10 Best Casey Affleck Movies, Ranked


While he may be dwarfed in popularity by his older brother Ben, Casey Affleck is an award-winning actor who has appeared in some of the most acclaimed films of the 21st century. With roles in modern westerns, subversive dark comedies, and powerful character dramas, Affleck has worked within multiple genres to find great success; he’s the type of actor who can deliver memorable performances, even in a limited capacity. In addition to being a prominent actor, Affleck is also an accomplished filmmaker, having directed the mockumentary I’m Still Here and the post-apocalyptic drama Light of My Life.

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Although he’s been a familiar face within the industry for almost three decades, Affleck often chooses artistically minded projects over mainstream blockbusters. His idiosyncratic acting choices and commitment to challenging material has made him a favorite of acclaimed filmmakers like Gus Van Sant, Christopher Nolan, and David Lowery. Here are the ten best Casey Affleck films, ranked.

10 ‘To Die For’ (1995)

Directed by Gus Van Sant

Image via Sony Pictures Releasing

Based on a chilling true story that says a lot about the current media landscape, To Die For is a disturbing dark comedy that showed Affleck’s ability to play malevolent characters. The film is perhaps best known for the now iconic performance by Nicole Kidman as Suzanne Stone-Maretto, an aspiring media personality who attracts a cult following. However, Affleck’s role as the violent teenager Russell Hines, one of Stone-Maretto’s most avid followers, is equally important to the satirical point that Van Sant is making about media fanaticism.

Affleck perfectly captures the persona of an obsessive fan who is driven to violence. While the story initially treats Russell as a source of darkly comic relief, Affleck proves to be quite terrifying once the film takes a more disturbing turn. It’s a testament to Affleck’s ability to develop the role that the twist works so seamlessly.

To Die For
Release Date
October 6, 1995

Runtime
106 Minutes

Main Genre
Comedy

Rent on Amazon

9 ‘Ain’t Them Bodies Saints’ (2013)

Directed by David Lowery

AintThemBodiesSaints (1)
Image via IFC Films

While he’s often cast as isolated and unusual characters, Affleck showed that he was capable of playing a romantic lead in the crime thriller Ain’t Them Bodies Saints. A deeply poignant tone poem that relies as much on silence as it does on dialogue, Ain’t Them Bodies Saints follows the bank robber Bob Muldoon (Affleck) as he attempts to maintain a relationship with his girlfriend Ruth Guthrie (Rooney Mara). The film becomes as heartbreaking as it is because of the strong chemistry that Affleck has with Mara.

Ain’t Them Bodies Saints features a more subdued performance from Affleck, as the film refuses to turn its central relationship into a source of melodrama. While Affleck perfectly captures the stoicism that is inherent to Muldoon’s personality, he is still able to convey the expressive qualities of the character. It’s a powerful love story that examines the subverts of the standard narrative structure of a crime thriller.

Ain’t Them Bodies Saints
Release Date
July 3, 2013

Director
David Lowery

Runtime
90

Main Genre
Crime

Writers
David Lowery

Tagline
A film by David Lowery.

Watch on Tubi

8 ‘The Old Man & The Gun’ (2018)

Directed by David Lowery

OldManAndTheGun (1)
Image via Searchlight Pictures

While it’s best known for being the last lead role of the great Robert Redford, The Old Man & The Gunshowed how effective Affleck could be as a supporting player. The heartfelt caper film follows the aging bank robber Forrest Tucker (Redford) as he avoids an investigation led by the police detective John Hunt (Affleck). While it ostensibly starts as a manhunt movie, The Old Man & The Gun becomes invested in showing how both Tucker and Hunt are not defined by their professions. Affleck excels at showing how Hunt comes to question the core nature of his duties once he learns more about Tucker.

It’s an effective performance because Affleck does not play a traditional antagonist. Hunt and Tucker realize that they have much more in common with each other than they initially realized after a heartfelt conversation that is beautifully acted on Affleck and Redfords’ parts. It’s a delightful crowdpleaser that nonetheless succeeds in examining its characters’ latent motivations.

