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It may be mid-March, but considering the underwhelming output of the year so far, I don’t think it’s too late to make a most anticipated movies list.
Any time Spike Jonze releases a new movie, it’s probably going to be my number one most anticipated movie of the year. That’s just how it works. And given that Jonze hasn’t made a movie since 2009’s Where the Wild Things Are and that Her stars the equally (until just recently) absent Joaquin Phoenix, yeah, you could say I’m looking forward to it. The movie stars Phoenix as a man who falls in love with his operating system, and the movie also stars Rooney Mara, Amy Adams, Olivia Wilde, and Samantha Morton.
2. Twelve Years a Slave
Director Steve McQueen teams up with actor Michael Fassbender once again for this upcoming slavery drama. That pairing alone would be enough to catch my interest, but the movie’s extremely impressive cast also includes Chiwetel Ejiofor (who we have not seen nearly enough of recently), Brad Pitt, Benedict Cumberbatch, Paul Giamatti, Paul Dano, Garrett Dillahunt (Raising Hope), Taran Killam (Saturday Night Live), Scoot McNairy (Killing Them Softly), Adepero Oduye (Pariah), and Quevenzhane Wallis and Dwight Henry (both from Beasts of the Southern Wild). Whew.
3. Prince Avalanche
I’ve been waiting five years for David Gordon Green to recapture the understated magic he found in movies such as Snow Angels, All the Real Girls, and George Washington. Now, after his stoner comedy detour (and for the record, I did love Pineapple Express), he seems to have found his way back with Prince Avalanche. With an appealing lead duo of Emile Hirsch and Paul Rudd, this dramedy follows two friends in the ‘80s who escape their urban lifestyles for a summer. It was a hit at Sundance and Green even scooped up the prestigious Silver Bear at the Berlin Film Festival, so this is certainly one I’ll be checking out.
4. This is the End
Shows like Community have popularized the “meta” approach to storytelling, but I can’t think of a project that takes the concept quite so far as the upcoming ensemble comedy This is the End. The film stars Seth Rogen, James Franco, Jonah Hill, Paul Rudd, Michael Cera, Jason Segel, Emma Watson, Jay Baruchel, and Danny McBride…who all play themselves. After a long night of partying at James Franco’s house, they wake up to find that the world has ended while they slept and they must deal with the fallout. This whole concept could become very one-note, but the trailer was pretty hilarious, and I’m excited to see whether or not writer-directors Rogen and Evan Goldberg (who wrote Superbad together) can make it work.
Ron Howard is a director who seems to get a lot of criticism for his sentimentality, but I personally am a big fan of Apollo 13, A Beautiful Mind and Frost/Nixon. So when I heard that he was making a movie with Chris Hemworth and Daniel Bruhl (Inglourious Basterds) I was immediately hooked. The film is called Rush, and it’s based on the true story of two racecar drivers in the 19070s. Hemsworth has proven to have presence and acting chops even in the glossiest of blockbusters, and I think we’re yet to see his full potential. Meanwhile, Bruhl has had a successful career in Germany (please check out Good Bye Lenin! if you haven’t already), but is yet to truly get his big American break after appearing in Basterds. This could be the movie that puts them on the map as bonafide dramatic actors.
6. Devil’s Knot
The West Memphis Three have been a popular film subject recently, with several documentaries made about the case (the most recent of which was last year’s West of Memphis). Now, it gets the fictional treatment by director Adam Egoyan (The Sweet Hereafter) with Devil’s Knot. The film stars Colin Firth, who I’m always happy to see, but it’s perhaps one of the supporting players who I am most intrigued by. Dane DeHaan is an actor I’ve championed a lot, and since I’m assuming he’ll play one of the accused teenagers in this movie, I’m interested to see what he’ll do with the meaty subject matter.
7. Night Moves
Kelly Reichardt’s Wendy and Lucy didn’t do much for me, but I did love her 2011 project, Meek’s Cutoff. Now, she teams up with Peter Sarsgaard, Jesse Eisenberg, and Dakota Fanning for a drama about extremists who plan to blow up a dam. It sounds like a more plot-driven concept than her usual fare, and I’m intrigued to see what Reichardt will do with that.
8. Labor Day
Jason Reitman is another director whose work I am automatically going to get excited about. This one sounds to be more dramatic than his usual work, as a mother and son unknowingly befriend an escaped convict. Add in a cast of Kate Winslet, Josh Brolin, James Van Der Beek (I fully support this comeback), and Tobey Maguire, and I’m on board 100%.
9. The Rover
After the success of 2010’s Animal Kingdom, I, like many others, have eagerly been awaiting David Michod’s second directorial effort. It turns out that project is The Rover, which re-unites him with Guy Pearce. Also joining this “near-future Western” is the always intriguing Robert Pattinson, whose acting skill I still have hopes for. Throw in Scoot McNairy (what ISN’T he in, lately?) and you’ve got a movie that sounds potentially pretty great.
