I can’t quite pinpoint when I decided Miles Teller might be the most promising actor of his generation. It wasn’t an instant revelation, that is for sure. Id seen him in a few things and he seemed talented and most certainly charming, but somewhere along the time I saw That Awkward Moment, I began to wonder if this kid was the real deal.
He’s not necessarily conventionally handsome. You’ll notice he has a few small scars, obtained during a massive car wreck back in 2007. A lot of guys are comparing his swagger to Vince Vaughn, but there is that sense of self-deprecation to his performance that reminds me a lot of John Cusack too. The kid is paradoxical, simultaneously brimming with confidence yet completely insecure. It allows him to play quite a range of characters, which was something I wasn’t expecting when I first decided to watch all nine movies Teller has been in. The range I had seen was mostly the charming, sarcastic Teller, but as I saw more, I realized there is massive depth at his disposal to finesse his characters, though they may superficially appear rather smilar. And the obsessive need to see everything he’d been in possessed me and here we are.
So yeah, I can now say I have seen all nine feature films Miles Teller has been in and I am here to rank them for you from worst to first. Keep in mind, this isn’t a ranking of the movies themselves. This is specific to Teller and his performance, which oftentimes outshines even mediocre movies:
9. Project X
I’m gonna be honest, I couldn’t finish this movie because this largely improvisational teenage comedy thing is just so far removed from movies I want to watch and Teller’s part is a cameo at best. So instead of watching that, watch this:
8. 21 & Over (Currently free on Netflix)
While Teller is charming as usual in this film and his co-star Skylar Astin (who I enjoy a lot as well) give it their all, they can’t do much to overcome the standard “long night of drinking goes terribly wrong plot”. There are amusing moments, but if you want to see charming, snarky Teller, you have much better options.
7. Divergent (Currently free on HBO Go)
In interviews, Teller slipped up and admitted he took the role of antagonistic Peter in the YA blockbuster series for mostly business reasons. To be honest, I appreciated his honesty. It is smart to be in something with international appeal, to expand his range, playing the only unlikable character he has in his career, and getting to work with Shailene Woodley, his The Spectacular Now costar, again, because I would watch the two of them read the phone book together. It is a bit part, but I believe his role expands with the series and, in the meantime, he manages to prove that even with his young-looking face, he can be sinister (Searched for a decent clip of him to no avail. He pops up here around the :40 second mark)
6. Rabbit Hole
This is a beautiful movie about grief that earned Nicole Kidman a Best Actress Oscar nomination as the grieving mother of a now-dead toddler. What you may not realize is Teller made his film debut playing the teenager who accidentally hit the boy with his car. His scenes are minimal and the role is a big departure from the persona he has since developed, but there is an earnestness to his acting here worth noting.
If you know me at all, you know I am generally opposed to remakes, yet somehow Craig Brewer’s remake of “Footloose” won me over. In many spots, he sticks to a near shot-for-shot dedication to the original, but he also gives the movie a country bent which I found interesting and at least a new take on the flick. Teller plays Willard, the part played by the late, great Chris Penn in the original, which is a tough act to follow,but he manages to stand out as one of the best parts of the film without ripping off Penn’s performance. If you don’t remember, he is the lead’s best friend who doesn’t know how to dance. I’ve taken to watching this “Let’s Hear it For the Boy” sequence on the regular just as a pick me up, so enjoy:
4. Two Night Stand
You’ve never heard of this movie. There is no reason you should have. It got relatively horrible reviews and is one of those things you stumble upon when cruising through on demand when you have insomnia. It is a pretty silly little flick where a girl (Analeigh Tipton of America’s Next Top Model fame) and a boy (Teller) hook up for a one night stand only to have the girl get snowed in the next day. It is stupid, but it is a fun stupid that I enjoy because the plot is silly, but the dialogue is pretty well done and, once again, Teller wins me over in a movie where he is required to carry half the film and does so with ease:
3. That Awkward Moment (Currently free on HBO Go)
I’ve got to be honest, I don’t understand the terrible reviews for this movie. Honestly, I think they come from people who don’t have to date in the current dating scene, which is scary and confusing, and filled with crap like these guys pull in this movie. Nothing is clear, nothing ever makes sense, and this flick nails it and does so with three leads who are dripping with charm and talent (yes, I’ll even give Zac Efron props on this one). I highly encourage any and every person who is single or who is in their late twenties or early thirties to check it out:
Number two, you say aghast and angry? The movie just nominated for Best Picture in which this kid clearly pours his heart, sweat, tears, and soul into. It is incredible, I don’t disagree. Teller, who was a drummer prior to getting the part in this movie about an ambitious jazz drumming student and his maniacal teacher, is sensational as a kid driven to succeed, obsessed with impressing his teacher and reaching greatness, and willing to sacrifice anything and everything to get there. It is a must-watch performance in one of the best movies of the year. Just watch these two minutes and tell me you aren’t intrigued:
1. The Spectacular Now (Currently free on Amazon Prime)
Yes, Whiplash is incredible and Teller gets all the flash and grit and an incredible sparring partner in the presumed Oscar winner JK Simmons. But the movie where you can see a guy who can deliver incredible performances with just a subtle delivery of a line or a seemingly insignificant drag from a Big Gulp is this teenage love story where Teller plays Sutter, the life of the party who simply thinks he is incapable of getting his shit together, so he doesn’t even bother. Then he meets a girl, takes her in, makes her his project if you will, and suddenly he has to face where his future is going and whether or not he likes it at all. It is an incredible love story with memorable performances from both the leads, but when you are outshining Shailene Woodley, you know you are giving one of the best performances of your career.
There we have it, ladies and gents, my Miles Teller obsession in one giant blog. And because this kid seems so unique and interesting to me, with touches of Tom Hanks, John Cusack, and Vince Vaughn, I think I am going to keep trying to see whatever he is in, including those horrible-looking Fantastic Four movies. Because I am calling it right now. This kid is legit. The Oscar is coming one of these days, and I just hope he continues to make unique and wide-ranging choices the more opportunities come his way.