The Old Man & the Gun
Release Date
September 27, 2018

Director
David Lowery

Runtime
93

Main Genre
Biography

Writers
David Lowery , David Grann

Studio
Fox Searchlight Pictures

Tagline
This story is mostly true.

Rent on Amazon

7 ‘Good Will Hunting’ (1997)

Directed by Gus Van Sant

GoodWillHunting (1)
Image via Miramax Films

Good Will Hunting initiated Matt Damon and Ben Afflecks’ careers after their script was picked up by Van Sant. However, Casey Affleck also plays an important role in Good Will Hunting and adds some comic relief to the film. In one of his first roles, Affleck makes an appearance as Morgan O’Mally, a friend of both Chuckie (Ben Affleck) and Will (Damon) who spends free time with them in Boston. Morgan’s role in the story is critical, as it was important for the film to establish the humble origins of its characters.

Affleck’s performance is great because it’s very naturalistic, as much of Good Will Hunting was based on its screenwriters’ real experiences growing up in Boston. He perfectly embodies the personality of a youthful vagrant, who, despite his kindness, does not have any larger ambitions in life. Affleck’s real friendship with Damon comes across in some of the film’s most poignant moments. Good Will Hunting continues to be an inspiring film that empowers viewers to make use of their potential.

good-will-hunting-poster

Good Will Hunting
Release Date
December 5, 1997

Director
Gus Van Sant

Runtime
126

Main Genre
Drama

Studio
Miramax

Watch on Max

6 ‘A Ghost Story’ (2017)

Directed by David Lowery

A ghost in 'Ghost Story'
Image via A24

While it wasn’t his first collaboration with Lowery, Affleck showed his ability to play non-traditional roles in the arthouse fantasy drama A Ghost Story. Lowery’s deeply philosophical arthouse film examines how the death of the young musician C (Affleck) affects his young wife M (Rooney Mara) in the subsequent years. In much of the film, Affleck’s face is draped behind a white ghost costume, as he is embodying C’s spirit in the afterlife.

Affleck’s charisma in the film’s opening moments makes its twist more heartbreaking, as there is a strong sense of what C and Ms’ relationship looked like. In addition to allowing Affleck the chance to show off his musical skills, A Ghost Story showed he was capable of bringing expressiveness to a performance; even when under a ghost sheet, Affleck gives a physical performance that indicates C’s emotions. While by no means a traditional romance film, A Ghost Story is a great existentialist study on how art permeates throughout time.

A Ghost Story
Release Date
April 24, 2017

Runtime
87

Main Genre
Drama

Studio
A24

Tagline
It’s all about time

Watch on Max

5 ‘Ocean’s Eleven’ (2001)

Directed by Steven Soderbergh

OceansEleven (1)
Image via Warner Brothers

Often cited as one of the greatest heist films of all-time, Ocean’s Elevenis a film that emphasizes every member of its ensemble. While it’s George Clooney’s Danny Ocean and Brad Pitt’s Rusty Ryan who have the most significant roles in the story, Affleck’s performance as the auto specialist Virgil Malloy is a true scene-stealer. Virgil’s knowledge of advanced machinery proves to be essential in the heist to rob the casinos owned by Terry Benedict (Andy Garcia).

Affleck adds a sense of comic relief to the film through his chemistry with Scott Caan, who co-stars as his brother Turk. The bickering nature of their relationship helps balance out the more serious emotional drama at the film’s center. A fun, quick-witted thriller with brilliantly choreographed heist sequences, Ocean’s Eleven succeeded in launching a successful trilogy thanks to its eclectic cast of characters.

Oceans Eleven 2001 Movie Poster

Ocean’s Eleven
Release Date
December 7, 2001

Director
Steven Soderbergh
Cast
George Clooney , Cecelia Ann Birt , Paul L. Nolan , Carol Florence , Lori Galinski , Bernie Mac

Runtime
116 minutes

Main Genre
Crime

Writers
George Clayton Johnson , Jack Golden Russell , Harry Brown , Charles Lederer , Ted Griffin

Tagline
Are you in or out?