10. Only God Forgives
Fanboys, this is your moment. Nicolas Winding Refn and Ryan Gosling are reunited for this gritty tale of Thai boxing. And while I think all of the breathless pronouncements about how amazing Drive is get a bit silly, Drive is a solid film, and it’s extremely stylish and visually captivating. So, yeah, I’m definitely interested to see what this pair has to offer next.
Honorable Mention: Kill Your Darlings
Daniel Radcliffe plays Allen Ginsberg in this beat-era drama that premiered at Sundance. Dane DeHaan received standout reviews for his performance as Lucien Carr, and the cast also includes Ben Foster, Jack Huston, Elizabeth Olsen, and Michael C. Hall.
Honorable Mention: The Spectacular Now
This story of a youth struggling with love and a budding alcohol problem has all the makings of a cheesy teen movie on paper, but it’s the cast that is really winning me over. Leads Miles Teller and Shailene Woodley are two of my favourite young actors, and after their work in Rabbit Hole and The Descendants, respectively, I’m excited to see what else they can do. Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Kyle Chandler, and Brie Larson also appear. And on top of all that, this is the second feature from director James Ponsoldt, whose sweet and touching Smashed completely won me over at TIFF last year.
Honorable Mention: A Single Shot
I’m always down for a movie where Sam Rockwell is the lead, and this swampy thriller sounds like it could be a great role for him. The strong supporting cast includes William H. Macy, Jeffrey Wright, Jason Isaacs, Melissa Leo, and Joe Anderson (who I am still waiting on to have a breakthrough.)
- Mark Duplass, Safety Not Guaranteed – For bringing humour and humanity to a character who could have seemed way over the top, and for damn near breaking my heart in the process
- Jake Johnson, Safety Not Guaranteed – For not only being hilarious, but also taking a stock character (the douche-y, cocky reporter) and making him someone we care about
- Jennifer Lawrence, The Hunger Games – For offering a strong, internalized performance to a teen blockbuster
- Channing Tatum, Magic Mike – For making me a Channing Tatum fan
- Edward Norton, Moonrise Kingdom – For taking a small role and stealing the whole damn movie
- Jack Black, Bernie – For bringing ambiguity and heaps of charm to a character who should be black-and-white
- Brie Larson, 21 Jump Street – For playing a hugely charming love interest and being genuinely funny in her own right
- Chris Hemsworth, Snow White and the Huntsman – For once again playing the macho leading man while still balancing the physical requirements with humour and warmth
- Aubrey Plaza, Safety Not Guaranteed – For proving she has the charisma and acting chops to be an offbeat leading lady
- Charlize Theron, Snow White and the Huntsman – For bringing the wrath and just generally being fierce
Honorable Mentions: Woody Harrelson in The Hunger Games (for being his usual sassy self, and also hinting at the dark undertones of Haymitch), Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum in 21 Jump Street (for working together brilliantly), Ewan McGregor and Emily Blunt in Salmon Fishing in the Yemen (for making a fetching pair and elevating otherwise light material), Dane DeHaan in Chronicle (for making a highly charismatic leading debut), Gina Carano in Haywire (for kicking ass and offering up menacing on-screen presence), Matthew McConaughey in Magic Mike (for saying “alright, alright, alright” a couple dozen times).
With the fall movie season fast approaching, here’s a look at 10 rising actors to watch out for in the fall and beyond.
For more of my picks for up-and-coming actors, be sure to check the archive.
Miller got his start playing a troubled, internet-addicted teen in 2008′s Afterschool. He’s since appeared in a couple of ensemble indie films, including City Island and Every Day, where he played the gay son of Helen Hunt and Liev Schreiber. He’s also appeared on the TV show Californication. His unusual screen presence in these early roles earned him the notice of many critics.
But what really seems to have people excited is his upcoming work. Miller will appear as Tilda Swinton’s disturbed son in the highly-anticipated film, We Need to Talk About Kevin. The movie earned major attention at Cannes, and it will be heading to TIFF this fall. Though the film looks harrowing, Miller’s work looks very promising, judging by early trailers and clips. First, though, he’ll take the titular role as a rogue high school journalist in the intriguing-sounding comedy Beware the Gonzo (which also stars Zoe Kravitz and…um…Jesse McCartney). Miller also has a major role in next year’s The Perks of Being a Wallflower, which will likely introduce him to a much wider audience. It could be his breakout role.
