Matt Damon received his first acting Oscar nomination for playing troubled mathematical genius Will Hunting in Good Will Hunting.
A flaw with the film is it involves a lot of actors with their first big role, and many of them are not exactly up to the task or come off as a bit amateurish. This includes actors who will eventually become extremely good like Casey Affleck or good like Matt Damon. A inherit problem with their performances is the Boston accent they do. Not everyone talks that way in Boston. Also they really over do the accent to the extreme. The accent is an automatic hindrance to their performance.It is interesting that Damon eventually learned to tone down the accent in the Departed.
Damon plays the genius who really is rather unrealistic. Damon never really sells his character well and I never believe for a second that he actually is a genius. Instead he comes off as a genius that someone wrote so they could play genius, making the genius part of him rather fake. Damon has a lot of big emotional scenes in fact they are almost constantly there in this film. His scenes with Robin Williams, are rather awkward, and always seems like they want to be the big psychiatric emotional scenes, but never work like the ones that do work. These scenes ring always slightly false especially the big crying scene. Damon is not Timothy Hutton from Ordinary people in these scenes.
Damon's whole performance is always slightly awkward and false, and it never quite works. Damon is not all bad, I guess but at best he is just okay. He has a natural presence and is somewhat hits the right emotional notes, but he does not hit the right notes all the way. He is just slightly off. He could certainly have been worse but he certainly could have been a lot better too.