Timberlake has been in a slew of solid films and over that time has proven himself to me to be if not the best actor of his generation today, at least in consideration for that lofty title.
I shared this thought with Dawn, to which she offered some alternative bests of the generation: Zack Efron (I kid you not), Robert Downey Jr. and Johnny Depp.
First, let me clear up the issue of what constitutes a generation. Depp and Downey were born in the mid-1960s. Timberlake was born in 1981. Therefore, it is safe to say that they do not share a generation. This is good, because I agree with Dawn that Downey and Depp are better actors than Timberlake.
Efron was born in 1987. For the sake of simplicity, let's assume a generation constitutes a decade of breadth, in this case, from 1980 to 1990. In that case, Efron and Timberlake share a generation. In reality though, one could argue that a generation, particularly with actors, is much shorter, closer to 5 years. I leave that distinction up to the reader. Regardless, it is safe to use 10 years as the maximum for a generation.
Here is a quick filmography for Timberlake, focusing on the highlights with some commentary:
- Alpha Dog (2006) - Timberlake played a rich Hollywood kid who gets involved in the escalating disaster involving the kidnap of a minor to collect a drug debt. Timberlake does a solid job of filling the role with the right bravado but also insecurity.
- Southland Tales (2006) - Admittedly, this is an odd movie, but Timberlake shines as a former soldier returning from war.
- Black Snake Moan (2006) - Timberlake once again plays a soldier returning home, but this time in the bayou, where his girlfriend is whoring it around town. Timberlake gets extra credit from me for his portrayal of his character's PTSD, especially when he reveals that it first reared its head before he saw any action.
- The Social Network (2010) - Timberlake plays the founder of Napster, who acts as both role model and adviser to the founder of Facebook. He plays this role well, adding a sense of experience and aged resilience, followed by self-destruction, even though he is still a young guy.
So, here is where I ask for audience participation. Can you think of other actors who are more deserving to be dubbed the best in Timberlake's generation? I have a couple of possibilities, ironically mostly from the cast of Alpha Dog. However, what do you think?
And the greater question: Who is a better actor: Efron or Timberlake?