The striking Dakota Johnson (who happens to be the daughter of Melanie Griffith and Don Johnson) made the most of her one scene as Justin Timberlake’s one-night stand in The Social Network last year. And her screen presence (and yeah, let’s face it, her butt) must have made a big impression on people, because she’s got a slew of upcoming projects.
Johnson already appeared in this year’s Beauty and Beast update, Beastly, and she has a major role in the upcoming fish-out-of-water indie film, Theo. She’ll also appear in the indie drama For Ellen, which stars Paul Dano as a musician looking for custody of his young daughter. But things get really big beyond that, because she’ll appear in comedies such as Goats (with Vera Farmiga, David Duchovny, Keri Russell, Minnie Driver, and Ty Burrell), The Five-Year Engagement (with Emily Blunt, Jason Segel, and Chris Pratt), and Gay Dude (with Nick Offerman, Megan Mullaly, and fellow up-and-comer Nicholas Braun). And she also has a role in the upcoming 21 Jump Street remake with Johnny Depp and Channing Tatum.
Enthusiasts of the tween entertainment have probably had Braun on their radar for a while now. Not only did he appear in the Disney Channel Original movies The Princess Protection Program and Minutemen, but he also had a lead role on the ABC Family show adaptation of 10 Things I Hate About You (he played the Joseph Gordon-Levitt character). As well, he provided some genuine charm to Disney’s big-screen movie, Prom, this year (and if you read my review, you’ll see his performance was one of the major reasons that I somewhat enjoyed the film).
But for those of us who enjoy movies that are targeted towards people above the age of 12, there’s still a good reason to be aware of Braun. He’ll play one of the three teen leads (along with Michael Angarano and Kyle Gallner) in Kevin Smith’s much-discussed Red State, which opens this fall. And Kevin Smith likes Braun so much that he cast him as the star in his next (and final?) directorial project, Hit Somebody. In the film (which will apparently be split into two parts), Braun will play an aspiring hockey player whose true talent lies only in getting into fights. Braun will also play the non-gay half of a duo of friends in Gay Dude (which recently signed Nick Offerman and Megan Mullaly for supporting roles). And as if all of THAT wasn’t enough, he also has a small role in next year’s adaptation of The Perks of Being a Wallflower, a supporting role in Chalet Girl (which stars it-girl to-be Felicity Jones), a leading role as a “Jesus-freak” love interest in Before You Say Goodbye, and a major role in the TV movie Brave New World (which apparently is not Aldous Huxley-related). Whew.
Henry Cavill certainly doesn’t need my endorsement, but he’s probably the next Big Thing (or at least, the next Sam Worthington). Now, he’s popped up here and there with supporting roles in films such as The Count of Monte Cristo, Tristan + Isolde, Stardust, and Whatever Works. He was also a regular on The Tudors. He’s had a pretty respectable career already for such a young actor. But none of that holds a light to what’s on the horizon for Cavill.
First, he landed the lead in The Immortals, which is directed by Tarsem Singh (The Fall and The Cell). When you watch the trailers, it’s not at all surprising to hear that the film is by the producers of 300, and I imagine this film will be met with a similarly large audience. And as if one potential franchise wasn’t enough, he also got cast as gosh darn SUPERMAN in The Man of Steel. Since it’s directed by Zack Snyder (he of 300 fame and Sucker Punch, um…notoriety), it’s sure to be visually slick. And even though I’m tiring of superhero movies (didn’t we just have a Superman film?) the supporting cast includes Amy Adams, Russell Crowe, Michael Shannon (yay!), and Laurence Fishbourn, so I have to be at least a bit excited. And as if two leading roles weren’t enough, Cavill will also star in an action/conspiracy thriller called The Cold Light of Day with Bruce Willis and Sigourney Weaver.
The multi-talented Marling may have first made an impression as Brita’s “lesbian friend” in an episode of Community, but her ambitions clearly stretch far beyond sitcom guest star. Not only does she star in the Sundance hit Another Earth (which is currently playing in limited release), but she also co-wrote the film with director Mike Cahill. And while Another Earth garnered more attention, Marling also starred in and co-wrote another film from this year’s Sundance festival, Sound of My Voice. In that film, Marling plays the leader of a cult who is the target of two documentary filmmakers trying to expose her as a fraud.
After Sundance, Marling was quickly spotted by studio execs, and she’s become one of the most in-demand young actresses working (she was even forced to drop out of contention for the Tom Cruise vehicle One Shot due to scheduling conflicts). She’s set to join a top-notch cast for Robert Redford’s next project, The Company You Keep, which stars Shia LaBoeuf, Susan Sarandon, Redford, Nick Nolte, Richard Jenkins, and Julie Christie. And she’ll appear with Sarandon once again in Arbitage, a financial thriller also starring Tim Roth and Richard Gere.
