Category Archives: Lists

10 Actors We Need to See More Of

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.

10 Up-and-Coming Actors To Watch

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

Age: 21

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

Age: 26

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

Age: 21

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

Age: 23

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

Age: 23

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

Age: 21

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

Age: 23

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

Age: 29

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

Age: 21

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

Age: 20

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.

My 10 Most Anticipated Movies for the Rest of 2010

1. The Social Network (October 1)

Director: David Fincher

Cast: Jesse Eisenberg, Andrew Garfield, Justin Timberlake, Rashida Jones

The trailer for this extremely topical film is perhaps the most beloved trailer since Where the Wild Things Are, and that has only helped to build my excitement for David Fincher’s latest project. I’m in love with The Social Network‘s cast, and it looks like a far weightier project than most people had initially thought. The subject matter is fascinating, and it’s refreshing to see a film tackle a current phenomenon seemingly without self-congratulation or premature nostalgia.

2. Somewhere (December 22)

Director: Sofia Coppola

Cast: Stephen Dorff, Elle Fanning

Somewhere looks to have a lot of similarities to Coppola’s directorial debut, Lost in Translation, but as far as I’m concerned, that’s hardly a negative. Also offering a wonderful trailer, Somewhere looks woozy and gorgeously shot. I’m already in love with the father/daughter pairing of Elle Fanning and Stephen Dorff.

3. Blue Valentine (December 31)

Director: Derek Cianfrance

Cast: Ryan Gosling, Michelle Williams, Mike Vogel

It’s gotten raves out of Sundance and Cannes, and this drama starring two of today’s best young actors sounds harrowing. I’m excited for Ryan Gosling’s return to the big screen, and Michelle Williams is an actress that impresses me more with each project. Second Oscar nominations for the both of them?

4. Black Swan (December 1)

Director: Darren Aronofsky

Cast: Natalie Portman, Mila Kunis, Winona Ryder, Vincent Cassel, Barbara Hershey

The freaky trailer (have fun getting that final image out of your mind) for this movie has helped to build interest in director Darren Aronofsky’s latest project. It’s great to see Portman getting a meaty leading role, and the film looks wholly original. I think that any concerns about Aronofsky going soft can safely be put to rest.

5. The King’s Speech (December 24)

Director: Tom Hooper

Cast: Colin Firth, Helena Bonham Carter, Geoffrey Rush, Guy Pearce, Michael Gambon, Timothy Spall

Colin Firth earned heaps of goodwill with A Single Man, and it doesn’t look like he’s putting it to waste at all. Details about this royal biopic are sparse, but with Firth in the lead and a great supporting cast to boot, I can’t help but be very excited.

6. It’s Kind of a Funny Story (September 24)

Director: Anna Boden, Ryan Fleck

Cast: Kier Gilchrist, Emma Roberts, Zach Galifianakis

I loved the book, and the trailer for the film adaptation seemed surprisingly similar to how I imagined it would look. Directors Boden and Fleck (Half Nelson, Sugar) are clearly taking a large step forward in terms of accessibility (though hopefully they’re not too far the other way), and I’m excited to see what they’ll do with this darkly comedic tale. Galifianakis’ performance also looks surprisingly nuanced and touching.

7. Never Let Me Go (September 15)

Director: Mark Romanek

Cast: Carey Mulligan, Andrew Garfield, Keira Knightley, Sally Hawkins

Never Let Me Go seems to be wavering on the edge of Oscar-bait-prestige-project, but it looks beautiful. Once again, it offers a fantastic cast (you go, Andrew Garfield!). I’m in the middle of the book currently, and I’m intrigued to see how it will all play out on screen.

8. The Town (September 17)

Director: Ben Affleck

Cast: Ben Affleck, Rebecca Hall, Jon Hamm, Jeremy Renner, Blake Lively

The formulaic trailer made me doubt my optimism, but then I remembered how the trailer for Gone Baby Gone did that film a complete disservice. Affleck has proven to be a very capable director, and the premise of this film seems strong. I’m also really excited to see Rebecca Hall and Jon Hamm work their magic.

