Joseph Gordon-Levitt did not receive Oscar nomination, despite being nominated for a Golden Globe, for portraying Tom Hansen in 500 Days of Summer.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays the male lead in Tom Hansen an aspiring architect, obviously, who works at a greeting card company. Tom is technically speaking a hopeless romantic in that he is a fervent believer in true love and intends to find it in his crush who works at the same company Summer (Zooey Deschanel), who shares no such beliefs with Tom and makes that rather clear very early on to him. The film jumps back and forth in the timeline sometimes to the beginning of their relationship which is straight out of a romantic movie with certain flamboyant acts. Many other scenes depict the end of the relationship with Summer simply insisting that they should only be friends with Tom dreading this idea. We then get various quirky stylistic flourishes from the direction which bridge the various scenes together.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt whole performance is one of a particular style as well as often he must fit in these various flourishes of the director Marc Webb which includes even a musical number after Tom has consummated the relationship. There are mostly two halves to the performance particularly early on. On one side there is the Tom pursuing Summer and starting the relationship with her. On this side Gordon-Levitt is fairly charming enough and his enthusiasm in these scenes are endearing enough. Also in these screes are some wacky moments which well they are indeed there with Gordon-Levitt needing to be awkwardly hilarious. I did not find him awkwardly hilarious, but he is more than entirely fine in these scenes as well. On the other side set in the future though Tom is quite the opposite.
In the scenes set later Tom is basically in a set state of depression mixed with a hatred both due to Summer's treatment of him. The film and Gordon-Levitt don't mind really saying that Tom is a bit of a self-absorbed jerk in this regard and this is the way he plays it. I imagine though it is also meant to be fairly comedic in nature as Tom is unable to be reasoned with in his state. Gordon-Levitt certainly gets the points across as he should and the fairly simple way of playing does make sense for the character as Tom is suppose to be so set on his ideas of romance that anything else causes him to basically shut down. Anyway though again I did not find the performance particularly hilarious, and although I think he got the point of Tom across well enough it still did not make his character especially compelling or interesting to watch.
After a certain point the film becomes a bit more regulated as does Gordon-Levitt performance as he basically shows Tom having learned his lesson therefore basically taking things to less of an extreme. In turn he does the same with his performance no longer being so enthusiastic in the happy moments but not nearly as depressed and angry in the bad moments. Tom basically just starts to deal with things like a man who is more assured when it comes to facing things realistically. Gordon-Levitt is once again completely solid in these scenes which are certainly quieter but probably more natural in style. He once again fulfills the need of the character's change in attitude and is believable, even though again he never made to get caught up too much, or frankly even care that much about Tom's problems.
This whole performance came off as just fine to me in basically every way in that there were not any scenes where I hated his performance but he failed to ever impress me either. This isn't even a standard romantic lead turn as Tom is suppose to be slightly insufferable and Gordon-Levitt shows that well enough just like how he does pretty much everything well enough. He is charming enough, he has enough energy in the role, he has enough passion when he needs it, and he is always clearly trying more than enough. Enough I suppose means that I would describe this as a good performance, and I'll call it a good performance, but I won't call it a great one or one that made me care any more about the film. Now it is time for me to go batten down the hatches.