mdamonBy Michaela Zanello

As frequent co-stars, Matt Damon and George Clooney have become very good friends over the years. Since their first appearance together in “Ocean’s 11” (2001), the pair has worked alongside one another in three more feature films: “Ocean’s 12,” “Syriana,” and “Ocean’s 13.” Now, the Clooney-Damon camaraderie might not be quite as tightly knit as the Clooney-Pitt bromance, but still, it is impossible to say that George and Matt don’t have a groovy kind of guy love going on. Apparently, the dynamic duo likes to convey their amity by playing jocular pranks on one other. Recently, Clooney followed through on a pledge to get revenge on his buddy for a public gay joke by hiring a woman to alter the waistband on all of Damon’s trousers to make it appear as though the actor’s attempt to shed a few pounds had been entirely in vain. Smooth, Clooney, real smooth.

So, given their bromantic tendencies, this year’s Oscar race may prove to be very interesting for George and Matt, who are both strong contenders for best actor nominations for their roles in “Up in the Air” and “The Informant.”

In “Up in the Air,” George Clooney plays Ryan Bingham, a savvy business man who makes a living out of stylishly firing people. As a part of his job, Ryan has to do a lot of travelling, and as a result, he has accumulated a hoard of frequent flyer miles. His goal is to reach the ten million mile mark, but unfortunately, his plans are foiled when his company decides to curtail air travel. The hindering of the accretion of miles isn’t the only adverse consequence of Ryan’s company’s decision, however. Over the course of his travels, Ryan begins a relationship with a fellow frequent flyer named Alex, and now, if he is grounded, he won’t be able to see his lady friend anymore. Clooney is perfect in this role. As a bona fide expert at conveying professional suaveness, Mr. Clooney is probably the only actor out there capable of projecting just the right amount of smoothness to make Ryan’s character palatable but not so as to eclipse his genuineness or vulnerability.

In “The Informant,” the mustache-clad Matt Damon stars as Mark Whitacre, a rising star at a major agri-business corporation turned price-fixing whistleblower. With a terrific capacity for self-delusion, Mark decides on a whim to reveal the details of some dodgy price-fixing dealings that his company has been involved with to the FBI. Following his big disclosure, Mark signs on as a spy for the FBI so that a case can be built against his crooked company. The only problem is that Mark isn’t exactly the world’s most reliable stool pigeon. There is the slight matter of nine million swindled dollars to deal with, along with Mark’s incessant lies and sociopathic tendencies. In this beefed up role, Matt Damon gives one of the best performances of his career. The gifted character actor adeptly portrays Mark’s oddball mixture of naivety and conceit while maintaining an echelon of empathy so as to not make him seem like too much of a caricature.

Both Clooney and Damon give laudable performances in the aforementioned films that are likely to garner a lot of attention from the Academy this year. So, given the mercurial nature their friendship, there is likely to be plenty of light hearted smearing and smack-talk between the two comrades. Let’s just hope that it really is all in good fun.