Miles Teller made his big screen debut just last year in the critically acclaimed Rabbit Hole, and his aching, muted performance caught the attention of many viewers. He more than held his own alongside Nicole Kidman and Aaron Eckhart. And though he may not have a slew of huge projects coming up, Teller is certainly on his way up after that breakout performance.
His biggest (and most unexpected!) film on the horizon is the remake of Footloose, which will hit theatres this fall. Teller will play Willard, a tough-talking (but apparently light-footed) comrade of Ren. Teller also has a couple of smaller comedies in the works. Project X is a teen party comedy by first-time director Nima Nourizadeh, and 21 and Over tells the story straight-laced students who cuts loose (footloose?) on his 21st birthday.
British actor Tom Hiddleston is no stranger to UK television, but North American audiences got their first taste of his charm in this year’s mega-blockbuster Thor, where he played the brother of Chris Hemsworth. He was also very memorable as F. Scott Fitzgerald in Midnight in Paris. And if appearing in two of the most talked-about films of the summer wasn’t enough of an introduction, Hiddleston has a few more chances to get people talking.
Hiddleston will star opposite Rachel Weisz in The Deep Blue Sea, which is set to play at TIFF this year. He’ll also take a supporting role in Spielberg’s buzzed-about holiday blockbuster, War Horse. He’ll also reprise his role of Loki from Thor for next year’s hugely anticipated superhero extravaganza, The Avengers. Hiddleston’s offbeat charm seems to be striking a chord with American audiences, and I expect to see a lot of him in years to come.
British actress Kaya Scodelario was a fan favourite as Effieon the teen soap Skins, and that notoriety started to turn into big screen promise when she landed small roles in Moon and Clash of the Titans. But while she’s still sticking mainly with smaller projects in the UK, it seems as though Scodelario is well on her way to building up an interesting career. She has some interesting projects on the horizon.
First (and most notably), she’s taking on a huge task by playing Catherine in the latest adaptation of Wuthering Heights. The film is directed by Andrea Arnold (Fish Tank), and I’m very interested to see her take on the classic story. Scodelario will also appear in the British thriller Twenty8k (which stars the underrated Stephen Dillane), a weepy drama about a girl with cancer called Now is Good (which stars Dakota Fanning, the underrated Olivia Williams, and the underrated Paddy Considine), a film about an Iraq veteran who fakes his own death called Invisible, and a teen drama called Stay With Me (where she’ll co-star with Cemetery Junction‘s quirky Tom Hughes). These seem like smart, diverse choices for a young actress, and I imagine that if she gives a worthy performance in Wuthering Heights that will be her ticket for big things.
Something is up when a 11-year-old has more IMDB acting credits than a lot of actors three times her age (she has 28 credits, which is more than anyone else on this list). But while Madison charmed her way through small roles in Bridge to Terabithia, Phoebe in Wonderland, and Conviction, it was her work in the 2009 drama Brothers, which struck a chord with most viewers. Playing the petulant daughter of Natalie Portman and Toby Maguire, Madison offered something so rare for a child actor – believability. Her acting was refreshingly natural, and it made for a magnetic performance. It was probably one of the best child performances I’ve seen, so it’s a shame that she hasn’t gotten more meaty projects since then. She shared the screen earlier this year with Adam Sandler in Just Go With It, which, though I haven’t seen it, probably didn’t give her much to work with. But she has at least one project that could be good coming up…
The release of Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark is just a couple of weeks away, and though it looks like a fairly standard horror flick, there are some promising elements. As well as Madison, it stars Guy Pearce, who almost always makes good movie choices (and is good in everything he picks). It was also co-written by Guillermo Del Toro (who is also a producer), so that should add a bit of zest to it all. Madison’s name even makes it onto the poster, so she’ll probably have the chance to show off some acting here. Beyond that, she’ll be in the comedy Dance of the Mirlitons with Kristen Bell, Chloe Moretz, and Jackie Earle Haley (which might be the most random cast ever), the Corbin Bernsen-directed family drama (huh?) 25 Hill, and Cowgirls n’ Angels (which is not a sequel to Cowboys & Aliens, and sounds…well, awful).
This guy has 10 upcoming films (and a lot of them are big ones), so let’s get down to it. He’s a Welsh actor who’s done extensive theatre work and appeared in Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll, Robin Hood, Tamara Drewe, and Clash of the Titans. And that’s literally it. No British telelvision. Nothing else.
