As Matt Damon's long and storied acting career continues to evolve, his exceptional talents become harder to ignore. And with the latest installment of the Bourne franchise arriving in theaters this weekend, which also marks Damon's return to the popular action series, I'm devoting my July movie list of the month to Damon's finest roles (June's list). Just to be clear, I haven't seen The Talented Mr. Ripley or either of the last two Oceans films. Other than that, my favorite Matt Damon performances are outlined below.
Honorable Mention: The Bourne series, Invictus, Rounders and True Grit.
#5. The Departed (2006)
Martin Scorsese's Best Picture winner, The Departed, is one of my favorite films of all-time. Boasting a remarkably entertaining story, phenomenal dialogue and an all-star cast, Scorsese's masterful direction is merely icing on the cake. Unfortunately for Damon, unbelievable performances from Leonardo DiCaprio and Jack Nicholson overshadowed his own stellar work. Damon clearly played second fiddle to these acting legends, but his role in The Departed still represents one of the finest in his career.
#4. School Ties (1992)
In order to find one of Matt Damon's most impressive performances, you'll have to go back more than two decades to his first starring role in Robert Mandel's School Ties. The film focuses on a prep school in the 1950s who recruit a big-time football player (Brandan Fraser) to become their star quarterback. But when a jealous teammate (Matt Damon) learns about the quarterback's biggest secret, he tries to tear him down by revealing it to everyone at the school. Damon's character, undoubtedly the film's antagonist, is executed with detailed precision that still holds up many years later. If you haven't seen School Ties, it's a very effective and overlooked film from the 90s.
#3. The Informant! (2009)
While Steven Soderbergh's quirky 2009 comedy, The Informant!, wasn't the greatest of movies, it's impossible to deny that Matt Damon delivered a dynamite lead performance. Damon stars as Mark Whitacre, the vice president of an agro-business giant. And when the FBI begins to investigate claims that the company is taking part in price fixing, Whitacre becomes their star informant. Damon's hysterical turn earned him a Golden Globe nomination and rightfully so. Mark Whitacre becomes an unforgettable character, in a rather forgettable film, thanks to Damon's ranging and committed work.
#2. The Martian (2015)
Everyone is well aware of the overwhelming success surrounding Ridley Scott's recent sci-fi effort, The Martian. Based on a best selling novel, the film's captivating story is brought to life through the unique vision of Ridley Scott and Matt Damon's extraordinary role as Mark Watney. And after a powerful storm bears down on a research team of astronauts stationed on Mars, Watney is presumed dead by his fellow crew members and left stranded all alone after they abort the mission and return to Earth. The Martian was an awards season powerhouse this past year and it wouldn't have happened without Matt Damon's amazing ability to command the screen.
#1. Good Will Hunting (1997)
Matt Damon is actually an Academy Award winner, yet his prized statue was earned for writing rather than acting. As the lead star and co-screenwriter for the acclaimed drama, Good Will Hunting, Damon immediately displayed his many talents as an artist. Although it was his co-star, the late Robin Williams, who took home the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor, Damon was nominated for Best Actor but failed to win. Either way, Matt Damon's towering performance in this heavy hitting and immaculately scripted drama continues to serve as his finest work to date.