As you can probably tell from my ending every post with one, I’m a list person. So I thought I would introduce a new section to my blog, dedicated solely to list making: a Top Five, where I’ll pick an actor or filmmaker and pick my top five favourite films or performances of theirs. Here goes…
Jesse Eisenberg is one of Hollywood’s most iconic faces. With big curly hair and a fast paced wit, he is not only just an actor, but a New Yorker contributor, a playwright and an author. Best known for his Academy-Award nominated performance as Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg in The Social Network, Jesse Eisenberg has starred in many cult favourites, and is one of my favourite actors. Here’s my top five favourite films and performances by the brilliant Jesse Eisenberg:
- Now You See Me (A.K.A. My Favourite)
Now You See Me is not only my favourite Jesse Eisenberg film, it’s also one of my favourite films of the last five years. Combining magic and mystery to create a high-adrenaline thriller, we see the Four Horsemen (Isla Fisher, Dave Franco, Woody Harrelson and, of course, Eisenberg) pull of Robin Hood-style heists and evade the pursuit of FBI agent Dylan Rhodes (Mark Ruffalo) in order to join the secretive magic society The Eye. Though it’s all a bit convoluted and riddled with plot holes, what brings it together is its brilliant cast, led by Eisenberg as J. Daniel Atlas, the control freak/playboy leader of the Four Horsemen, in a role that allowed him to use his witty, fast talking, New York persona to bring magic to the screen. Pun intended.
- The Social Network (A.K.A. The Best)
When you think about it, there’s really no one else who could’ve played Mark Zuckerberg, the brilliantly manipulative genius who just happened to create the biggest website ever: Facebook. Eisenberg completely nails the mannerisms and self-obsession of a man who seemed intent on screwing everyone he knew over on his way to the top, and even though it’s heartbreaking to see him destroy his relationships and alienate himself in the pursuit of success, what’s even more heartbreaking is how little he seems to care about it. The Social Network was nominated for 8 Oscars in 2001, winning three (Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Film Editing and Best Original Score), and Eisenberg’s brilliant performance picked up a nomination for Best Actor, losing to Colin Firth for the King’s Speech.
- Adventureland (A.K.A. The First)
Though not his first acting credit, Adventureland was Jesse Eisenberg’s first big role, in an even bigger cast. The 2009 film (which preceded Zombieland, but we’ll talk about that later) saw Eisenberg as James Brennan, a college literature graduate in 1987 who finds himself with a summer job at a carnival, working with the likes of Kristen Stewart, Martin Starr, Bill Hader, Kristen Wiig and Ryan Reynolds. A sweet and goofy coming-of-age film, Adventureland really sparked what would become Eisenberg’s onscreen persona – satirically intelligent, awkward and loveable – as well as setting off a frequent collaboration with Kristen Stewart; the two starred together in last year’s American Ultra, and are set to star again in Woody Allen’s Café Society, out later this year.
- Zombieland (A.K.A. The Most Loved)
Seriously, what even was Zombieland? It was a completely off the rails zombie apocalypse flick, with some absolutely brilliant and hilarious fight scenes and cameos, that still managed to be heartfelt. Eisenberg stars as Columbus, a shy student just trying to get to Ohio to find his family, when he teams up with badass Tallahassee (Woody Harrelson), and sisters Wichita and Little Rock (Emma Stone and Abigail Breslin) and treks to an amusement park in Los Angeles instead. With the most perfect cameo from Bill Murray, Zombieland is full of laughs and thrills, taking the zombie genre and almost parodying it, making it even more enjoyable and scary. Jesse Eisenberg takes his nerdy awkward persona and runs with it, giving Columbus a tactical approach to zombie killing that spins the stereotypical zombie hunter on its head and makes his unlikely friendship with Tallahassee so much fun to watch. And hey, did Tallahassee ever get that Twinkie?
- Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice (A.K.A. My Controversial Favourite Performance)
Okay, so hear me out. Batman vs. Superman is by far not one of Jesse Eisenberg’s best films, since it was overstuffed with way too much plot that all fought for attention and had a very muddied tone, as Clark Kent and Bruce Wayne battle each other and their alter egos over what it means to be a hero. However, the role of Lex Luthor was pretty perfect for Eisenberg; a witty, fast talking, incredibly intelligent screwball who talks in myths? No, that doesn’t sound like Jesse Eisenberg at all… His intriguing take on such a complex character (and the way he dealt with a less than perfect script) was a highlight of the film for me, and it will be interesting to see where he takes the character in the rest of the DC Expanded Universe.
Jesse Eisenberg’s next film, Café Society, is out in Australia in September. As one of Hollywood most interesting actors, I can’t wait to see what he does next, but until then…
Images taken from IMDb.com: