Joseph Gordon-Levitt has always been a favorite of mine. And not just as an actor, but as an artist who's genuinely passionate about the creative process. Despite a lifelong career in the industry starting out as a child actor in 90s classics like Angels in the Outfield, Gordon-Levitt has yet to garner an Oscar Nomination. But don't be fooled, JGL has spent many years delivering awards-worthy performances that have helped transform him into a household name. And with the actor's upcoming weekend release, Snowden, I have decided to use September's movie list of the month to recognize Joseph Gordon-Levitt's most notable roles (August's list).
Honorable Mention: 10 Things I Hate About You, Looper, Mysterious Skin and The Walk.
#5. The Lookout (2007)
One of Joseph Gordon-Levitt's best performances comes in Scott Grant's vastly under-seen directorial debut, The Lookout. JGL stars as a former high school star athlete who experiences a tragic accident that leaves him unable to make new memories. Four years later he works as a late-night cleaner at a small town bank and crosses paths with some new acquaintances who demand that he use his connections to help them rob his place of employment. It's a challenging role that Gordon-Levitt commands with ease, and the result is a finely-tuned and suspenseful crime-drama that leaves a lasting memory.
#4. Brick (2005)
One of Joseph Gordon-Levitt's films that I thoroughly enjoyed was Rian Johnson's modern noir, Brick. A lonely teenager (JGL) discovers his ex-girlfriend's dead body and slowly retraces her steps to solve the murder. Gordon-Levitt delivers another fine performance that perfectly complements Johnson's gripping story and refined direction. His role in Brick proved to be a career-defining choice that helped propel JGL into the spotlight and on a fast-track to stardom.
#3. Hesher (2010)
I've long admired Gordon-Levitt's attraction to diverse roles. Unfortunately, many of them have flown under-the-radar like his unforgettable 2010 performance in Hesher. The title character is a vulgar metal-head squatter who weasels his way into the dysfunctional household of a high school freshman whose mother died in a fatal car accident two months earlier. JGL shines in his twisted story-telling scenes where he delivers meaningful, albeit it off-the-wall, parables that help this troubled teen cope with his tragic loss. It's an absolutely captivating performance that helps mold an off-kilter tale into an extremely effect drama.
#2. (500) Days of Summer (2009)
I once argued Marc Webb's magnificent comedy, (500) Days of Summer, as one of the greatest love stories of this millennium. There's a bit of irony considering the film follows Tom (JGL) on a non-chronological recollection of his recent break-up with Summer, the girl he believed was his soul mate. (500) Days of Summer proves to be a refreshingly original rom-com that finds Joseph Gordon-Levitt in a naturally perfect role. He flawlessly captures the essence of the affable nice-guy and takes the audience on a memorable journey of love lost. The performance landed Gordon-Levitt his first of two Golden Globe Nominations, and rightfully so.
#1. 50/50 (2011)
I've been overly vocal about my affinity for Jonathan Levine's brilliant Oscar-snubbed dramedy, 50/50. The film landed atop by Best Films of 2011 list thanks to career-best work from leading star Joseph Gordon-Levitt. He stars as Adam, a 27 year-old who becomes diagnosed with a rare form of spinal cancer. Boasting 50/50 odds of survival, the audience follows Adam on his bumpy road to acceptance. Tender, genuine, hysterical and completely unblemished, 50/50 is an absolute must-see film that wouldn't be nearly as effective as it is without the transcending work of Joseph Gordon-Levitt. He approaches the role with deep emotion that pours onto the screen in the film's most unforgettable scenes. And although his performance never received the Oscar recognition it deserved, JGL did earn his second Golden Globe Nomination.