Three Hollywood Stars Who’ve Finally Come Good

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They’ve had moments of awesomeness and moments of head-scratching insanity, but this month, Affleck, Gyllenhaal and Phoenix show the doubters just where to shove it.

1. Ben Affleck

Looking back, it’s hard to know what Ben Affleck did to make us all hate on him so bad. OK, he made Gigli, and with J-Lo kick-started portmanteau super-couple nicknames, but are they reasons to write off a guy for life? It’s been  a slow crawl back, via self-parodying parts (vacuous Superman actor George Reeves in Hollywoodland) and some fine directing: Gone Baby Gone, The Town and this month’s Argo (in which he also stars), about a US embassy rescue in the Iranian Revolution. Maybe, just maybe, Affleck can be forgiven. (And we all kind of enjoyed Good Will Hunting at the time.)

Argo is out on 7 November 

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2. Jake Gyllenhaal

There’s always been something likeable about Jake Gyllenhaal. Those sleepy eyes, that laid-back manner, that sister. And while he hit the ground running with his breakthrough role in Donnie Darko and subsequent hits Brokeback Mountain and Jarhead, he also did his best to undo it all in fake-tan CGI horror fest Prince of Persia: Sands of Time. This month, he appears alongside Michael Peña in subtle cop movie End of Watch as LAPD officers whose days are divided between frenetic drug busts and stretches of patrol car banter. After that he’s in Nailed, about a small-town waitress with a nail lodged in her head. We’re intrigued.

End of Watch is out on 23 November

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3. Joaquin Phoenix

Joaquin Phoenix’s flame burned brightly at first, from wisely-picked blockbusters (a snivelling emperor in Gladiator) to masterful biopics (Johnny Cash in Walk the Line). But in 2010, he made I’m Still Here, a faux-documentary directed by Casey “brother of Ben” Affleck which claimed to show Phoenix turn from acting to rapping while going nuts; it felt like two Hollywood brats’ tedious in-joke. The Master arrives just in time; Paul Thomas Anderson’s story of a cult leader (Philip Seymour Hoffman) and his wayward disciple (Phoenix) has been hailed a masterpiece and sets him right back on track.

The Master is out on 2 November