Monday, February 25, 2013

Dear Ben Affleck (again)....

In an effort to catch up on Oscar movies before the big show, I watched ARGO on Friday night. After which I engaged in a twenty minute fantasy, that somehow you and your wife and kids ended up at my house for dinner. It was awkward at first, Adam burned the steaks, I spilled wine all over your kids - but then because in this fantasy you are so normal so like us but with more money and an extra kid - we became fast friends. You invited the Damon's over and we all played Trivia Pursuit. It was a good fantasy - I might have even acted some of it out.

I am not even embarrassed about this. I'm not.

I wish I could say it was all ARGO's fault. ARGO is a great movie, you managed to go from small scale picture, to big scale picture without missing a beat. It was deft and nuanced. You made cohesive, tension-mounting plot points out of small moments, tiny details. You didn't spoon feed us, or pander. I really liked it. The world-building and your commitment to it, just like those movies set in Boston - it's fantastic. And your casting was perfection. As the captain of the ARGO ship - you absolutely nailed it.

And you! In the last letter I wrote, I gave you such a hard time for casting yourself as the lead in your own movie. Because you were the weakest link in The Town. But in ARGO, you seem to have found your niche - very few lines. In the vein of Bruce Willis, you shouldn't talk too much. You managed to be more real, the less you said. The scene at the end, when your character asked his wife if he could come in - I believed it. It was the same sort of moment you perfected in Good Will Hunting, when Will wasn't at his house, and you knew what that meant.

That said - stop casting yourself. Really. You are Ben Affleck and you just aren't good enough to make people forget that you are Ben Affleck. There aren't many actors who can - in fact the few that exist were all nominated last night. You weren't. And I think the fact that you weren't nominated for Best Director, is probably because you cast yourself in that role. You manage to get amazing actors to support yourself with - actors I imagine who don't need a lot of help from you in terms of character choices or motivations. I want to see how you do with someone like you - but not you.

The reason why I unabashedly have the friendship fantasy was brought home last night during your acceptance speech. While so many others are emotionless robots, or incredibly smooth and gracious practiced winners - you were so real. You were red-faced and emotional. You made bad jokes and might have offended your wife - though I doubt it. You revealed a little too much, swerved off topic and managed to be so totally real, through out it all.

The Oscar show was a poorly directed, weird hodge-podge last night and we almost gave up to watch the Saturday Night Live we had taped - but I'm glad we didn't. You were worth it, Ben. You've been worth it all along.


PS Your wife's dress was one of my favorites.

15 comments:

Amy Valentini said...

Good letter, Molly!
I didn't watch the Oscars - just don't have enough time in my life to waste it that way but I did tune it for the last twenty minutes. As you said, it was worth it to see ARGO win and hear Ben blather. He was so honestly emotional that I had to wipe away a tear. Didn't see Jennifer's dress, I'll have to look it up. She always looks beautiful. : )

Kathleen O said...

Molly, I love your letter to Ben.. I thought his acceptance speech was good. Althought I would have liked to see him and George shave off the beards... I am not liking them with all that facial hair...I didn't see ARGO, but I was sure Lincoln was going to win. I thought Seth did better than some who have hosted. And as for the dresses, Jennifer Lawrence and Amanda Siegfried were my favs. You can't go wrong in Dior...

Molly O'Keefe said...

Amy - I loved her dress - let me know what you think. And the show was so badly done - not Seth's fault - he had some funny bits, but it was uneven and scattered.

Kathleen - I know - so much facial hair these days! I didn't see Lincoln, but I thought Speilberg was the shoe in for director. Amanda Siegfried's dress was stunning. I'm not totally sold on Jennifer Lawrence's.

Eileen said...

I think the fact that Jennifer Lawrence couldn't make it up the stairs in that dress might be a strike against it. Of course, it's not all bad when Hugh Jackman swoops in to help you, now is it?

Affleck's speech was really sweet. I'm not sure I totally agree with you about not casting himself. It might be part of what gets a movie made. I think most of the advance press for Argo was about his beard and hair!

Sinead M said...

You know, I liked the Oscars, liked the Host, going out on a limb to say, did not like Garner's dress. I saw Argo on Friday and really enjoyed it, but it wasn't the best movie of the year for me.

That was Zero Dark Thirty, but I do agree that Ben needs to stop casting himself... and really focus on directing..

I want to have dinner with Hugh Jackman and Kathryn Bigelow...

Stephanie Doyle said...

Just saw Argo on Saturday. I really loved it. But I'm going to go with Sinead and say ZDT was probably my favorite. But I loved ARGO way more than I thought I would. And I loved Arkin.

Ben's speech was by far the best of the night. And while I loved the color of Jen's dress - wasn't thrilled with the back.

For me Charlize Theron wins... and George Clooney's girlfriend... and Jessica Chastain... fabulous.

And I would like to hang out with the Jackmans. I bet they are a fun couple.

Eileen said...

I'm worried that it would get annoying that Hugh is so good at absolutely everything.

Stephanie Doyle said...

True.... I mean Jennifer Lawrence plants it on the steps... who's there? Hugh.

Singer, dancer, actor, hot AND... he likes to rescue women.

Eileen said...

I bet he's really good at Jenga, too.

Maureen McGowan said...

I still haven't watched the oscars. No spoilers. Watching tonight

Eileen said...

Good luck with that, Maureen. You'll have to eschew all media for the day.

Stephanie Doyle said...

I'm calling a violoation on Maureen. The Monday after the Oscar's is like a sacred event.

One must be able to talk about speeches, dresses and the host.

Watching a day later? Yup. Total Oscar Monday violation.

Besides if you do that tonight you'll miss fantasy date night on the Bachelor.

Debra said...

Works for me. I haven't seen the movie yet but I agree anyway.

And Jennifer might not take offense to his comment "It's work but the good kind" but I did. TMI, sir.

Deb

You're welcome--from Canada said...

Too bad ARGO was touted as being a true story when it was arrogantly stolen from the Canadian heroes. Only Americans take credit when it is not even close to being due.

Maureen McGowan said...

I agree, You're Welcome from Canada...

Strange thing is that Affleck was touting the film as his "love letter to Canada" when he showed it here in Toronto at the film festival this fall...

When I saw Argo, I loved it except that the movie made me feel like I'd been duped back in the day... At the time, I'd felt so proud of our country, and Argo made it seem like the Canadians were just pretending to have helped to fool the Iranians...

But since then I have read several articles, including ones by the rescued hostages who all say that it was largely a Canadian effort to get them out and the only thing the CIA did was provide them with the movie cover story. I think the hostages barely met Mendez. The Canadian government had already issued the hostages passports, drivers' licenses, provided fake receipts for restaurants etc. from Canadian cities -- given them TONS of things to prove they were Canadians in Iran on business... And given them cover stories which ranged from being teachers, or engineers or other things the Canadians might legitimately have been doing in Iran at the time... Then the CIA got involved, made up this fun fake story about a movie crew...

Which I guess makes for a better film, now. But too bad the film downplayed what Canada did for those hostages... Not to mention the HUGE risk all the Canadian diplomats took by hiding the "Houseguests" for so long. And supposedly all that drama and interviews at the airport (in Argo) was fabricated. The hostages basically got out easily once all the paperwork faking their identities as Canadians was in place.

But, storytelling trumps truth.

Alas, now most people will think that's what really happened, and the mission which was for decades known as "The Canadian Caper" will forgotten and overwritten by "The Argo Thing."

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