Renner, Stuhlbarg, Waltz among Variety’s 10 Actors to Watch

Posted by · 6:42 pm · October 29th, 2009

Jeremy RennerVariety’s annual list of 10 Actors to Watch may occasionally raise questions of what constitutes a career “breakthrough” — particularly in the case of established actors who those in the know have been watching all along.

Still, it always makes for interesting reading, not least because, in some cases, it highlights names that Variety’s editors expect to show up in the coming awards season. Last year’s list featured four actors (Melissa Leo, Viola Davis, Taraji P. Henson and Michael Shannon) who ultimately wound up in the Oscar circle. This year’s list looks unlikely to match that number (nor does it match the feminine bent of last year’s crop), but there’s some undeniably worthy talent in there:

Laz Alonso
Maggie Grace
Tom Hardy
Nicholas Hoult
Rachelle Lefevre
Jeremy Renner
Alia Shawkat
Emma Stone
Michael Stuhlbarg
Christoph Waltz

I’m afraid to admit there are a couple of names on there that ring no bells whatsoever to me, but I expect I’ll get to know them in time. I’m sure few will find fault with the inclusion of Waltz (a guaranteed Oscar nominee for “Inglourious Basterds”), Renner (a strong possibility for “The Hurt Locker”) and Broadway mainstay Stuhlbarg (a most deserving dark horse for “A Serious Man”), but there’s more to commend than just those names.

As I know Kris will agree, I must cheer the mention of Tom Hardy, whose electric presence was already apparent to British theater and television audiences, before “Bronson” pushed him over the top. And the inclusion of Hoult, a younger Brit tackling his first adult role in “A Single Man,” echoes his placing in my recent Top 10 Actors Under 30 list. I’d love to say more about the ladies, but I can’t say any of them have made an equivalent impression on me.

Anyway, check out the thesps’ profiles on Variety here. I liked this no-nonsense soundbite from Renner, on his “Hurt Locker” turn:

“The physical part left the biggest impression … I still get a little punchy when I bring it up. Then it became emotional … By the end, it was spiritual. I learned a lot and grew as a man. I don’t really remember acting. Everything was chaotic and difficult. We didn’t see cameras most of the time. We just had our characters down and knew what we wanted to do.”




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29 responses so far

  • 1 10-29-2009 at 6:52 pm

    Loyal said...

    Tom Hardy, Nicholas Hoult (I can’t believe he played Marcus), and of course Christoph Waltz. Great trio.

  • 2 10-29-2009 at 7:08 pm

    AmericanRequiem said...

    stanley tucci better bring it in the lovely bones or waltz has already won the award

  • 3 10-29-2009 at 7:08 pm

    Chase K. said...

    Maggie Grace!?!?!?!

    Did nobody at Variety see “Taken”??

  • 4 10-29-2009 at 7:42 pm

    tim said...

    What a terrible list of women. Though I do have to admit to liking Emma Stone. She’s actually quite a gifted comedic actress. Really good in Superbad and one of the only reasons to sit through The House Bunny. She just needs to get some better roles.

    And I have to agree that Maggie Grace is a terrible terrible actress…

  • 5 10-29-2009 at 7:44 pm

    Nick Davis said...

    Sensational call on Alia Shawkat and Emma Stone, but Nicholas Hoult is so dire in A Single Man, even when making apologies for his risible dialogue, that he makes the list seem dubious. (With apologies to your enthusiasm, Guy, since I know you’re an admirer.)

  • 6 10-29-2009 at 7:47 pm

    Mr. Gittes said...

    Jeremy Renner gives a better performance in SWAT. Seriously.

  • 7 10-29-2009 at 7:51 pm

    Guy Lodge said...

    Ha, I knew that one would vex you, Nick! (To be honest, my admiration for Hoult is built less on what I think is a perfectly fine turn in “A Single Man” than his more slippery work in TV’s “Skins,” though I’m sure that’s not what the Variety writers were thinking of.)

  • 8 10-29-2009 at 8:32 pm

    tim said...

    I’m sorry but Rachelle Lefevre? Really? Just for her horrible turn in Twilight? Come on. Where’s Carey Mulligan, Gabby Sidibe, Kristin Wiig, Saoirse Ronan, Anna Kendrick, etc, etc?

  • 9 10-29-2009 at 9:01 pm

    Jake said...

    Been waiting for Bronson to come to theaters here. But Hardy’s also in Inception! That movie is going to be utterly amazing.

  • 10 10-29-2009 at 10:25 pm

    Brian said...

    I think Lefevre is one of those, “sorry, nice girl, but you totally fucked your career over” shout outs.

    Maggie Grace has been serviceable, but I never think “now that’s an actress to watch”. At least, not in the thespian sense.

  • 11 10-29-2009 at 10:46 pm

    Joel said...

    I would take Maggie Grace away and replace her with Gaelan Connell, who was wonderful in the little-seen “Bandslam.” Real star quality to his work in that film.

  • 12 10-29-2009 at 11:11 pm

    The Other James D. said...

    Mr. Gittes, that’s the most retarded thing I’ve read today.