9. 127 Hours (November 5)

Director: Danny Boyle

Cast: James Franco, Lizzy Caplan, Amber Tamblyn, Kate Mara

The concept for a movie about a trapped mountain climber didn’t seem especially interesting or fresh to me, but early buzz about this Boyle-directed project has apparently been very strong. James Franco is proving to be quite the renaissance man, and this could be just the meaty role that he needs to elevate his acting even further.

10. Howl (September 24)

Director: Rob Epstein, Jeffrey Friedman

Cast: James Franco, Mary-Louise Parker, Jon Hamm, Jeff Daniels, David Strathairn, Aaron Tveit

The cast is to die for, and even though this Allen Ginsberg biopic received somewhat mixed reviews out of Sundance, its crisp trailer caught my eye. It has a great visual style, and seems to strive to truly capture the beat poetry movement. Between this and 127 Hours, it could be a huge breakout year for Franco.

Other Upcoming Releases of Interest:

Brighton Rock, Rabbit Hole, Love and Other Drugs, Buried, Nowhere Boy, The Fighter, What’s Wrong With Virginia?, The American

Reviewing My “Most Anticipated Movies of 2009”: How’d They Turn Out?

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.

Favourite Working Actors

This list is clearly skewed young, but here are ten actors (plus a few honourable mentions and rising stars) that I love watching onscreen. Feel free to discuss my choices or share you own lists in the comments!

1. Robert Downey Jr.

Essential Filmography: Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (2005), Tropic Thunder (2008), Chaplin (1992), Zodiac (2007)

Underappreciated Work: Wonderboys (2000)

2. Philip Seymour Hoffman

Essential Filmography: Capote (2005), Magnolia (1999), Synecdoche, New York (2008)

Underappreciated Work: Almost Famous (2000)

3. Daniel Day-Lewis

Essential Filmography: There Will Be Blood (2007), My Left Foot (1989), Gangs of New York (2002)

Underappreciated Work: The Ballad of Jack and Rose (2005)

4. Ryan Gosling

Essential Filmography: Half Nelson (2006), Lars and the Real Girl (2007), The Believer (2001)

Underappreciated Work: The United States of Leland (2003)

5. Casey Affleck

Essential Filmography: The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (2007), Gone Baby Gone (2007)

Underappreciated Work: Lonesome Jim (2006)

6. Leonardo DiCaprio

Essential Filmography: What’s Eating Gilbert Grape (1992), The Departed (2006), The Aviator (2002), Titanic (1997)

Underappreciated Work: Romeo + Juliet (1996)

7. Joseph Gordon-Levitt

Essential Filmography: Mysterious Skin (2004), 500 Days of Summer (2009), Brick (2006)

Underappreciated Work: The Lookout (2007)

8. Ethan Hawke

Essential Filmography: Before Sunrise (1995), Dead Poets Society (1989), Training Day (2001)

Underappreciated Work: Reality Bites (1995)

9. Joaquin Phoenix

Essential Filmography: Walk the Line (2005), Gladiator (2000), Two Lovers (2009)

Underappreciated Work: Signs (2002)

10. Colin Firth

Essential Filmography: A Single Man (2009), Bridget Jones’s Diary (2001)

Underappreciated Work: Girl With a Pearl Earring(2003)

Honourable Mentions

Aaron Eckhart (Thank You for Smoking)
Michael Sheen (Frost/Nixon)
Peter Sarsgaard (Shattered Glass)
Benicio Del Toro (Things We Lost in the Fire)
Edward Norton (The Score)
Guy Pearce (Memento)
Sam Rockwell (Snow Angels)

5 Promising Newcomers

Emile Hirsch (Into the Wild, Milk)
Ben Whishaw (Bright Star)
Sam Riley (Control)
Michael Angarano (Snow Angels)
Logan Lerman (3:10 to Yuma)