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Friday, April 19, 2013

Who Is Hollywood's Best Young Actor Right Now?

Who is the hottest young actor currently working in Hollywood right now? I don't mean in terms of looks, I mean in terms of power and prestige. Who can get the roles and the movies THEY want to have made? Who is the actor the studios want to hire in their big budget films? Which actor will America see the movie that their in solely because said actor is in that movie? I set out to find that answer.

I choose eight of the biggest and most talented young actors currently acting and making big movies right now: Channing Tatum, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Michael Fassbender, Ryan Gosling, Justin Timberlake, Jeremy Renner, Bradley Cooper, and Chris Hemsworth. These are who I believe are the who's who of young actors right now. The real life Vinnie Chase from Entourage. These eight names were chosen solely by me and based on my own judgment. Of course I could have expanded this list further, but these eight names feels about right. The other actors I was thinking about were Chris Pine (Star Trek), Sam Worthington (Avatar), and Henry Cavill (Man Of Steel), but they just don't feel like they belong with the others. I feel these eight are the cream of the crop.

Instead of using my own personal opinion, I decided to use statistics. This blog is dedicated to statistics. Plus, I am trying to objectively find out who is the best and brightest young man, not subjectively trying to do so. So there are three measurements I used: 1) The Rotten Tomatoes (RT) score of the movies these actors were in, 2) The total box office gross of these movies using Box Office Mojo, and 3) How many Oscar nominations each actor has. Now all three are extremely flawed statistics. None of these truly measure how good and popular an actor really is. The first two statistics measures the movie in an of itself and not necessarily an actor in it, and the third stat really isn't a stat at all and really should only be used as a factor. However, in Hollywood, it's not necessarily how well you do in a movie, but the movie itself. If you play a contributing role in a movie that is extremely popular and makes a crap ton of money, you're the new "it boy". In 2012, it wasn't necessarily that Channing Tatum was good (which he was) or that he starred in a lot of movies (which he did), it was the big fact that he starred in 3 straight movies that grossed over $100,000,000 that made him Hollywood royalty.

For each actor, I took the last ten films they were in, and used those as the factors to decide the winner. This was a tricky task because 1) many of these actors are so young that they really haven't starred in many films and 2) many of these actors are part of ensemble casts so it's almost unfair to judge these actors by the full scope of the movie they were in. Again, I'll say tough luck to you. That's how Hollywood works and that's how you can get your next project as a young actor. Plus, I choose movies in which the actor plays a pretty significant role in the film. Lastly, for the box office statistic, I only drew from movies that had a wide release (which I defined as being released in 2,000 theaters or more). That is truly not fair for an actor who stars in many art house and indie films and who's movie is only shown in 70 theaters to be compared to an actor who's movies are shown in 3,000 theaters.

The movies are listed in backwards chronological order, the percentage in the ( ) is the films RT score and if the film has [ ] with a dollar amount in them, that means that film was widely released and the dollar amount is the amount of money the film has made as of the writing of this post.

OK, let's begin!


1) G.I. Joe: Retaliation (28%) [$104,765,905]
2) Side Effects (85%) [$31,496,702]
3) Magic Mike (80%) [$113,721,571]
4) 21 Jump Street (85%) [$138,447,667]
5) The Vow (29%) [$125,014,030]
6) Haywire (80%) [$18,942,396]
7) The Eagle (38%) [$19,490,041]
8) Dear John (29%) [$80,014,842]
9) G.I. Joe: The Rise Of Cobra (34%) [$150,201,498]
10) Step Up 2: The Streets (27%) [$58,017,783]


2012 was a huge year for Channing Tatum and will allow him to choose whatever roles he wants in the future, but throughout his career, he has not fared very well. The only Tatum film really missing from this list is the original Step Up and trust me, that would not have helped his overall scores. Luckily Tatum was able to break from the Step Up franchise by getting G.I. Joe: Rise Of Cobra because while it failed critically, it succeeded commercially. His two Nicholas Sparks movies (Dear John and The Vow) were also commercial successes which again ups Tatum's stock in Hollywood. However, as a whole, people do not like the movies Tatum is in as his average RT score is certified rotten.


