Breaking News Bar
updated: 9/30/2012 6:48 AM

5 favorite Joseph Gordon-Levitt performances

hello
Success - Article sent! close
  • This publicity file photo shows Emilie de Ravin, left, and Joseph Gordon-Levitt in Rian Johnson's "Brick," a Focus Features release.

      This publicity file photo shows Emilie de Ravin, left, and Joseph Gordon-Levitt in Rian Johnson's "Brick," a Focus Features release.
    Courtesy of Focus Features

  • Actor Joseph Gordon-Levitt of "500 Days of Summer" poses for a portrait at the Gibson Guitar Lounge during the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah in 2009.

      Actor Joseph Gordon-Levitt of "500 Days of Summer" poses for a portrait at the Gibson Guitar Lounge during the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah in 2009.
    Associated Press

  • This publicity film still shows Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Zooey Deschanel in a scene from "500 Days of Summer."

      This publicity film still shows Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Zooey Deschanel in a scene from "500 Days of Summer."
    Courtesy of Fox Searchlight

  • This publicity film still shows Bryce Dallas Howard and Joseph Gordon-Levitt, in a scene from the movie "50/50."

      This publicity film still shows Bryce Dallas Howard and Joseph Gordon-Levitt, in a scene from the movie "50/50."
    Courtesy of Summit Entertainment

 
By Christy Lemire, AP Movie Critic

LOS ANGELES -- He's only 31 years old, and already Joseph Gordon-Levitt has proved he can pretty much do everything. From action blockbusters and crowd-pleasing romantic comedies to quirky indies and small, searing dramas, he always makes interesting, eclectic choices and brings an authenticity and watchability to every role.

With the time-travel drama "Looper" opening this weekend, here's a look at Gordon-Levitt's five best performances. They're in alphabetical order because he's so good in all of these movies, I couldn't decide on an order of preference.

Order Reprint Print Article
 
Interested in reusing this article?
Custom reprints are a powerful and strategic way to share your article with customers, employees and prospects.
The YGS Group provides digital and printed reprint services for Daily Herald. Complete the form to the right and a reprint consultant will contact you to discuss how you can reuse this article.
Need more information about reprints? Visit our Reprints Section for more details.

Contact information ( * required )

Success - request sent close

•"50/50" (2011): Gordon-Levitt was in such a tough spot here. It's a comedy ... about cancer. But as the young man who receives the diagnosis that he only has a 50 percent chance of surviving a rare, spinal form of the disease, Gordon-Levitt never creates a mawkish portrait of martyrdom. His character, Adam, goes through all the requisite stages of denial, frustration, fear and eventually acceptance, but he does so with such believable imperfection, he never feels like a saint. He's not always gracious in the face of adversity; he can be a little surly and smug and emotionally closed-off. Gordon-Levitt has the range and subtlety to make all of that work.

• "(500) Days of Summer" (2009): At the other end of the spectrum from "50/50" is a performance that's bursting with joy at the center of Marc Webb's sweet, clever film. As an aspiring Los Angeles architect, Gordon-Levitt recalls the blissful, all-consuming romance he shared with the seemingly perfect girl, Summer (Zooey Deschanel). Through every moment of jubilation and anxiety, Gordon-Levitt makes us feel for him; he's still so appealing even when he's miserable, you almost don't want to see him succeed. I was already a fan of his, but the spontaneous production number he leads with a bunch of strangers to Hall & Oates' peppy "You Make My Dreams" is so infectious, it made me adore him.

• "Brick" (2006): I like the movie itself -- a verbally stylish film noir set in a contemporary Southern California high school -- better in retrospect than I did in the moment. Back when I saw it, I admired the ambition of writer-director Rian Johnson's debut but thought the specificity of the language was too self-conscious and kept the audience at arm's length. But I always liked Gordon-Levitt's performance here as a teenage sleuth -- think Humphrey Bogart in a gray hoodie -- digging for the dangerous truth about the murder of the pretty, blonde classmate he loved. He handles the patter of the dialogue and repeated punches to the face with equal aplomb. It's easy to see why Johnson would write "Looper" with Gordon-Levitt in mind, even naming the lead character Joe.

• "The Lookout" (2007): Not a lot of people saw the directing debut from longtime screenwriter Scott Frank, and that is a shame. It's a character drama tucked inside a heist caper, with building tension and beautifully drawn characters. Gordon-Levitt stars as a once-promising high school athlete who suffers a head injury in a serious car crash that leaves him with short-term memory loss. Several years later, he makes some dangerous new friends at a bar who eventually ask him to help them rob the bank where he works as a night janitor -- to serve as the lookout. Gordon-Levitt's everyman accessibility puts us right there in the middle of the crime, and his sense of loneliness makes us understand why he'd want to be buddies with these people who are using him.

• "Mysterious Skin" (2005): This was the first film that signaled the kind of risky roles Gordon-Levitt was interested in playing -- an indication of the intriguing career he'd go on to carve out for himself. In writer-director Gregg Araki's low-budget drama, Gordon-Levitt co-stars as a small-town teenage hustler named Neil: a young man whose repeated molestation at the hands of his little-league coach starting at age 8 set him on a wayward path of danger and self-destruction. He's a narcissistic, blasť character whose bravado hides years of damage, and Gordon-Levitt portrays him with both bravery and sympathy. Clearly, this was no longer the cute kid from the TV sitcom "3rd Rock From the Sun."

Share this page
Comments ()
Guidelines: Keep it civil and on topic; no profanity, vulgarity, slurs or personal attacks. People who harass others or joke about tragedies will be blocked. If a comment violates these standards or our terms of service, click the X in the upper right corner of the comment box. To find our more, read our FAQ.