One good thing about compiling Top 10 lists is that as actors keep adding new films to their repertoire, you can continually reappraise their body of work and produce new rankings time and again.
I’m pretty sure I’ve looked at Matt Damon’s films before, but now that he’s made more than four score of movies, it’s time to reconsider him in terms of his cinematic outings.
To do so, I checked out his rankings on various online sites – Vulture, Screenrant, Rotten Tomatoes, IMDb, etc.), but the one I agreed with most closely was GoldDerby, a site that normally endeavors to “predict Hollywood races.”
So here we go, off to the races again with a fresh look at the films of Matthew Paige Damon.
10) “Invictus” (2009) – I wouldn’t have thought of this film, because it’s more of a showcase for Morgan Freeman to portray Nelson Mandela. But as I considered Damon’s performance, his take on a South African rugby player has a certain gusto to it. He was nominated for a Best Supporting Actor Oscar for this role.
9) “Ford vs. Ferrari” (2019) – While this may seem like an advertisement for Ford Motor Company, it’s actually about the relationship between race car designer Carroll Shelby (Damon) and hot-shot race driver Ken Miles (Christian Bale). The film earned four Oscar nominations including Best Picture.
8) The “Ocean” movies (2001, 2004, 2007) – Breezy, stylish fun is one way to describe these heist movies starring a later-day rat pack that consists of Damon, George Clooney, Brad Pitt, and a handful of other likeable actors.
7) “Saving Private Ryan” (1998) – This was Tom Hanks’s war movie, but Damon acquitted himself well in the title role. A Steven Spielberg epic that will make you feel like you were there on the beach at Normandy, crawling through the blood-soaked water with machine-gun slugs landing all around you. Spielberg got his second Oscar with this movie.
6) “The Departed” (2006) – If an actor can’t do a Woody Allen movie, he wants to do Martin Scorsese. In this American remake of the Hong Kong hit “Infernal Affairs,” we have a face-off between Colin (Damon), a protege of legendary mob boss Frank Costello (Jack Nicholson) who has infiltrated the police force, and Billy (Leonardo DiCaprio), a cop who weasels his way into Costello’s gang. Scorsese scored his overdue Oscar with this one.
5) The “Bourne” movies (2002, 2004, 2007, 2016) – Doug Liman’s “The Bourne Identity” and Paul Greengrass’s “The Bourne Supremacy,” “The Bourne Ultimatum” and “Jason Bourne” redefined the “stylistic approach to high octane action filmmaking” with handheld, documentary-style intensity. Spy films that make 007 look tame. Who knew Matt Damon would make such a great action hero?
4) “The Informant!” (2009) – Steven Soderbergh’s film about an undercover whistleblower is more playful and humorous than Michael Mann’s “The Insider.” And Damon’s goofball performance overshadows Russell Crowe’s somber approach. Yes, Matt can do comedy too!
3) The Martian” (2015) – Ridley Scott’s sci-fi adventure stars Damon as an astronaut who becomes stranded on Mars. Talk about a solo performance! He got an Oscar nod as Best Actor.
2) “Good Will Hunting” (1997) – The film that really launched Matt Damon’s career, and brought him and pal Ben Affleck their first Oscar as screenwriters. Damon’s turn as a secret math genius is a portent of big things to come.
1) “The Talented Mr. Ripley” (1999) – Damon shows his charm in this Patricia Highsmith classic about a lonely grifter who lies, cheats and murders his way into becoming a somebody. And the Italian scenery is spectacular too.
How do this list compare with your favorites?
But let’s admit it, Matt Damon is so likeable we’d watch anything movie he’s in.