But that’s about to change. Let’s get the small ones out of the way first. He’s in a Jason Statham action flick called Blitz that’s going straight to DVD in North America, a strange-looking film called Flutter with Joe Anderson, a horror film called No One Lives, a British drama called Ashes with Jim Sturgess, Lesley Manville, and Ray Winstone (which actually sound good), and a leading role in the action film The Amateur American (though production was recently pushed back). BUT first up, this fall he’ll appear as Aramis in The Three Musketeers. Soon after, he’ll play Zeus himself in The Immortals. In 2012, he’ll play a detective in the Poe film The Raven, and he’ll also appear in The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey as Bard (now I wish I’d finished that book so I knew who “Bard” is). And in 2013, of course he has the sequel, The Hobbit: There and Back Again.
So there’s my latest batch of actors to watch. For previous lists of up-and-comers, click here. If you have any suggestions for actors you’d like to see featured, feel free to leave a comment!
Warning: People who do not like Neon Bible will probably not like this list. But it happens to be my favourite Arcade Fire album so…
- Wake Up
- (Antichrist Television Blues)
- Neighbourhood #1 (Tunnels)
- We Used to Wait
- Keep the Car Running
- Deep Blue
- My Body is a Cage
- Ready to Start
I’ve lived a relatively sheltered life. My parents were very careful about what I watched as a child and generally adhered to MPAA movie ratings. This is ultimately probably a good thing. But it also means that instead of slowly becoming desensitized to onscreen sex and gore over many years, I kind of just threw myself into it once I had more say in what I watched. And a bit more preparation probably would’ve been helpful before watching Requiem for a Dream in order to celebrate my movie-watching liberation.
That said, I’m up for most movies. I don’t think I’m especially squeamish, and I like it when filmmakers challenge the audience. But there are still a few movies out there that I’m hesitant to watch, even though they feature some of my favourite actors. And 127 Hours (opening today in limited release), which has caused a slew of fainting at screenings, is one of these films. I’m excited for it, and I’m definitely planning to watch it (but perhaps on the small screen, where I can pass out in the privacy of my own home, if need be). But I’m sure it won’t always be an easy experience. So in honour of this, I’m listing 10 films that I’m still too afraid to watch. I’m curious about all of them, and with the talent involved, maybe this will inspire me to finally bite the bullet and give them a try.
(Names in brackets are the actors that draw me to the project)
Hunger (Michael Fassbender)
From first-time director Steve McQueen, 2008′s Hunger tells the story of Irish hunger striker Bobby Sands (played by Michael Fassbender, who earned raves for his gritty performance). The film itself (which recently got a Criterion re-release) is said to be meditative, grim, and unflinchingly realistic. Not a fun time at the movies, but probably very worthwhile.
Mysterious Skin (Joseph Gordon-Levitt)
After hearing so much about Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s searing performance, I watched the first few minutes on YouTube. The film starts with flashbacks to the young boys being lured by a supposedly trusted little league coach. I hope to revisit the film soon (and I suspect that first part may be the most disturbing portion of the movie), but onscreen child abuse is always gruelling.
Hard Candy (Ellen Page, Patrick Wilson)
I’m always very nervous towards films about pedophilia, because that subject is often used simply for shock value. However, I’ve heard great things about this film, and I like both of the lead actors quite a bit. And the idea of the victim turning the tables on her captor is interesting.
Antichrist (Charlotte Gainsbourg)
Gainsbourg has impressed me in I’m Not Here and The Science of Sleep, but to be honest, I’m in no hurry to see this film.
The Killer Inside Me (Casey Affleck)
I love me some Casey Affleck, and it looks like he’s chillingly great here. The big controversy is the violence against women displayed on screen. It only got a 14A rating in Canada, though (as opposed to our “R” equivalent of 18A), so it must not be that bad…right?
Leap Year (Amy Adams, Matthew Goode, Adam Scott)
I’m just scared that it will make me hate Matthew Goode.
Funny Games (Michael Pitt, Naomi Watts)
American Psycho (Christian Bale)
Both films are slick satire, and I’m all for some sharp social commentary. I’m a bit weary of the brutality, but I’m not one of those people who’s ignorant enough to think that films like these and Fight Club (which I loved) are advocating senseless violence.
Savage Grace (Julianne Moore, Eddie Redmayne)
I’ve read some details about the plot, and honestly, it just sounds fucked up. Incest isn’t my jam. But Eddie Redmayne is. What to do?
Se7en (Brad Pitt)
Director David Fincher doesn’t pull his punches (see the lakeside killing in Zodiac). And a film revolving around a killer who is inspired by the seven deadly sins has all sorts of potential to disturb.
I posted my top 10 up-and-coming actors list recently, and I wanted to compliment it with a list of underrated actors. These guys are all hugely talented and offer a more unique alternative to some of today’s Hollywood leading men, but don’t get the work that they deserve.
