Thursday, 6 May 2010

Best Actor 1997: Matt Damon in Good Will Hunting

Matt Damon received his first acting Oscar nomination for playing troubled mathematical genius Will Hunting in Good Will Hunting.

Good Will Hunting was also written by Damon, and it is rather predictable movie with many inspirational and emotional speeches. I won't say its horrible, it was not exactly intolerable to watch, but it was not exactly very interesting to watch either.

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.

8 comments:

Sage Slowdive said...

Hmmm, well I do agree with everything you say, but I don't know if I'd rate him that low.

joe burns said...

Thought he was alright, but nothing great, really.

Louis Morgan said...

Sage Slowdive: Well I am glad you agree. I feel comfortable with a 1.5 for Damon though.

Joe Burns: Nothing nomination worthy.

joe burns said...

What did you think of Driver and Williams?

Sage Slowdive said...

I'd like to hear your thoughts on Minnie Driver, who probably gives one, if not the most boring supporting performance in her category.

Louis Morgan said...

Joe Burns: Williams was okay at times, but he did some things very wrong. Such as his accent was really all over the place, and a few times I thought he was doing the comedian Robin Williams.

Joe and Sage: Driver basically is just boring, and uninteresting.

Bill J said...

Are you fucking nuts? Damon's character in this film touches the internal receptors we all have - or should have - and really lights them up. And his portrayal of genius is inherent in his own being as a person, not just as an actor. You pompous, narcissistic idiots!

Jared Wignall said...

I've felt for a long time that Matt Damon should've won the Academy Award for Best Actor for Good Will Hunting. Now we know he won Best Original Screenplay with Ben Affleck, which was rightfully deserved, but I feel he should've won over the other Nominees. They were all good, but I feel Damon was stronger, especially since the performance he was nominated for an Oscar for was essentially his breakout role.
I'll give you some descriptions of all the nominees that were nominated in 1998:

Matt Damon in Good Will Hunting: Damon plays Will Hunting who is a math genius, but even though his friends, particularly Ben Affleck, want him to succeed, Will doesn't want that type of life. Even though he works with a math genius, played by Stellan Skarsgard, who wants him to use his potential as well, though he may be just using him for personal gain, and Will sees a psychiatrist, played by Robin Williams, who want him to do what is right for himself and to let people in, but Will is skeptical about the whole thing, especially when learning he's an orphan which does , hope I didn't spoil anything for anyone reading. Even his girlfriend, played by Minnie Driver, seems to want him to use his potential and let people in.

Robert Duvall in The Apostle: Duvall plays a charismatic preacher who constantly sleeps around. And his wife gets upset, starts sleeping with someone else, and gets the church to — whatever it is when they’re no longer an official preacher. No defrocked, because he wasn’t that kind of priest. He touches farmers’ daughters, not little boys.

Peter Fonda in Ulee’s Gold: The film is about a beekeeper who is raising grandkids because his son is in jail and his daughter-in-law is a drug addict who has disappeared. And his son begs him to find the daughter-in-law and bring her back. So he does this, and they bring her back, try to help her detox, and then him dealing with his son’s criminal associates who want some sort of hidden money their son has.

Dustin Hoffman in Wag the Dog: The film is about a Bill Clinton-esque President (the film was released before the Lewinsky thing) who, two weeks before reelection day, he was alone in the oval office with a dancer, who claims the president harassed her


Jack Nicholson in As Good As It Gets: Nicholson, misanthropic author who becomes a better person with the help of Helen Hunt and his gay painter neighbor Greg Kinnear. The film is good, and so is Nicholson, who won the Oscar for this film. The only problem is that Nicholson has been playing this type of character for a long time. You may say that he started playing it in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest and as well in Terms of Endearment, which he also won Oscars for, but here in the 90s we've seen this type of performance done by him already and there are other movies he acted this way, Batman in 89 for instance.

My point is Damon played a character that could've been a part that any other actor that came to play him, might not have worked at all. Damon, yes he did write the part for himself, but I feel you'd want to do justice to the character you wrote on page for yourself to translate to film as well. That wouldn't be an easy feat to do, and the whole film is amazing as well as the performance. Now, these roles are all different, but still, in my opinion, Damon stands out the most. His character has depth that we see come to light throughout the film, and I still feel there's a lot we don't know about Will Hunting. The other nominee's characters do have depth, but, to me at least, not to the level as Damon's portrayal as Will Hunting. That's just me though, so I could be a minority on this...