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16 Underrated Matt Damon Performances That Remind Us Why We Love Him

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Vote up the Matt Damon performances that deserve more attention.

Matt Damon went from working actor to superstar in 1997 when Good Will Hunting became both a box office smash and a serious awards contender. He's been ubiquitous on screen ever since. One look at his resume reveals just how many significant films he's been a part of - Saving Private Ryan, The Departed, The Martian, the Ocean's, and Bourne franchises. The level of success he's had is seriously impressive.

Of course, when you work as often as Damon does, some movies fall through the cracks. Other times, good films just get kind of pushed aside by the ones that turned into blockbusters. What follows are some underrated Matt Damon performances. In this case, "underrated" refers to work he's done that isn't talked about to the same degree as what he did playing Will Hunting or Jason Bourne. Several of these pictures were hits, but he still didn't get the credit he deserved. Others are movies that didn't catch on for whatever reason. Either way, he's terrific in all of them.

Which of these Matt Damon performances shows the actor at his best? Vote for your favorites. 

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  • 1
    219 VOTES

    The Informant!

    The Informant! is based on a bizarre true story. Matt Damon plays Mark Whitacre, a high-ranking executive at Archer Daniels Midland. When the government starts investigating the company for alleged price-fixing, Mark agrees to wear a wire so that he can collect evidence. It turns out, however, that he's a serial liar who has also embezzled heavily from the company. That's just the start of the shenanigans. 

    Damon gained some weight for the role in an effort to look less like a traditional movie star. He turns Mark into a hilariously weird, elusive, shady character. Just as importantly, he conveys the character's desperation as he has to pile lie upon lie in order to keep from being exposed. It's a grade-A portrait of a pathetic loser. 

    219 votes

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  • 2
    66 VOTES

    Rounders is widely considered by poker fans to be one of the very best films ever made on the subject. Damon's character, Mike, promises his girlfriend he'll stop playing after losing his $30,000 tuition money to a Russian gangster. When his pal Worm (Edward Norton) gets out of jail and is faced with debt, Mike helps him get involved in a few games. Worm doesn't win, though, so Mike has no choice but to break his promise and start hitting the tables again. 

    Damon gets to draw on his intelligence here. Mike is a master at sizing up his fellow players by observing their "tells" - those unconscious tics that give away a person's hand. The actor makes that quality believable. Naturally, he also has to let us know what Mike is feeling, even when he's got his poker face on. Damon ensures we understand the intense pressure he's under at every turn. Rounders works because we never doubt him as a poker whiz. 

    66 votes

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  • Director Anthony Minghella memorably brought Patricia Highsmith's novel The Talented Mr. Ripley to the screen in 1999. Matt Damon stars as Tom Ripley, a quiet and unassuming guy who goes to Italy to coerce his friend Dickie (Jude Law) to return to America, at the behest of Dickie's father. The task doesn't go as planned, leading to murder and identity theft once Tom becomes jealous of the luxurious lifestyle his buddy is living.

    The key to making this role work is for the audience to not immediately know what Tom is capable of. Damon hits that beat perfectly, allowing us to see the growing envy inside of Tom, while also shocking us with the unexpected, foul acts he eventually carries out. The Talented Mr. Ripley was very acclaimed at the time of its release, but it was Jude Law who got an Oscar nomination, not Damon. The truth is, the picture succeeds because of the dark side he gradually brings out in Tom. 

    262 votes

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  • 4
    176 VOTES

    When it hit theaters in 2011, Contagion seemed like nothing more than a scary What if? pandemic tale. Today, it seems eerily prescient. The movie focuses on a deadly virus as it makes its way around the world. An all-star cast is on hand to play scientists, doctors, and victims. 

    Matt Damon is Mitch Emhoff, a guy whose wife is one of the first fatalities of the virus. He spends the rest of the film trying to prevent his young daughter from contracting it. The actor's performance was good at the time - an effective depiction of a man who has already lost one family member and is desperate to avoid losing another. Viewed in light of COVID-19, though, it's nothing less than shattering. Years before we faced a global pandemic, Damon showed us the terror many of us would come to feel less than a decade later. 

    176 votes

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  • 5
    157 VOTES
    Gerry
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    Gerry is a very unusual film that isn't for everybody. It does, however, pack a punch for viewers who can get on its wavelength. Matt Damon and Casey Affleck play two guys who go for a hike in Death Valley. They wander off the marked path and soon become hopelessly lost. Initially, they try to stay optimistic, but that becomes harder as the seriousness of the situation sets in. 

    A lot of the movie consists of shots featuring the two men walking. You might not think that would require a lot of acting, yet it does. Damon makes palpable the increasing sense of worry his character feels. Watching him, you can see the optimism fading, replaced by gut-wrenching fear. It's subtle work, yet if you pay close attention to what he's doing, it's also devastating.

    157 votes

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  • 6
    192 VOTES

    The Last Duel

    Despite good reviews, Ridley Scott's The Last Duel opened and flopped, automatically making it an underrated Matt Damon movie. The star plays Jean de Carrouges, a knight in the king's army whose friendship with squire Jacques Le Gris (Adam Driver) is put to the test when his wife Marguerite (Jodie Comer) accuses Le Gris of violating her. To defend her honor - and to protect his own reputation - Carrouges challenges his now-nemesis to a duel.

    Damon isn't necessarily someone you'd expect to see playing a Frenchman in the 1300s, but he's superb. Through his efforts, we can see the rage Carrouges has when Count Pierre d'Alençon (Ben Affleck) usurps a valuable piece of land that was supposed to be part of his wife's dowry. Later, he shows us the way this character is more worried about how his wife's violation reflects on him, rather than the impact it has on her. It's a multi-layered performance in a movie unafraid to tackle big themes. 

    192 votes