Versatile actor, critically acclaimed screenwriter, producer to the max; Matt Damon seems to have done it all whilst still being perceived as an all-round nice guy. Thanks in no small part to film franchises like the Jason Bourne series (2002-2016) and the Ocean’s Trilogy (2001-2007), as well as his creative partnership and real-life friendship with fellow filmmaker Ben Affleck, Matt Damon has proven a popular screen presence for more than a quarter of a century.
Critically, the Boston born filmmaker is a well respected name too, thus far in his career earning three Oscar nominations for acting – Actor in a Leading Role for Good Will Hunting (1997) and The Martian (2015), and Actor in a Supporting Role for Invictus (2009) – as well as an Oscar nomination for producing (Manchester By the Sea, 2016) and a win for screenwriting (Good Will Hunting, 1997).
In this list, we here at The Film Magazine are focusing on the thirty-plus years of Matt Damon’s acting career, judging each and every performance to compile this ultimate Top 10 list of Matt Damon performances.
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10. Gerry (2002)
Matt Damon teams with Casey Affleck (Manchester by the Sea; A Ghost Story) in a story about two friends whose relationship is tested when hunger, thirst and a complete lack of belonging comes between them.
Directed by Good Will Hunting’s Gus Van Sant, Gerry is both compelling and completely bewildering, whilst being an outstanding feat in filmmaking.
Damon is forced into a different kind of performance in this minimalist, near-silent feature. Playing Gerry must have not only been a completely new experience, but also a hands-on lesson in the art of filmmaking – as a performer, that could only have brought challenges.
With an average shot length of 60 seconds and only 100 shots throughout the entire film, Van Sant’s experimental approach rests the core of the film’s impact on the shoulders of Damon and Affleck, the pair showcasing their magnetic screen presences in each and every frame.
9. The Bourne Identity (2002)
Matt Damon’s first outing as Jason Bourne showcased him in a completely new light.
At the time, Damon was an actor that we had only seen in emotional dramas such as Good Will Hunting and Saving Private Ryan, or comedies from the likes of Kevin Smith. Bourne gave Damon the chance to push himself, and to transform into a modern action hero, his titular spy being an amnesiac trying to rediscover who he is in a high intensity thriller from director Doug Liman (Swingers).
Although he may have seemed like an unlikely choice for the Bourne series, Damon excelled in the role, performing many of his own stunts, and it was thanks to this film’s success that he shot from well respected independent cinema actor to Hollywood superstar.
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