Pay attention to this moment in time: We’re living through a transitional period of actor turnover. It’s a changing of the guard that happens only once or twice per generation, because once a crop of good young actors establish themselves, they tend to stick around. But now that Brad Pitt’s resigned to playing war generals, Leonardo DiCaprio will play only esoteric roles in esoteric movies, and Denzel Washington is playing old lawyers and getting started on a SECOND Equalizer movie, the Oscar Hunk™ group has been almost entirely vacated. There have been a couple of younger actors — Michael B. Jordan, Miles Teller — to move into this rarefied space, but thanks to movies like Get Out, Dunkirk, Lady Bird, and Call Me by Your Name, 2017 is the first time in a long time that there’s a palpable sense of a new gang of very talented, very handsome actors forming.
You should know who these people are because their faces are going to be everywhere for the next four months as awards season ramps up. Also, there is a strong chance these are the actors you will be seeing often for the next 10 to 15 years, until they too will get older and start doing only movies where someone eats a horse and no one talks. Let’s not get ahead of ourselves, though; let’s enjoy this exciting time as much as possible by acquainting ourselves with the heartthrobs of the future and by objectifying them as much as is socially acceptable.
The Hella Tight One: Timothée Chalamet
Where You’ve Seen Him: As the lovelorn Elio in Call Me by Your Name, the pseudo-intellectual hipster boyfriend in Lady Bird, or Tom in Interstellar — or, for my real Timothée heads, as the vice president’s jerk son and Dana Brody’s jerk boyfriend in Homeland.
Dislikes: Rapping well, cellphones, playing Bach in a straightforward manner.
Other Necessary Things to Know: Chalamet is on his way to securing a Best Actor Oscar nomination for his performance in Call Me by Your Name, and there’s a real chance that he’ll become the youngest winner ever. Chalamet is often cast as the effortlessly cool, slightly pretentious, brooding teen because he is 100 percent an effortlessly cool, slightly pretentious, brooding person. Here’s a serious observation he made to the Los Angeles Times about social interaction before smartphones: “There wasn’t the all-bearing force field protector of looking at your phone if you’re in an uncomfortable situation, which defuses about 97 percent of the interesting moments we have in life.” I wanna yell “BOOOO” at that fake-deep quote, but I just can’t, because Timothée Chalamet said it. (Also, Chalamet probably dated Madonna’s daughter Lourdes when he was in high school, which feels important.)
The One You Take Home to Mom: Lucas Hedges
Where You’ve Seen Him: As the sad teen in Manchester by the Sea, Lady Bird’s first boyfriend in Lady Bird, or the kid who calls his mom the C-word in Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.
Dislikes: Defectors, jeans and/or khaki pants that fit correctly.
Other Necessary Things to Know: Of all the actors on this list, Hedges’s future projects are the most promising on paper. He’ll be in Mid ’90s, Jonah Hill’s directing debut, as well as Boy Erased, an adaptation of Garrard Conley’s memoir about gay conversion therapy that has Oscar buzz written all over it. He already has an Oscar nom under his belt (for Manchester), but as a gifted actor capable of playing sensitive, emotionally complex characters, he’s only just beginning. “The weird thing is that I can get an Oscar nomination and still feel like the same exact actor who was at a theater program I went to four years ago,” Hedges told Vulture. “The world can change their opinion, but I’m still the same exact thing. That excites me, and in some respects that terrifies me, because I feel like this responsibility to be a great actor, yet I have so much to learn.” Lucas Hedges seems like a real gem.
The Dark One: Barry Keoghan
Where You’ve Seen Him: As the good boy who dies an inexplicable death in Dunkirk, or as the deranged, creepy-as-hell teenager in The Killing of a Sacred Deer.
Likes: Eminem, boxing, knit sweaters, animals, vengefully putting hexes on entire families, spaghetti.
Dislikes: Sitting in front of Nicole Kidman in only boxers.