1. Adam Scott
To be fair, those who are looking in the right places probably see plenty of this guy. He was the star of the now-cancelled cable show Party Down, and he’s since parlayed that into network success, landing a recurring spot on NBC’s delightful Parks & Recreation. As for the big screen, he stole the show as the douchebag brother in Step Brothers but also showed a more dramatic side in The Vicious Kind and Lovely, Still, two smaller recent films. The guy is a huge talent, and I’d love to see some higher-profile work (well, there was Piranha 3D…) come along with it.
2. Sam Riley
Riley earned widespread acclaim for his performance as Ian Curtis in Control, so where are the prestigious roles that are supposed to follow? His follow-up Franklyn, barely made a blip on moivegoers’ radar, and he currently has two completed projects (13 and Brighton Rock) floating around in distribution hell. But the good news is that he’ll star in the anticipated On the Road, which is currently filming. It co-stars Kristen Stewart, Garrett Hedlund (who is about to blow up with Tron: Legacy and Country Strong on the horizon), Kirsten Dunst, and Amy Adams, and will undoubtedly boost Riley’s notoriety.
3. Michael Pitt
This is a guy who isn’t afraid to make risky choices. He took the Kurt Cobain comparisons full-circle in Gus Van Sant’s Last Days, partook in onscreen incest in The Dreamers, and played a psychotic killer in Funny Games. I also thought that he was very charming alongside Steve Buscemi in the underrated Delirious. And while a starring role in the highly acclaimed HBO series Boardwalk Empire is nothing to scoff at, Pitt’s the kind of unconventional leading man who should be getting all sorts of major movie roles.
4. Patrick Wilson
Like Michael Pitt, Patrick Wilson makes for an interesting twist on the conventional leading man. He’s got the movie star looks, but a lot of his movie choices have been decidedly unglamorous. His breakthrough work in Angels in America earned him an Emmy and Golden Globe nomination, and he’s since played a child predator in Hard Candy and an adulterer in Little Children. But lately, he’s mostly done smaller, lighter roles in films like The A-Team and The Switch. If that’s what he prefers then all the power to him, but he could definitely handle riskier work. There is a glimmer of hope, though, since Wilson is slated to star in the next Jason Reitman/Diablo Cody (Juno) project, Young Adult.
5. Clifton Collins Jr.
Never mind lead roles. This guy can barely get a part bigger than a cameo, lately. He’s recently had blink-and-you’ll-miss-it performances in Star Trek, Brothers, and Scott Pilgrim vs. the World. But when Collins is given more than two lines of dialogue, he’s fantastic. He charmed in Sunshine Cleaning, and his performance as killer/muse Perry Smith in Capote was tragic, frightening, and beautiful.
6. Martin Starr
The tragically short-lived TV series Freaks and Geeks spawned a lot of big names. And while it’s lots of fun to see a young James Franco, Seth Rogan, Jason Segal, Linda Cardellini, and Busy Phillips on the show, the real heart of the show is Martin Starr’s nebbish Bill Haverchuck. Obviously, he’s not a typical leading man type, but I thoroughly enjoyed Starr’s supporting performance in last year’s Adventureland. Aside from that and Party Down, he’s mainly been relegated to cameos in Judd Apatow movies, but this guy is too funny to not get bigger roles.
7. Paul Schneider
Paul Schneider has been around for a while, but it seems like he never got the break that he deserved. He first impressed me as the charming, exasperated brother in Lars and the Real Girl, but I’ve since enjoyed his work in All the Real Girls (one of his few leading roles) and The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford quite a bit, too. I didn’t think that he was as good of a fit in Bright Star (even though a lot of people loved him in it) or on Parks and Recreation, but in the right role, he can be great.
8. Billy Crudup
What happened to Billy Crudup’s career? It seemed as though he was poised for big things (and the studios seemed to agree, judging by his top billing in Almost Famous), yet things never really panned out. He’s mostly been relegated to supporting roles in big films (Public Enemies, Big Fish) and indie films that no one sees. At least his…revealing…performance in Watchmen got people talking about him again.
9. Joe Anderson
Remember the guy in Across the Universe who reminded everyone of Kurt Cobain? Well, that was Joe Anderson. The dude’s got the looks, voice, and acting skill. So why is his co-star Jim Sturgess, who has the personality of a door knob, getting all the work?
10. Nathan Fillion
Nerds like him because he was in Firefly and Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog. People with eyes like him because he’s attractive. Shouldn’t this equal more work? I suppose it’s to his credit that he hasn’t played the love interest in a Katherine Heigl movie yet, but surely he could step into the mainstream a little bit more? He was lovely and charming in Waitress and Trucker, and his TV show, Castle, seems to be doing well, which is more than enough proof that he could handle some bigger movie roles.
You’ve seen them in your favourite recent movies – you just might not know it. They’ve shared the screen with actors such as Meryl Streep, Bruce Willis, and Pierce Brosnan. They’ve played such memorable roles as “Teenager #1″ and “Boy on Bike”. They are the next wave of up-and-coming actors.
