Amy Ryan
September 07, 2006 AT 02:00 PM EDT

Is it finally time to stop sneering at Ben Affleck? Ever since the whole Bennifer/Gigli/Jersey Girl perfect storm, he’s been considered such box office poison that it’s no wonder he barely figures in the commercials, posters, and trailers for Hollywoodland, even though he plays the central figure in the docudrama that opens tomorrow. Affleck, however, seems due for his shot — at least, that seems to bethe collective decision of the media borg. He’s married to a TVsweetheart, has become a dad, just directed his first feature, and isnow playing a beloved TV icon in a smart indie film that he doesn’thave to carry on his shoulders (that job falls to Adrien Brody andDiane Lane). Even his recent comments about the paparazzi seem decidedly… mature.

This apparent turn in the soap-opera narrative ofAffleck’s life may mean he’ll now be getting praise simply because it’stime, not because he’s suddenly a better actor than he was whenAffleck-bashing was fashionable. (Ever since 1993’s Dazed and ConfusedI’ve thought he was a charismatic and enjoyable screen actor, with aparticular ease and comfort in front of a camera.) If it is finallyAffleck’s turn for some positive attention, I hope he makes the most ofit.

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