64 men enter. One man leaves.
A few words on the criteria: I'm only taking into account performances from the past ten years (1997 and onward). Film and television performances count. Match-ups will be judged on the following merits: (1) number of performances I've enjoyed (sheer quantity); (2) whose singular best performance is the greatest (quality); (3) if I had an Oscar ballot, how many nominations would the actor have received since '97 (fake Oscars); (4) if both actors have co-starred in a film, who gave the better performance (spotlights stolen); and (5) since watching boys fight is something you can see at the closest downtown bar, this time around we're judging by who would prevail in the most time-tested of competitive activities: The Walkoff (Motherf*cking Walkoff).
Alec Baldwin vs. Matt Damon
Quantity: Clash of the titans, y'all. With Jude Law out of the picture, these two are the heaviest hitters in the numbers game, by far. Damon could have had more, too, if Ocean's Thirteen had been interesting enough for me to keep watching past twenty minutes. Try as Baldwin might, he can't keep up with Damon's pace. It kind of sucks that his work on 30 Rock only counts for one credit when he's been putting in stellar work for two years, but such are the vagaries of imaginary bracket tournaments. Advantage: Damon
Quality: Ah, but here's where Jack Donaghy pays off in a big way. We've said it before about Damon, but what makes him a great actor aren't a handful of singular masterpiece characters, but rather an unbeatable run of consistently good ones. That makes him weak in the category, time and again. Advantage: Baldwin
Fake Oscar Nods: Damon: 1 (The Departed); Baldwin: 0.
Spotlights Stolen: They were both in two of last year's giant casting extravaganzas, The Departed and The Good Shepherd. Baldwin was great fun in the former but sadly wasted in the latter. Damon, meanwhile, was awards-worthy in both, which is why 2006 was such a banner year for the guy. Too bad the mainstream awards bodies didn't seem to notice. Advantage: Damon
Motherf*cking Walkoff: We love you, Alec, honest. But Matt's the Sexiest Man Alive, as conducted by a scientific poll at People. Can't fight science. Advantage: Damon
Winner: Matt Damon 4-1
Edward Norton vs. Clive Owen
Quantity: It's a close contest, and looking at the list, it's a proud collection of films, including no less than four of the very best movies of the past ten years. Well done, gentlemen. By the slimmest of margins...Advantage: Norton
Quality: In a battle of shoulda-been-Oscar-winners, Owen in Closer bests Norton in Fight Club. Advantage: Owen.
Fake Oscar Nods: Norton: 2 (American History X; Fight Club); Owen: 1 (Closer).
Spotlights Stolen: They've never shared the screen.
Motherf*cking Walkoff: The rule still stands: The James Bond-est man wins. Except when he doesn't. But this time he does! Advantage: Owen.
Winner: 2-2. HOLY CRAP IT'S A TIE! Do your thing, readers.