best film: Damon has been in some excellent movies since his first archiveable film in 1996’s Courage Under Fire.  The choice for absolute best film comes down to either Saving Private Ryan or The Departed. I think I’ll give the slight edge to the visual brilliance in Spielberg film over the narrative genius in Scorsese’s film (that’s a sentence I never thought I’d write/say—wow). Damon plays an underappreciatedly important role in both- really solid work.

best performance:  This one is a toss-up as well but between two different films (already with these four we have signs that Damon has a great filmography). It’s between Good Will Hunting and The Talented Mr. Ripley. Archetypes exist for a reason and a coming of age story and character this riddled with clichés (on paper) shouldn’t be as good as it or he is in Good Will Hunting. I think that’s my pick. Backing that up is the darkly complex turn as Tom Ripley in Minghella’s beautiful film.

stylistic innovations/traits: From the beginning with Courage Under Fire Damon was ultra-dedicated to his craft (he had to be checked into the hospital for the working out and weight loss for the role). He then wrote his own part in Good Will Hunting and bet on himself as an actor- smart move. He’s been in 18 archiveable films already (under the age of 50 still) and has put himself in the hands of some great auteurs (see below). I don’t think of him as an overly talented actor but he’s had several career runs (1997-1999) and (2006-2007) where he is excellent in top 5 of the year-quality movies. That’s tough to do. There are plenty of actors on this less who are not excellent in five top five of the year movies. He adds depth to his filmography with some of the Soderbergh films and clearly can do action (Bourne) as well as drama. I also think it speaks to his skill as an actor that he’s never blown off the screen by more talented actors (DiCaprio, Hanks, Norton).

directors worked with:   Soderbergh (5) and counting—Greengrass (2), and then once a piece with Van Sant, Spielberg, Nolan, Minghella, Scorsese, Ridley Scott, and the Coen Brothers.

Top 5 Performances:

  1. Good Will Hunting
  2. The Talented Mr. Ripley
  3. The Bourne Ultimatum
  4. The Departed
  5. Saving Private Ryan

Archiveable films

1996- Courage Under Fire
1997- Good Will Hunting
1998- Rounders
1998- Saving Private Ryan
1999- The Talented Mr. Ripley
2001- Ocean’s Eleven
2005- Syriana
2006- The Departed
2007- Ocean’s Thirteen
2007- The Bourne Ultimatum
2009- The Informant
2010- Green Zone
2010- True Grit
2011- Contagion
2011- Margaret
2013- Behind the Candelabra
2014- Interstellar
2015- The Martian