I really believe that Matt Damon gets underrated as an actor, simply because more people don’t think of him as one of the greatest out there. He is capable of doing great dramas, comedy, and in the Bourne franchise has proven his action capabilities. Picking my favourite Matt Damon films is one of the hardest lists live had to do, as whittling it down to just five is near impossible. I’ve had to leave out films as incredible as The Departed, Saving Private Ryan, or True Grit. Joining me in this endeavour is my friend James Sargeant. So here we go with our Top 5 Matt Damon films.
- Shuggie: Good Will Hunting – Good Will Hunting was not only one of Damon’s first films, but also one that he co wrote with Ben Affleck. Most will remember that it was Robin Williams who won an Oscar for his role, but Damon was nominated for Best Actor, and actually won an award with Affleck for Best Original Screenplay. Good Will Hunting shows how wide ranging Damon’s skills are, he’s not just a fantastic actor, which he does show here, but he’s also an excellent writer on top of that. Also I’m sure we all want to see the Good Will Hunting 2: Hunting Season from Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, that’s a hilariously bad idea.
- James: Good Will Hunting – Good Will Hunting is the movie which made Matt and his best bud Ben into Hollywood A-listers only deserves fifth place on my list. It might be collaboration but Damon and Affleck did not write this movie. The main story line in the original screenplay involved Will working for the FBI that is just as implausible as the plot in the final screenplay. Also neither of the writers has ever managed to write a movie again which is an odd skill to only use once. Matt Damon also manages to achieve the feat of being out acted by Robin Williams but more astonishingly by Affleck. Yet this movie does have two great parts which make it a must watch whenever it’s on late night telly. 1) A great oral sex joke. And 2) the ridiculous over the top ‘southie’ accents which Boston natives Matt and Ben insist on using all movie.
- Shuggie: The Martian – The Martian is probably Matt Damon’s greatest performance. When you consider that he’s acting on his own for the majority of the film, and he still managed to make it funny, entertaining, and engaging you have to recognise just how talented an actor he is. His portrayal of Doctor Mark Watney rightly earned him a nomination for Best Actor at the Oscars. The film itself is a great adaptation of Andy Weir’s book and so much of that can be attributed to Damon’s performance. Whilst a lot of the supporting cast is excellent, Damon is always the star of the show here.
- James: The Bourne Supremacy – After trying to live out a peaceful retirement in Goa, Bourne is rudely awakened to his past life by a bullet in the head of his girlfriend. Jason slips right back into the rigours of being a trained assassin by travelling round Europe and trying to find what he did and didn’t do. Even the worst of the trilogy movies is still a great movie. It cements why I feel the Bourne movies are so much better than Craig’s era Bond. The main difference is you have real stakes when watching Bourne, where as Bond is somewhat of a caricature of suits and cars with increasing Heineken and product placements. 007 always finds an intriguing pretty face to save the world with, whereas Bourne has a real connection with Marie and isn’t anything overly heroic. This movie epitomizes the lack of heroism when he goes to Moscow and admits to the victim’s daughter his cruel actions.
- Shuggie: Dogma – I’m a big fan of Kevin Smith’s work, and my introduction to him was through Dogma. It’s a hilarious and features an incredible cast. The opening scene really hooked me on the film, where Damon, playing the disgraced angel Loki, convinces a nun that god cannot truly exist. It’s a hysterical moment, and also sets up the relationship between Damon and Ben Affleck’s characters very well. The entire film is a very smart satire on modern religion, with some great low brow humour on top. As well as Damon and Affleck Dogma also features some great acting talent such as Alan Rickman, Selma Hayek, and Chris Rock.
- James: Behind the Candelabra – In this Liberace biopic Damon moves out of any action comfort zone into a wonderfully comedic and endearing supporting actor. The role of Liberace’s partner Scott Thorson shows the difficulty and power dynamics of relationships with an upsetting ending. He flutters through his devotion to Liberace whilst looking over his back for any younger men who flirt with his famous piano playing partner. With Damon’s (literal) ever changing faces the movie combines the comedy with raw sadness effortlessly where most biopics don’t quite achieve either.
- Shuggie: Ocean’s Eleven – Put simply Ocean’s Eleven is the greatest heist movie ever made. Whilst most will remember this for being Brad Pitt and George Clooney, it also features a great appearance from Damon as one of the Eleven members of the heist crew. The whole film is just a joyful, fun, and intelligent experience, which is what you really want out of a heist film. Damon’s Linus comes into the crew as a young inexperienced con artist, and has to step up to play a major role in the whole heist. It’s hard to shine as one of the supporting players in such a huge ensemble supporting cast, but Damon is probably the best of them, and hey at least he’s not doing Don Cheadle’s extremely dodgy cockney accent.
- James: The Bourne Ultimatum – The end of the trilogy returns to the same fun “stop Jason Bourne” formula without turning stale. It contains a few of the old Bourne tropes like a disappearing sniper scene and creepily watching from Landy from an opposing rooftop. The trilogy reaches its conclusion with another trail of information leading to a Euro trip. Bourne is able this time to enjoy the highlights of Moscow, London and Madrid before the high-octane conclusion in New York. The action thriller continues in the same vein as the previous installments. But as is the nature of the series a great Bourne film is much better than any other good regular film.
- Shuggie: The Bourne Ultimatum – For me this third installment in the Bourne Franchise was its best. This was Paul Greengrass creating the best action sequences he’s ever created. The sequences in London and Madrid are brilliant. Add on top of that the resolution to David Webb’s story is a satisfying one, which could have been hard after two great action films. The Bourne Franchise are the films that really brought Damon to the mainstream attention, and so it’s impossible to ignore what I think is the strongest film within that wonderful franchise.
- James: The Bourne Identity – The first meeting with the young Jason Bourne starts a run of brilliant deep intrigue blended with high-octane action thrillers. As he is dragged onto the fishing boat he has nothing but amnesia and two gunshot rooms. Bourne makes his way to the location of the only lead he has a safety deposit box in Zurich. From here he continues his European travels to Paris after meeting the love interest Marie and persuading her to drive. In Paris the real action starts with the 3 Treadstone agents coming after him. The key to this movie is the audience piecing together any identity of Bourne at the same time the as the character. It allows this movie to be a bit more exciting and thrilling then the some of its parts. As it’s the first adventure of Bourne it is easily the best of the trilogy and will always be the performance Damon is synonymous with.
So those are our favourite Matt Damon films. What do you think of our choices? What Damon films would you have included?