It is sad that the world has to mourn over the departing of another young and talented actor - Anton Yelchin. As many of you have come to know, the 27 year old was pronounced dead after being pinned between his car and a gate on June 19. I have personally been an admirer of Anton for some time, and I do not easily take a liking to young actors in the business. What separated Anton was not just his very likeable screen presence. Rather it was his immense respect for the craft, which was evident from every project that he chose to get involved in. These are some of the qualities that I admire in an individual, which is why I felt the need to honor his memory by talking about his best works to date. These five movies stood out for me in terms of the scope of the role and performance. So here goes:
5: The Beaver
It takes a special amount of innate confidence to carry your own when acting opposite veterans like Jodie Foster and Mel Gibson. Despite not getting a lot of screen time, Anton did the best with what he was given and made a great attempt at playing a son who kept on struggling to be as different from his father as possible. There were subtle touches here and there that prevented the character from becoming too one dimensional. The interactions with the rest of the cast members (mostly with Jennifer Lawrence) was done so well that Anton made sure to convey different layers of the character's personality like a real human being and not a movie character.
4: Alpha Dog
Not the most memorable film as a whole, but Anton's performance as a fictionalized portrayal of Nicholas Markowitz demanded my attention. I remember watching the film and buying into the sudden friendship between the characters played by Anton and Justin Timberlake. Anton did a fantastic job of playing a fragile boy who went through multiple complex emotions colliding against one another in his desperate search for an escape. Some might argue that Anton's work in Alpha Dog opened up doors and got people's attention in the industry to take him seriously.
3: Fright Night
What an underrated piece of work this was, especially considering the cult status that the original is still holding on to. People were not very interested in giving this remake a try, which is very sad because the movie holds up really well as a Horror Comedy flick if there is such a genre. I fondly enjoyed Anton's rendition of Charley Brewster and not once did I feel like his performance got over-the-top. The supporting cast was great, with Colin Farrell and David Tennant hamming things up with style. Would certainly urge all to check it out, fans of the original or not, as a great way to spend time with friends.
2: Like Crazy
A story about feelings, pulled off by two endearing young actors with the use of minimal dialog. Praises to Anton for choosing to get involved in this project and for effectively grounding his performance with an uncanny maturity. Almost reminded me of a young Ethan Hawke in films like Before Sunrise. According to sources, Anton was the director's first choice to play the role based on his past works. That goes to show that Anton was already having an impact in the industry for being a young actor capable of delivering strong performances. The plot might get slightly convoluted, but in the end I was really impressed at how Anton and co-star Felicity Jones were able to infuse their characters with so much emotional gravitas.
1: Green Room
This was an intense, visceral film that went all out with its violence and gore. Anton is great at playing helpless guys stuck in really bad situations, and over here he performs with an unwavering commitment. The rest of the cast are also noteworthy, with Patrick Stewart (aka Professor X) putting up a subtle but menacing presence on screen. Despite being part of a group, Anton easily outshines his fellow co-actors and keeps us on the edge of our seats with his grounded performance without resorting to typical genre cliches.
Now that he is longer with us, I feel that Hollywood has lost a talent who could have been part of the next generation to champion quality cinema. With time, we could have seen Anton take on larger and more diverse projects in an attempt to explore creative ideas. Unfortunately that ended way too early, but I pray that his soul rests in peace and that we get to witness more new talent enter the industry with the same level of commitment and curiosity.
P.S. One reason that I did not include the Star Trek reboots in my list is because I felt that Anton's character, Pavel Chekov, was restrained to a certain extent. While it is understandable since the studio had to pack in a lot of talent into each scene. But if you consider the fact that special attention was given to make sure Uhura and Sulu got their chance to shine, I believe Chekov deserved a bigger piece of the action. We have to wait and see whether Anton's last performance as Chekov is given a chance to be memorable in the upcoming Star Trek Beyond.