Andrew Garfield is one of the most exciting millennial actors out there with a huge resume under his belt that boasts film, theatre and television. Since his breakout role in David Fincher’s The Social Network, Garfield’s talents have gone from strength to strength and his career has brought him an Academy Award nomination, two BAFTA nominations and a Tony Award for his performance in the Broadway production of Angels in America. He’s a fearless actor and clearly wants to stretch himself and show off the range he has.
His filmography isn’t as extensive as his television and stage work but this proves the care that he takes in selecting his roles. One his earlier roles that I absolutely adore is The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus (2009) which in true Terry Gilliam style is utterly bonkers but Garfield is wonderful as troupe member, Anton. I can’t tell you how many The fact that that performance doesn’t even make the top 5 just shows his skill as an actor.
Without further ado, here are my top 5 Andrew Garfield performances in chronological order:
The Social Network (2010)
The one that gave him his big breakout into the mainstream, Garfield plays Harvard student, Eduardo Saverin a seed investor for Thefacebook, a website created by fellow student and friend, Mark Zuckerberg (Jesse Eisenberg). In this biopic following the founding of the world’s biggest social media platform, we see Garfield in a significant supporting role in which sees him as a crucial part of Facebook’s inception and then ultimately his ownership is reduced and his profit is minimal. Bolstered by a stellar script by Aaron Sorkin and brilliant direction by Fincher, the part of Saverin is already a meaty role but Garfield goes the extra mile and makes the most of his limited screen time. Even when he is not on the screen, his impact is felt throughout the film. It shows that even at the early stages of his film career, Garfield is looking for risky roles. Not to mention the perfect delivery of the line: Sorry! My Prada’s at the cleaners! Along with my hoodie and my ‘fuck you’ flip-flops, you pretentious douchebag!
Never Let Me Go (2010)
Based on the novel of the same name by Nobel prize winner Kazao Ishiguro, Never Let Me Go is a nostalgic dystopic story about unknowing clones who are raised and brought up to be harvested for their organs. Following the three protagonists Kathy H (Carey Mulligan), Ruth C (Keira Knightley) and Tommy D (Garfield) who are three donors. We watch their journey from their innocent childhood to fully aware adults and the deterioration of their friendships and their lives as they are forced to donate their organs and start dying in the process. Garfield holds his own against this starry cast which also features Charlotte Rampling and Sally Hawkins to name a few. Tommy D is such a complex character as he begins to express his feelings through art in the hope that this will save him and Kathy H. At the start of the film, Tommy is an angry young boy who doesn’t know where to project his frustration but the adult Tommy is more restrained. You can see the tension bubbling to the service with Garfield’s performance and the climactic scene in which he breaks down is heart-breaking to watch. Watching the desperation as Tommy accumulates years and years of art in which his love is expressed and ultimately rejected makes for one of the best performances of the year that was sadly overlooked.
99 Homes (2014)
Now for my favourite Garfield performance. Fresh off the back from starring as Peter Parker in The Amazing Spider-Man and it’s subsequent sequel, you’d be forgiven for thinking that Garfield would be starring in blockbuster after blockbuster. However, he not only starred but also co-produced his next film 99 Homes, an indie following construction worker, Dennis Nash (Garfield) and his struggle to keep a job which leads to his family being evicted from their home. The eviction is led by the ruthless Rick Carver (Michael Shannon) who Nash starts to work for and begins to be led down a rabbit hole of corruption and deceit. It shows the desperation to survive in a failing climate and what people will do in the pursuit of security. Nash commits awful criminal and moral activities but we don’t judge him for it because we know the background behind this and the intentions. When Dennis is forced to carry out an eviction, his reaction is the complete opposite to Rick’s emotionless demeanor. Whereas Shannon thrives portraying impenetrable characters, Garfield’s characters always wear their heart on their sleeve and none more so than Dennis Nash. Shannon definitely dominates the film as a whole and also provides one of his own career bests but Garfield’s performance should not be overlooked because of this. Seeing him play a young, struggling father who is also tasked with taking care of his mother (Laura Dern) demonstrates his range and versatility.
Hacksaw Ridge (2016)
The biggest performance of his career so far and one that cemented him as a reliable leading man, Garfield leads this biopic about Desmond Doss, a pacifist soldier who acts as a doctor during the Battle of Okinawa at Hacksaw Ridge. Doss refuses to engage in any violent act and even goes into battle without a weapon to protect himself. He was renowned for savings the lives of countless soldiers on both sides. The film itself was a bit overrated as a whole in my opinion (it felt like an imitation of Full Metal Jacket in the first half and is overall an oddly paced film) but Garfield shines in the lead role. There are some unbelievably brilliant scenes such as the climb up the Ridge when the soldiers realise that the rope ladders is soaked with blood. The film is definitely worth a watch just for Garfield’s performance alone and was well worth the Oscar nomination it received. The film was met with controversy thanks to Mel Gibson’s involvement as director and his subsequent awards attention. In my opinion, however, I find his direction a bit too indulgent in this film and not one of the highlights. This is a film that Garfield alone elevates, telling the story of a peacemaker’s experience in the eye of a bloody war.
2016 was unarguably a brilliant year for Garfield. His second feature of the year sees him working with Martin Scorsese in an adaptation of Silence as Father Sebastião Rodrigues, a Portuguese priest who ventures to Edo era Japan to seek out fellow priest Cristóvão Ferreira (Liam Neeson). The film is set during the Shimabara Rebellion that sees Christianity outlawed and anyone who refuses to denounce Christ tortured or killed. Accompanied by Father Francisco Garupe (Adam Driver), Sebastião’s faith is tried and tested throughout as this 3 hour epic follows the trials and tribulations of a suppressed community in a land where they are outsiders. The film is a slow burner but it is a deeply layered film with rewardingly textured performances. Both 2016 films see Garfield play devout Christians in war-torn Japan at different eras but the performances couldn’t be further apart. The psychological effects of torture that Sebastião is forced to endure is shown perfectly by Garfield. We feel Sebastião’s inner turmoil as his reluctance to denounce Christ harms not only himself but others around him.
It’s exciting to see an actor unafraid to showcase a diverse range in a multitude of mediums. He has achieved a lot in a relatively short amount of time and it’s exciting to see what projects he takes on next.
Which Andrew Garfield performance is your favourite? Let me know in the comments below!