Spotlight on the Stars: Ben Foster

We’re bringing back the Spotlight on the Stars series of articles folks! Today, the subject is rising star Ben Foster, a gifted actor who is finally starting to really make his mark in the industry. Still relatively young, age wise, though already a veteran actor, Foster is going from being “that guy” to the sort of intense thespian who makes anything they’re involved with significantly better. Whether it’s his breakthrough role last year in the Hell or High Water or something quieter like The Messenger, he’s just aces, plain and simple. He’ll be an A-lister before long. As such, it’s a real pleasure to fete him with this featured piece.

Foster got his start on television, but made his feature debut in the teen movie Get Over It. There was also small parts in a mixed bag of studio fare too. He made his first mark of note in independent fare though, with a scene stealing turn in Alpha Dog. He followed that up with a host of strong turns, in things as wildly different as 3:10 to Yuma, 30 Days of Night, The Messenger (which put him into the awards conversation for the first time), Rampart, and X-Men: The Last Stand (a breakthrough of sorts for him). From there, the juicier roles began flowing in, with Ain’t Them Bodies Saints, Kill Your Darlings, Lone Survivor, and The Program all having Oscar aspirations, to one degree or another.

He came within spitting distance of an Academy Award nomination for his role in Hell or High Water in 2016. In fact, he took home Best Supporting Actor at the Film Independent Spirit Awards for that very part. It didn’t happen with Oscar that time around, but it will before long. In fact, just in the last few days at the Sundance Film Festival, he’s received a ton of buzz for his leading role in Leave No Trace, a drama from filmmaker Debra Granik. Depending on who picks it up and when it comes out, Oscar might have no choice but to take notice of Foster. He’s apparently just that good in the film.

This week, Foster co-stars in Hostiles, a wester we previously discussed last month. Written and directed by Scott Cooper, it stars Christian Bale and Rosamund Pike in the central roles. Foster plays a key supporting part, though he doesn’t show up until about the midway point in the film. Still, he leaves his mark, as he always does. This sort of role has often suited him in the past, the key supporting turn. A movie is always better for having Foster in it, that much is certain. This is very much a supporting part, though something like Hell or High Water has showcased how having him as the second or third lead can really lead to special results.

Here is how I would rank Foster’s ten best performances to date:

10. 3:10 to Yuma
9. Hostiles
8. Rampart
7. The Program
6. Kill Your Darlings
5. Alpha Dog
4. Ain’t Them Bodies Saints
3. Birds of America
2. The Messenger
1. Hell or High Water

Honorable Mention: Lone Survivor

Overall, Foster is a force to be reckoned with. Any movie he shows up in is lucky to have him. Going forward, he’ll likely continue to mix baity indie fare with some interesting studio choices, as his profile gets bigger and bigger. Talent wise, he’s already up there on the A-list. Once the right flick opens big, he’ll be there officially, with Hollywood falling over itself to work with him. Keep an eye out for Hostiles if you haven’t seen it, as it opens wide this weekend, plus stay tuned for details on Leave No Trace. Foster seems like he’ll be a part of the awards season next year, and that’s very exciting…

Be sure to check out Foster in Hostiles and be on the lookout for him in Leave No Trace when it emerges from Park City!

About Joey Magidson

A graduate of Stony Brook University (where he studied Cinema and Cultural Studies), resides in Brooklyn, New York. He contributes to several other film-related websites and is a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association.

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