The Summer Movie All Stars: From Tudyk to Byrne, Who Has Stood Out

While Major League Baseball pauses mid-summer to honor its heavy hitters, we’re doing the same thing for the major studios

Last Updated: July 17, 2011 @ 2:46 PM

 

We’re at the All Star Break in Major League Baseball, so here’s a list of my Summer Movie All Stars so far.

Please note I haven’t yet seen “Harry Potter.” But these are the people who’ve really stood out in this long summer movie season for various reasons. Some are longtime stars, others are newbies, more are seasoned pros who hopefully will be getting more attention in the future.

Alan Tudyk, “Transformers 3”: About halfway through the film’s long running time, the former “Firefly"/"Serenity” star walks in and steals the show from an army of giant robots. “Transformers 3” is the best of the series. It isn’t a great movie, but it does end up being an entertaining one. The funny thing is that the best parts of the movie are on the periphery with characters like Tudyk’s Dutch. Tudyk gives a slightly different version of the character in every scene. Hopefully Shia was taking notes.

John Malkovich, “Transformers 3”: Also helping to keep “Dark of the Moon” from turning into another “Revenge of the Fallen” is John Malkovich.” Like Tudyk, he has few scenes but he gives them his all. The first half of “Transformers 3” is a completely different movie about Spike trying to find a job. Malkovich makes this stretch tolerable as an insane yet at the same time weirdly supportive boss.

Rose Byrne “Insidious”, “Bridesmaids”, “X-Men: First Class”: Ms. Byrne is the utility player of the summer. What do you need? A concerned mother of a possessed child? She can nail that. A seemingly perfect housewife who gets under Kristen Wiig’s skin? She knocks that out of the park. A female CIA agent from the '60s who looks great in her underwear? Not a problem. From horror, to comedy, to sci-fi superheroes no actress covered as much ground this summer or added as many high quality projects to her resume.

Tom Hiddleston, “Thor”: I already talked about the amazing job he did as Loki. And unless you watch “Masterpiece Mystery” on PBS, you’ve probably never seen him before. Even if you saw the “Wallander” series you might have missed him. Just to repeat, Hiddleston and director Kenneth Branagh approached the comic character like he was character from Shakespeare and it worked beautifully.

Michael Fassbender, “X-Men: First Class”: The Marvel films continue to strike gold by giving roles to up-and-coming or offbeat actors. Michael Fassbender had the best, most complex role in the film and he made the most of it. Fassbender had been on the radar but this was his Hugh Jackman moment. He combined danger, pain and style and most importantly made us forget “Last Stand.”

Charlie Day, “Horrible Bosses”: When I first saw the trailer, I wasn’t that impressed with Day’s character. But he completely took over the movie despite sharing the screen with Jason Bateman, Kevin Spacey, Colin Farrell and a skin-bearing Jennifer Aniston. Without Charlie Day’s increasing desperation, this comedy wouldn’t be half as funny as it is. Fans of “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” have witnessed Day’s comedy chops for years. He finally got a chance to show them off on the big screen.

Duncan Jones, “Source Code”: This modest sci fi thriller, which actually debuted during spring training (April 1) packed a wallop and became a hit with audiences and critics. Jones has turned himself into the new Neil Blomkamp. After this summer, someone is going to tap him for a big budget tent pole. Hopefully success doesn’t spoil his fantastic sense of story.

Kristen Wiig, “Bridesmaids”: One of the biggest winners of the summer, Kristen Wiig went from a talented supporting character to comedy superstar. Wiig had never even been lead actress on a TV series. Hell, she was in “MacGruber” just last year. That she even got “Bridesmaids” greenlit with herself in the lead role was an accomplishment. The results were a personal triumph as well as being a game changing hit.

Melissa McCarthy, “Bridesmaids”: Speaking of “Bridesmaids.” We knew Melissa McCarthy could be funny, but this funny? McCarthy was the smutty soul of “Bridesmaids.” She was the one who got really down and dirty. I can’t think of another female character as in-your-face-vulgar-but-in-funny-way as Megan. She was like the anti “Sex in the City” girl.

Michael Lee is a novel writer, blogger and freelance journalist living in L.A. He's been a judge for the prestigious PAGE Awards and blogs about his two biggest passions, screenwriting and food, at Screenwriting Foxhole and To Cook and Eat in L.A., respectively. Lee is also a co-author of "The Insider's Guide to Screenwriting" and has just published his first novel, "My Frankenstein."