For decades now, Matt Damon has been a part of the cinematic landscape. In addition to acting, Damon has written, produced, and helped develop projects for himself and others. The man’s even won an Oscar for screenwriting, courtesy of "Good Will Hunting."
His acting toolkit allows him to move from action to drama to comedy with equal ease. He can break your heart in "Courage Under Fire," leave you holding your sides with laughter in "Stuck on You," and chill your blood with his work on "The Talented Mr. Ripley." Even in films that aren’t particularly well-regarded, Damon can usually be counted on to still bring his A-game.
With a filmography as varied and impressive as his, it can be hard to know where to start if a viewer wants to do deep dive into his work. That’s where this list comes in. Beginning with the worst and going through to the absolute best, we’re about to rank the films in which Matt Damon features prominently or made a big impact in a small role. (However, we won’t be including films where Damon is just making a cameo appearance — sorry, "Thor: Ragnarok.")
On paper, everything about "Suburbicon" screamed promising. It began with an old script from the Coen Brothers that George Clooney reworked and eventually directed. The story is set in ’50s America, a time and place that both the writer-director-producer siblings and Clooney himself had experienced great critical success in portraying via films like "The Man Who Wasn’t There" and "Good Night, and Good Luck," respectively. That resume certainly proved successful in luring in a strong cast, including the likes of Damon and Julianne Moore. Top-class behind-the-scenes talent also was drawn to the work, most prominently Robert Elswit, the cinematographer behind several Paul Thomas Anderson films.
Alas, all the promise crash-landed hard upon the release of "Suburbicon." As indicated by Rotten Tomatoes’ survey of all the film’s reviews, the film failed at trying to do too much, including plotlines that involving multiple crimes, commentary on the state of white flight and Black success in the suburbs in the 1950s, and social satire of the post-war middle-class boom. The box office was similarly unkind to "Suburbicon," with the film only making back about half of its production budget.
The Great Wall
Before "The Great Wall" even hit theaters, the film had already begun to face charges of whitewashing and white saviorism. Damon, for his part, denied any such thing, insisting that the intention from the start had been for his role to be a Western white man. Therefore, he didn’t "steal" a role from an Asian or Asian-American actor. Damon played an Irish mercenary soldier alongside American actors like Willem Dafoe and Pedro Pascal. Most of the cast, however, was comprised of Chinese actors.
Upon its release, the debate did not cease. Some publications, like The Huffington Post, rejected claims of whitewashing while admitting white saviorism was harder to dismiss. Others felt the final product confirmed their initial impressions. Others still, like IndieWire, decided the debate wasn’t even worth having, considering how bad the movie was in and of itself.
However, while the film cratered hard at the box office domestically, it did very well internationally. "Great Wall" made only a third of its budget back in the United States, but the film took in nearly $290 million overseas. When all was said and done, "Great Wall" overcame its negative buzz and a disinterested domestic audience to make more than $180 million more than its production budget.