Friday, November 8, 2013

Hit List: Top 5 Young Actors

Okay, so today, I am ready to post my next Hit List: Top 5 Young Actors I absolutely love every time I see them (at least in these specific films):

1. Freddie Highmore
 
Yes, you're seeing double... the twin brothers on The Spiderwick Chronicles  are played by the same actor, the spectacularly talented Freddie. Not only was it the most convincing performance of a single actor playing twins--but Freddie's American accent was impeccable. Twins Jared (center) and Simon (right) are as distinct as their appearance. He literally portrayed the brothers as two separate characters, changing his vocal inflections, while still maintaining the accent. Simon uses big words and clearer diction. Jared mumbles and is sarcastic most of the time. 
I have yet to see a movie (one with content that I am interested in, anyway) in which Freddie does not outshine most of the adults. Granted, his predominate screen partner is Johnny Depp (whom most would be hard-pressed to outshine), but if he doesn't beat 'em, Freddie can match Johnny for character credibility and skill as an actor.

(Side Note: if you've seen an old TV film called Jack and the Beanstalk: The Real Story, Freddie has a cameo at the end, with his father Edward...)

Other recommended films:
Finding Neverland
Five Children and It
August Rush


2. Charlie Rowe
Unfortunately, I couldn't find my favorite scene from this "miniseries", Neverland. Watching this was the first time I'd seen Charlie Rowe--and I couldn't get enough. This kid is spectacular. He played the role of Peter with conviction and total commitment. (Even though I have a bone to pick with the writers of this particular show--there's a part in there that they could have left out, if they hadn't been so focused on trying to shape Hook... oh well...)

Other Recommended Films:
Never Let Me Go

 
3. Thomas Horn

I just watched Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close the other day. This kid rocks. Don't believe me? Check out this Most Amazing Monologue Delivery By A Young Actor Ever: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QClzGhtHvjE


Thomas landed the complicated role of Oskar Schell in the film because its producer was so impressed with his performance (and the fact that he won) on a Kid's edition of Jeopardy in 2010. It was his film debut--and he made it count! This movie made me cry, made me think, made me appreciate the world just a little bit more. And this dude's got the most screen time of everyone--he carries the film, and does an amazing job at it.


4. Jeremy Sumpter

So... I couldn't find a clip or GIF of my favorite scene from this film (Peter Pan), but this still is the closest I could get.
I was super-excited when we first saw this film. I think it is one of only a handful of cinematic versions of this story where Peter Pan is actually played by a boy--and the first English version, at any rate.
Jeremy brought incredible realism to the character. The thing I like to watch most about an actor is "what they're saying when they're not saying anything": the non-verbal reactions. His were spot-on: the expressions, the knee-jerks (such as drawing his dagger on a jack-in-the-box, then not-so-subtly kicking it over when he realizes his mistake), and the delivery of his lines. This is hands-down one of my favorite-ever fantasy films, and it's due largely in part to the convincing portrayals of all the major characters.

(Fun Fact: the role of Michael is played by Freddie Popplewell--Yes, that Popplewell; apparently his sister Anna--best known as Susan Pevensie in The Chronicles of Narnia--came to audition for the part of Wendy; of course, she didn't get it... but they were so impressed with the little redhead tagging along with her that they offered him an audition and he landed his role in the film!)

Other Recommended Films:
Soul Surfer


5. Giorgio Cantarini
This is an odd addition, true... but definitely worth it. This little guy TOTALLY matches Roberto Benigni for gusto and humor and character credibility in the movie La Vita E Bella (Life is Beautiful; it's an Italian film, and there was a English dub version made, but the Italian with subtitles is the way to go). Giorgio positively shines as the young Joshua; we feel his fear, his confusion, his fatigue--all the emotions of a little boy caught in the anti-Semitism of World War II with no idea why shops are closed, people disappear, and why he and his father are separated from his mother and he must hide all the time. A heart-warming, tear-jerking film.

Honorable Mention:

Spencer Breslin--With appearances in Raising Helen and The Santa Clause 2 that follow the "outshining" pattern of the rest of the guys in this list, I had thought about including him--but when lined up with the other five "heavy-hitters", poor Spence got edged out by a hair. His skill as an actor is well-grounded, though, and makes the above films worth watching.