    First, for the little people: Guy, have you ever seen “Arrested Development”? I’d hope you’d at least have watched a couple episodes of the best TV show ever, but if not, you’re missing out on Alia Shawkat’s hilarious cousincest character, Maeby, and her “Marry me!” charms. (Also, she must’ve made this list this year for being in “Whip It”, I guess.) She’s excellent, though, and I hope to see more from her. She deserves it, perhaps more so than Cera, actually.

    Oh, and Emma Stone is wonderful. Definitely promising. Haven’t seen “The House Bunny” (Anna Faris and her warrant at least a cable viewing) or “Zombieland” yet, but she was terrific in “Superbad”.

    No opinion on Grace; never heard of Alonso or Lefevre; Hoult is excellent in “About a Boy”; love Hardy in “Bronson” and that other movie he was full frontal in; and I look forward to seeing Waltz and Stuhlbarg ASAP.

    Oh, right, and Renner, aka my Best Actor winner for this year–yeah, he’s groovy =). Really hope his brilliant performance continues its streak of recognition.

  • 13 10-30-2009 at 5:36 am

    meli said...

    Tom Hardy in Bronson was one of my favorite film experiences of the year.

  • 14 10-30-2009 at 5:58 am

    M said...

    Terrible list for women, none of them are women to watch. I agree with Tim, where are the women like Saoirse, Carey, Anna, Gabby e.t.c

    For the men Anthony Mckie could have been on the list.

  • 15 10-30-2009 at 6:13 am

    Morgan said...

    Where’s Sharlto Copley? He’s the very definition of “breakthrough.”

  • 16 10-30-2009 at 6:53 am

    Chase K. said...

    Maggie Grace sucked on “Lost”, too — she’ll be starring in Friday the 13th 3D in two years…

  • 17 10-30-2009 at 7:10 am

    Georgie said...

    Even though I feel like I should defend Maggie Grace, she only had one or two good episodes on Lost… and I haven’t seen Taken, but she looked awful in that.

    Needs more Melanie Laurent and Anna Kendrick.

  • 18 10-30-2009 at 7:58 am

    Andrew said...

    The absence of Sharlto Copley is laughable. And did everyone forget Zachary Quinto in Star Trek? That performance combined with the fact that he’s the only element in Heroes seems breakthrough-esque at least.

  • 19 10-30-2009 at 7:59 am

    Andrew said...

    I think I meant “only interesting element in heroes”

  • 20 10-30-2009 at 8:05 am

    Joel said...

    Ah, yes, Copley and Quinto. And what about Jesse Eisenberg? Two “land” movies (Adventureland and Zombieland). Good year for him.

    Kudos on Alia Shawkat. She was the REAL best thing about “Whip It,” imo. Truly a star-in-the-making right there.

  • 21 10-30-2009 at 8:11 am

    The Other James D. said...

    Don’t forget “The Education of Charlie Banks”….I haven’t seen it, but he and particularly Jason Ritter (!) received praise.

    This might’ve been from Entertainment Weekly though….Not exactly the paragon of credible opinions.

  • 22 10-30-2009 at 9:30 am

    Marshall1 said...

    Yay for Nicholas Hoult! They should place him on top 10 sexiest people too:)

  • 23 10-30-2009 at 11:23 am

    Morgan said...

    I’m kind of sensing a lack of focus on comedic actors in this list, too.

  • 24 10-30-2009 at 1:10 pm

    Lance said...

    I LOVED “The Hurt Locker” but Renner didn’t do anything terribly difficult in this role. This is another example of people wanting to reward the actors in a film because they like the film.

  • 25 10-30-2009 at 1:30 pm

    SHAAAARK said...

    Alia Shawkat is amazing. I wish she were getting more work. :(

  • 26 10-30-2009 at 3:21 pm

    Ronn Burner said...

    Alia Shawkat is a fantastic talent and even better person. I had the privilege of working with her and getting to know her on “The Runaways” and she couldn’t have been any sweeter, more humble or grounded. She was adorable and hilarious in “Arrested Development” and she was a scene stealer in “Whip it” for my money. I’m thrilled that Variety included her on this list.

  • 27 10-31-2009 at 11:21 am

    M.Harris said...

    Jeremy Renner didn’t do anything terribly difficult? Not all great or good performances have to be filled with tear jerking sense of outward emotion.I think they call it nuance.

    I thought Renner capture perfectly the essence of deeply flawed and conflicted man.A guy who in his heart means well,but isn’t exactly a tea player.Just my opionion.

  • 28 10-31-2009 at 11:23 am

    M.Harris said...

    Meant to say team player.

  • 29 12-25-2009 at 10:39 am

    Big Braveheart said...

    Renner was great in Hurt Locker and could get an Oscar nom but i’m going all out to say Tom Hardy merits one for Bronson if not winning best actor!!
    Christoph Waltz is an absolute stick-on for best supporting actor surely?
    Sharlto Copley also a great first time actor onto big things! Anthony Mackie & Michael Fassbender two more with bright futures ahead.