomatoes

5. Live By Night (2016)

Live By Night (2016) Ben Affleck

‘Live By Night’ turned out to be both a financial and artistic disaster. The movie’s biggest issue is that it doesn’t improve on the influences it derives from and finds it suitable to bind itself with the gangster-flick tropes. Affleck creates a style that’s appealing to modern audiences but, in the process, recovers the traditional narrative, ambiance, and themes from his earlier films. Live By Night is an adaptation of Dennis Lehane’s novel of the same name. Affleck’s adaptation of the author’s ‘Gone Baby Gone’ was a defining moment in his career. However, this gangster film couldn’t withhold the energy ‘Boardwalk Empire’ had successfully created at the start of the decade.

4. Gone Baby Gone (2007)

Gone Baby Gone

‘Gone Baby Gone’ was Ben Affleck’s first feature-length film as a director. It continues to be his most thought-provoking piece as it raises questions over the distinctions between morality and legality and whether a common ground exists. The screenplay in itself is not exceptional, and Casey Affleck appears to still be in the process of maturing as a lead. Still, Affleck’s unfaltering direction, Harry Williams’s score, and special performances from Amy Ryan and Ed Harris make sure the gravity of the subject matter truly sinks beneath your skin. Gone Baby Gone initiated Affleck’s desire to convey the story of suburban Boston and its people, a theme he extended with intricacy in ‘The Town.’

Related to Ben Affleck: Gone Girl (2014): Our Quiet Secret

3. Argo (2012)

Ben Affleck Argo

Argo’ is no stranger to being featured on the higher end of lists after winning the Best Picture Oscar at the 85th edition. With ‘Gone Baby Gone’s and ‘The Town’s acclaim, everyone had pinned many hopes on Affleck’s third film, adapted from Tony Mendez’s novel Master of Disguise. The film recreates the Iran Hostage Crisis during 1979 with attention to detail. Affleck’s decision not to extract high drama from a critical historical situation while maintaining tension and unnerving humor brings out his potential as a remarkable American filmmaker. Affleck entrusted himself to play the lead and rounded up 2012 perfectly as an actor with this and ‘To The Wonder.’

2. Air (2023)

Air 2023 by Ben Affleck

Ben Affleck’s latest feature as a director, Air, is an enjoyable triumph of sports filmmaking. Only, it takes a biographical approach instead of directly getting to the field. Based on the events leading up to the origin of the basketball shoe line Air Jordan and how marketing executive Sony Vaccaro convinced Michael Jordan to strike a business deal with him, the film takes a historical business story that deserves a stylish and macho period piece with all the budget and hype. However, Affleck’s treatment is that of a pleasing and heartfelt drama. Although it is cut from the same cloth as all those big-budget and star-driven American films being served for close to three decades tirelessly by the studios, the emotion is so authentic and the attempt so earnest that it is hard not to be moved by its large-scale filmmaking ‘gestures’ and fairly well-acted, if slight, drama.

There are portions in the film which are completely out of focus and a major stretch of the film is seen-it-all familiar. Nevertheless, it is anchored by the kind of directorial honesty that is difficult not to admire. The speech delivered to Michael Jordan by Sony Vaccaro is especially winsome. Also, watch out for the pre-credits information bulletin!

1. The Town (2010)

‘The Town’ is quite an achievement by any standard. It’d be a shame to term The Town a “thriller” because its intentions, which are perfectly communicated, innately associate themselves more with the criminals’ lives than their crimes. The film is clearly inspired by Michael Mann’s ‘Heat,’ but in the process, never loses the understanding of Mann’s approach in implementing style as a storytelling device.

Affleck’s dissection of suburban Boston could be considered a beautiful thematic sequel to Eastwood’s Mystic River and his debut, Gone Baby Gone. The camerawork by Elswit is dynamic, and the film’s heist sequences grant it a special status amidst crime flicks from this century. The whole cast punches way above their weight, and Affleck’s and Renner’s chemistry is firm like iron. Despite his recent shortcomings, The Town is a solid example that particularly highlights Affleck’s vision.

Ben Affleck Links: IMDb, Wikipedia
Collaborator: Shashwat Sisodiya

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