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12 Movie Moments of 2012: Joseph Gordon-Levitt Makes It Big (The Dark Knight Rises, Premium Rush, Looper)

As well as counting down the top twelve films, I’m also going to count down my top twelve movie related “moments” of 2012. The term “moment” is elastic, so expect some crazy nonsense here. And, as usual, I accept that my taste is completely absurd, so I fully expect you to disagree. With that in mind, this is #10

I know that Joseph Gordon-Levitt has been around a while. I was fond of the actor back when he was appearing on Third Rock From the Sun, which already seems like a lifetime ago. More recently, he appeared in perhaps the best romantic comedy of the last decade, (500) Days of Summer. He has been running his own production company, hitRECordjoe since 2009. Even last year the actor was headlining movies like 50/50. As such, it feels a bit disingenuous to suggest that he really burst on to the scene this year, but 2012 has been a great year for the actor, and it’s always great to see a deserving young talent emerge.

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Gordon-Levitt has headlined two movies this year. Premium Rush was an enjoyable little chase film set within the world of cut-throat bike messengers, and Looper was a bold science-fiction time travel story that eschewed techno-babble for relatively meaty philosophical questions. Gordon-Levitt effective drove both of those films as the lead, and there’s something quite wonderful about seeing an actor who you’re respected for a while taking up considerable poster and publicity space.

Gordon-Levitt has been around for quite some time, and he has established himself as a formidable young talent. He hasn’t just burst on to the scene, instead he seems to have reached the point where he can anchor a movie due to the strength of his past work. There’s something quite wonderful about watching an actor develop like that, over the long-term and seeing them move from lower-profile successes like Brick towards films with larger scope and production budgets.

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You might argue that a high profile isn’t necessarily the best reward for an actor, and that perhaps it represents slightly skewed priorities – that it suggests that commercial success is the highest measure of success. That is certainly a legitimate position, and I agree pretty much entirely. I know that Gordon-Levitt’s raised profile means nothing without the freedom to pursue the projects that interest him. His commitment to working with developing talent is commendable, and I know that being a recognisable “screen name” most likely seems relatively unimportant.

At the same time, seeing a talented actor gain a higher profile is a good sign for the industry as a whole. Indeed, seeing Gordon-Levitt reteam with Brick director Rian Johnson for Looper, a high-concept time-travel film, is immensely satisfying as a film fan. It is very good to see talent rewarded, even if Brick didn’t necessarily attain the profile that it deserved. There’s something quite uplifting about the idea that you can watch talent grow and develop like that, and Gordon-Levitt has been doing enough solid work in the past few years that it feels earned.

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While he didn’t headline Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight Rises, Gordon-Levitt was a key part of the ensemble – one of the many cast members carried over from Inception. However, perhaps the biggest indication of how far his star has risen in the past year emerged in the wake of The Dark Knight Rises. When the rumour arose that Gordon-Levitt might be playing John Blake in the upcoming Justice League film, the inevitable denial didn’t come from the studio, but from Gordon-Levitt’s people.

Check out our other movie moments of 2012:

12. We Built This City (Rock of Ages)

11. September (Intouchables)

10. Joseph Gordon-Levitt (The Dark Knight Rises, Premium Rush, Looper)

09. Throwing the toys together (The Avengers)

08. Running (Shame)

07. “You’d love my boyfriend, he’s a total chick flick nut.” (ParaNorman)

06. The Dark Knight Returns (The Dark Knight Rises)

4 Responses

  1. For everyone who dismisses child actors as future felons, Joseph Gordon-Levitt is a great example of someone who was a star at a young age but matured into a great actor as an adult (you can also include Elijah Wood, Jodie Foster, and a host of others). Far too often we want to focus on those who turned to drugs and crime.

    • I was actually thinking about Elijah Wood recently. He’s one of those actors who seems to do what he chooses, rather than what he needs – which is really great to see for a former child star. He was a recognisable child actor, he was the lead in a massive ensemble blockbuster trilogy, and yet he’s willing to do supporting roles in indie films and to pop up in the most unlikely places. I’m a big fan.

      And Foster is – for my money – one of the best actresses working (sporadically) at the moment, even if the films don’t always match her talent.

  2. JGL has had a fantastic few years. It’s his variety of roles I’ve really loved. From all out silly action to some very high brow sci-fi. He’s not pigeon holed himself. If he can keep this up, be looking forward to seeing what else he’s in.

    And the fact that he did that Magic Mike sketch for SNL shows he doesn’t take anything too seriously. Always a good thing.

    • I looked up that sketch, and it is amazing. As this article sort of implies, I have a massive fondness for JGL.

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