Are Ben Affleck, Matthew McConaughey, and Bradley Cooper Stuck in a Rut?


Ben Affleck and Matthew McConaughey have more similarities than you might think. They both started off as promising up-and-coming actors (whose first big movie was, coincidentally enough, Dazed and Confused) but, by the end of the 90’s, it was clear that their film choices weren’t the best. This continued in the 2000’s as they kept going from stinker to stinker. However, they both had a career resurgence in the early 2010’s, even garnering some Oscar nominations. Yet recently they seem to have fallen back on old habits, as most of the movies they made in 2016 didn’t get good reviews. This begs the question, are their careers stuck in a rut?

For Ben, it’s a bit of a special case, in that his film choices didn’t really change. In between Argo, The Town, and Gone Girl, he still made films like To the Wonder and Runner Runner. It’s just that these movies were more successful critically and financially while movies like that came and went so it was easier to ignore them and focus on Affleck’s successes at the time. However, the last good movie he was in was Gone Girl, which is 2 1/2 years old. Since then, he’s appeared in stinkers like Batman v. Superman, Suicide Squad, and The Accountant. He was also in Live by Night which, personally, I thought was okay but it did get negative reviews and has been bombing at the box office.

Matthew, from 2011-2013, was more consistent, as The Lincoln Lawyer, Bernie, Magic Mike, Killer Joe, Mud, Dallas Buyers Club, and The Wolf of Wall Street all got good reviews and most of them were at least somewhat successful at the box office. Not only that but he was also in HBO’s True Detective, which also garnered critical acclaim. Then he was in Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar, which was a bit divisive among critics and audiences but it was still a box office hit. It got a bit worse when, for some reason, he started doing bizarre Lincoln Commercials.

This year, his career has taken even more of a nosedive, as the only two movies he starred in were flops. Free State of Jones was a critical and commercial flop and The Sea of Trees not only garnered negative reviews but it made only $20,000 dollars at the box office. Gold does not look promising.  It’s hard to tell whether or not it’ll be a box office success but the early reviews haven’t been so kind.

However, it hasn’t been all doom and gloom for McConaughey’s career in 2016. He was in Kubo and The Two Strings, which got great reviews (though bombed at the box office) and he was in Sing, which got mixed to positive reviews and is a box office hit. Yet, at the end of the day, those movies aren’t really going to do that much for his career because animated movies rarely affect the career of an A-list actor like McConaughey.

So are Ben and Matthew in a rut? Well, considering their last successful movie is only a couple of years old it’s hard to tell yet but, if their careers continue their current directions, then things don’t look good for them. For their sake, hopefully they’ll be in a movie that will change things around but, right now, it seems like the 2010-2014 resurgence both actors had is over.

Another actor whose career was at its highest peak in the early 2010’s is Bradley Cooper. Following The Hangover and it’s sequels, Hollywood’s attempt at making him a movie star (Limitless, The Words) didn’t really go anywhere until he starred in Silver Linings Playbook, which garnered critical acclaim and got him nominated for an Oscar, a Golden Globe, and a multitude of other awards. He then followed it up in 2013 with The Place Beyond the Pines, which was critically acclaimed, and American Hustle, which was both critically acclaimed and got him his second Oscar and Golden Globe nomination. Then he followed that up with Guardians of the Galaxy, another successful entry in the MCU.

He then did American Sniper, which was a little divisive. While he got praised for his performance, and it gave him another Oscar Nomination, some felt that the movie was Islamophobic, which made it rather controversial. Yet, despite the controversy, it got mostly positive reviews from critics, even if audiences were split on it.

But that’s more than can be said for his next movie, Aloha. That movie was a critical and box office disaster. Not only that but it was also convicted of being racist, this time because Emma Stone played an Asian girl.

