Top Ten Matt Damon Films

Matt Damon has been making films for the same number of years that I’ve been alive. His first credited role was waaaaay back in 1988, as a ‘Steamer’ in Mystic Pizza – a comedy coming-of-age film involving Julia Roberts and not a lot of Damon. IMDB currently pens Damon’s name to a worrying five films in 2011, including We Bought a Zoo – a comedy about a small family who move to the country side to renovate a zoo – and Happy Feet 2. Where did the good old days go Matt? Why do you have to put out the flops in between your massive hits? Before he goes and tarnishes his career for good, here’s a look at the ten best films that Matt’s put his name to over the years.

1997 –

Good Will Hunting
1997 was the year that Matt Damon made his name in the world of cinema. A small part in Chasing Amy and the title role in The Rainmaker (we haven’t seen it either) were just the warm up acts to the title event, Good Will Hunting. Co-written with Ben Affleck, Damon managed to pick up the Oscar for Best Screenplay, losing out to Jack Nicholson for Best Actor in a leading role – he’s still yet to win an Oscar for his acting skills, bless him. If you haven’t seen Good Will Hunting, and feel that it’s just one of ‘those’ films that everyone goes all creamy over for no good reason, then shame on you. Damon delivers one of the best performances of his career, Robin Williams won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor and I’ve already told you how good the writing is. It deserves the reaction of people becoming slightly misty eyed, as they recall in awe the “It’s not your fault…” scene. You’ll become a more interesting person if you see this film. That, or you’ll remain a terribly boring person, but at least you’ll have the capacity to talk about an interesting film.

1998 –

Saving Private Ryan
From Good Will Hunting to Saving Private Ryan, Damon could seemingly do little wrong in the early days of his career. Remember these days Damon – remember when you went from blockbuster to blockbuster? You didn’t think twice about Happy Feet 2 back in the glory days did you? What’s changed buddy? Did the mean guys with Team America make you think that you needed to loosen up and start taking the piss a little more? THEY WERE WRONG MATT!

1999 –

The Talented Mr Ripley
Another year, another couple of brilliant films – though I realise many will disagree with me that The Talented Mr Ripley is better than Dogma. Dogma is a great film, but importantly for this topic, Dogma isn’t great because of Matt Damon, whilst The Talented Mr Ripley is. This is by far the darkest role that Damon’s ever played, and the guy manages it brilliantly. For some reason he’s happy to pick up comic roles, but hasn’t ever attempted another spine-chilling role like that of Tom Ripley. Worried you only had one in you Matt?

2001 –

Ocean’s Eleven
Say what you might, but this has to be in the top ten. Damon had finally put out a couple of stinking titles in 2000 with The Legend of Bagger Vance and All the Pretty Horses telling us nothing we didn’t already know about the great man. Ocean’s Eleven was a return to form, and ensured that his career didn’t slump into a rut of ‘meaningful dramas’ that 2000 had threatened it might. Well done Matt. Now, recognise this with your potential 2011, there’s a sport. Oh, and Ocean’s Eleven really is ten years old. Terrifying.

2002 –

The Bourne Identity
YES Damon. That’s how you land a lead role. Boom. If Good Will Hunting catapulted his early career, then The Bourne Identity was easily the project which took Damon to the next level. Whilst Ocean’s 11 saw Matt messing around in an action role, Bourne was a proper role. A man’s role. As a James Bond in control of his penis, The Bourne Identity is possibly the third best film Matt Damon has ever appeared in…

2004 –

The Bourne Supremacy
…which is just as well, because what followed were two years of utter filth. Stuck On You, EuroTrip and Jersey Girl?! Just as well he made another blinder as Jason Bourne then. Maybe he was seeing what it was like to make money and not care about your reputation. He was Jason Mother-Lovin’ Bourne.

2006 –

The Departed
Whilst this list is a recap of the years with no discernible ranking to the films themselves, I wish to pin my colours to the mast and state that The Departed is quite easily the best film Matt Damon has ever appeared in. If you were to ask someone what it was about, chances are they stumbled to really convey the notion of just how good it is. Anything other than “IT’S SOOOOO GOOOOOOOOD” doesn’t quite cut it.

2007 –

The Bourne Ultimatum
2007 saw Damon cap off two trilogies with contrasting levels of success; whilst Ocean’s Thirteen finally saw the end of the piƱata-beating that gone on since Ocean’s Eleven, The Bourne Ultimatum was as close to perfect as an action-drama can get. 2006’s Casino Royale owes a lot to the threat of Jason Bourne, and had they not stepped up Bond’s game, The Bourne Ultimatum could have captured the spy-based-action crown from the British King.

2009 –

Damon’s performance earned him his third Oscar nomination, this time for for Best Supporting Actor, and Morgan Freeman finally appeared in the role he was born to play. As Damon edged closer to turning 40, one might think that Invictus heralds an era of mature, thoughtful performances from Damon – ageing like a fine whisky. Well…


True Grit
…it looks like that pattern is holding true for now. Greenzone and Hereafter, despite both being truly dull, were both very ‘serious’, sombre roles for Matt. True Grit seemingly reassures us that Damon will only ever do ‘proper acting’ again. If you haven’t yet filled your eyes with True Grit, get yourself down your local as soon as you can.

So there you have it. The ten best films of Matt Damon, spread out over 22 fairly consistent years of acting brilliance. He’s had the odd dip before now, so hopefully Happy Feet 2 is just a phase. Feel free to place them in your own order by commenting below, or to argue it out as to whether Dogma should have featured over one of the suggested titles.

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