Thursday List – Top 10 Joseph Gordon-Levitt Performances
Can JGL do no wrong? He is a rising star for sure, Tom Bielby investigates his best performances
With the release of Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s latest film 50/50, I decided to take a look back at his finest performances by way of his best films and a certain TV show that kickstarted his ascent to stardom. He has recently appeared in a number of very successful films, but has been working hard for some years developing his talents in a number of eclectic projects that should not be missed. So without further ado, here we go, Mr Levitt’s top ten performances:
10. Ten Things I hate about You
Whilst it is not a film I would probably return to in a hurry, Ten Things I hate about you was still an enjoyable watch, and although it is far from Levitt’s finest performance, it certainly highlights his potential as an actor and placed him securely on the route to a successful career in Hollywood. His youthful good looks and natural charm worked wonders in this modern retelling of The Taming of the Shrew but without detracting from Levitt’s acting, there is no denying that this was and always will be Ledger’s film.
9. The Lookout
This flawed thriller has clearly been inspired by Memento, and whilst not wholly satisfying, it is still a great flick that showcases Levitt’s ability to tackle difficult roles, here playing an amnesiac who inadvertently becomes involved with criminals. Forced to take a job as a bank janitor following a car accident that put his promising future on hold, Chris Platt, played by Levitt, is one of the key participants in a heist on his own workplace and is forced to make a number of life-changing decisions when things go horribly wrong. A solid performance from Levitt certainly lifts what could have otherwise been a run of the mill heist movie.
Once again it is down to Levitt’s acting ability to turn what could have been an average drama into a captivating film. He plays Tommy Burgess, the friend of a Veteran soldier who is ordered to return back to the field, and delivers a fantastic performance that drives the entire film, outshining both Channing Tatum and Ryan Phillipe, as we see the devastating effects the Iraq war had on the people who took part.
Now we’re getting to the good stuff! Inception is a mind-blowing film that needs to be seen for numerous reasons; its spectacular visual effects, an incredibly original storyline and you’ve guessed it, Mr Levitt himself. He is part of an elite team led by Dicaprio’s Cobb who invade peoples dreams in order to steal valuable secrets from their subconscious and as Cobb’s right hand man he inevitably gets into a lot of scrapes. Never have I seen Levitt play a character with such style and vigour, and although he has had on screen brawls in the past, nothing can compare with the insane stunt-laden fist fight that takes part in a revolving corridor. This was the proof that Levitt could finally compete with the big boys in Hollywood and I imagine that his role in Inception is one of the main reasons why he is in such high demand at the moment.
6. (500) Days of Summer
Romantic Comedies are not my cup of tea but (500) days of summer was a very welcome surprise with its non-linear structure breathing new life into a stale genre. Reuniting Levitt and Deschanel for their second screen appearance since Manic back in 2001 was a stroke of genius as the chemistry between the two adds gravitas to the compelling story, which performed remarkably well at the box office. Whilst Levitt already had a legion of female fans, his appearance in (500) days of Summer placed his posters on the walls of young ladies everywhere, Joseph Gordon-Levitt the heart throb had arrived.
5. Third rock from the sun
Following my first encounter with Levitt as an actor in Third rock from the sun, I never knew I would be watching him on the big screen in years to come, and it is a testament to his outstanding ability as an actor that he has had one of the most prolific careers out of the entire cast. For those unfortunate few who missed the show first time round, it profiles a group of aliens who have travelled to Earth in order to learn more about humans and they take on the form of a family, with the intelligent expert taking the form of a teenage boy, the one and only Joseph Gordon Levitt. As much as I tend to dislike American sitcoms, I was soon captivated by this crazy show and although it has been quite a while since I have seen it, I still have fond memories of gathering around the TV with my family for this hilarious comedy.
Released in cinemas later this week, 50/50 is one of the best films I have seen this year, and despite the risky subject matter it manages to be both a moving drama and hilarious comedy, combining the two elements perfectly to make the poignant story even more powerful. Levitt is oustanding as the cancer-stricken Adam , who is told he only has a 50/50 chance of surviving, and struggles to come to terms with this life-changing news. You can take a look at Scott’s in depth review of the film here and make sure you catch this on the big screen, you won’t regret it
The second, and arguably the best of the films Levitt has starred in opposite Zooey Deschanel is an underrated gem that deserves to be seen by a wider audience. Despite the budgetary restrictions, which does have the benefit of adding to the grittiness of the film, this portrayal of a psychiatric ward for troubled teenagers is a captivating character based drama, driven by Levitt’s excellent performance as the newest inmate who stirs up the other patients whilst finding a kindred spirit in Deschanel’s shy and confused Tracy.
2. Mysterious Skin
It is no surprise that the most disturbing film in Levitt’s career is this high up the list, Mysterious Skin packs one hell of a punch thanks to Levitt’s remarkable performance as a male prostitute and will undoubtedly play on your mind a long time after the credits roll. The difficult subject matter is handled superbly by Gregg Araki making this an unforgettable film which is essential viewing for all Levitt fans. A word of warning though, those more familiar with his lighter side in films such as (500) days of Summer and Ten things I hate about you may be in for a shock here.
Rhian Johnson’s stunning big screen debut takes the blueprint of a fifities film-noir and relocates the story to a high school setting with excellent results, casting Levitt as the star was a perfect decision, his combination of teen angst and unspoken dignity bring the role to life in this career defining performance that cemented his reputation as an outstanding actor. If you have never seen Brick then I recommend you head out and purchase it on DVD right now, I have watched it countless times and I could not imagine anyone else adapting to the lead role so perfectly. Joseph Gordon-Levitt, you absolute legend.
As well as his existing filmography, Levitt is starring in a number of upcoming films that could be absolute belters. Keep your eyes peeled for his performances in Tarantino’s latest opus Django Unchained, Nolan’s final instalment of the Dark Knight trilogy and Hesher where he plays a metalhead to name a few. Without a doubt, I can safely say that he is one of the best actors around right now, and if it wasn’t for Gosling, he would probably be my number one man crush!
Tom Bielby is a long time film fan and aspiring film writer. HE writes his own blog names The Film Bantha
Are you a JGL fan? What is your favourite of his roles? Comment below…