Face-Off: Matt Damon vs. Ben Affleck

Last Updated on August 5, 2021

Last week, Malcolm X proved more popular than Dirk Diggler, as you chose Denzel Washington over Mark Wahlberg.

With Matt Damon’s sci-fi actioner ELYSIUM due out in theaters this Friday and Ben Affleck’s oh-so-quiet TO THE WONDER now out on DVD and Blu-ray, this week’s FACE-OFF pits the men against each other to see which of the Beantown BFFs you prefer.

Damon’s debut was MYSTIC PIZZA in 1988, and in the pre-GOOD WILL HUNTING days he spent a portion of his days working with Affleck (SCHOOL TIES, GLORY DAZE). After GWH, Damon got work with such directors as Francis Ford Coppola, Steven Spielberg, Gus Van Sant, Steven Soderbergh, Paul Greengrass, and Martin Scorsese. Some of his finer works include SAVING PRIVATE RYAN, THE DEPARTED, two-thirds of the OCEAN’S TRILOGY, and TRUE GRIT, while his duds include ALL THE PRETTY HORSES, HEREAFTER and STUCK ON YOU.
Affleck had a much stronger pre-GWH lineup than Damon, as he appeared in (aside from SCHOOL TIES and GLORY DAZES) CHASING AMY, MALLRATS and DAZED AND CONFUSED, which found him paddling freshman and donning his single greatest haircut. Affleck took a different route than Damon and wound up collaborating with the likes of John Madden, Michael Bay, Jennifer Lopez, and others. While Affleck certainly has good movies to his credit (ARGO, AMY, THE TOWN), there are far too many flops (DAREDEVIL, FORCES OF NATURE, GIGLI) on his resume.
Box Office
Ten of Damon’s films have grossed more than $100 million domestically, with two having exceeded $200 million. Damon’s lifetime gross currently sits at $2.6 billion, in major part to his involvement in the BOURNE and OCEAN’S franchises, and his average is an impressive $72.9.
Affleck has had seven pictures cross the $100 million mark, with his top two being pairings with Michael Bay. Both Affleck’s lifetime gross and average pale in comparison to his friend’s, as his total is nearly $1 billion less than Damon’s and his average is $50.7 million.
Damon’s first trip to the Oscars saw him co-winning Best Original Screenplay for GWH. His only other nod for acting came for his turn in INVICTUS. He’s proven more popular at the Golden Globes, where his performances in GWH, THE TALENTED MR. RIPLEY, INVICTUS, and THE INFORMANT! were nominated. Damon has also earned Emmy nods for both producing (PROJECT GREENLIGHT) and acting (30 ROCK).
Affleck’s behind-the-scenes roles have proven popular with the Academy, as he has won for both co-writing GWH and producing (not {ahem} directing) ARGO. Both of those films also won him Golden Globes and he was nominated for his acting in HOLLYWOODLAND. Like Damon, he’s earned Emmy nods for his work on PROJECT GREENLIGHT. Unlike Damon, Affleck has eight Razzie nominations with two “wins.”

The Razzies do a lot to hurt Affleck, but winning two Oscars and two Golden Globes gives him the edge.
Boston Pride
Damon studied at Harvard, which many of you recognize as Max Fischer’s “safety,” but left his senior year to pursue acting. He (along with Affleck) set and shot GWH in Boston, but didn’t return to Beantown for cinematic purposes until THE DEPARTED in 2006.
Affleck has made his passion for Boston more obvious, having used the city as the backdrop for his first two directorial features (GONE BABY GONE, THE TOWN). Affleck has also professed his devotion to the Red Sox, Celtics, Bruins, and New England Patriots. He is also probably a big fan of CHEERS.
Damon’s much-publicized humanitarian work includes co-founding the H2O Africa Foundation and promoting Water.org, which both focus on providing clean water to developing nations. Damon also has involved himself with the Not On Our Watch Project, which brings attention to human rights issues across the globe, as well as the ONE Campaign and Feeding America, which look to end hunger and poverty in Third World nations.
Affleck has been involved with the non-profit A-T Children’s Project, which searches for a cure for the genetic disease of the same name, and, in 2010, he formed the Eastern Congo Initiative, which is meant to provide aid to CBOs in the country. Affleck has also teamed with the Global Poverty Project by living on only $1.50 a day, which must be quite the challenge for someone with three kids and a mansion in LA.
Damon has the stronger resume and box office performance, while Affleck has more Oscars on his mantle and unmatched hometown pride. In the end, they’re two respectable movie stars that put as much effort into commendable charity work as they do their filmographies.

If you have suggestions for an upcoming Face-Off column, shoot me an e-mail at [email protected]!

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