Everyone likes to predict which young performers will hit it big, and these ten actors, while hardly household names, have proven that they have charisma and talent, even in the smallest of roles. If you hurry, you can still claim that you liked them before they hit it big.
And if you’d like to see more lists of up-and-coming actors, check out the archive!
1. Reece Thompson
Why he’s on the list: Because he’s already proven that he’s a leading man. After a slew of bit parts in TV shows and straight-to-DVD movies, Thompson got his first big starring role with 2007′s fabulous but underseen Rocket Science. Playing a stuttering debate team hopeful, Thompson grasped the off-beat humour of the film perfectly and also added some genuine emotional heft. The same year, he took the lead in The Assassination of a High School President, and Thompson’s modern riff on the hard-boiled detective genre was a blast.
Where you’ll see him: In two different indies screening at TIFF. Daydream Nation is a “provocative yet humorous romance” starring Kat Dennings, and Thompson will play the younger of her two love interests. As well, he’ll play a friend to Michael Angarano in Max Winkler’s comedy
Ceremony, which also stars Uma Thurman.
2. Zoe Kazan
Why she’s on the list: Because she knows how to pick a role. Even her earliest credits include films like Fracture and Revolutionary Road. Kazan (who, yes, is the granddaughter of Elia Kazan) has since gotten larger roles, and audiences are most likely to recognize her as Meryl Streep’s younger daughter in It’s Complicated, or alongside Zac Efron in Me and Orson Welles. But the critical acclaim came with a little-seen film from last year called The Exploding Girl, which stars Kazan as a college student suffering from epilepsy.
Where you’ll see her: Her biggest upcoming film, Meek’s Cut-Off, is a period-piece western premiering at TIFF. The film is directed by Kelly Reichardt (Wendy and Lucy), and it stars Paul Dano, Bruce Greenwood, and Michelle Williams. She’ll also take a supporting role in Happythankyoumoreplease, the directorial debut of actor Josh Radnor (How I Met Your Mother)
3. Mark Rendall
Why he’s on the list: Because he’s a magnetic, quirky presence. Before he got cast in larger parts, he (like most Canadian actors, it seems) paid his dues on various homegrown children’s shows and made-for-TV movies. After voicing everyone’s favourite aardvark, Arthur, and a starring role in the Canadian film Childstar, he began to land supporting roles in some larger Hollywood films. In 2007′s Charlie Bartlett, he stole the show as Kip, a sensitive, depressed teen. He’s also appeared in Silk, 30 Days of Night, My One and Only, and earned praise for his work in The Exploding Girl
Where you’ll see him: He actually doesn’t have any upcoming projects currently listed on IMDB, aside from a short film called Up & Down.
4. Olivia Thirlby
Why she’s on the list: Because she’s just plain awesome. She’s best known as Juno‘s shrewd best friend, but her first role was in Paul Greengrass’ acclaimed drama, United 93. Since then she’s appeared in a slew of smart indies, including Snow Angels (a Times Like Those favourite), The Wackness, Uncertainty, Breaking Upwards, and Solitary Man.
Where you’ll see her: In Kenneth Lonnergan’s follow-up to You Can Count on Me, Margaret, whose cast includes Anna Paquin, Matt Damon, Mark Ruffalo, Kieran Culkin, and Matthew Broderick. Thirlby will also take supporting roles in the Ivan Reitman-directed No Strings, The Darkest Hour (an alien thing with Emile Hirsch), and Dredd (another sci-fi thing, written by Alex Garland [28 Days Later, Never Let Me Go]). As well, she’ll finally get to try her hand in leading roles in M and The No Game.
5. Johnny Simmons
Why he’s on the list: Because he’s on the rise. With only a handful of feature credits to his name, Simmons has quickly transitioned from films like Evan Almighty and Hotel for Dogs to a trio of showier roles. He was terrorized by Megan Fox in Jennifer’s Body and charmed as Michael Cera’s bandmate “Young Neil” in Scott Pilgrim vs. the World. But for me, the performance that showed the most promise was a supporting role in The Greatest. He played a likeable but very flawed teenager struggling to come to terms with the death of his older brother, and Simmons deftly handled a complicated range of emotions.
Where you’ll see him: He’ll play the son of Robin Wright’s rabble-rouser in The Conspirator. The Robert Redford-helmed film is already earning fairly strong reviews at TIFF, and it could be a chance for Simmons to reach a wider audience.
