Nowadays, Ben Affleck ranks among the best actors and filmmakers in the industry, but his road to success has been packed with both blockbusters and flops. His career traces back to his childhood, to 1984, when he made his acting debut in the educational series The Voyage of the Mimi, and from there he went on to star in hit films throughout the 1990s. Of course, his best project of that time would arrive near the end of the decade: in 1997, Affleck co-wrote with his friend Matt Damon the screenplay for Good Will Hunting, in which they were also part of the cast. Both Affleck and Damon ultimately won a Golden Globe and Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay for this film.
Following a hugely successful decade, Affleck established himself as a leading man, appearing in a large number of productions. However, by 2003, his career took a downturn when a string of films were poorly reviewed by critics and audiences, among them Daredevil and Gigli, though he believes that the latter’s failure was actually a blessing in disguise, as it sparked his interest in directing and effectively launched his career as a filmmaker. In this new role, Affleck directed hits like Gone Baby Gone and Argo. Despite that minor rough patch, there are still many of the actor’s 2000s films that are worth adding to your watchlist. This article will go over some of the best ones.
8 Pearl Harbor
In 2001, Michael Bay took the lead in Pearl Harbor, a dramatic film starring Affleck, Kate Beckinsale, Josh Hartnett, and Cuba Gooding Jr. among other actors. This production dramatizes the 1941 Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor and a pre-strike love story. Affleck and Hartnett star as Rafe McCawley and Danny Walker, respectively, two pilots and lifelong friends who become involved in a love triangle with Evelyn (Beckinsale), a U.S. Navy nurse. Although not very well received by critics, Pearl Harbor managed to garner several nominations, and it even won an Academy Award for Best Sound Editing. That said, it was also nominated for six Golden Raspberry Awards, including Worst Picture, becoming, as outlined by EW, the first Worst Picture nominee to win an Academy Award.
7 He’s Just Not That Into You
He’s Just Not That Into You is a 2009 romantic comedy that features several love stories exploring the complex rules of dating and relationships. Directed by Ken Kwapis and inspired by the self-help book of the same name by Greg Behrendt and Liz Tuccillo, the movie follows Gigi (Ginnifer Goodwin), a woman who often misreads the messages of her love interests, and also serves as the common thread between the other characters and their stories. Joining Goodwin in the cast are Affleck, Jennifer Aniston, Drew Barrymore, Jennifer Connelly, Kevin Connolly, Bradley Cooper, and Scarlett Johansson, among others. In this film, Affleck is Neil, a man who has been living with his girlfriend Beth (Aniston) for seven years, but holds heavy opposition to marriage.
6 The Sum of All Fears
Morgan Freeman and Affleck star in The Sum of All Fears, a 2002 spy thriller film that serves as a prequel to the Jack Ryan franchise. Directed by Phil Alden Robinson and based on the novel by Tom Clancy, the film features young Jack Ryan (Affleck), an analyst who is recruited by CIA director William Cabot (Freeman) following the death of the President of the Russian Federation and his replacement by someone the CIA is worried about. Moreover, Ryan discovers that a neo-Nazi terrorist organization is trying to spark a war between the United States and Russia, so he must come up with a solution to the conflict before it’s too late.
The puzzling circumstances of George Reeves’ death in 1959 became one of Hollywood’s greatest mysteries. Inspired by this case, Allen Coulter directed the 2006 film Hollywoodland, starring Affleck, Adrien Brody, and Diane Lane. In the movie, Affleck is Reeves, the star of Superman and the Mole Men and Adventures of Superman, who was found dead inside his Beverly Hills home with a gunshot wound to the head from an alleged suicide. However, the pieces don’t seem to fit, and private detective Louis Simo (Brody) sets out to unravel this mystery, starting by investigating the actor’s latest love interests, Toni Mannix (Lane), wife of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer’s general manager, and aspiring actress Leonore Lemmon (Robin Tunney).
4 Boiler Room
Who wouldn’t be tempted to make their first million dollars in almost no time? This is what draws workers to the firm J.T. Marlin, and particularly Boiler Room‘s main character, Seth Davis (Giovanni Ribisi), a high school dropout who runs an illegal casino out of his home. When he starts working at the firm, he looks up to his fellow employees in awe, all of them ambitious young men trying to sell investments over the phone for exorbitant commissions at any cost. Of course, this daydream opportunity may not be all it’s cracked up to be. This 2000 crime drama is written and directed by Ben Younger, inspired by the director’s personal experience interviewing for a job at a brokerage firm. In addition to Ribisi, the cast features Vin Diesel, Nia Long, Nicky Katt, and Affleck among others. In the film, Affleck is Jim Young, one of the co-founders of the firm.
3 Changing Lanes
Affleck and Samuel L. Jackson are Gavin Banek and Doyle Gipson in the 2002 dramatic thriller Changing Lanes. Banek is a successful lawyer working on a high-profile case, and Gipson an insurance salesman recovering from an alcohol addiction. As fate would have it, they both cross paths in a car accident, during a day when neither has time to waste: the lawyer is heading to court, and the salesman to the courthouse, in order to appeal for joint custody of his children. As Banek drives away, he makes two mistakes: upsetting Gipson by not driving him, and leaving behind a document that is crucial to his case. From then on, both of them engage in a never-ending battle to take revenge on each other, resorting to the most immoral actions imaginable.
2 Daddy and Them
Daddy and Them is a 2001 film directed, written by, and starring Billy Bob Thornton alongside Laura Dern, Andy Griffith, Kelly Preston, Jamie Lee Curtis, and Affleck, among others. This comedy-drama focuses on the Montgomerys, a very eccentric family from Arkansas who, upon discovering that a relative has been imprisoned and accused of murder, decides to embark on a road trip to Alabama, in the company of other family members. In this film, Affleck is Lawrence Bowen, a lawyer who runs a firm with his wife, Elaine Bowen (Curtis). Although this film got very good reviews upon its release, it was not in theaters for long as Miramax, the distributor, didn’t consider it marketable enough.
1 State of Play
State of Play is a 2009 political thriller that tops this ranking as Affleck’s best movie of the 2000s. Starring him alongside Russell Crowe, Rachel McAdams, Helen Mirren, and Jason Bateman, the film is inspired by the British TV series of the same name and features Cal McAffrey (Crowe), a journalist who is investigating, along with one of his partners, the suspicious death of Congressman Stephen Collins’ (Affleck) assistant and mistress. But as his investigation unfolds, Cal uncovers a vast political conspiracy that shows that nothing is off-limits when it comes to fighting for power. State of Play was well-received by both critics and audiences, garnering a score of 84% on Rotten Tomatoes.