1) Lincoln (91%) [$136,652,420]
2) Looper (94%) [$66,468,205]
3) Premium Rush (76%) [$20,275,446]
4) The Dark Knight Rises (87%) [$448,139,099]
5) 50/50 (93%) [$35,014,192]
6) Inception (86%) [$292,576,195]
7) Hesher (54%)
8) (500) Days Of Summer (87%) [$32,391,374]
9) Stop-Loss (64%)
10) The Lookout (87%)

*EDS NOTE: I removed G.I. Joe: Rise Of The Cobra from Gordon-Levitt's filmography as that very clearly is Channing Tatum's movie and since Tatum is also on this list, I didn't want Tatum's numbers to skew Gordon-Levitt's numbers.


This is a tricky list for JoGo in terms of the correlation between the quality and the success of his films versus the quality and talent of him. Personally, I'll go see anything he's in and if this list was subjective, he'd be my #1 selection. But JoGo rarely is the star of the films he's in, and if he is then it's usually an Indie film. Even in the non-ensemble movies he's in in which he's the lead, he still shares significant screen time (and shares in his name on the poster) with his other co-stars such as Bruce Willis, Seth Rogen, and Zooey Deschanel. Even in the ensemble movies like Inception and Lincoln, he's not the clear #2 choice (NOTE: I would say JGL is the #2 guy in The Dark Knight Rises). There are only two movies in which Joseph Gordon-Levitt is unequivocally the #1 star of the films and they are Premium Rush and Hesher.

However, that being said, everyone is offering Gordon-Levitt the lead in their summer blockbuster precisely because he's the new "it" guy. The fact that Joseph Gordon-Levitt  has been used in two Christopher Nolan movies and the fact that Steven Spielberg wanted him for a decently big role in Lincoln speaks wonders to JoGo's talent. I still feel like Joseph Gordon-Levitt needs to start starring in his own movies to truly get himself into the elite acting stratosphere, but as for right now, he'll just have to console himself as the guy who stars in pictures that will stand the test of time and being highly sought after.


1) Prometheus (73%) [$126,477,084]
2) Haywire (80%) [$18,942,396]
3) Shame (80%)
4) A Dangerous Method (78%)
5) X-Men: First Class (87%) [$146,048,305]
6) Jonah Hex (13%) [$10,547,117]
7) Centurion (59%)
8) Inglourious Basterds (88%) [$120,540,719]
9) Fish Tank (90%)
10) Blood Creek (33%)


Truthfully, you can make the argument that Fassbender doesn't even belong on this list because I bet if you polled everyone in America and asked them if they knew who each person on this list was, Fassbender would be last. However, I am personally a huge fan of him and his stock is sure as hell on the rise. He became "that English dude from that long basement scene in Inglorious Basterds" to a guy who clearly can carry and steal a film. Really, after Basterds he choose to star in a superhero, blockbuster movie (X-Men), star in a movie that should have earned him an Oscar (Shame), and was a major character in another huge summer blockbuster (Prometheus). Doing these roles has helped become an actor who does great work, stars in critically acclaimed movies, and most importantly, stars in films that make money.


1) The Place Beyond The Pines (81%)
2) Gangster Squad (32%) [$46,000,903]
3) The Ides Of March (85%) [$40,962,534]
4) Crazy, Stupid, Love (78%) [$84,351,197]
5) Drive (93%) [$35,060,689]
6) All Good Things (32%)
7) Blue Valentine (88%)
8) Lars And The Real Girl (81%)
9) Fracture (71%) [$39,015,018]
10) Half Nelson (90%)


2011 was clearly and most obviously the year of Ryan Gosling. However, between his break out role in The Notebook and 2011, he generally stuck to Indie movies. Doing so helped give Gosling some acting credibility, earned him an Oscar nomination (Half-Nelson) and helped boost his RT score as Half-Nelson, Lars and the Real Girl, and Blue Valentine were all critical darlings. Gosling's 3 2011 films were also critical successes (averaging 85.33 on RT) including the best movie of 2011 (Drive), they were not commercial successes as Crazy, Stupid, Love barely earned more money than The Notebook (which isn't technically included on this list since since Gosling was in two 2013 films). Gosling hasn't been in a film that grossed over $100,000. Hell, he hasn't been in one that has even grossed over $90,000.


1) Trouble With The Curve (51%) [$35,763,137]
2) In Time (36%) [$37,520,095]
3) Friends With Benefits (71%) [$55,802,754]
4) Bad Teacher (44%) [$100,292,856]
5) The Social Network (96%) [$96,962,694]
6) The Open Road (29%)
7) The Love Guru (14%) [$32,235,793]
8) Black Snake Moan (66%)
9) Southland Tales (35%)
10) Alpha Dog (54%)


Timberlake has the second lowest average RT score out of anyone on this list and the third lowest average box office gross. Sure part of that is skewed by the atrocious and unwatchable The Love Guru (in which Timberlake was easily the best part of), but part of that is the fact that three out of Timberlake's last four movies have been critical and commercial stinkers. I actually like Justin Timberlake as an actor but he hasn't chosen roles in good movies recently (even if Timberlake is good in them). JT's biggest role in terms of one that should have made him a bona fide actor was 2011's In Time. I don't blame Timberlake for taking the role because it's a fascinating concept but the execution was horrible. The movie did so bad that Grantland's Amos Bradshaw predicted it was the end of his movie career. Timberlake currently has two movies in post-production and one in pre-production according to, but with In Time and Trouble With The Curve, he probably would be more successful making music than movies. I think The 20/20 Experience is proof that Timberlake knows where his true bread and butter is.


1) Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters (15%) [$55,611,963]
2) The Bourne Legacy (56%) [$113,203,870]
3) Marvel's The Avengers (92%) [$623,357,910]
4) Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol (94%) [$209,397,903]
5) The Town (94%) [$492,186,262]
6) The Hurt Locker (97%)
7) The Assassination Of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (76%)
8) Take (45%)
9) 28 Weeks Later (71%) [$28,638,916]
10) North Country (68%)

AVERAGE BOX OFFICE GROSS: $253,732,804 / $179,807,800 (without The Avengers)

The reason I put Renner's numbers without The Avengers because a legitimate argument could be made that The Avengers is not really a Renner vehicle. Truthfully, it's not really anyone's movie, but Renner and his character Hawkeye clearly get the least amount of screen, time and is the character people obviously care the least about. But that being said, Marvel knew this movie was going to be huge, and they knew Hawkeye would have a decent amount of screen time and out of all the actors to choose from, they choose Jeremy Renner. Renner had come off of back-to-back Oscar nominations for The Hurt Locker and The Town respectively, and Renner had showed his ability to be good as a supporting role in a big action movie from Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol. Renner was also in four straight movies that scored over 90% on Rotten Tomatoes. Although surprisingly, he has the third highest average Rotten Tomato score (He had the second in 2012, but then he came out with Hansel & Gretel and Ryan Gosling came out with The Place Beyond The Pines).


1) The Place Beyond The Pines (81%)
2) Silver Linings Playbook (91%) [$130, 444, 383]
3) Hit and Run (47%) [$13,749,300]
4) The Words (22%) [$11,494,838]
5) The Hangover: Part II (34%) [$254,464,305]
6) Limitless (69%) [$79,249,455]
7) The A-Team (47%) [$77,222,099]
8) Valentine's Day (18%) [$110,485,654]
9) All About Steve (6%) [$33,862,903]
10) Case 39 (23%) [$13,261,851]


Bradley Cooper is probably the most experienced out of every other actor on this list. For the others, it was sort of a struggle to come up with their last ten movies and every actor stars in films I hadn't even of heard of before. But not Cooper. While his big break came from The Hangover, he's had bit parts in many other films such as Wedding Crashers, Yes Man, and He's Just Not That Into You. As a result of Cooper's experience, this group of movies and its corresponding numbers most represents the actor itself. Every single one of these movies has Bradley Cooper as the sole star of it or the clear lead of an ensemble cast. Cooper is lucky enough to be in a place in his career where he can pick the roles and the movies he wants to make which is great for him.

Cooper sort of had to sell his soul though to get him to that place where he can pick juicy roles as Cooper has THE LOWEST average Rotten Tomatoes score out of anyone on this list. Movies like The A-Team, Valentine's Day, and The Hangover: Part II are all movies that were commercially successful but critically panned. I also believe Cooper has such a low average Rotten Tomatoes score because of movies like All About Steve and Case 39 which were filmed before the success of The Hangover and were then released because of the success of The Hangover and these were movies in which it seemed Cooper was just trying to get work and make a name for himself. However, he has no excuse for 2 out of the 3 2012 film's he released which included The Words and Hit and Run.