6. Zoe Kravitz
Why she’s on the list: Because she’s an intriguing on-screen presence. As the daughter of Lenny Kravitz and Lisa Bonnet, she’s already got star power behind her name, and Kravitz is starting to prove that she’s got the talent to back it up. She hasn’t wasted any time courting high-profile projects, getting her start with a small role in 2007′s No Reservations. She’s also appeared in The Brave One, and stole her scenes (despite her shakily written character) in The Greatest.
Where you’ll see her: The sultry actress will appear in one of this fall’s more buzzed-about indies, It’s Kind of a Funny Story (directed by Ryan Fleck and Anna Boden). She’s also got a couple of potential blockbusters on the horizon with supporting roles in X-Men: First Class and Mad Max: Fury Road.
7. Hunter Parrish
Why he’s on the list: Because he’s got the makings of a full-blown teen heartthrob (he’s already built a bit of a following thanks to his work on “Weeds”) early roles were fairly minor, but 2009 offered a couple of larger big-screen projects. First, he was almost unrecognizable as Zac Efron’s scuzzy nemesis in the surprisingly enjoyable 17 Again. And though he was given very little to do as Meryl Streep’s son in It’s Complicated, his sheer charisma (and blindingly white teeth) made him memorable.
Where you’ll see him: I believe that he’s still on “Weeds”, but aside from that, he doesn’t have any other projects listed on IMDB right now, oddly enough.
8. T.J. Miller
Why he’s on the list: Because he has the everyman humour of Jason Segel or Seth Rogan. Despite being one of the older names on the list (and working as a stand-up comedian for years), Miller made his film debut only two years ago in the much-discussed Cloverfield (if he doesn’t look familiar, it’s because he played Hud, the man holding the camera, and served as more of a narrator than a visual presence). He’s had small roles in Extract (as Jason Bateman’s metalhead co-worker) and How to Train Your Dragon. But his most prominent role to date was in this year’s woefully underrated She’s Out of My League, where he stole the show as “Stainer”.
Where you’ll see him: Miller seems to be everywhere this year, and he’s still got two more appearances to go by the end of 2010. He’ll appear in, um, Yogi Bear (alongside Dan Ackroyd, Justin Timberlake, and Anna Faris) and Gulliver’s Travels (which co-stars Jack Black and Jason Segel).
9. Lily Collins
Why she’s on the list: Because she could be the next big starlet. Aside from an appearance on 90210, Collins’ only film acting gig to date is as Sandra Bullock’s daughter in The Blindside, where she turned in a very respectable performance. She’s also done stage acting, modeling and writing, and happens to be the daughter of Phil Collins. Apparently others are taking note…
Where you’ll see her: She has a role in next year’s sci-fi thriller, Priest, alongside Paul Bettany and Christopher Plummer. She’ll also co-star in Abduction with Taylor Lautner (before you write it off completely, the supporting cast includes Alfred Molina, Jason Isaacs, Maria Bello, and Sigourney Weaver). And finally, she’s slated to take the lead in yet another film adaptation of Romeo and Juliet.
10. Caleb Landry Jones
Why he’s on the list: Because he has star potential. His first role was as “Boy On Bike” in No Country for Old Men. Despite only appearing on screen for a mere couple of minutes near the end of the film, he somewhat stole the scene from Javier Bardem (and if you’ve seen the movie, you know that it was a fairly memorable scene on its own). He’s since appeared in the “Friday Night Lights” TV show and Fred Durst’s The Longshots. This year, he found himself in a supporting role in the box office quasi-hit, The Last Exorcism.
Where You’ll See Him: He has a role in The Social Network, but considering he’s billed as “Fraternity Guy”, one would expect it to be a fairly minor one. More notably, he was recently cast as Banshee in X-Men: First Class. Previous instalments in the franchise have served as a launching pad for Ellen Page, Ben Foster, and James Marsden.
Last year in late August, I counted down my 10 most anticipated films for the rest of the year. Looking back, it seems like a very strange list. In preparation for a similar list I’ll be making for this year, let’s take a quick look back at how those films turned out:
Nine – A dull waste of a great cast (5/10)
Taking Woodstock – Despite the lukewarm reviews, I actually enjoyed this movie quite a bit. A bit long and unfocussed, though (7/10)
Where the Wild Things Are – The opening fifteen minutes are magical, the rest is very good (8/10)
Sherlock Holmes – Enjoyable performances from Downey and Law, otherwise forgettable but well-made (6/10)
Whip It – Mediocre direction from Barrymore, but it’s a nice little film with a good spirit (6/10)
Fame – Not seen due to critical panning
Brothers – A very underrated and powerful film from ’09. Gyllenhaal is amazing (8/10)
The Road – Not seen due to me losing all interest in it
The Lovely Bones – Visually appealing, but the narrative is a choppy mess. Wahlberg, Ronan, and Tucci are great (5/10)
Love Happens – Not seen due to me being insane for putting it on this list in the first place.