Two men, once both down in the doldrums of Hollywood. Their careers: finished. One bad movie after another until eventually, for both of them, it was one too many.
The McConaissance is a phrase coined by some genius a while back to label the rebirth of Matthew McConaughey’s (can he even spell his last name?) career in 2010, the year which separated 2009’s Ghosts of Girlfriends Past and 2011’s The Lincoln Lawyer; a genuinely decent court-room thriller with Matty flexing his acting muscles.
But what of Ben Affleck? Doesn’t he demand a cute title to explain how he turned his career around between 2006 and 2009? An Affleckissance?!
Affleck withdrew to the shadows for three whole years while he re-organised his career. With duds like Surviving Christmas and Gigli, he needed it. Returning in 2009 he totally re-energised his resume by being an unbelievable director. First he led his brother Casey to a great performance in the solid Gone Baby Gone in 2007, then going on to improve with The Town in which he starred, before finally bagging an Oscar for Best Picture with Argo. Now there’s a turnaround.
It ends now. They battle it out. 3 rounds. Who is the King of the career rebirth?
Round 1: How bad did it really get?
McConaughey – After genuine attempts to actually act with Amistad (Spielberg), EdTV (alongside True Detective‘s Woody Harrelson) and Reign of Fire (meh), Matty slipped down a slippery slope into the lucrative rom-com market. And whose to blame him? He got to shoot in nice locations, with beautiful women, and rake in the cash. Low-lights include Failure to Launch, Fool’s Gold, The Wedding Planner and many more. 2001-2009 was a biblically torrid time for the guy, at the end of which he clearly decided he had more to give.Affleck – After bagging a screenwriting Oscar for the amazing Good Will Hunting in 1997 he went on to star in the Best Picture winner of 1998 Shakespeare in Love. Then things went downhill. Armageddon (not too bad) led to Pearl Harbour (pretty bad), then Pearl Harbour led to Paycheck (horrendous). The whole affair lasted around 5 years, at the end of which he took a 3 year hiatus in order to have a good long look in the mirror. Verdict: 8 years of mediocrity for Matty beats Affleck’s 5, plus he arguably sunk lower, too. McConaughey wins.
Round 2: How cleanly did they turn it around?
McConaughey locked on Ghosts of Girlfriends Past, took a step back for a year, then came back with The Lincoln Lawyer. Everything before was terrible, everything after has been great. Not a flat rom-com in sight. Good going.
Affleck had a patchy 2006. He clearly tried to reconcile with Hollywoodland but ruined it with the cheese-ball Man About Town. He returned to acting in 2009 on so-so form initially, but that’s not forgetting he’d already wowed us with his directing talents on Gone Baby Gone in 2007. So it was technically also a year by the wayside…
Verdict: Both guys took stock then hit the ground running in their own ways. Draw.
Round 3: How successful have they been since?
McConaughey – Since the rebirth in 2011 he has embarked upon a crusade, a meteoric rise if you will. He nabbed himself an Oscar for Dallas Buyers Club, among a million other awards, stole the show in 7 minutes of Wolf of Wall Street, and is now starring in the biggest movie of 2014 bar none (not even The Hobbit) – Interstellar. So not too bad, then.
Affleck – Since 2009 Affleck has had a steady rise, but ending extremely strongly. By starring in He’s Just Not That Into You, things didn’t start off great, but he has since become one of the most respected Directing talents in the business. Between 2007 and 2012 it took him three films to be acknowledged with the small token of an Academy Award for Best Picture.
Verdict: There’s no denying McConaughey has revamped his image, but it’s hard to argue with Affleck who has reinvigorated not only his acting career with the likes of Gone Girl, but also a new career as a director. Affleck wins.
McConaughey won 1, Affleck won 1 and there was 1 draw, making it a draw overall!
There’s still a something that makes one think The McConaissance reigns supreme, though, for sheer clean-cut, ‘who is this guy again?’ amazement. But I’d like to think the argument still stands – can The Affleckissance be a thing now, please? Cos he deserves it.