Films That Introduced Me To My Favourite Actors

Sometimes a movie comes along where immediately upon viewing it I need to know who that actor was, and then I proceed to find new movies because they are in it. This list isn't so much as honouring my favourite actors, but honouring those films which helped me discover my favourite actors. To make it slightly more interesting, I have opted to not include obvious ones like Ethan Hawke in "Dead Poets Society" or Matt Damon in "Good Will Hunting" where lots of people noticed them too.
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1.
A Life Less Ordinary (1997)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.4/10 X  
Ewan McGregor stars as a cleaning man in L.A. who takes his boss' daughter hostage after being fired and replaced by a robot... (103 mins.)
Director: Danny Boyle
“ Ewan McGregor

I don't remember much from "A Life Less Ordinary", but I do remember Ewan McGregor. "Trainspotting" wasn't my kind of film so I didn't get to know him as early as some, but thanks to this film, I was introduced to McGregor early enough to be able to experience some great roles. ” - napierslogs
 
2.
The Object of My Affection (1998)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.0/10 X  
A pregnant New York social worker begins to develop romantic feelings for her gay best friend, and decides she'd rather raise her child with him, much to the dismay of her overbearing boyfriend. (111 mins.)
Director: Nicholas Hytner
“ Paul Rudd

My first Paul Rudd film, "The Object of My Affection" cermented him as my favourite romantic comedy lead even though he wasn't the typical hero here. It has taken pretty much a decade for him to start getting the roles worthy of his talent but they have been worth the wait. ” - napierslogs
 
3.
The Talented Mr. Ripley (1999)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  
In late 1950s New York, Tom Ripley, a young underachiever, is sent to Italy to retrieve Dickie Greenleaf, a rich and spoiled millionaire playboy. But when the errand fails, Ripley takes extreme measures. (139 mins.)
“ Philip Seymour Hoffman

"The Talented Mr. Ripley" was loaded with talent but I already knew Matt Damon and Jude Law. It was Hoffman who blew me away. Even though I saw how talented he was from this film, every role he picks now I am still amazed by him. ” - napierslogs
 
4.
You Can Count on Me (2000)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  
A single mother's life is thrown into turmoil after her struggling, rarely seen younger brother returns to town. (111 mins.)
“ Mark Ruffalo

"You Can Count on Me" may have been the film that introduced me to Laura Linney as well as Mark Ruffalo. Ruffalo was ruggedly handsome but he had this air that there was so much more to him than looks and the years of great roles in small films or small roles in great films has more than proven that. Thank you to "You Can Count on Me" because I can't think of a better film to launch your career with. ” - napierslogs
 
5.
Kate & Leopold (2001)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.4/10 X  
An English Duke from 1876 is inadvertedly dragged to modern day New York where he falls for a plucky advertising executive. (118 mins.)
Director: James Mangold
“ Breckin Meyer

Breckin Meyer might not be the obvious choice for favourite actor from "Kate & Leopold" but I also liked the fact that he wasn't the obviously good-looking one. Meyer has had a lot of small roles so I am glad that I was able to find him here because that has led me to watching some great small films like "Blue State" (2007). ” - napierslogs
 
6.
Confessions of a Dangerous Mind (2002)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  
An adaptation of the cult memoir of game show impresario Chuck Barris, in which he purports to have been a CIA hitman. (113 mins.)
Director: George Clooney
“ Sam Rockwell

It would have been impossible not to notice Sam Rockwell in "Confessions of a Dangerous Mind". He completely carried the film on his manic actions with a boyish charm. Thankfully I saw him in this film and have found him with the same qualities in a number of great films. ” - napierslogs
 
7.
Laurel Canyon (2002)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.4/10 X  
When an uptight young man and his fiancee move into his libertine mother's house, the resulting clash of life attitudes shakes everyone up. (103 mins.)
Director: Lisa Cholodenko
“ Alessandro Nivola

I loved pretty much all of the actors in "Laurel Canyon" but it was Nivola who I didn't know at the time and had to look up. He had this unmistakable twinkle in his eye and an undescribable quality that I couldn't place - turns out it was good looks with talent. Because of the casting of "Laurel Canyon" I checked out "$5 a Day" and found one of the best independent films. ” - napierslogs
 
