The Dependables…those familiar faces you see in that film, always the bridesmaid but never bride. Film is chock full of them and we Snooty Ushers want to celebrate them. Dave celebrated Dylan McDermott, and James shone the light on Paul Bettany, and today I want to praise the fine work of somebody I personally feel is finally on the cusp of leading man.
Readers, I bring to you the work of Ben Foster
Film 1 – Liberty Heights (Dir. Barry Levinson, 1999)
Directed by Barry Levinson, with a good cast including Adrien Brody, Joe Mantegna & Orlando Jones, Liberty Heights is a film based in the 1950s and follows a Jewish family living in Baltimore. The film explores many different elements with coming of age, anti-semitism and family being most prominent. Overall the film is very good, but the performances are really good. Foster would have been 19/20 when the film came out and he gives a solid performance as a teenager discovering music and love for such a young actor at the time. One of the lesser known films on his CV but very much his breakout role Liberty Heights is a film well worth watching.
Film 2 – 3:10 to Yuma (Dir. James Mangold, 2007)
In 2007 Foster took on a role that was the complete opposite of what he did for Liberty Heights, a role that would absolutely put him on the map. One year prior he gave a solid performance as a drug addict in Alpha Dog but his role as the psychotic Charlie Prince in 3:10 to Yuma is as menacing as you can get in a Western. The film is a remake of the film of the same name, it features Christian Bale as a rancher who must escort outlaw Russell Crowe to the trainstation to get him to trial. Not far behind Bale though is Crowe’s deadly gang who are trying to free him from custody, with Foster leading the way as Crowe’s right hand man. Not only is the film one of the best modern Western films made, it’s cast are on fire.
Film 3 – 30 Days of Night (Dir. David Slade, 2007)
2007 turned out to be a year of evil for Ben Foster, first the aforementioned 3:10 to Yuma which was then followed by the adaptation of comic book miniseries 30 Days of Night. The film takes place in a town in Alaska during a period where a polar night lasts a month. As the residents of the town get ready for the month ahead, a stranger turns up out of nowhere and sabotages communications. This is then followed by an assault on the town by a coven of vampires. The Stranger mentioned before is played by Ben Foster. The role in the film is small, but the performance is big. In fact when I first watched it I wanted more of Ben Fosters stranger than I did of the vampires.
Film 4 – Contraband (Dir. Baltasar Kormákur, 2012)
This was a good film that got lost amongst the madness of big films in 2012. a remake of an Icelandic film directed by the originals lead actor, Contraband follows an ex-smuggler forced back into a job to save the life of his brother-in-law due to a botched job. Mark Wahlberg takes the lead in the film with Ben Foster providing support once again as a close friend and former partner. Foster plays a straighter character than some of his previous roles but still manages to outshine most of the cast, with the exception of Giovanni Ribisi (A future dependable to tackle). The film overall feels like a two part TV show crammed into a film, but is still a pretty good heist film that is well worth a watch.
Film 5 – Lone Survivor (Dir. Peter Berg, 2014)
Mark Wahlberg & Ben Foster team up once again for this modern war film directed by Peter Berg. It’s a raw, brutal, gut punching film based on a true story. Very much the Eden Lake of war films, there is no glamour, no pandering, just a straight laced fight for survival by four marines stuck behind enemy lines. Mark Wahlberg takes the lead once more (In his best role), despite some of his fellow cast being better actors than him, with Ben Foster, Taylor Kitsch and Emile Hirsch supporting. As good of a film as it is, it’s not something I could watch again and again, mainly because I don’t want to feel like crap at the end of it. When you have a film like this that centres around a small group of characters, you need to be able to invest in them and feel for them, which is successfully achieved and makes the subsequent events even more heartbreaking.
Ben Foster is still a young actor, but is fast approaching what could be a peak in his career, and no longer being the dependable support. The Lance Armstrong biopic The Program is due out later this year, primed for awards season with Foster playing Armstrong. The trailer looks great and could easily be Fosters first Academy Award nomination. Next year sees the release of the risky but promising film adaptation of World of Warcraft with Foster amongst the cast. His older films such as Alpha Dog & Hostage showcase an unnerving intensity that would be fully realised in his performances in some of the films in this list, 11:14 has him suffer a terrible accident in a very black comedy drama, and turns in more dramatical affairs such as Rampart and The Messenger display a flexibility in acting that make Foster truly unique.
Ben Foster – The Snooty Ushers salute you!