I feel that even though I'm happy that Ben Affleck is getting great reviews for directing Gone Baby Gone, I feel there's a negative side to this in that the backlash from Gigli, Jersey Girl and Pearl Harbor have cornered him so that doing an art picture sparingly like Hollywoodland and getting behind the camera are the only options for him. Affleck is a very self-deprecating and eternally affable character, and the public has no real reason to dislike him, but to keep moving forward, Affleck is going to naturally say "Oh, I'm getting tired of starring in action movies, you guys were right and I was wrong. I want to only do meaningful art films and direct" when what he really means is "I've concluded (or rather Hollywood has concluded for him) that being at the helm of a film with any sizable budget is too risky for me careerwise so I'm only going to take small roles in pictures like Hollywoodland and direct. That way if the film bombs, it's a) not my responsibility since I'm not the star and b) probably no big deal because you guys will have never heard of it."
In other words: What Affleck is projecting to us as taking bold risks by taking a supporting role in Hollywoodland and directing, is really playing it safe and cowardly. If Affleck really wanted to be brave, he wouldn't cater to a wishy-washy American public. He'd stand up and say "Yeah, that's right, I made Pearl Harbor, Armegeddon, and Daredevil, they were kickass films, and I'm proud of them," so as not to hurt their DVD marketability. He'd continue to take leading roles as he saw fit and he'd take another superhero role and make it work, American moviegoers be damned!
Being nominated for his second Oscar with Gone Baby Gone is a copout. If Affleck wanted to be brave, he'd take Daredevil 2 into an Oscar winning performance.
Meanwhile, I can't help but notice that Matt Damon is being proclaimed the most popular star by Entertainment Weekly Magazine, the sexiest person on Earth by People Magazine, and the most bankable star by Forbes Magazine in a year where he did VIRTUALLY NOTHING AT ALL.
A short review: Matt Damon did two sequels, one of which he was merely one part of a 14-person ensemble and one one which he carried to a respectable $200 million threshold. Bourne Ultimatum was only the 6th highest grossing film of the summer. His last film that he actually starred in Good Shephard (in 2006, not 2007) got a couple decent reviews but completely wilted at the box office.
Why didn't you reward Matt Damon in the year where he did Syriana or even Good Shephard. Those were films that weren't sequels and actually required some original thought. All Matt Damon had to do in 2007 was pal around with Clooney, Pitt, and Cheadle on screen in one film, and look serious and shoot guns in the other.
I've previously written on Ben in: http://sophomorecritic.blogspot.com/2007/10/i-liked-daredevil-goddamnit.html
I've previously written on Matt in http://sophomorecritic.blogspot.com/2007/08/overgeneralizing-on-matt-damon-and-box.html