10 Good Matt Damon Movies

Tuesday, March 1, 2011 at 12:03 pm

10 Good Matt Damon Movies

Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock for the last decade, it would be hard not to know about Matt Damon. That’s because the hunky Massachusetts native has been named Sexiest Man Alive, won a Best Original Screenplay Oscar (along with cousin Ben Affleck), and become one of the forty highest grossing actors in motion picture history.

His first film role came in Mystic Pizza, while the 18-year-old Damon was still a student at Harvard. After landing a beefier role in Geronimo: An American Legend, he dropped out of college and headed for California to reap the benefits of what he was sure to be a major box office success. He was wrong, and Damon ended up struggling to find work for several years (even getting rejected for a role in Cutthroat Island).

Desperate for any work available, he accepted a small part in Courage Under Fire that required him to lose 40 pounds in 100 days. Shedding the weight by himself, Damon would later learn that his health had been in serious danger throughout. For several years afterwards, he would take medication to alleviate the stress placed on his adrenal gland.

During those lean years, Damon and Affleck were also working on a screenplay about a tortured young math genius. After numerous rewrites, it became 1997’s Good Will Hunting and racked up nine nominations at the Academy Awards (including a Best Actor nomination for Damon). That was when things really took off.

Fourteen years later, Matt Damon movies are routinely some of the most profitable films released. And from comedies to war movies to westerns, he continues to explore his range and push himself as a performer.

In my opinion, the ten movies listed below are his finest. If you disagree, let me know in the comments section. And if you haven’t seen them…become a member of Netflix and watch them all from the privacy of your own home.

Good Will Hunting (1997) – Damon stars as Will Hunting, a Bostonian genius whose traumatic childhood causes him to sabotage any chance of true happiness. Then he meets therapist Sean Maguire (Robin Williams in an Oscar-winning role), and the shrink’s unconventional methods force both men to take a long, hard look at their future. Minnie Driver stars as the love interest, Ben Affleck is the best friend, and Stellan Skarsgard is the MIT professor who decides to take a chance on our protagonist.

Saving Private Ryan (1998) – One of the greatest war movies ever made, Saving Private Ryan features an all-star cast and brutal WWII action courtesy of director Steven Spielberg. Tom Hanks is Captain John Miller, a soldier assigned to travel into enemy territory and locate Private James Francis Ryan (Damon), a paratrooper whose three brothers died in combat within a few days of one another. The battle scenes don’t get any better than this, and the cast is rounded out by Tom Sizemore, Ed Burns, Barry Pepper, Vin Diesel, Jeremy Davies, Paul Giamatti, Ted Danson, Adam Goldberg, and Giovanni Ribisi. Nominated for 11 Academy Awards, including a Best Director win for Spielberg.

The Talented Mr. Ripley (1999) – Damon shows off his creepy side as Tom Ripley, a disturbed opportunist who worms his way into the life of a Princeton graduate (Jude Law). But that’s just the half of it, as Ripley’s machinations become increasingly sinister and complex. Offering a devilish good time, the film co-stars Gwyneth Paltrow, Cate Blanchett, and Philip Seymour Hoffman. Based on the 1955 novel by Patricia Highsmith.

Ocean’s Eleven (2001) – A collection of marquee stars gather to remake the Rat Pack classic, with Sammy, Dean, and Frank being replaced by such actors as George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Bernie Mac, and Don Cheadle. Clooney stars as Danny Ocean, a likable thief who decides to rob three Las Vegas casinos owned by the same powerful businessman (Andy Garcia) who just happens to be romancing Danny’s ex-wife (Julia Roberts). Damon plays Linus Caldwell, a talented pick-pocket who suddenly finds himself playing in the big leagues. Also starring Elliott Gould, Casey Affleck, Scott Caan, and Carl Reiner, it’s highly recommended for fans of old school caper films.

