Honestly, it’s actually not that easy to pick the best Matt Damon movie. There are so many where the actor shines. Even his puppet in Team America: World Police is amazing. However, it must be done. Some of the obvious choices are clearly some of his best films. The Bourne Series, The Departed, Saving Private Ryan, The Martian, and True Grit. However, the crown has to go to Good Will Hunting. Damon is incredible in the film, and both he and Ben Affleck wrote the script which won the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay. Now that’s impressive.
Good Will Hunting does benefit from having an amazing cast in Robin Williams, Ben Affleck, Minnie Driver, and Stellen Skarsgard. However, Matt Damon is the focal point of this story. Well, his character is. The premise is one that earned Affleck and Damon an Academy Award as well. The film was also nominated for Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Supporting Actor, which the late and great Robin Willaims won. The accolades for the film are a big reason why it is one of his best. But isn’t just the fact that it won awards, it is truly a good film.
Good Will Hunting follows the life of Will Hunting (Matt Damon) as an untapped genius who must traverse the world of being a troubled adult after going through the system as an orphan, and having a brain that can truly change the world. Will begins therapy through a deferred prosecution agreement after assaulting an officer. Renowned mathematics professor, Gerald Lambeau (Skarsgard) attempts to exploit Will’s mind while he leans on a former colleague, Sean Maguire (Willaims) to get through to the young genius. Minnie Driver plays the love interest of Skylar, as she attempts to understand the “tormented” mind of Will.
The juxtaposition of being a genius in a world full of abuse, abandonment, and anger is the type of premise that helped this film garner so many Academy Award nominations, and the performances are top-level. Good Will Hunting came out in 1997 and still retains a 97% critic rating on Rotten Tomatoes coupled with a 94% audience score. The film is ranked #53 in The Hollywood Reporter’s “Top 100 Films list”, which was cultivated in 2014. The film grossed over $225 million worldwide and became a monumental success both monetarily and critically. Matt Damon wrote and starred in one of the most influential films of the 1990s. This is certainly a long list of well-deserved praise.
It’s not easy for actors to transition into screenwriters and vice versa, but for both Matt Damon and Affleck to write such a captivating script is something that is seldom seen. The film was nominated for Best Picture at the 70th Annual Academy Awards ceremony and was in the same category with As Good As It Gets and Titantic, of course, losing to the latter. That’s some heavy competition to be in, but imagine just being nominated alongside James Cameron’s epic. It would have certainly rocked Hollywood if Good Will Hunting had won Best Picture, and honestly, it deserved to win.
Although Matt Damon has clearly had a stellar career and plenty of his films deserve to be mentioned as a top choice for any ranking list, Good Will Hunting is the film in which he was able to deliver a captivating performance while also winning an award for writing said picture. The film takes the audience on a journey of tormented self-discovery. He currently only has four screenplay credits to his name, but he should think more about becoming a full-fledged screenwriter if and when he decides to retire from acting. Which we all hope is not anytime soon.
Good Will Hunting touches on so many emotional subjects while remaining down to earth in its humorous delivery and capabilities. Matt Damon delivers a performance that is truly outstanding. His acting ability is on full display and complemented by the cast around him. Robin Willaims and Damon share a scene that will have even the biggest non-crying folks crumbling and breaking down. This film is the highest rated in his career, and for good reason. It is a great film to show to those who have not seen any of Damon’s earlier works.