In 2018, Timothée Chalamet shot into the Hollywood stardom radar as the youngest Oscar nominee for Best Actor in 80 years, a reward for his portrayal of Elio in Luca Guadagnino film Call Me By Your Name.
Timothée (“The real pronunciation is Timo-tay, but I can’t ask people to call me that; it just seems really pretentious,” he told VNAM) whose cascading stardom, from starring in zeitgeist roles has gained him numerous awards, and an Instagram account solely dedicated to photoshopping his face on famous artworks is unperturbed by his fame. In an interview for ‘Time Out’, the 24-year-old Oscar nominee is brutally honest about his onslaught of stardom, “None of this is lost on me in any way. I don’t know how the fuck any of this happened,” he said.
From starring alongside Mathew McConaughey in Interstellar to playing the precocious polyglot Elio in Call Me By Your Name, Chalamet’s meteoric career graph can be attributed to his acting chops. Although his tousled chestnut-hair, Bambi-like limbs and awkward yet endearing squirming during interviews is probably the reason he has become gen-z’s favourite pin-up.
In an interview with GQ, Lady Bird‘s director Greta Gerwig said, “He’s Christian Bale, Daniel Day-Lewis, Leonardo Di Caprio. A heartthrob but with thoroughbred acting chops”. With an almost pre-pubescent face, Chalamet is the gen Z antithesis of the quintessential Hollywood leading man archetype, yet his fandom is reminiscent of a young Leonardo DiCaprio’s in the 1990s. Chalamet’s The King co-star Ben Mendelsohn couldn’t help marvel at the ‘Timothée fever’ to Digital Spy: “I have never heard people scream for a person the way they scream for Timothée,” he said.
Having worked with the likes of Greta Gerwig in her directorial debut Lady Bird, Steve Carell in Beautiful Boy and Christian Bale and Rosamond Pike in the 2017 Western Hostiles, Chalamet’s nascent yet impressive filmography has placed him well beyond the trope of the poignant coming of age hero.
As the young New Yorker Oscar-nominee turns 25, let’s take a look at the films that turned him into an internet phenomenon and a Hollywood star.
Timothée Chalamet 10 best films ranked:
10. Miss Stevens (Julia Hart – 2016)
In Julia Hart’s poignant directorial debut three high school students are chaperoned on a road trip by a teacher (Lilly Robe) to a drama competition, Chalamet plays Billy, a troubled teen with emotional attachment issues.
Chalamet’s nuanced performance etching out the often subtle behavioural affliction of Billy and culminating in a gut-wrenching on-stage monologue firmly established the young star’s acting acumen.
“Our approach from start to finish, from writing to editorial, was authenticity,” director Hart said of the film. “So it wasn’t even a matter of thinking about creating that tension, it was just the realistic and honest portrayal of how people feel and what people do. The one very conscious choice, which was also the authentic one, was to never have anything happen between them. That was a bottom line for me from day one. And there were times when I had to fight for it.”
9. Hostiles (Scott Cooper – 2017)
Writer/director Scott Cooper’s western drama Hostiles, set in 1892 pays homage to the ‘Great American cinematic past’. Hostiles is the story of army captain Joseph Blocker (Christian Bale) who is assigned to escort a Cheyenne war chief back to his tribal land. The grim, slow-burn brutal western has Chalamet in an uncharacteristic cameo, playing a soldier in Blocker’s contingent all the while looking dapper in a uniform.
“I just feel like the luckiest kid in the world,” Chalamet said shortly after creating Hostiles and in conversation with fellow actor Matthew McConaughey. “I love being able to see how people sink into the material—like watching you work your way through scenes, trying new things, always keeping it fresh. I got to work with Christian Bale over the summer, on Hostiles. It’s so impressive to see you guys work. I want to attack and to lead my life with vigor, but I’m in the watching stage at the moment. Younger actors feel pressure to bring a pop to every scene, as the roles get bigger, I’m finding you can add layers and do less scene-to-scene.”
8. Hot Summer Nights (Elijah Bynum – 2017)
Set on Cape Cod in the summer of the early 1990s, Bynum’s film stars Chalamet alongside the likes of Maia Mitchell, William Fichtner, Alex Roe, Thomas Jane, Rachel O’Shaughnessy, Maika Monroe and more.
In this signature coming of age drama, Chalamet plays a young introvert whose association with a group of hustlers and burnouts encourages him to take an entrepreneurial interest in drug dealing. While Elijah Bynum’s crime drama failed to impress the box office, Chalamet stole hearts with his uncanny portrayal of an unsavoury yet oddly charismatic youth.
7. A Rainy Day in New York (Woody Allen – 2019)
Chalamet received a downpour of criticism for starring in Woody Allen’s, A Rainy day in New York, following the sexual abuse charge levied against Woody Allen by the director’s daughter Dylan Farrow, Chalamet apologised for his involvement in the project and redeemed himself by disavowing the film and vouching to donate his proceeds from the film to anti-sexual abuse charities.
