Friday, March 7, 2014

15 Really, Really Good Actors You Have Never Heard Of: Names You Should Know and Some Films You Should See - and The Week in Reviews

[Where I review movies "Non-Stop," "The Family," "Paranoia" and "Oldboy" and recommend a really, really good book.]


But first
 
15 Really, Really Good Actors
You Have Never Heard Of

With the Oscars barely behind us, I am already gearing up for the next awards season.

Who will emerge as Best Actor and Actress for 2014?

As a once aspiring actress myself and someone who attends local stage productions and watches the "small films" regularly, I am struck by how much talent there is out there in the world, successful working actors who no one has heard of. 

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median income for an actor is $20.26 per hour and growth in jobs over the next year will be only 4%, the slowest growth of all occupations.  There are about 50,000 members of the Actors' Equity Association, membership in which is a requirement for most acting jobs and it's estimated that only 1% of working actors will hit it big.  So not every actor gets to be an in demand actor like Julia Roberts or Matthew McConaughey or to be deemed a "star." 

Many actors toil for years in regional theatre or indie films and never get the recognition they deserve.  They are faces you recognize but you don't know their names.

So here is a list of some actors and actresses
whose names you should know. 

Some are newbies, some have been around awhile. Hopefully, some or all will hit it big and become the Next Big Thing.  Who knows? Just remember, three years ago you probably didn't know who Jennifer Lawrence was.

I've also given you a list of "must see films" so you can see them in action (and remember their names)!



Who will be the next
household name?




Gael Garcia Bernal 

 
Gael has been around since 2000 when he starred in the Mexican film, "Amores Perros." He was a big star in Mexico, but mastered the English language and has since starred in more mainstream films such as "A Little Bit of Heaven" with Kate Hudson and "Casa de mi Padre (2012)" with Will Ferrell, but so far he hasn't caught on with American audiences. 
 
And if he doesn't stay away from films like "The Loneliest Planet (which was bloody awful)," he never will.  But he is an amazingly talented actor. He currently has three films in post-production, so maybe he will score it big in one of those.

See him in: "Y Tu Mama Tambien" (2001)" - this is the film where the critics took notice.




Lily Collins

 
Daughter of singer Phil Collins and his second wife, Lily moved to the U.S. from the U.K. when she was 5. Ranked #4 in People Magazine's list of "Most Beautiful People," she starred in "Mortal Instruments: the City of Bones" in 2013.
 
She has several high profile projects coming out in the next couple of years, so watch for her.
 
See her in "Stuck in Love (2012)"




Rebecca Hall

 
Rebecca is a British actress who is also a chameleon, which could be why she hasn't reached stardom yet. Perhaps she is too good.  
 
When I first saw her in Ben Affleck's "The Town," where she played an American, I thought she was one.  She often plays Americans.  Her breakout role was in "The Prestige" in 2006 and she was Vicky in Woody Allen's "Vicky Christina Barcelona."  Many roles have followed but she has yet to connect. She will have the leading female role in the next "Pirates of the Caribbean."  Maybe that will do it.
 
Which would be ironic because she is so much better than that!
 
See her in the 2012 TV series "Parade's End" and then compare that to "Closed Circuit (2013)" and you will see why I think she is amazing.




Amber Heard

 
 
Amber appeared in "Pineapple Express" and "Zombieland" and currently is in "3 Days to Kill" with Kevin Costner (in theatres now).
 
She is currently Johnny Depp's latest love.  Hopefully, she can move past that to have her own identity.
(2015 update:  They are married)
 
See her in "Paranoia (2013)" with hunky Liam Hemsworth.  Those Hemsworth boys...geez.
(SEE review of "Paranoia" below)




Michael B. Jordan

 
Better known for his roles in the TV series "The Wire," "Friday Night Lights," and "Parenthood," his turn as the ill-fated Oscar Grant in "Fruitvale Station" gave him acting props.  He will soon be starring in "The Fantastic Four (2015)." Maybe that will be his big break.
 
Isn't it amazing that you have to be a Super Hero for people to notice you?
 
See him in "Fruitvale Station (2013)"




Melissa Leo

 
Despite her Best Supporting Actress Oscar for "The Fighter" in 2011 and an Oscar nomination for Best Actress for "Frozen River" in 2008, Melissa is probably better known for dropping the F-bomb at the Academy Awards ceremony than for her body of work which includes many character roles in films and on television.
 
C'mon, be honest.  She is an Academy Award winner and nominee and you wouldn't have known her from Adam, would you?
 
