Looking for an excuse to watch more movies? Of course you are, and improving your English is the best excuse we can think of! Due to the various regions in the United States, there are many different accents you’ll hear. For instance, there is the Southern accent (think cowboys!), the Boston accent, the New York accent, the California accent, and more! Read on, pick a regional accent you’d like to learn, and start listening to the recommend celebrity by watching their movies and video clips. Here’s our ultimate guide to American Accent training!
The Southern accent
The movie: The Blind Side
The celebrity: Sandra Bullock
While Bullock had the help and assistance from a dialect coach to perfect her southern accent, you can do the next best thing by imitating Bullock’s character. Bullock plays a strong southern women intent on adopting a child with a rough past. Listen to her southern drawl and try and mimic that golden southern accent. Be particularly aware of her long vowels, classic of any Southern American accent.
The movie: Selma
The celebrity: David Oyelowo
Oyelowo plays Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in this historical movie based on true events. Oyelowo’s portrayal of a southern accent is both accurate and believable. His character rendition of Martin Luther King Jr. helped him earn multiple awards for this movie. It’s not only Oyelowo’s southern accent that’s inspirational, all of the supporting actors and actresses in this movie have immaculate southern accents.
The Boston accent
The movie: Good Will Hunting
The celebrities: Robin Williams and Matt Damon
Robin Williams, a highly celebrated actor, portrays a therapist for a young genius in this classic movie. Williams has received a lot of praise for his subtle rendition of a Boston accent. Matt Damon’s character is also a great example of the Boston accent done correctly. A Boston accent is difficult to master, it can easily become caricatured (highly exaggerated and unrealistic). Follow these actor’s linguistic examples to help your Boston accent sound more realistic!
The movie: Gone Baby Gone
The celebrity: Amy Ryan
Ryan plays a negligent mother of a kidnapped girl in this highly intense and emotional film. Her immaculate performance of the Boston accent* gained a lot of praise from movie critics and Bostonians alike. In fact, Ryan was mistaken for a true Bostonian multiple times throughout the filming of the movie. As mentioned above, Boston accents are tough to mimic, but practicing Amy Ryan’s accent in this role will make your Boston accent sound more authentic!
*Disclaimer: This movie is rated ‘R’ for language, violence, and nudity. The selected video clip is also foul in both language and content.
The New York accent
The movie: Newsies
The celebrity: Christian Bale
Based on true events, this family friendly film features Bale as a young boy living in New York City during the newsboys strike of 1899. His job selling newspapers is threatened when the price of newspapers rise. Bale’s New York accent is perfect for imitation! He lays it on thick, providing you with plenty of material and examples. Listen to these accents for some inspiration!
The movie: The Wolf of Wall Street
The celebrity: Margot Robbie
Robbie’s character, a wealthy wife in New York City, has a strong New York accent throughout the entire movie. Robbie’s stellar impersonation of the New York accent is impressive, as she’s actually an Australian native. She proves that this accent can be learned and mastered. Listen to Robbie’s strong enunciations* to really grasp the classic New York accent.
*Disclaimer: This movie is rated ‘R’ for strong language as well as nudity. Selected movie clips are strong in language as well as content.
The California accent
The movie: Clueless
The Celebrity: Alicia Silverstone
Alicia Silverstone, a California native, plays a spoiled, yet kindhearted teenager. Silverstone sports a hyperbolized California accent throughout the film. This “valley girl” accent is stereotypical and not exactly an accurate representation of American speech. However, if you’re looking for a dramatic American accent with flair, look no further and listen to Silverstone in this clip! Or try replicating her accent to hear some prime valley girl slang. The valley girl accent from California is a fun accent to try and master.
The movie: Surfer, Dude
The celebrity: Matthew McConaughey
McConaughey plays a stereotypical California surfer having a young life crisis. His portrayal of the California surfer accent is very dramatic. If you’re looking to imitate this hyperbolized American accent, McConaughey’s linguistic surfer dude expressions are a perfect place to look!
Even though there are dozens of American accents, these classic four are perfect for any beginner! While watching these celebrities and listening to the accents they portray, try and attempt their lines throughout the movie. Some accents are more difficult to master than others, but trying out all these American accents are sure to give you and your friends a few laughs.
Related blog posts
Interested in more articles on American accent training. Here is a great resource on American English sounds.
Want to know TV shows that are ideal for American accent training? Here are some TV shows to watch.