The film is a romantic comedy about two high school sweethearts who spend a weekend in New York amidst misadventures and has Selena Gomez cast opposite Chalamet.
6. Interstellar (Christopher Nolan – 2014)
Christopher Nolan’s 2014 Astro-sci-fi Interstellar hit the accelerator on Chalamet’s career as he takes the wheel in an unforgettable cornfield chase with Matthew McConaughey. The film unfolds around a former NASA pilot (Matthew McConaughey) and his space exploration for other habitable planets.
Chalamet plays McConaughey’s son. The film has Casey Affleck playing Chalamet’s older self and boasts of an ensemble cast including Jessica Chastain, Anne Hathaway and Matt Demon.
5. Little Women (Greta Gerwig – 2019)
The Lady Bird cast of Chalamet and Saoirse Ronan is reunited in Greta Gerwig’s cinematic adaptation of the 1868 classic Louise May Alcott novel by the same name.
Ronan and Chalamet are cast as the tom-boyish Jo and the effervescent Theodore, ‘Laurie’ Lawrence, in a story of friendship and unrequited love. While the courtship and camaraderie of Jo and Laurie have been well established by the previous renditions of the film by Katharine Hepburn and Douglas Montgomery and again by Winona Ryder and Christian Bale, Ronan and Chalamet bring an unflinching candour to the shifting dynamics of Jo and Laurie, galvanising the film’s tender realism.
Set in the pre and post American Civil War, Little Woman is the story of Jo and her three sisters. The film stars Saoirse Ronan and Timothée Chalamet alongside Emma Watson and Meryl Streep.
4. Beautiful Boy (Felix Van Groeningen – 2018)
Belgian filmmaker Felix Van Groeningen’s Beautiful Boy is a story of addiction, rehabilitation and the road to recovery.
It is also the story of Nic Sheff (Timothée Chalamet) and his tenuous relationship with his father (Steve Carell), a relationship which is further fraught with confrontations about Nic’s debilitating addiction to crystal meth. Unlike other movies about addiction, Beautiful Boy refrains from a diatribe against drug abuse and instead explores the angst and emotional turmoil of the estrangement between Nic and his father, as his father grapples with the reality of his son’s addiction.
A tearjerker till the very end, Beautiful Boy has Timothée Chalamet, deliver one of the most heart wrenching and layered performances of his career as he slides into the skin of addiction riddled Nic Sheff.
3. The King (David Michôd – 2019)
In this adaptation of the Shakespearean ‘Henriad’ by David Michôd, Chalamet picks up the mantle of playing Hal, the Prince of Wales who is crowned Henry V. This royal court medieval drama sees Chalamet’s character transform from a carousing, dissolute prince to the monarch who heads England into war against France.
Robert Pattinson plays the flyweight nihilist who goads Henry into war. Chalamet’s alleged girlfriend Lily-Rose Depp plays the frail yet worldly Catherine of Valois. If Chalamet’s rousing battle speech and searing quite a contemplation aren’t enough to make you want to watch the movie, his bowl cut and gruff British accent ought to do the trick.
2. Lady Bird (Greta Gerwig – 2017)
Greta Gerwig’s directorial debut focused on 17-year-old Christine ‘Lady Bird’ McPherson (Saoirse Ronan) and her conflict with her mother in the eternal teen angst of a coming-of-age drama.
Chalamet’s character Kyle Scheible is a pretentious, conspiracy theory-spewing bassist whose favourite phrase is “hella tight”. In the film, Chalamet is one of the Lady Bird’s love interests, portraying a character that is in equal parts repugnant and annoying and only teenage hormones can justify evoking any romantic interest in the said character.
However, Chalamet salvages Kyle from falling into the bad boy rebel cliché with an almost effortless nonchalant charisma and vulnerability.
1. Call Me By Your Name (Luca Guadagnino – 2017)
Luca Guadagnino’s cinematic adaptation of André Aciman book has received almost cult status since its release in 2017 and consolidated the coltish trilingual Elio as one of the Timothée Chalamet’s most iconic roles, the same role that won him SAG, BAFTA, Golden Globe and Oscar nominations.
A languid tale of love and loss, set in ethereal northern Italy, Call Me By Your Name is the story of a precocious young boy Elio (Chalamet) on the brink of-self-discovery and the dawning of his romance with a slightly older American graduate student Oliver (Armie Hammer). The indolence of their unfolding summer romance is imbued with poetic lethargy.
Yet the resonance of Call Me By Your Name is not the romance but the ephemeral nature of it. Chalamet embodies Elio in the film as the trilingual, broody, affably precocious 17-years-old who plays the piano with panache and toggles between speaking French, Italian and English, all with the languid nonchalance of a teenager and the self-loathing conflict of desire.