The Best (& Worst) Boston Accents Ever To Appear On-Screen

Photo: Moviestore Collection/REX Shutterstock.
When you come across the term "Boston accent," you might flash to Matt Damon's Will Hunting crowing, "How do you like them apples?" outside a Dunkin' Donuts; or Click and Clack, the Tappet Brothers, greeting Car Talk listeners from Cambridge, "Our fair city," MA. Mark Wahlberg. Mayor Quimby. "I pahked my cah in Hahvuhd Yahd." You get the gist.

Hollywood, of course, has never met an accent it didn't like. As such, it's time for Boston's to be trotted out again in the new Chris Pine action-drama, The Finest Hours. Pine swaps his r's for h's as a member of the Coast Gahd (sorry, Coast Guard) sent to rescue a broken tanker helmed by real-life Boston boy Casey Affleck.

The Disney film hits theaters January 29, which makes it an ideal time to look back at cinema's other memorable attempts at perfecting that Beantown banter. Did the cast of The Departed get it right? Do Mystic River and Gone Baby Gone get points for accuracy? Did Tom Hanks nail it?

Click through to see our best and worst picks. No hahd feelings, guys.



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Video: Courtesy Buena Vista Pictures.
Rob Morrow, Quiz Show, 1994

"My personal Hall of Shame would have to include Rob Morrow in Quiz Show," Boston Globe movie critic Ty Burr told NPR in 2013. You have to admit, that "I'm just gettin' stahted" was pretty painful. Note that this is just one of many bad Boston accents Martin Scorsese will have to sit through during his career.
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Video: Courtesy MGM.
Jeff Bridges, Blown Away, 1994

We're not sure who decided to cast laid-back California dude Jeff Bridges as a wise-cracking Bostonian while Texan Tommy Lee Jones had to trot out an Irish accent. We do know that Bridges' accent here is regarded as one of the worst to hit the big screen.
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Video: Courtesy Miramax.
Robin Williams, Good Will Hunting, 1997

Some critics have taken issue with Williams' heavy-handed pronunciation of the word "fahted," but he won an Oscar, so all is forgiven. Matt Damon also masters the accent, proving once again that being a Boston local helps.
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Video: Courtesy New Line Cinema.
Kevin Costner, Thirteen Days, 2000

Every time Costner busts out a Boston accent, a Red Sox batter strikes out.
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Video: Courtesy Warner Bros.
Diane Lane, The Perfect Storm, 2000

Lane's a wonderful actress, but her accent is inconsistent at best, earning her a "win" in a poll on the worst Boston accents. Where's Mark Wahlberg when you need him?
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Video: Courtesy Warner Bros.
Laura Linney, Mystic River, 2003

Depending on whom you ask, this Clint Eastwood thriller has either the worst or the best Boston accents ever heard. Linney's thick-as-chowder accent is particularly hard to hear — and not just because she's telling Sean Penn it's totally okay that he killed an innocent man in this scene.
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Video: Courtesy Warner Bros.
Leonardo DiCaprio, The Departed, 2006

Leo can have his cranberry juice, but he doesn't get props for his half-assed attempts at an accent. Co-stars Alec Baldwin, Vera Farmiga, and Martin Sheen have also been criticized for sounding inauthentic. Mark Wahlberg and Matt Damon, however, can do no wrong.
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Video: Courtesy Miramax.
Amy Ryan, Gone Baby Gone, 2007

Wicked good, this one. So good, it even fooled director and local Boston boy Ben Affleck. "Ben actually said to me at the audition, ‘Where are you from in Boston?’ and I said ‘I am from New York,'" Ryan revealed in an interview. "He said, ‘I have never been fooled in my life before.' It was such a compliment that he thought it worked."
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Video: Courtesy Warner Bros. Pictures.
Mel Gibson, Edge of Darkness, 2010

He's ahmed. He's dangerous. He's absolutely awful. In Mel's defense, he is Australian.
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Video: Courtesy Fox Searchlight Pictures.
Hilary Swank, Conviction, 2010

A Boston Globe review of this legal drama noted Swank's "bleary, frequently moist eyes [which] suggest a woman struggling with both the law and a Massachusetts accent." They don't come much thickah than this, folks. Shoutout to British co-star Minnie Driver's own accent-mangling.
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Video: Courtesy Paramount Pictures.
Mark Ruffalo, Shutter Island, 2010

He's starred in two big films set in Boston (Shutter Island and Spotlight), but the otherwise amazing Ruffalo continues to sound like a guy from Wisconsin (which he is) trying to sound like he grew up in Southie. DiCaprio, sadly, still doesn't sound any better.
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Video: Courtesy Paramount Pictures.
Amy Adams & Mark Wahlberg, The Fighter, 2010

Dorchester native Wahlberg has an inside track on nailing the accent. (See: The Departed, Ted, etc.) Though Adams, who worked with a speech coach, is uneven at times, she does a mostly authentic-sounding job. The same goes for Welshman Christian Bale, who won an Oscar for his role.
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Video: Courtesy Warner Bros.
Blake Lively, The Town, 2010

Lively's stab at sounding like a local came off as cartoonish to many critics. Maybe it's just because we're too busy picturing her strutting down Fifth Avenue and not smoking cigs at the bar? However, Jeremy Renner, who played her brother, did the accent proud.
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Video: Courtesy Sony.
Tom Hanks, Captain Phillips, 2013

Yes, you can be Tom Hanks and still struggle with an accent. Hanks has laid it on thick in two major films, Catch Me If You Can and Captain Phillips. The reactions have been mixed and negative, with the Wall Street Journal noting that "the phrase 'We have been boadid by ahmed pirates' should be included on the Massachusetts state residency exam."
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Video: Open Road Films.
Michael Keaton, Spotlight, 2015

It's a pity Keaton didn't get more love for his performance or nuanced accent. In an interview with Jimmy Fallon, the actor explained that he wanted to avoid doing an over-the-top version, preferring to stay true to his character.

"When you focus too much on it, you don’t want to screw it up," he said. "You want to, like, sew it into the character,” Keaton said. “Robby — Walter Robinson, the guy I played — he doesn’t have one, really. And then when you hang out with him, you hear it come out in certain words, certain sentences, depending on with whom he’s speaking.”
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Video: Courtesy Warner Bros.
Benedict Cumberbatch, Black Mass, 2015

Is there anyone out there who doesn't think BC is simply doing a Peter Griffin impersonation? Anyone?
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