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Top 10 Matt Damon Performances

VO: Rebecca Brayton
Script written by Laura Ly. He’s a writer, producer, actor, philanthropist, and political activist: Is there anything this man can’t do? Matt Damon first made a splash in Hollywood with the film "Good Will Hunting," which he co-wrote and co-starred in with his longtime friend Ben Affleck. Since then, it’s been a fairly steady stream of hits, with moments like "The Talented Mr. Ripley," "Ocean’s Eleven," "The Departed" and the "Bourne" franchise as highlights. To celebrate the release of his movie "Promised Land" (limited release: December 28th, 2012, nationwide: January 4th, 2013), counts down Matt Damon’s top 10 performances.

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Script written by Laura Ly.

Top 10 Matt Damon Performances

He’s a writer, producer, actor, philanthropist, and political activist: Is there anything this man can’t do? Welcome to, and today we’ll be counting down our picks for Matt Damon’s top 10 performances.

#10 – Private James Francis Ryan: “Saving Private Ryan” (1998)

Kicking off our list is Damon’s role as the eponymous Private Ryan. While he doesn’t appear until two-thirds into the movie, it’s evident from the get-go that Damon is the perfect choice for the part: he carries an everyman quality that perfectly symbolizes each son who goes off to fight a brutal war. Damon’s performance also epitomizes the courage required to battle when he makes a truly heartrending decision.

#9 – Mike McDermott: “Rounders” (1998)

Damon knows when to hold ‘em and when to fold ‘em. He did hands-on research of high-stakes poker for his multifaceted role as this law student-slash-poker savant, and while that didn’t make the film a box-office success, it did make it a cult hit with poker fans. But, even better than the gambling scenes was the contrast between squeaky-clean Damon and his dodgy buddy Ed Norton.

#8 – François Pienaar: “Invictus” (2009)

Sometimes sports are more than a game: they’re about politics, race, moral fortitude. Armed with heart, rousing speeches and the difficult-to-master accent, Damon embodies these as real-life South African rugby captain François Pienaar. While he was originally considered too small for the role, Damon earned an Oscar nomination for his efforts and proved that while he may not have the size, he has more than enough spirit.

#7 – LaBoeuf: “True Grit” (2010)

Channeling Tommy Lee Jones with a dash of Chuck Norris, Damon is barely recognizable as the brash, intense and totally badass Texas Ranger LaBoeuf. His role in this unforgettable western remake really stretches his skills as an actor, but it’s LaBoeuf’s tenacity, honor, and sharp-shooting skills that earn “True Grit” its spot on this list. BULL’S EYE!!

#6 – Loki: “Dogma” (1999)

Not only is Damon handsome and talented, he possesses something that eludes other dramatic actors: comedic timing. That timing is on display in “Dogma” alongside his buddy Ben Affleck, where they play a duo of fallen angels who might get back into Heaven thanks to a loophole in Catholic doctrine. Somehow, Damon manages to make us laugh, even when he’s at his absolute worst.

#5 – Linus Caldwell: “Ocean’s Eleven” (2001)

Damon makes the most of his limited screen time in this star-studded remake of the 1960 Rat Pack classic. Before “Ocean’s,” our star released a couple of stinkers, so we needed some reassurance that he wasn’t just going to keep making thoughtful dramas. He sheds a bit of his trademark confidence to play a fresh faced but brilliant pick-pocket who is learning to play with the big boys.

#4 – Tom Ripley: “The Talented Mr. Ripley” (1999)

Jude Law may be charming, but Matt Damon is the piece that completes this intensely dark puzzle. As the obsessive and creepy title character, Damon is more than just a handsome leading man – in fact, it’s a testament to his magnetism that we identify with Ripley at all considering his crimes. By effectively playing both the nondescript Mr. Ripley and the flamboyant characters he becomes, Damon earned a Golden Globe nod.

#3 – Colin Sullivan: “The Departed” (2006)

Unlike Tom Ripley, we love to hate Colin Sullivan. Damon’s performance as a double agent for the Irish mob in this ensemble crime thriller is captivating: he’s playing a guy whose entire life is a performance, save for a few clandestine moments. With so many A-listers vying for our interest, it takes a truly spectacular performance to stand out. Plus, everyone knows it’s more fun playing the villain.

#2 – Jason Bourne: “The Bourne Identity” (2002)

On top of his signature intensity and sincerity, Damon proves he’s a bona fide action hero by doing his own stunts as the amnesiac black-ops agent. He’s buff; he fights; he shoots with deadly accuracy; he saves the girl; and most importantly, he can shoot someone from mid-air and just walk away. Now that’s impressive.

#1 – Will Hunting: “Good Will Hunting” (1997)

Taking the top spot on our list is the movie that launched Damon’s and Affleck’s mainstream careers, and won both an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay. Aside from the astute writing and excellent dialogue, this movie is all about the acting and the relationships between the characters, especially Damon’s chemistry with Robin Williams. In fact, in some of his best scenes, Damon doesn’t need to say much at all.

Do you agree with our list? Which Matt Damon performance was your favorite? For more entertaining top 10s, be sure to subscribe to

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