The Bourne Identity (2002) – After being pulled out of the Mediterranean with two bullets in his back, amnesiac Jason Bourne (Damon) attempts to remember his past. He’s soon joined in his efforts by Marie Kreutz (Franka Potente), a young woman he pays $20,000 to take him to Paris. But Marie will have to work for her money, as it turns out that Bourne has ties to the CIA and they’d like to see him dead. There’s plenty of action to keep the popcorn crowd happy, and the story is filled with twists, turns, and an extra serving of shady characters (including Chris Cooper, Clive Owen, and Brian Cox). Two sequels would follow, and a third is scheduled for 2012.

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The Departed (2006) – The biggest box-office success of director Martin Scorsese’s career (which is kind of sad, actually), The Departed is a Boston-based remake of the 2002 Hong Kong film Infernal Affairs. Damon stars as Colin Sullivan, a member of the Massachusetts State Police who also happens to be a mole for Irish Mob boss Frank Costello (Jack Nicholson). At the same time, Billy Costigan (Leonardo DiCaprio) is recruited from the police academy to infiltrate the Irish mob. When both sides learn that they’ve got a traitor in their ranks, it sets off a desperate race to expose the guilty party. Lots of people get shot in the head, Nicholson chews the scenery, and DiCaprio and Damon both turn in emotional performances. Scorsese fans won’t be disappointed, especially with a supporting cast that includes Martin Sheen, Ray Winstone, Mark Wahlberg, Vera Farmiga, and Alec Baldwin.

The Bourne Ultimatum (2007) – The third film in the action/spy series based on the novels by Robert Ludlum, The Bourne Ultimatum follows amnesiac and CIA assassin Jason Bourne (Damon) as he continues to unravel a tangled web of government dirty dealings. Taking place everywhere from Madrid to Moscow, it’s a fast-paced thriller that entertains despite the propensity of director Paul Greengrass to shake the camera every 30 seconds. Co-starring Julia Stiles, Scott Glenn, David Strathairn, Joan Allen, and Albert Finney.

The Informant! (2009) – Directed by Steven Soderbergh and based on a true story, this comedy-drama stars a bulky Damon (he gained 30 pounds for the role) as Mark Whitacre, an executive who blows the whistle on his own company for price fixing. As he gathers evidence for the FBI, the pressure begins to reveal cracks in Mark’s façade, exposing an individual with a few secrets of his own. Co-starring Scott Bakula, Joel McHale, Clancy Brown, and Melanie Lynskey.

Invictus (2009) – Following his election to the position of President of South Africa, Nelson Mandela (Morgan Freeman) must devise a way to unite a country long divided by apartheid. He finds his opportunity in the Springboks, the nation’s almost all-white rugby union team. After a sit-down with Springboks captain Francois Pienaar (Damon), the two men vow to work together to win the Rugby World Cup and unite the country behind a common cause. Directed by Clint Eastwood, this uplifting tale is made all the more remarkable by the fact that it’s a true story.

True Grit (2010) – Directors Joel and Ethan Coen remade the classic John Wayne western, this time casting Jeff Bridges in the lead role of Rooster Cogburn, a one-eyed lawman who agrees to help a young girl (Hailee Steinfeld) track down her father’s killer. Damon co-stars as a well-dressed Texas Ranger on the trail of the same man. The film boasts beautiful cinematography from Roger Deakins, and it’s filled with the kind of eccentrics you’ve come to expect from any film from the Coen brothers.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this list of Matt Damon movies, even though most film buffs are likely to have seen them all. But there’s plenty more out there from Damon, and you can view them all by becoming a member of Netflix. They have over 100,000 films in their library, and you can choose between having them streamed on your computer or delivered in the mail on DVD or Blu-ray. Either way, we get a small commission if you sign up through our site, but this adds nothing to your final cost.

This entry was posted on Tuesday, March 1st, 2011 at 12:03 pm and is filed under Good Movies. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

3 Responses to “10 Good Matt Damon Movies”

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September 21, 2011

sarah jacobs

I love Matt Damon!!! oh and all his movies are great. I have seen more then half of them and they are amazing. He is a wonderful actor. NEVER DOUGHT IT! My all time favorites are the Bourne series. I’d give all three a 5 star rating!

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