Matt Damon’s Best Performances—Ranked

Matthew Paige Damon, or the actor popularly known as Matt Damon, has starred in another movie that, although evidence suggests it should be heading for box office success, isn’t doing so well. The Last Duel, directed by swashbuckling British film director, Sir Ridley Scott. Debuting as a young actor in the 1988 film, Mystic Pizza, and in spite of winning the Academy Award and Golden Globe award for best screenplay in 1997, it would have been difficult to imagine he would come so far that to take stock of his success would be insurmountable. But that is what will be attempted here; a mild inquisition into Matt Damon’s filmography, and curate a list of five of his best performances. 

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5. The Adjustment Bureau (2011)

Matt Damon and Emily Blunt

Directed by George Nolfi and based on Philip K. Dick’s 1954 short story, “Adjustment Team”, The Adjustment Bureau is a science fiction romance film starring Matt Damon as David Norris. It follows David and Elise (Emily Blunt) in a turgid affair made difficult by members of the Adjustment Bureau, a mysterious organization that runs the affairs of the world. David’s love for Elise, however, goes beyond their restrictions, and, for that reason, he goes against fate, literally. 

4. The Martian (2015)

Matt on mars.

Matt Damon pairs again with Sir Ridley Scott for a science fiction film. The film is based on Andy Weir’s 2011 novel of the same title. For a long portion of the film, Matt Damon as Mark Watney is alone on a defunct spaceship, stuck on the hostile planet of Mars. We watch him come alive as solo performances tend to allow performers to do. The frustration and desperation break him as he waits hopelessly for the rescue crew to come to his aid on Mars. It takes years before they do. What the time allows is for the viewers to see Matt Damon at one of his best performances. 

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3. The Bourne Series (2002-2016)

Matt as Jason in an action-thriller.

Look, everyone knows Jason Bourne. Arguably, the only spy more popular than Jason in pop culture is James Bond. But while Bond is subject to the change of actors almost every other decade, Matt Damon has persistently been Jason Bourne—a cold-blooded amnesiac assassin. Jason Bourne is another way to see Matt Damon, far from the other reflective performances hitherto mentioned. 

2. Saving Private Ryan (1998)

Matt as Ryan in a WW II movie.

Let us note that by 1998, Matt Damon was hot stuff. He had just won the Golden Globe and an Academy Award for best screenplay in 1997. To come off that project straight into the laps of prime Stephen Spielberg was simply extraordinary. Saving Private Ryan is difficult to explain because its essence can hardly be captured in writing. Matt Damon stars as the titular character, son of a woman who has lost all her sons, save him, to the ongoing world war. A ragtag group of soldiers is sent to ‘save’ him from the warfront. The film is one of those war films that fulfil on both action and emotional levels. 

1. Good Will Hunting (1997)

Matt as a lead actor and a cowriter.

Gus Van Sant’s Good Will Hunting is a near-perfect movie. Starring the late Robin Williams (Dead Poets Society), an excellent actor Matt Damon plays across from, there is enough room to explore various acting ranges for the young Damon. The emotional energy, the acting dexterity, and the extra point that he co-wrote the script make this the obvious first choice for a list like this. Young Matt Damon, still fresh to the industry, gave the performance of his life in the film that catapulted him to real Hollywood fame. 

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