Matt Damon is without a doubt one of the most accomplished actors of our time. He began his career with Good Will Hunting back in 1997, and since then, he has only become more successful. Damon has appeared in numerous films over the last decade or so, in both leading and supporting roles. He has received a lot of critical acclaim for his work in film. What are some of the best Matt Damon movies out there? In this article, I plan to answer that question, among others. I’ll be talking about some of Matt Damon’s best movies, ranking them in my subjective opinion from worst to best. Without further ado, let’s see if we can’t become a little more well-acquainted with Mr. Damon’s filmography.
#10 – The Monuments Men
The Monuments Men probably isn’t Matt Damon’s most successful movie, but it’s still worth mentioning I think. This film was directed, written, and produced by George Clooney. It featured an ensemble cast that included the likes of Bill Murray, John Goodman, Cate Blanchett, George Clooney, and Matt Damon. The Monuments Men is basically about a World War II platoon that is responsible for stealing works of art back from Nazi thieves. It’s an interesting premise, and although the film was somewhat criticized for its lack of historical accuracy, it still works. In this movie, Damon plays James Granger, a character who is loosely based off of the real life war hero James Rorimer. This is not Damon’s only war role, and it probably isn’t even his most iconic. More on that later.
#9 – Invictus
Invictus was a critically acclaimed film, released in 2009 as a depiction of the events that preceded and succeeded the 1995 Rugby World Cup. This sporting event was being held in South Africa, very shortly after apartheid had ended. Invictus was a box office hit, grossing over $122 million on a $50 million budget. Matt Damon co-starred alongside Morgan Freeman, and both men received positive reviews for their work in the film. Morgan Freeman, who depicted Nelson Mandela, earned an Academy Award nomination for Best Actor. Matt Damon, who depicted Springboks captain Francois Pienaar, earned an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor. “Biographical sports drama” can be a hit-or-miss genre, but I suggest that you give it a try.
#8 – The Bourne Identity
Arguably one of Matt Damon’s most iconic action roles, The Bourne Identity is the first movie to introduce the world to Jason Bourne. This movie sets the stage for the franchise, introducing the viewer to a man with memory loss who is struggling to learn his true identity. The Bourne Identity doesn’t have many big names associated with it outside of Matt Damon, but people came out in droves to see it anyway. It made $214 million on a $60 million budget. To date, this film has spawned numerous sequels, including The Bourne Supremacy, The Bourne Ultimatum, The Bourne Legacy, and Jason Bourne. If you plan on being a Matt Damon completionist, then it’s absolutely essential that you’re familiar with one of his most popular roles.
#7 – Ocean’s Eleven
Ocean’s Eleven is also one of Matt Damon’s most iconic roles. The film is a remake of the 1960 movie of the same name, and its ensemble cast features the likes of George Clooney, Matt Damon, Brad Pitt, Don Cheadle, and Julia Roberts. The movie is about Danny Ocean (played by George Clooney) who assembles a group of eleven other accomplices with the intention of robbing three Las Vegas casinos at once. Ocean’s Eleven sits right in the sweet spot of thriller, drama, and comedy, and it really works. The film was enormously successful on both a critical and commercial level, and Damon would reprise his role of Linus Caldwell in the sequels Ocean’s Twelve and Ocean’s Thirteen. An all-female remake of this old favorite is set to release some time in 2018.
#6 – True Grit
Like Ocean’s Eleven, True Grit is another remake of a classic film from the 1960’s. The original movie starred John Wayne and Glen Campbell. This version stars Jeff Bridges and Matt Damon. Aside from serving as an excellent springboard for Hailee Steinfeld’s acting career, this Coen brothers flick was also a huge hit. It made over $250 million on a $38 million budget, and it was ultimately nominated for a total of ten different Academy Awards. Damon wasn’t acknowledged in any of these nominations (although Jeff Bridges and Hailee Steinfeld were both nominated for their work) but his presence in the film can definitely be felt. Fans of westerns really can’t miss out on this movie.
#5 – Interstellar
Now, Matt Damon’s role in Interstellar is kind of a secret. He was not prominently featured in any kind of advertising, and that’s mostly because his character serves such a key role in the movie’s plot. I don’t want to spoil the plot of this Christopher Nolan flick, so let me just say that Damon’s role, while small, is significant. Interstellar is considered by some to be one of Christopher Nolan’s greatest films, and I’m sure that there are some who would argue that it’s the best overall movie on this list. Interstellar is basically about a crew of astronauts who travel through a wormhole, looking for a new place for man to call home. It’s an excellent science fiction movie, but I had to knock it down a couple of spots due to Damon’s small part.
#4 – Good Will Hunting
I’m sure people were expecting this one. Good Will Hunting is the movie that jumpstarted the careers of both Ben Affleck and Matt Damon. Both of the young men wrote the movie, and Matt Damon held a lead role. In Good Will Hunting, Damon plays Will, a math genius who works as a modest laborer in Boston. Matt stars alongside Robin Williams, in one of his more highly-praised roles. Good Will Hunting is equal parts heart-warming and heart-breaking, and it allowed Matt Damon and Ben Affleck to take home an Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay. The movie was even nominated for Best Picture, for a time. This is a must-see for any Damon fans.
#3 – Saving Private Ryan
Saving Private Ryan came out just a little bit after Good Will Hunting, and to date it’s one of the more culturally significant films that Steven Spielberg has ever directed. The war film stars Tom Hanks and a squadron of soldiers who are searching for Private James Ryan, with Hanks leading the rescue effort. Damon plays the titular Private Ryan, and his work was highly regarded by critics and casual moviegoers alike. At the Academy Awards, the movie ended up taking home awards for Best Director, Best Cinematography, Best Film Editing, Best Sound Mixing, and Best Sound Effects Editing. If you think you can stomach the gruesome war depicted in Saving Private Ryan, then I suggest that you watch it.
#2 – The Martian
Finally, here’s a much more contemporary film from Matt Damon. This Ridley Scott-directed film is based off of the novel The Martian by Andy Weird, with Damon playing the main protagonist Mark Watney. For those unfamiliar, The Martian is about Mark’s efforts to stay alive on Mars during his time stranded on the planet. This science-fiction flick was highly praised for its scientific accuracy and for Damon’s performance, which ended up winning him the Golden Globe Award for Best Actor in a Musical or Comedy. Damon was also nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actor for his work in the film, which he largely carried on his own.
#1 – The Departed
Finally, The Departed. Probably one of the most critically successful movies on this list, this Scorsese film featured an ensemble cast that included the likes of Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon, Mark Wahlberg, Jack Nicholson, Alec Baldwin, and Vera Farmiga. The movie is basically about conflict between the police and an Irish gang in South Boston, and there are some people who think of it as one of the best movies to come out of this era. The Departed would go on to win Best Picture, Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay, and Best Film Editing at the Academy Awards. Needless to say, you should really check this movie out, even if you don’t particularly care for Matt Damon. He’s just one piece of an even greater puzzle here.