See her in "Frozen River (2008)" and "Prisoners (2013)"




James McAvoy

 
Despite being an X-Man, James is still not a household name.  But he should be. 
 
He is a wonderful actor but HE-IS-ALSO-ADORB! 
 
See him in "Atonement (2007)"





David Morrissey

 
He is one of those faces you see everywhere, but probably don't know his name.  He is a British actor trained at RADA and has starred in many acclaimed British TV series such as "Blackpool" and "Red Riding Trilogy," but he is not as well known in the U.S.  He currently stars in the TV show "The Walking Dead," which could change all of that.
 
Not to be confused with the singer Morrissey.
 
See him in "State of Play (2003 TV mini series)."
 
 




Eddie Redmayne

 
He was Marius in "Les Miserables (2013)" and has appeared in many British films.  He has several projects in the works so we will be seeing more of him. 
 
Another ADORB British actor.  And he has freckles!  He's so cute I just want to...well..
 
See him in "Birdsong (2012)"
 
2015 Update:  I called it!  He won the Best Actor Oscar for 2014's "The Theory of Everything."  So see him in that too!




Margot Robbie

 
She won Leo Di Caprio's heart in "The Wolf of Wall Street" and came to our attention in the ill-fated U.S. TV show "Pan Am," which I actually liked.

I remember her from "Pan Am" - Yes, I watched (wouldn't you know, once I break my reality show addiction and watch a drama series, they yank it off the air midstream.  Hubby and I actually liked it).

She is a beautiful young woman who can act.  We will be seeing more of her.

See her in "About Time (2013)





Dan Stevens


 
I know you "Downton Abbey" fans recognize him as Matthew Crawley, but did you know his "real" name?  I would venture that you did not.
 
They had to kill him off of "Downton Abbey" so he could pursue other things so expect to see him again.

We miss you, Matthew!  Downton hasn't been the same since!  But we hope to see you make a splash as your career heats up.
 
See him in "The Fifth Estate (2013)

2015 Update:  You can also see him in "The Guest" (almost unrecognizable) and "Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb."  Better yet, skip that last one.  He was OK but the movie was terrible.



Juno Temple


 
Here is another British actress that speaks "American."  She has been appearing everywhere in the last couple of years from "The Dark Knight Rises" to "Lovelace."  She will soon be seen in "Maleficent" with Angelina Jolie.

She can do anything and WILL do anything, which makes her an exciting actress. 

See her in "The Brass Teapot (2012)" and "Little Birds (2011)"
 



Olivia Wilde

 
She played an uncredited part on "Saturday Night Live" in 2011 and since then has starred with Steve Carell and Jim Carrey in "The Incredible Burt Wonderstone" and "Her."
 
Olivia is a beautiful actress who made a splash at the Oscars by showing off her pregnancy in a gorgeous Valentino gown.
  
See her in "Rush (2013)" with Chris Hemsworth. 
(He would have been on this list if he hadn't already made his mark in "Thor" and for being so incredibly hunky).  
 




Patrick Wilson

 
With parts in "The Phantom of the Opera (2004)" and "Insidious (2010)" this guy has been around awhile and can't seem to get out of the horror genre.  But with nine films in post-production we will be seeing much more of him.
 
He has such a "boy next door" quality, I fear he will always play the put upon hero rather than the romantic leading man.  But he also projects a warmth and realness that is unique.
 
See him in "The Conjuring (2013)"




Shailene Woodley

 
She came to our attention in "The Descendants" with George Clooney (2011) and will be starring in the new "Divergent" series, which I predict will be the next big thing since "The Hunger Games."
 
Another Jennifer Lawrence, perhaps?
 
See her in "The Spectacular Now (2013)"
 
2015 Update:  She HAS hit it big!
 
 
What actress or actor
do you think we should know about?

Dvds available at your local library or Netflix 



***In Theatres Now***
 


Non-Stop
 
 
Our Liam is an air marshal with problems and his problems get worse when someone on his plane threatens to kill a passenger every 20 minutes unless he gets $150 mil.

Liam Neeson planned to retire a few years back and devote more time to the thee-ah-ter and more highbrow enterprises, but even he will admit, money came calling and now he has found his niche in these kinds of thrillers.  And, I must say, he is one of my favorites - a nice big man.

Downton Abbey fans will enjoy seeing Lady Mary, er...Michelle Dockery  acquitting herself well as a flight attendant and Lupita Nuong'o (Best Supporting Actress for "12 Years a Slave") likewise, though Lupita doesn't get much screen time.  But she got her Academy Award!

