19 December 2019

Thursday Movie Picks -- Childs Actors Venture Out

The movie where the gifted little kid actor takes off his/her clothes and grows up, at least in the case of my picks this week.  Sometimes it plays better than others. Either way, the ones who become the best need this sort of breakthrough in order to simply make the transition to "real actor." All three of these actors have proven that they had an ability to transcend what made them famous first.

So... It's Child Actor Ventures Out of Typecasting week as part of Wandering through the Shelves' Thursday Movie Picks.

Here are my picks:

Joseph Gordon-Levitt in Mysterious Skin (dir. Gregg Araki, 2004)

Dark, tragic, oddly beautiful film. Stellar performance. Total breakthrough.

Natalie Portman in Closer (dir. Mike Nichols, 2004)

Silly, overly melodramatic film. Unforgettable performance. Total smoke show.

Shia LaBeouf in Nymphomaniac (dir. Lars von Trier, 2014)

Disgusting, completely irresponsible film. Gross performance. Total scum-bum.


  1. We match on JGL with Mysterious Skin. That movie along with Brick and Manic made him my favorite actor. He's just incredible. Love your other picks too, even though it's been ages since I've seen Closer. I don't remember much of it at all.

    1. Yeah. He really had a run there in the mid-aughts. Closer is totally forgettable...except Portman.

  2. Mysterious Skin is such an important, beautifully acted film with that amazing central performance by JGL where he was able to display the breath of his talent. That said I felt completely devastated after it was over and have zero desire to ever watch it again.

    Speaking of zero desire that is where I'm at with Nymphomaniac.

    I've only seen bits of Closer and from what I've seen I'm in no hurry to give it a proper watch. I've seen other Natalie Portman performances though that prove that she is a versatile actress.

    That breaking of typecasting particularly for kids is tough, nearly as treacherous as navigating the jump from child stardom to adult fame. A few performers have managed without making a radical departure-Judy Garland, Elizabeth Taylor, Kurt Russell and a small handful of others because either their talent(Judy), force of personality (Liz) or relatability (Kurt) has kept pace with their changing physicality but usually a big change is required and often still can't sustain them.

    I stuck with performers (as it turned out all actresses) who successfully attempted something different while still in their teens. And as happened all three were nominated for Supporting Actress Oscars (none won) for either their typecasting role or the one that broke the mold.

    Bonita Granville: The Nancy Drew Mysteries series

    Rising to fame at 12 (and netting an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actress) in 1936’s These Three as a cancerous, vicious child whose lies destroys three lives simply because she can’t have her own way for the next several years Bonita was reliably cast as odious little bitches making adult lives miserable until her studio took a chance and cast her as mischievous, scrappy Nancy Drew in a series of low budget films. The series was very successful enabling her to expand her persona and bounced back and forth between good girls and bad until her retirement from acting in 1950.

    Jodie Foster: Taxi Driver

    From the age of six (though she had been a child model since the age of two) the incredibly prolific Jodie was one of the top child stars of the late 60’s and early 70’s mostly through her television work including her own series-Paper Moon-as the plucky tomboyish girl next door. But that changed with her Oscar nominated performance as the child prostitute Iris in Taxi Driver. It’s a haunting worn down profoundly sad piece of work.

    Natalie Wood: Rebel Without a Cause

    Gaining fame at age nine (though in her own estimation not really achieving stardom rather being in her words “a utility actress” slotted into whatever role fit her image) as the pragmatic, prematurely wise Susie who comes to believe in Santa Claus in 1947’s Miracle on 34th Street Natalie played variations on that character for the next eight years. Then in 1955 Nicholas Ray cast her as Judy, the vulnerable and lost teen skirting juvenile delinquency resulting in an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actress and changing the direction of her career.

    1. I'll admit I've never heard of Bonita Granville. And regrettably Rebel Without a Cause is a blind spot. Foster is everything you said in Taxi Driver. Just a great performance.

    2. I'm not surprised you are unfamiliar with Bonita Granville. Even though she made upward of 60 films and appeared in a few classics (the most prominent one being the Bette Davis starrer Now, Voyager) most of her pictures were B's and she exited the performance arena of movies in her mid-20's.

      She only married once but it was a long (38 years), happy and very successful one to a producer and entrepreneur named Jack Wrather who owned among many other enterprises the original Disneyland Hotel. Bonita eventually moved onto the producing side of the business on both the original Lassie and Lone Ranger TV series as well as sitting on the board of directors of many corporations owned by her husband garnering a reputation as a very sharp businesswoman.

      Unfortunately she also became a cautionary tale on the dangers of second hand smoke. Even though she never smoked a day in her life her husband was a two to three pack a day man and she eventually developed lung cancer which claimed her at 65 in 1988, he had also perished from the same disease four years before.

      I detested Taxi Driver but Jodie is simply staggering in it, also though his character is slime DeNiro is brilliant as well.

  3. I haven’t seen any of these films and the one I would like to see is the first one

  4. Great picks. Haven't seen any of those films, but I plan to see them eventually, except for Nymphomaniac. I'll never sit through a Lars von Trier film.

    I could go with a lot of picks here, but the one I really want to go with here is Sarah Polley in The Sweet Hereafter. She may have been in a film with adult themes before (Atom Egoyan's Exotica, which I think is an even better film than The Sweet Hereafter), but she was mainly on some Canadian children's TV shows in the late 80s & early 90s. But this is where she really transformed to adult roles. I rewatched this film the other night (coincidentally, while I was in Canada), & while I still find it to be an incredible film, I found more to love in Polley's performance, specifically how subtle & layered it is, when other actresses may have gone for something more showy.

    1. I will say that Breaking the Waves is a worthy sit. The only thing I've liked from von Trier.

      Love Sarah Polley and that film. She is so great.