8.
Swimfan (2002)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.0/10 X  
A high school senior with a promising swimming career has a one-night stand with consequences. (85 mins.)
Director: John Polson
“ Erika Christensen

The interesting thing about Christensen in "Swimfan" is that it's not usually the type of film that launches the career for a pretty girl with a great figure. Thankfully she didn't get cast as the girl next door, and she got noticed as a girl with tremendous talent who can pull off a villainous high school student role without making it cheesy. I was wary about the TV adaptation of "Parenthood" but as soon as I saw Christensen's name in the credits, I knew I'd be happy with the show. ” - napierslogs
 
9.
The Dangerous Lives of Altar Boys (2002)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  
A group of Catholic school friends, after being caught drawing an obscene comic book, plan a heist that will outdo their previous prank and make them local legends. (104 mins.)
Director: Peter Care
“ Emile Hirsch

There were a lot of great things in "The Dangerous Lives of Altar Boys" and I wasn't expecting to find such young talented actors like Emile Hirsch and Kieran Culkin. Immediately upon viewing this film, I bookmarked Hirsch's IMDb page and made sure to watch every movie he was in. When I discovered he makes bad movies as well as good movies, I allowed myself to miss things like "Speed Racer" but I love knowing that I have been step-in-step with him throughout his entire career and I will be for many more decades. ” - napierslogs
 
10.
Shattered Glass (2003)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  
The story of a young journalist who fell from grace when it was discovered he fabricated over half of his articles from the publication The New Republic magazine. (94 mins.)
Director: Billy Ray
“ Peter Sarsgaard

My love and respect for Peter Sarsgaard has risen fairly gradually over the years, but it started with "Shattered Glass". Sarsgaard's portrayal of the sympathetic but maligned editor Chuck Lane was perfect and rightfully earned him many nominations for Best Supporting Actor. I have since trusted all of Sarsgaard's films and have found many things worth watching in his filmography. ” - napierslogs
 
11.
Sideways (2004)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  
Two men reaching middle age with not much to show but disappointment embark on a week-long road trip through California's wine country, just as one is about to take a trip down the aisle. (126 mins.)
Director: Alexander Payne
“ Thomas Haden Church

I think critical award bodies discovered Thomas Haden Church in "Sideways" just as I did with his numerous Best Supporting Actor nominations. But I was so impressed with his comic ability that I knew there would be smart comedy in everything he's in, and so far I have been right. If it weren't for his great role in "Sideway" I likely would have passed on the underrated "All About Steve" and "Don McKay". ” - napierslogs
 
12.
Rory O'Shea Was Here (2004)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  
When the kinetic Rory moves into his room in the Carrigmore Residential Home for the Disabled, his effect on the home is immediate. Most telling is his friendship with Michael, a young man with cerebral palsy and nearly unintelligible speech. Somehow, Rory understands Michael, and encourages him to experience life outside the confines of home. (104 mins.)
“ James McAvoy

Also known as "Rory O'Shea Was Here", "Inside I'm Dancing" was a small film but it was also the first time I noticed James McAvoy. Handsome but very talented, his abilities stole the show.
It seemed to take years before I could consistently find his name in great movies but this film had me well prepared for the star-making roles in "Atonement" and "Last King of Scotland". ” - napierslogs
 
13.
Match Point (2005)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  
At a turning point in his life, a former tennis pro falls for an actress who happens to be dating his friend and soon-to-be brother-in-law. (124 mins.)
Director: Woody Allen
“ Jonathan Rhys Meyers

Woody Allen is a master of many things and casting is certainly one of them. The frustrating thing is Jonathan Rhys Meyers hasn't been able to find roles that match his abilities since "Match Point", but at least I can watch him in this film over and over again. ” - napierslogs
 
14.
John Tucker Must Die (2006)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.8/10 X  
Three ex-girlfriends of a serial cheater set up their former lover to fall for the new girl in town so they can watch him get his heart broken. (89 mins.)
Director: Betty Thomas
“ Brittany Snow

"John Tucker Must Die" had a lot of poor writing, but it did have great casting. Brittany Snow is a very talented girl with such an innocent, trusting look. She has been smart in picking a lot of dark comedies with characters with some more sinister layers, and luckily I saw her here first so I could explore those characters with her. ” - napierslogs
 
