Wednesday 13 November 2013

Top Ten Performances - Joseph Gordon-Levitt

With the release of Joseph Gordon-Levitt's directorial debut, Don Jon, I decided to take a look back at his finest performances throughout his gradual 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. Don Jon
Levitt's performance in Don Jon is impressive considering his dual role on set both behind and in front of the camera, and he is surprisingly believable as the titular muscular lothario Jon. I cannot blame Levitt for pitching himself alongside Scarlett Johansson and it is no surprise that this has worked out as one of the funniest, raunchiest, and most touching comedies of the year when considering the talent involved.

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.

8. Looper
Reunited with Brick director Rian Johnson, Gordon-Levitt is exceptional in this sci-fi thriller which imagines a world where criminals from the future are sent back to the present day to be killed by hired-hands known as Loopers. Faced with an incredibly difficult choice when his future-self turns out to be his latest target, Levitt delivers a stunning portrayal of a tormented hitman - even after his face has been digitally altered to resemble the one and only Bruce Willis. 

7. Inception
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. Christopher Nolan, you absolute legend.

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. The Dark Knight Rises
Cast amongst such heavyweight actors as Tom Hardy, Christian Bale and Gary Oldman to name but a few, you would be forgiven for thinking that Levitt would struggle to find his voice as Blake in Nolan's epic conclusion to the Dark Knight trilogy but that is far from the truth. Destined to be Batman's successor, Blake plays a key part in overthrowing the League of Shadows, and I couldn't imagine anyone else more suited to play Nolan's incarnation of Batman's infamous sidekick .

4. 50/50
50/50 was one of the best films of 2011, 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. 

3. Manic
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.

1. Brick
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 Blu-Ray 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 due to appear in Sin City 2 next year, and we can only hope that he returns to the director's chair in the near future. 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.

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