Awards analysis is provided by Sean from @MathTeacherMovies.
Ben Affleck does not have the typical “always a bridesmaid” Oscar story as he was clutching an Oscar with his best buddy Matt Damon when he was only 25 for Good Will Hunting. However, throughout his career he went from star, to joke, to artist, to an object of pity. Even though he is already called “Academy Award Winner Ben Affleck”, people want to see him win the most coveted type of Oscar, one that no one expects him to get: a performance Oscar.
After he put the Oscar on his mantle, Affleck went down a different path than Damon. Damon chose more artistic roles and Affleck went for the blockbusters. This pattern would change once and a while, such as Affleck’ turn in Hollywoodland and Damon’s Bourne movies, but Damon always seemed to earn more clout, including several nominations for his performances.
Affleck may have earned becoming a blockbuster joke, but he rose above that persona by directing Gone Baby Gone, The Town, and Argo for which he won his second Oscar for producing. These movies were massively successful. Some critics agree that Affleck was snubbed for best director for these films, to which Affleck has responded with self deprecation, joking about why he didn’t get an acting award.
Shortly after the release of these films, Affleck’s personal life began to take a tumble. Amidst the reports of his divorce, there were rumors that Affleck was struggling with alcohol abuse. The turmoil in his personal life was reflected in his career: he took the role of Batman in the latest slate of DC movies. The criticism Affleck received allegedly contributed to his addiction relapse. Yet, in his performance, he was beginning to show reflections of his personal life which was a vulnerability that began to turn to a new page as an actor, something he also did with his celebrity in Gone Girl around the same time. His addiction was one of the main reasons he stepped away from Batman.
Last year, he cleaned himself up and began to continue the new tradition of acting in movies whose characters mirrored his life by starring as an alcoholic basketball coach in The Way Back. This role earned him praise and some awards nominations, but not an Oscar nomination.
This brings us to this year. Ben Affleck is a beloved celebrity that everyone is rooting for to finally win a performance Oscar. Affleck has two chances of a performance Oscar this year with two roles that have garnered him a bit of attention. The first is The Last Duel where he plays an interesting, flamboyant character which seems to be influenced by the culture around his celebrity. You could tell that Affleck had fun with this performance. He also has a writing credit with this film which helps his chances for other nominations.
The other film this year is The Tender Bar which seems more like a crowd pleaser. This performance isn’t as risky, so Affleck has a higher chance of earning a nomination because this film is likely to be more popular and accessible than Duel. It could be the answer to all of his success this year, even if his nomination will not be for the right film.
It seems silly to be hoping that a blockbuster actor with two Oscars under his belt will win yet another Oscar, but you can’t help but root for Affleck. He only gets more and more talented and it would be great to see him finally get the respect his acting deserves with an Oscar for his performance.