There was a time several years ago when it seemed like every other movie contained either Ben Affleck or Samuel L. Jackson (culminating in CHANGING LANES when they starred together). I don't care too much for Affleck and Jackson's okay, but the fact that they'd show up in nearly every commercial and trailer made me get sick of seeing them. There are some actors I feel that way about today (Seth Rogen and Paul Rudd, I'm looking in your direction), but there are others I enjoy seeing and would actually like to see more of. The actors I'm referring to all have things in common: their very talented, young (a couple relatively speaking), and not American. Nope, they all hail from our neighbor to the east, England, and they appear to be on the verge of taking over Hollywood.
Let's start with Clive Owen. He seems to pop up in a movie every couple of months and although I haven't seen everything he's done, from what I have seen, his talent and range are remarkable. He played a very convincing sleazebag in CLOSER, a timid and reluctant hero in the excellent CHILDREN OF MEN, and a superhero channeling Bugs Bunny in the incredibly fun SHOOT 'EM UP. He seems to be the "It" actor in Hollywood now and hopefully he'll vary his projects a little (like DUPLICITY) and not go down the Nicolas Cage route of mindless, inane action flicks.
Kate Winslet, she of the recent Oscar win, hasn't made a ton of films and it's obvious she's careful in what she chooses. Her movies are usually very good and she's always wonderful. Every part she plays is believable, from a troubled ex-Nazi guard (THE READER) to a lonely, disgruntled American housewife (LITTLE CHILDREN) to a gregarious, impulsive free spirit (ETERNAL SUNSHINE OF THE SPOTLESS MIND). Her films are always compelling and thought-provoking. On a side note, I just find Kate Winslet very appealing; from her interviews she seems really down to earth and perhaps it's wishful thinking, but she strikes me as someone an average guy could potentially approach in a bar or just on the street, and actually have a shot with. I don't get that same vibe from Julia Roberts or Katherine Heigl, for example.
Another young and talented actress is the adorable if somewhat skeletal Keira Knightly. Although she's only 24, it sometimes feels like she's been around forever. She also seems to be careful with her choice of films (with the possible exception of those dumb Pirate movies) and, like Winslet, they're usually very well received. She can easily play a likeable modern girl (LOVE ACTUALLY) but can also effortlessly slip back in time a couple hundred years (THE DUCHESS, PRIDE AND PREJUDICE). Plus she always looks great, especially in those huge, billowing gowns.
James McAvoy is another up-and-coming actor. (Okay, he's from Scotland, but close enough.) He was very good opposite Knightly in ATONEMENT as well as Christina Ricci in the surprisingly charming PENELOPE. And he, like Owen, has shown he can also play an action star (WANTED).
Then there's the chameleon Emily Blunt who seems to immerse herself in every part she plays. She was delightfully bitchy in THE DEVIL WEARS PRADA, cute and sexy in her small role in the otherwise lame DAN IN REAL LIFE, and terrifically screwed up in the recent SUNSHINE CLEANING. She has several projects lined up for this year and next so we will definitely be seeing a lot more of her.
Ricky Gervais, although so far he's only starred in one film (the unexpectedly good GHOST TOWN) is just one funny SOB. The Office was brilliant (and, contrary to what a lot of people seem to think, better than the American version) and Extras was also hilarious. (It was great to see both Clive Owen and Kate Winslet poking fun at themselves in cameo appearances). Gervais' recent HBO stand-up special was amazing and I really hope to see more of him in some capacity or another.
Simon Pegg is another great comedic actor. He stars in (and co-wrote) one of my all-time favorite movies, SHAUN OF THE DEAD, and his deadpan delivery and comic timing are impeccable. He, along with fellow SHAUN co-star Nick Frost, were also terrific in HOT FUZZ (co-written by Pegg as well). And if it weren't for Pegg, RUN FAT BOY RUN, would just have been mediocre at best. Although I'm not much of a STAR TREK fan, I look forward to seeing him playing Scotty in the upcoming film.
There are certainly others (all those Harry Potter kids come to mind) but these actors really stand out to me. And their talent truly runs the gamut, from drama to comedy to action/adventure. Plus, and perhaps most importantly, they just seem like they'd be a cool group to hang out with.
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Thoughts, observations, conjectures, complaints about movies and mostly how they relate to me personally. If you're looking for something a little broader, try Ebert.
Born to write (literally – much to the displeasure of his mother, he emerged with a pencil clutched in one tiny fist), Tim spends most of his days crafting epic monosyllabic poems, new comical titles to his favorite Beatles' songs (Hey, Dude), and angry letters to local businesses that have wronged him in some way. He's really an okay guy once you get to know him.|
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