Other Necessary Things to Know: Unlike Chalamet or Hedges or the next guy on this list, Barry Keoghan came out of nowhere in 2017, doing so with two disparate roles. He was naive and sweet and honorable as George in Dunkirk — then turned that perception of himself on its head to play Martin in The Killing of a Sacred Deer, one of the most wicked, haunting characters in a movie this year. “I want people to go, ‘Fuck, that’s him?’” Keoghan said when I interviewed him last month. “‘He’s completely different.’” (Other other necessary things to know? Keoghan, who is quite Irish, has a quite Irish girlfriend named Shona, and they are very adorable on social media.)
The Dad/Daddy One: Armie Hammer
Where You’ve Seen Him: As the Winklevii in The Social Network, the Lone Ranger in the regrettable The Lone Ranger, or the confident-but-cautious older love interest Oliver in Call Me by Your Name.
Dislikes: His own résumé, not being able to make Call Me by Your Name in perpetuity.
Other Necessary Things to Know: Armie Hammer, who comes from a wealthy California oil family, is the quintessential movie star. Of course he’s in movies, because his collection of talents and attributes — the aforementioned shoulders, the 6-foot-5 height, the platonic ideal of a haircut, the jawline, the strong, beautifully timbred voice, the inherent confidence and striking empathy — wouldn’t make sense anywhere else. His 20s were wasted on bad and little-seen movies, but now that he’s become every person’s ideal human and figured out the direction of his career thanks to Call Me by Your Name, the next decade ought to be filled with high-level Armie Hammer. CMBYN director Luca Guadagnino deserves the Medal of Honor or something.
The Final Guy: Daniel Kaluuya
Where You’ve Seen Him: As Chris in Get Out or Bing in Black Mirror’s “Fifteen Million Merits,” or if you’re British, as Posh Kenneth in Skins.
Dislikes: Maybe Samuel L. Jackson, tea cups, older white guys who “would have voted for Obama for a third term.”
Other Necessary Things to Know: I know it feels like it’s been 12 years, but Get Out came out in 2017. And though early-year releases don’t often make it to awards season, the power of Get Out and the lack of Oscar front-runners have the movie smack dab in the middle of the conversation. Kaluuya, in particular, is a near lock for a Golden Globe nomination and could even make his way into the Best Actor category at the Oscars. Get on the Kaluuya train right now, by the way, because it’s only going to get more crowded next year, when he stars alongside every good actor in Ryan Coogler’s Black Panther. (A good, extremely British quote from Kaluuya on Black Panther: “This is an African blockbuster, bruv. … And Ryan Coogler is just, man dem.”)
The Very British One: Fionn Whitehead
Where You’ve Seen Him: As the soldier running for his life in Dunkirk.
Dislikes: Harry Styles’s general distrust for other soldiers, green juice.
Other Necessary Things to Know: Fionn Whitehead was a barista in London up until Christopher Nolan scooped him up for the central role of Tommy in Dunkirk. But it would’ve been only a matter of time; Whitehead just looks like a movie star, with stupid bone structure and dark, expressive eyes. And just to impress how very British he really is: To make money when he was younger, he would ferry people across the Thames in his family’s 12-person boat. That’s the most British thing I’ve heard since John Oliver pronounced “Steve Buscemi” “Steve Boosheemi.”
The One With the Hair: Joe Keery
Where You’ve Seen Him: As the jerk turned hero Steve Harrington in Stranger Things, and soon, albeit briefly, in Molly’s Game.
Dislikes: Taking charges, using hair product.
Other Necessary Things to Know: OK, so sure: Joe Keery hasn’t been in any big-time movies like Whitehead, Hammer, or Keoghan (Molly’s Game is coming soon though!!!), but he is part of this new gang of actors because he transcends TV. He is the most likable character on Stranger Things, a show full of likable characters, and that charisma carries over into real life. He convinced me to order Domino’s once. Domino’s. Also, Keery is in a psych-rock, Tame Impala–ish band called Post Animal, and it’s extremely annoying to me how good they are. Because doesn’t Joe Keery have enough?