In what may be a sign that we're all getting old, Matt Damon, who became a bona fide star 13 years ago with the release of 'Good Will Hunting,' turns 40 today.
To celebrate one of the most successful (and, in many ways, underrated) careers in Hollywood, we're taking a look back at some of Matt Damon's best movies, from little-seen gems like 'The Informant!' to the uber-popular 'Bourne' trilogy.
Check them out after the jump, then share your favorite Matt Damon movies in the comments.
7. 'Ocean's 11'
This isn't necessarily a Matt Damon movie, considering it starred every major Hollywood actor at the time, but it was still fun to see him steal the spotlight from the likes of Brad Pitt and George Clooney. In this Rat Pack remake from Steven Soderbergh, Damon's character, Linus Caldwell, played well to his strength as a comedic actor. Best of all, he never dropped his A-game, even when the subsequent 'Ocean's' movies disappointed.
6. 'The Informant!'
Arguably the most underrated performance of last year, and of Damon's career (heck, some of us thought he deserved an Oscar nomination for it), 'The Informant!' re-teamed Damon with Soderbergh for another breezy and enjoyable comedy. This time, though, the film rests on Damon's spot-on performance, which gives audiences the perfect mix of kooky comedy and, in this case, real-life drama. (The film was based on former ADM exec Mark Whitacre, who in 1998 was sentenced to 10 years in federal prison for embezzlement while working as an FBI whistleblower.)
5. 'Good Will Hunting'
One might argue that this is the quintessential Matt Damon movie, as it launched both Damon and best friend Ben Affleck into super-stardom, for better (in the case of Damon) or worse (in the case of Affleck -- up until 'Gone Baby Gone,' anyway). But no matter how schmaltzy some of the scenes were (come on), by the time the end credits rolled it was undeniable that Matt Damon would go on to become one of Hollywood's most reliable leading men -- even if audiences had to suffer through 'All the Pretty Horses' first.
4. 'The Bourne Supremacy'
'The Bourne Identity' may have saved his career, but it was its sequel, 'The Bourne Supremacy,' that solidified Damon as a true action star. Led with brilliant direction from Paul Greengrass, 'Supremacy' set a new tone for the trilogy, revamping it from mindless entertainment into a tense, heart-stopping thrill ride, with incredible action sequences that harkened back to the days of 'The French Connection.'
3. 'The Talented Mr. Ripley'
Though it's easily the most uncomfortable movie of his career (the bathtub scene, anyone?), 'The Talented Mr. Ripley' was a major turning point for Damon, as it proved that he was much more than a pretty boy concerned with people's thoughts on apples. As the oh-so-creepy title character, Damon did what every great actor does when playing a villain -- he made Tom Ripley just frightening enough to scare audiences, but not enough to turn them away. Even though it involved major deaths (Jude Law! Philip Seymour Hoffman!) and a few unfortunate crying scenes with Gwyneth Paltrow, Damon was so convincing as the lying, cheating and murderous title character that we actually wanted to see what crazy schemes he could get away with. (Which, as it turned out, was everything he did.)
2. 'The Departed'
Working with Martin Scorsese for the first time, Damon played a more straight-forward villain in 'The Departed,' though that didn't stop him from being just as awesome as he was in 'Ripley.' Once again, Damon got audiences to love to hate him with his charming, devilish attitude. This time, he played Colin Sullivan, a Boston police officer who secretly works for mob boss Frank Costello (Jack Nicholson). We may have been rooting for Leonardo DiCaprio to win the whole time, but we'd be lying if we said we didn't enjoy watching Damon try.
1. 'The Bourne Ultimatum'
This third (and apparently no longer final) act in the 'Bourne' series carried on the tone set in 'Supremacy,' and perfected it so well that it's almost impossible to imagine how Tony Gilroy will ever top it in the fourth movie. For now, though, it remains the highlight of both the trilogy and of Matt Damon's career -- the perfect blend of acting, writing, direction and, as you'll see below, epic action sequences (if you can watch without losing your breath, anyway).
Honorable Mentions: 'Saving Private Ryan' -- Though it flatlined by the time Damon showed up, those first 20 or so minutes really were epic.
'School Ties' -- for nostalgia's sake.
'Invictus' -- for this.
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