He had two other movies that year, though. First, there was Burnt, which came and went. However, Joy could’ve turned things around for him. After all, he was reuniting with David O. Russell, Jennifer Lawrence, and Robert DeNiro, who he worked on Silver Linings Playbook and American Hustle with. Unfortunately, the movie ended up getting mixed reviews and it was a box office disappointment.

Now it seems like Bradley’s either been taking a break from starring in movies or these past few bombs have effected his career. He only had a supporting role in War Dogs, which came out last year, and the next movie he’s slated to have a starring role in, a remake of A Star is Born, is coming out in 2018, which’ll be 3 years after his last attempt at being the star of the movie, Burnt.

Yet, he does have the MCU to fall back on, as he’s reprising his role as Rocket Raccoon in the Guardians of the Galaxy sequel and Avengers: Infinity War.

So is his career in a rut? Well, it seems like Aloha, Burnt, and Joy have decreased his star power a bit. They haven’t completely killed his career, as he’s still able to rely on the MCU and nab a supporting role here or there but it’s a bit different from before, when he was in movies that garnered him Oscar noms. But, and maybe I’m just being optimistic here, hopefully something comes around that’ll revitalize his career. In the meantime, though, he can always play Rocket Raccoon.


Posted on January 31, 2017, in Movies and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 9 Comments.

  1. Interesting look at the state of the careers of these three actors (yeah, those McConaughey Lincoln commercials kind of make me shrug; I like him better as Lincoln Lawyer, or maybe a Lincoln log or Navigator); we’ll have to stay tuned to see if things change. I will say that “Joy” probably wasn’t as big of a hit because unless one shops on HSN often, they might not be too aware of Joy Mangano (though I’ve really enjoyed her Comfort & Joy Universal Pillow).


  2. Affleck has shown himself to be a very good director but Live by Night (or whatever it’s called) was terrible. He is a very mediocre actor however. And it seems like he only directs movies now to cast himself in leading roles. He kind of is the opposite of the old saw “what I really want to do is direct..”. He really just wants to be a Great Actor and he simply doesn’t have the chops. Would be interesting to see if he does continue to direct, he could – like with Gone Baby – cast his brother Casey in the lead. Casey’s a much better actor.

    I saw Gold and liked it though it wasn’t a movie I’d watch over again. McConaughey can be a great actor but his performance in Gold was like being pounded over the head with a blunt instrument. He spoke in dozens of interviews about how the character was based on his father. Now for somebody pushing 50, McConaughey appears to have an almost unhealthy attachment to his late father and to his mother (who honestly appears to be a whackjob). McConaughey may have adored his father, but Kenny Wells is frankly a repulsive man, impossible to like. I imagine McConaughey’s father was the same. Maybe instead of making this movie, McConaughey should have gone to psychotherapy to work out his obvious issues with his parents.

    I like Bradley Cooper, but he isn’t an actor who gives exciting performances. He never goes outside his comfort zone. He seems to be a classic leading man who desperately wants to be a character lead, but simply – once again like with Affleck – doesn’t have the chops.


  3. matthew mcconaughey seems to gone indie route. I do not think he cares about being draw anymore. I always found him to be flat actor. Affleck amazing director but no depth as actor honestly I think he excels better in supporting roles where stronger actors carry him. copper is a strong actor has proven he is more then a heartthrob. he has range . I think ben career is similar to Costner. an article I read even called Affleck Costner of 2000s .both where heartthrob who critics dubbed wooden actors. both where wominzers during the day both of their career derailed due to iconic flops Affleck gigli was Costner postman . those actors even directed best picture. only difference Affleck was able to regain his box office draw while Costner seems to have settled nicely into supporting roles in hits like hidden figures and man of steel


  4. Agree totally that Affleck is a better director than actor. I’ve never really warmed up to him as a leading man. Further agree that brother Casey is a more natural presence on screen, for whatever reason.
    McConaghey is something special, he has been so successful I almost feel he’s in that phase of being able to pick whatever project he likes, doesn’t matter if it bombs, Hollywood ain’t gonna stop knocking on his door anytime soon.
    B Coop, now I had never been a fan of his seemingly one-note style, (with basically one facial expression) until I saw Silver Linings Playbook and was completely won over. I totally underestimated him. He’s also younger, isn’t he? Maybe 40? He may have an off year or two, but there is no way he won’t be back in something Oscar, if not this year then next.
    Well, thanks for brightening up a work day, I mean, my lunch break! I dropped by looking for Oscar related conversation and knew there’d be something!


