A Lars List

6 Breakthroughs in 2010

2010 was a great year for film. Here are six contributors whose stock now soars:

 

Andrew Garfield    Most directors will admit that casting is 90% of the work. If finding the right actor to play Mark Zuckerberg was a challenge, my guess is director David Fincher lost more than a little sleep over the casting prospect of the facebook founder’s right hand man, Eduardo Saverin. Apparently, Andrew Garfield was initially being considered to play Zuckerberg. That is until Fincher’s light bulb went off that the actor’s charm and likeability would be lost on the lead character but made him a perfect fit for ‘Eduardo.’

Garfield deserves ten gigs worth of credit for boosting the emotional stakes of a story that might otherwise have gotten bogged down in technical computer speak and litigation ping-pong. His friendship and dedication to Jesse Eisenberg’s ‘Zuckerberg’ play so authentic and conflicted, navigating his way between entrepreneurial desire and his collegiate social acceptance, that by the time the other shoe falls in the climax of the picture, we not only side with him, we understand and feel his righteous pain.

The U.S. born but U.K. raised Garfield, 27, now gets to portray a young ‘Peter Parker’ in the heavily anticipated next installment of the Spiderman franchise, directed by Marc Webb (500 Days of Summer). As the kids say, or used to anyway, “he’s blowing up.”

 

Hailee Steinfeld       Talk about a star is born performance. Much like Oscar winners Anna Paquin in The Piano (1994) or Tatum O’Neil in Paper Moon (1973), Hailee Steinfeld delivered so thorough a performance in the Coen brothers’ remake of True Grit, the debut may just win her the statue.

Not only does young Hailee, 14, handle the contraction-free dialogue of the period (and novel), she makes such specific and endearing emotional transitions throughout the journey of the manhunt. The way she slowly develops admiration for the gruff and erratic ‘Rooster Cogburn’ (Jeff Bridges); the gradual love that twinkles in her eye with each scene she shares with Matt Damon’s comically earnest Texas Ranger ‘LaBoeuf.’ Or how about her inevitable confrontation with ‘Tom Chaney’ (Josh Brolin) in the river? Her startled fear that quickly becomes resolve and then action. A mature performance from an unusually mature young actress. Now, finding the right roles for her to sink her considerable chops (and smarts) into will be the challenge.

 

Melissa Leo    Yeah, she was Oscar nominated for Best Actress for her performance in Frozen River (2008), but nobody saw Frozen River – so it wasn’t really much of a breakthrough. It got her working though, and I’m not slighting that – it’s just that Melissa Leo worked in over a dozen films in the two years between Frozen River and The Fighter and I’ve never heard of any of them.

Well, not only are people seeing The Fighter, they are loving The FighterLeo, 50, may very well win the Oscar, which sure beats being nominated.

 

Jennifer Lawrence     Not to contradict myself, but nobody saw Jennifer Lawrence in last year’s Winter’s Bone either. But…those of us who actually did, saw a young actress who is destined for stardom. She’s early Renee Zellweger without all of the annoying things most people can’t stand about Renee Zellweger.

Winter’s Bone is a bleak and gloomy independent film about a teenaged girl forced to look after her mentally unstable mother and her two young siblings because her deadbeat drug-addicted dad has gone missing. Lawrence, 20, is in every scene of the picture, carrying the emotional weight of the world on her shoulders with such grace and ease – well, I was floored.

She has now been cast in the next installment of The X-Men franchise as ‘Raven Darkholme,’ a shapeshifter. She also received an Oscar nomination for Best Actress earlier this week. And, oh yeah, the camera loves her – so there’s that too. You go, girl.

 

David Fincher    Until The Social Network, David Fincher was still that guy who made creepy dark movies like Alien 3 (1992), Seven (1995), The Fight Club (1999), Panic  Room (2002), and Zodiac (2007). Then came The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008), and to be honest, as impressive as it was at times, mainly in its imagery, it was just too damned long and too freakin’ boring. And to be really really really honest…Brad Pitt just can’t carry a film (ok, maybe Legends of the Fall).

But now Fincher breathes the rarefied air of being the most sought-after director in Hollywood, which, considering his long-standing reputation as a…difficult person to get along with, is pretty amazing. Maybe a lot of directors (James Cameron & Michael Bay) are difficult to get along with – but Fincher even refers to himself as ‘unsavory’ in his wonderfully educational commentary track on The Social Network dvd features.

 

Jason Patric reminded me why he’s such an interesting actor in The Losers. What a disappointing career the enigmatic Patric has had. Sure, he’s had a few memorable roles (Rush, Narc, Your Friends and Neighbors), but go back and look at James Foley’s After Dark My Sweet (1990) and ask yourself this: Why isn’t this guy a bigger star?

Patric’s performance as the megalomaniac ‘Max’ in The Losers is exactly what films of that genre are usually missing. That Bond villain quality of playfulness and sadistic glee.

Maybe he’s hard to cast – being one of those guys that falls just short of being a leading man. I’m hoping The Losers puts Jason Patric, 44, on the map as a refreshingly fun bad guy to hate and laugh at simultaneously. Dare I say, the new Christopher Walken?

2 thoughts on “6 Breakthroughs in 2010

  1. Pingback: Hunger Games Serves Up Plenty « Lars Beckerman

  2. Pingback: Stars align in Silver Linings Playbook | Lars Beckerman

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