15.
Evening (2007)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  
A drama exploring the romantic past and emotional present of Ann Grant and her daughters, Constance and Nina. As Ann lays dying, she remembers, and is moved to convey to her daughters, the defining moments in her life 50 years prior, when she was a young woman. Harris is the man Ann loves in the 1950s and never forgets. (117 mins.)
Director: Lajos Koltai
“ Hugh Dancy

I wasn't sure about "Evening" after I viewed it and the only thing I was sure about was Hugh Dancy. He played the only character I liked in the film, and he was the drunken asshole! But this film also marked the beginning of a year with a lot of films that showcased Dancy, and I'm glad to say that I have seen all of his films since. ” - napierslogs
 
16.
27 Dresses (2008)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.1/10 X  
After serving as a bridesmaid 27 times, a young woman wrestles with the idea of standing by her sister's side as her sibling marries the man she's secretly in love with. (111 mins.)
Director: Anne Fletcher
“ James Marsden

The funny thing is, I had seen James Marsden before I just didn't know it. In "27 Dresses", I couldn't help but smile every time he was on the screen. Cute, handsome, charming and funny, he was the best part of the film, and afterwards I logged onto IMDb to find his filmography. Turns out he was also in Ally McBeal, one of my favourite shows but I had stopped watching the show before his character was introduced. Now that I have bought the complete series, I know there's something good in season 5.
I also watched "The Box" because Marsden was in it. A very intelligent film that intrigues me and I wouldn't have seen it if it weren't for the casting of "27 Dresses". ” - napierslogs
 
17.
Weather Girl (2009)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.9/10 X  
A Seattle weather girl freaks out on-air over her cheating boyfriend, the morning show anchor, and moves in with her little brother. (92 mins.)
Director: Blayne Weaver
“ Ryan Devlin

"Weather Girl" was very funny and cute, mostly thanks to both Ryan Devlin and Patrick J. Adams who were both very funny and cute in it. I have fortunately found one of my favourite characters in "Cougar Town" but it was a very sad day when Smith and Laurie broke up. ” - napierslogs
 
18.
An Education (2009)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  
A coming-of-age story about a teenage girl in 1960s suburban London, and how her life changes with the arrival of a playboy nearly twice her age. (100 mins.)
Director: Lone Scherfig
“ Carey Mulligan

"An Education" is a great film. I have always loved writer Nick Hornby and actor Peter Sarsgaard, but who I didn't know was Carey Mulligan. I frequently find characters like Mulligan's Jenny, who are supposed to be smart with an undying desire to see the world, really annoying but not in this case. She was likable, relatable, and completely understood.
The rest of the world did discover her along with me because of her Oscar nomination and continued praise for the role, but I think she's still unknown enough that I don't consider this entry on the list all that "obvious".
This year, Carey Mulligan was in "Never Let Me Go" so I scrambled to see it on my birthday, and I walked away with the gift of a film that was intelligent, interesting and intriguing, and appears to keep on giving... ” - napierslogs
 
19.
Never Let Me Go (2010)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  
The lives of three friends, from their early school days into young adulthood, when the reality of the world they live in comes knocking. (103 mins.)
Director: Mark Romanek
“ Andrew Garfield

"Never Let Me Go" was a very well-done film with great performances, especially by Andrew Garfield. I was sure he was going to get major award nominations for it. That was until I looked up what else he was in and found "The Social Network" and his many nominations for that role. I wasn't sure about seeing "The Social Network", but partial thanks to "Never Let Me Go" casting Andrew Garfield, I did end up seeing one of the best films of the year. ” - napierslogs
 
20.
Tamara Drewe (2010)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.2/10 X  
A young newspaper writer returns to her hometown in the English countryside, where her childhood home is being prepped for sale. (107 mins.)
Director: Stephen Frears
“ Gemma Arterton

I wasn't all that blown away by Tamara Drewe or Gemma Arterton. But the film was good enough and Arterton was attractive and talented that I remembered her name.
Less than a month after seeing "Tamara Drewe", the title "The Disappearance of Alice Creed" caught my attention it has rave reviews but I generally don't see many thrillers. But because Arterton was in and it was a 180 degree turn from "Tamara Drewe" I decided to check it out. The film blew me away. It has quickly become one of my all-time favourites and there's a good chance I wouldn't have seen it if it weren't for the casting of "Tamara Drewe". ” - napierslogs