  5. I dnot know if ben will ever receive an acting Oscar nom.with exception of hollywoodland I cant name a movie where he deserve Oscar nom good will hunting he was good not great . I do see more directing oms in his future. I think his directing movies are better left to better acotrs. gone baby gone amazing movie town and argo not so much



    Matthew McConaughey’s Post-Oscar Slump

    It’s funny- both he and Ben Affleck were probably the best comeback stories of this decade. Both won Oscars in recent years (Argo got Best Picture, Matthew got Best Actor for Dallas Buyer’s Club), and now things are kind of uncertain for both of them as we’re now in the late part of the 2010’s. Although I think Ben Affleck’s personal life is spilling into his work, while Matthew just hit a string of bad luck. Ben really, really needs Justice League to work out. I think he’s out of the DCEU if that gets critically panned like B.v.S.

    They both had slow, deliberate climbs back so hopefully they can do it again.

    Also, the news of Anna Faris and Chris Pratt breaking up…yeah, I figured Chris suddenly turning into a super-star when they were both B-list tv/movie actors has to put a strain on a relationship.

    TUESDAY 09:15 AM

    With Matthew, he has always been a good actor, he just really need guidance in picking good movies. Dallas Buyer’s Club, True Detective, and Lincoln Lawyer were all good movies with really fine performances. Interstellar was ok at best, but everything else he has done lately is just as mediocre as what he was doing before the Oscar. He seems to do ok when he does the “smaller” projects like Dallas or Mud, but unless they get award attention nobody even sees these movies.

    Maybe he needs to change management or a new agency.

    I like Ben Affleck as an actor but he is one for me that really only makes an impression in the “right” role. Movies like The Town, or say The Accountant and even Batman he does really well. I have a feeling his involvement with “The Batman” will fall apart any moment, or if he does star in the solo movie it will be a one and done. I do think Affleck really shines as a Director but find that he has been overhyped after the Oscar win.

    TUESDAY 09:54 PM

    Matthew will be fine. He’s in a low period right now, but he’s been doing a varied array of projects; a lot of them have just turned out meh or were barely blips on the radar. He got some good notices for Gold last year, but no one paid attention to that movie. Hey, maybe he’ll come back to TV to get that Emmy he never won for True Detective.

    I prefer Ben as a director than as an actor (Casey is by far the best actor in the family), but Live By Night was a total vanity project. Now that he’s no longer directing The Batman, the next thing he’s slated to direct and star in is the Witness for the Prosecution remake, though there doesn’t seem to have been any update since it first broke last August. His card is thin otherwise outside of the DCEU stuff and the Accountant sequel, and he recently dropped out of Triple Frontier to spend time with his family/new girlfriend. I agree his stint as Batman feels precarious, no matter the happy line he fed everyone at Comic-Con. I don’t think he’s terrible as Batman, but the films he’s been in have done him no favors, and Justice League sounds like a hot mess. I’ll be curious to see what his next non-Batman, non-sequel film is. Related: Jennifer Garner is going back to her Alias roots with Peppermint.

    22 HOURS AGO

    The fact that The Accountant was successful enough to warrant a sequel has to be due to Ben’s box office appeal. It is not a comic book movie, it is not a type of movie that could have starred anyone and still make money.

    I like Ben as a director too. I would prefer a lighter movie, like a romcom. Maybe a musical. Show some range.


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