Rosy the Reviewer says...there are some holes and the ultimate premise is a bit much, but this is a tense, taut thriller reminiscent of Hitchcock, where you don't know who to believe until the end.  It kept me on the edge of my seat.  If you like the "Taken" series, you will like this even more. An exciting couple of hours.

But if you have a fear of flying, this isn't for you.
 


***DVDS***
You Might Have Missed
And Some You Should Be Glad You Did
(I see the bad ones so you don't have to)


The Family (2013)



The Manzoni's, a notorious Mafia family are relocated to Normandy, France under the Witness Protection Plan.  Your typical "fish out of water" plot.

One wonders why Robert DeNiro continues to pick the kinds of movies he does. He seems to be phoning it in these days.

Rosy the Reviewer says...There are laughs and excitement to be had, but this is certainly no "Goodfellas."



Paranoia (2013)

 
A low level employee in a tech company finds himself forced to spy on the competition.
 
The evils that our phones can do!
 
Gary Oldman and Harrison Ford face off as corporate giants and pick on another one of those amazingly beautiful Hemsworth boys, this time Liam. And it's good to see Richard Dreyfuss again.  If you thought you had any privacy whatsoever, think again.
 
Rosy the Reviewer says...a little muddled and over the top at times, but this is a good one. If you like corporate thrillers, you will like this.  And ladies, you have the added bonus of that nice, tall, Hemsworth boy.  Another nice big man.



Oldboy (2013)




A man is kept prisoner for 20 years and he doesn't know why.  When he is released, he sets out to seek revenge and discovers he must solve a riddle or lose everything he cares about.
 
Very Turandot, don't you think?
 
I  know, I know, this appeared in my blog "The Worst Movies of 2013," but I was merely reporting from other critics' lists and then adding a few of my own.  (You didn't think I was actually going to watch "Machete Kills," did you?) 
 
But this is Spike Lee (who gave us "Do the Right Thing" and "Malcolm X"), and I need to take my own advice, which is..."Think for yourself!"  I had to see it.
 
There are some instances where you have to go your own way.
 
Yes, read the critics, but if something still intrigues you, check it out.  And I am a huge Spike Lee fan, even if he can be a dick sometimes, and so I wanted to see why and how he failed.  And you know what?  He didn't. 
 
Yes, you wonder why he wanted to remake a perfectly good Korean film (you know how I feel about THAT - American remakes of perfectly good foreign films - why? Probably because of those "dreaded" subtitles -"Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" anyone - the ORIGINAL one!?), but I hadn't seen the original film. 
 
Obviously, Spike really liked that original film. Even so, I can see where Spike went wrong.  About halfway through the film, he goes from high drama to cartoon trying to emulate the martial arts theatrics in some Korean, Japanese and Chinese films and the plot becomes apparent. But you can't blame the actors or and you can't blame Spike for his direction and production values. 
 
If you hate the film, blame Spike for choosing to remake it. But don't put him on the same list as "Machete Kills" or "Grown Ups 2."  That's just wrong.

 
Rosy the Reviewer says...I liked it.  I found it gripping and glad I didn't listen to the critics. However, caveat, it is VERY violent and kinky.  But Josh Brolin puts in a bravura performance.  He really goes for it.  If for nothing else, see it for thatBut if you fancy yourself a movie critic, you have to see it to judge it.  It's Spike Lee.  So see it.
 
Note:  When I say don't listen to the critics, I don't mean me.  You are supposed to listen to me!



***Book of the Week***




The Little Girl Who Fought the Great Depression: Shirley Temple and the 1930's America by John F. Kasson (2014)




A cultural biography of Temple and her effect on a despairing nation during the Great Depression of the 1930's.
 
Shirley Temple, one of the most popular child stars of the 20th century died on Feburary 10 of this year at the age of 86, so this newly published biography is a timely addition to the film genre. This is not your typical juicy celebrity biography. 

Kasson is a cultural historian and professor of history and American Studies at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, so, though he gives the basics of Temple's and her parent's lives, he is more focused on Temple's smile and personality as a metaphor for the optimism that occurred when FDR took office and the racial boundaries that were broken by her performances with Bill "Bojangles" Robinson. 
 
Rosy the Reviewer says...this is a well-researched book on the era in which Temple charmed a nation. For more personal facts, read it in conjunction with Temple's own autobiography, "Child Star (1988)." 
 
 
 
That's it for this week.
 
See you Tuesday for
"What Makes a Great Dad?"


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