1) Red Dawn (11%) [$43,640,694]
2) Snow White and the Huntsman (48%) [$155,136,755]
3) Marvel's The Avengers (92%) [$623,357,910]
4) Thor (77%) [$181,030,624]
5) The Cabin In The Woods (91%) [$42,073,277]
6) A Perfect Getaway (60%) [$15,515,460]

NOTE: Hemsworth actually hasn't starred in any more films than this. He got so big so quickly from Thor that he really didn't have to pay his dues like these other actors did but he's still a guy nonetheless I feel like is in the same category as the other seven


Hemsworth barely made this list as he was not even in the first draft of this post. But after carefully deliberation, I decided he was worthy of a spot. The fact that he really has only starred in six films means that we have an even smaller sample size for his true potential. That being said, he's a part of 2.5 franchises right now, and has three sequels coming down the turnpike. Thor 2 comes out in 2013, The Avengers 2 will be released in 2015, and Snow White and the Huntsman 2 was just recently announced. Those franchises alone should keep Hemsworth busy for awhile and financially stable for the rest of his life, but I'd like to see what other movies he chooses to star in to see how well he can carry a movie. The Cabin In The Woods is great, but Hemsworth barely is the 3rd lead, Snow White was pretty bad (though he was alright in it), and I refuse to see Red Dawn where it's not Russians invading. According to, Hemsworth has two non-franchise movies coming out soon, one of which is Ron Howard's "Rush" which is being released as the beginning of Oscar season.



1) Joseph Gordon-Levitt (81.9)
2) Ryan Gosling (73.1)
3) Jeremy Renner (70.8)
4) Chris Hemsworth (63.2)
5) Michael Fassbender (68.1)
6) Channing Tatum (51.5)
7) Justin Timblerlake (49.6)
8) Bradley Cooper (43.8)


1) Jeremy Renner (179 million)
2) Chris Hemsworth (176 million)
3) Joseph Gordon-Levitt (176 million)
4) Michael Fassbender (120 million)
5) Channing Tatum (84 million)
6) Bradley Cooper (80 million)
7) Justin Timberlake (59 million)
8) Ryan Gosling (49 million)

THE BIG WINNER: Joseph Gordon-Levitt

According to my numbers, JoGo is the big winner. He's #1 in terms of Rotten Tomato score, and 3rd in average box office gross- barely behind Hemsworth, who has the HUGE advantage of having Thor and The Avengers on his resume.

Gordon-Levitt has smartly chosen his movie roles (and what directors to do movies for) and is a damn good actor. His movies make money, and movie studios love him. Having acted in major pictures since he was a little boy (He was the main kid in Angels In The Outfield), and being forced into semi-retirement after 3rd Rock From The Sun ended, JoGo probably knows this business better than most.

After his sitcom days, he seemed to have enhanced his acting chops. He proved his worth in small indie movies like Brick, The Lookout, and Hesher, before finally coming up big on the scene with the Indie hit (500) Days Of Summer.

Since then he's just done one great movie after another. Doing two huge Nolan films and a Spielberg film really helps you put your name on the map. The one big drawback at this point in his career is that Looper didn't do well at the box office. It's a shame, because I bet if you polled everyone in America, not just the snobby Academy, what their favorite movie of 2012 was, Looper would either be #1, or right up there. Not only was Looper my #1 film of 2012, but it was also #1 according to MSN, The Film Vault, and Reelviews.

Gordon-Levitt parlayed his 2012 success into writing and directing. His first feature length film, Don Jon, starring himself, Scarlett Johansson, Julianne Moore, and Tony Danza, premiered at Sundance to roaring critical success. It has a 100% on Rotten Tomatoes (albeit with only 7 reviews), but it has gotten generally favorable reviews, was picked up by a distributor, and will be released later this year.

While the only thing still left for JoGo on the horizon is a part in the Sin City sequel A Dame To Kill For (which I'm super stoked about, because Sin City was so damn good), I'm confident we'll be seeing Joseph Gordon-Levitt for a long, long time.

Do you agree or disagree with us? Who do you think is Hollywood's best young actor right now? Let us know in the comments of our Facebook page!


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