When It Comes to Acting, Ben Affleck Gets No Respect

Ben Affleck at the 16th Annual Hollywood Film Awards Gala on Oct. 22, 2012.
Ben Affleck at the 16th Annual Hollywood Film Awards Gala on Oct. 22, 2012. –Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP

The nominations for the 72nd Golden Globes Awards were announced on Thursday, and Ben Affleck’s name was nowhere to be found.

The former Cambridge resident was hailed by critics earlier this year for his leading role in “Gone Girl,’’ yet was denied a nomination for Best Actor in a Motion Picture, Drama. The film was chosen in a slew of other categories, including Best Actress in a Motion Picture, Drama for co-star Rosamund Pike and Best Director, Motion Picture for David Fincher.

The snub shouldn’t come as a surprise. Affleck hasn’t received a lot of love over the years for his prowess as an actor.

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While he’s taken home Oscars and other major accolades as a director and filmmaker, Affleck has received few nominations for his work as a thespian. He’s never been nominated by the Academy Awards as an actor and was only picked once by the Golden Globes for his on-screen work: a nod for Best Supporting Actor in 2006 for “Hollywoodland.’’

Considering the big roles he’s played in films like “Argo’’ and “The Town,’’ it’s peculiar that Affleck keeps getting passed over for high-profile acting awards. Why doesn’t Affleck get any respect?

Ben Affleck was notably absent from this year’s Golden Globe Awards nominees, despite his critically-acclaimed performance in director David Fincher’s “Gone Girl.’’ —Merrick Morton/20th Century Fox/AP

Affleck is not a bad actor — far from it, actually. But when you take a look at Affleck’s acting resume, it’s only recently that he consistently appeared in films that were both blockbuster successes and critical hits.

Other than “Good Will Hunting,’’ the former Massachusetts resident’s early career was filled with roles that varied quite a bit in quality. Sure, films like “Armageddon’’ and “The Sum of All Fears’’ were huge box office draws, but their mass appeal didn’t translate into high praise from reviewers.

Amid a few bright spots like 2002’s “Changing Lanes’’ and 2006’s “Hollywoodland,’’ Affleck has been featured in plenty of stinkers. 2003 may have been the actor’s worst overall year, as he starred in a trio of duds that still bring up bad memories for viewers and critics alike.

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That year, Affleck took home a Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Actor for his first turn as a superhero in “Daredevil,’’ as well as for his roles in the critically panned “Paycheck’’ and the infamously horrible rom-com “Gigli.’’ He was also nominated in the category in 2001 and 2004.

It really wasn’t until 2010’s “The Town,’’ which he both starred in and directed, that Affleck started to make it into the good graces of critics as a leading man.

Since the release of the Boston-based film, the actor has capitalized on his recent good fortune with massive follow-up hits in “Argo,’’ which he also starred in and directed, as well as this year’s “Gone Girl.’’ While he’s currently riding a wave of good vibes due to these successes, critics have mainly focused on his skills behind the camera, rather than in front of it.

Director of photography Rodrigo Prieto and director Ben Affleck on the set of “Argo.’’ —Claire Folger/Warner Brothers Pictures

He won his second Oscar in 2012 for Best Picture with “Argo.’’ (His first was for Best Original Screenplay for “Good Will Hunting.’’) The film also earned him two Golden Globe Awards that year, including Best Director and Best Motion Picture – Drama. But he received no acting nominations.

While you can place some of the blame on the fact that critics may still be trying to get over some of his lesser titles, another reason may be the fact that his best films also include highly talented and star-studded supporting casts. With so many good actors surrounding him, Affleck’s best performances are often outshined.

Take “The Town,’’ for example. As a person who hails from the Boston area, this should’ve been an easy film for Affleck to really showcase his skills. However, it was Jeremy Renner who received the most praise as an actor in the movie, which earned him both Golden Globe Award and Academy Award nominations for Best Supporting Actor.

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“Argo’’ was another film that, despite Affleck getting top billing, his co-stars were the ones who received the most praise from critics. Alan Arkin earned Best Supporting Actor nominations from the Academy Awards and Golden Globe Awards.

And those performances have something Affleck’s do not: range. Affleck’s been in countless political thrillers, crime dramas, and even his fair share of comedies, but in many of his films, he just comes across as Ben Affleck, or rather, a version of Ben Affleck, just with a different name and backstory. We don’t know how he’d do if he played against type because he never really does.

Affleck should take a cue from his buddy Matt Damon, who’s been in every kind of movie under the sun, from animes and kids movies to westerns and space epics. Sure, he has as many acting Oscars as Affleck does (zero) but, unlike Affleck, he has been nominated for them — twice.

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