Joseph Gordon-Levitt – Don Jon
I like to tell people that I was foreseeing Gordon-Levitt’s meteoric rise way back when he was on Third Rock from the Sun; that’s really not true. I was surprised at how good he was on that show, holding his own surprisingly well against a cast of comedy legends. But no one could have foreseen the magnificent actor he’s turned into. Nor did I have any idea that he would eventually turn his hand to directing and do such a darn fantastic job of it. This tale of a porn addict and his fiery relationships with his own family, a new schoolmate and a girl that gets his motor running almost as much as his computer is witty and as sharply written as any movie I saw in 2013. The performances are fantastic across the board, particularly Scarlett Johansson as the most unlikable character I think she’s ever played, which is really saying something. But it’s probably Gordon-Levitt’s quirky directorial style that makes this movie stick in the mind. The movie has its own striking tempo, propelled along by an editing style that’s sharp and on point. The movie focuses on repeating shots, all the way down to the beats of the music laid over the shots; Gordon-Levitt’s probably saying something about the dead-end rut his character’s in. He fancies himself a wild and crazy guy, but we see over and over again, in a series of witty, sharply directed vignettes just how insanely structured his life really is. I particularly love the repeated shots that track his club escapades and the way he picks up girls; slow zooms set to a propulsive beat repeat again and again. It’s somehow both funny and a little dark, much like the whole movie. It’s heartening to see a debut like this from a young director; it’s self-assured enough to stake its claim immediately in the opening scene and stick to its guns. Gordon-Levitt isn’t content to just keep things relatively simple for his first film. I was interested to see this film because I like Gordon-Levitt as an actor and wanted to see what he’d do as a director. Now I’m sold; I can’t wait for his next directorial effort. What with Affleck of late, I’m starting to think that, after several years of “actor-turned-director” disappointments if things aren’t starting to turn around again. If they were all as good as Gordon-Levitt, they could all cross over as far as I’m concerned.
Next time, it’s the oldest movie to make it into my 2013 Awards list. An old classic that I already loved got screened in a few theaters again and revisiting it made it eligible for these awards. You’ve probably seen it; if you haven’t, it’s way past time.