2. The Town (2010)
Starring Affleck himself, Oscar nominee Jeremy Renner, ‘Mad Men’ star Jon Hamm, and Rebecca Hall, the biggest quality of this particular Ben Affleck directed movie was, without a doubt, the exceptional performances of its cast.
Renner was particularly outstanding as a borderline unhinged yet very loyal member of Affleck’s small but trusted crew of bank robbers, but the true success of the film lied within Affleck’s further exploration of the morality of crime, a furthering of the themes explored in Gone Baby Gone. Here, Affleck’s Doug MacRay and Hamm’s Adam Frawley were on opposite sides of the law, but clearly written and presented as being incredibly similar. The story hinged on just how similar each of the characters were to one another, even down to their appearances, and remained adamant in ensuring that neither was completely vilified or celebrated; they were two sides of the same coin.
The Town is a very good watch for those who are appreciative of talented performers offering layered and interesting characters under the tutelage of a director with a point to prove and a growing self belief.
1. Argo (2012)
Ben Affleck won the BAFTA and the Golden Globe for his directorial work on this moving war drama/thriller, and with good reason. Argo was a movie that took the small town and district themes of his previous movies and placed them in an international context. The director’s lead character, again played by himself, worked to free American hostages from a crisis in Tehran, India, 1980, by posing as a Hollywood producer looking for a new location to film a science fiction movie.
Perhaps the most Hollywood of the entries on this list, not least for its rather supportive commentary on America’s attitude towards the war in the middle east throughout the 2000s and the film’s Hollywood as Saviour narrative, Argo is likely the easiest introduction anyone can have to Affleck’s directorial work courtesy of some interesting cameos and a screenplay that features a little more comic relief than those of his previous outings.
Ranking in number one for its contemporary contextualisation of this filmmaker’s ongoing themes, its massively positive critical response, its Best Picture win at the Oscars, and the fact that it put Affleck’s name on the map as a truly talented and respectable director, Argo is not only the most moving and entertaining of the director’s films but it also his career’s most important.
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Behind the camera, Ben Affleck has proven himself as a talented filmmaker capable of making audience-pleasing and character-driven films. This list of directed work is proof of that. But what do you think? Are Ben Affleck films for you? Let us know in the comments below, and be sure to follow @thefilmagazine on Facebook and Twitter for updates on more insightful movie lists.
Updated and altered 20th April 2023. Originally published 15th August 2018.