Rent on Amazon

4 ‘Gone Baby Gone’ (2007)

Directed by Ben Affleck

gone-baby-gone-morgan-freeman-casey-affleck-michelle-monaghan
Image via Miramax Films

A brilliant film directed by Affleck’s older brother, Gone Baby Gone challenges traditional crime thriller narrative elements with the ethical dilemma at its center. While the film ostensibly begins as a kidnapping drama about a lost child, it morphs into a deeply disturbing examination of political corruption once the Boston detective Patrick Kenzie (Affleck) discovers a latent conspiracy within a police investigation. Gone Baby Gone brilliantly engages its audience by showing how justice and the law are not always the same thing.

While the film has a terrific ensemble cast that includes Morgan Freeman and Ed Harris, Affleck gives an understated performance that captures the pressures of responsibility. The film’s final moments, in which Patrick is forced to make an impossible decision regarding how the kidnapping case will be resolved, work as well as they do thanks to his emotional intensity.

Gone Baby Gone
Release Date
June 6, 2007

Runtime
114

Main Genre
Crime

Tagline
Everyone Wants The Truth… Until They Find It.

Watch on Paramount+

3 ‘Oppenheimer’ (2023)

Directed by Christopher Nolan

Robert Downey Jr. sitting at a hearing in Oppenheimer
Image via Universal

While he is one of the many supporting actors in Christopher Nolan’s acclaimed biopic, Affleck has an important role in Oppenheimerthat changes the stakes of the film. His appearance as the United States military intelligence officer Boris Pash stands as one of J. Robert Oppenheimer’s (Cillian Murphy) chief opponents when he attempts to clear his name of associations with the Communist party. Despite his limited screen time, Affleck shows how personal vindictiveness on Pash’s part put a great strain on Oppenheimer.

Heralded as both a box office and critical triumph, Oppenheimer is a modern classic that wrestles with the weight of history. While it’s grand in scope and features incredible recreations of historical events, Oppenheimer is also a deeply emotional character drama that examines the corrupting nature of power. Its anti-war themes are just as relevant now as they were during the period in which the film takes place.

Oppenheimer Poster

Oppenheimer
Release Date
July 21, 2023

Runtime
180 minutes

Main Genre
Biography

Watch on Peacock

2 ‘The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford’ (2007)

Directed by Andrew Dominik

Casey Affleck pointing a gun at someone in 'The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford' (2007)
Image via Warner Bros. Pictures

Although his performances were often overlooked, Affleck received his first Academy Award nomination for his role in the revisionist western The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford. Andrew Dominik’s historical thriller examines the relationship between the infamous outlaw Jesse James (Brad Pitt) and his starstruck admirer Robert Ford (Affleck). Affleck shows how Ford’s admiration turns to hatred once he finds that his hero doesn’t respect or acknowledge him.

While it’s certainly grounded in a very specific historical context, The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford speaks to modern themes about the cult of personality that surrounds celebrities. It serves as a warning about the cyclical nature of violence, and how worshiping one’s hero can lead them down a very dark path. The stunning visuals by cinematographer Roger Deakins are among the most stunning in film history.

Rent on Amazon

1 ‘Manchester by the Sea’ (2016)

Directed by Kenneth Lonergan

Manchester by the Sea Casey Affleck
Image via Amazon Studios

Manchester by the Seafinally won Affleck the Academy Award for Best Actor, but it was not simply a “career victory” that was not warranted. His powerful performance as the grieving father Lee Chandler is emotionally arresting, showing how loss can completely change someone’s personality. Although the film reveals details about Lee’s backstory through flashbacks, it’s Affleck’s secluded performance that makes the performance so heartbreaking.

While it may prove to be too emotionally devastating to watch more than once, Manchester by the Sea has an important message about moving on from tragedy and reengaging with life. The film certainly does not stigmatize the grieving process, but does show how lingering in grief is ultimately unhelpful. While Kenneth Lonergan’s brilliant screenplay is essential to the film’s success, it’s the towering performance by Affleck that makes Manchester by the Sea a modern classic.

Manchester By the Sea
Release Date
November 18, 2016

Director
Kenneth Lonergan

Runtime
135

Main Genre
Drama

Writers
Kenneth Lonergan

Studio
Roadside Attractions

Watch on Prime Video

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