5. 5 to 7 by Victor Levin
In this French New Wave referential film, Yelchin gives his take on the tortured pedant trope as he weaves through a love affair with a married mother of two. The marriage is an open one between both husband and wife and what unfolds is a delightfully loose narrative in more ways than one.
Yelchin’s Brian Bloom falls for a woman nine years older than him who engulfs him in a whimsical, especially French reality of clandestine meetings between the hours of 5 and 7. Comically, the husband is fully aware of their affair and has his own lover, Jane, with whom he shares the same 5 to 7 restriction.
Soon the four of them create a bohemian friendship that is condemned to destruction as soon as it begins. The film benefits from Yelchin’s portrayal of a young, love-struck writer as someone with emotional depth and a degree of realness that can often surpass roles like this.
Whether or not the relationship of the two central lovers of the film is fated to last, the talent Yelchin portrays as the bemused artist within it is another testament to his versatile capabilities.
4. Hearts in Atlantis by Scott Hicks
This nostalgic summer-time film was a harbinger for Yelchin’s later success, and won him a distinguished nomination for Best Performance for the Young Artists Awards. At only twelve, he plays the part of young Bobby, who is systematically neglected by his mother and finds solace among friends and his mother’s new lodger, Ted Brautigan.
The role acts as a retrospective account of an adult Bobby, played by Athony Hopkins, as he recalls his childhood and the mysterious events that happened to him.
Based on the Steven King novel of the same name, the role Yelchin executed required a generous amount of emotional awareness and empathy for a child as young as he was at the time. Navigating difficult topics such as rape and child abuse, the film is a tour de force example of the raw potential Yelchin boasted then, and carried with him until his death.
3. Charlie Bartlett by Jon Poll
One of Yelchin more memorable performances came in the form of a amateur high school drug dealer who obtained pharmacy prescriptions to sell for the well-being of his peers, and for his own profit.
The shrewd, like-able Charlie Bartlett struggles to find acceptance at a new high school where his fantastically wealthy mother enrolls him following a previous expulsion. Quickly Charlie makes the most of his situation and starts an underground business that the principal soon starts to sniff out.
Yelchin manages to add dimension to a character who could have been relatively flat with his characteristic authenticity and charm. Charlie manages to win over the entire school even as his business is increasingly scrutinized, and Yelchin, despite the film’s mixed reception, won over recognition among leagues of filmmakers as its loveable lead.
2. Star Trek by J.J. Abrams
In 2009 Yelchin landed one of his most high-profile roles as space navigator Pavel Chekov in J.J. Abram’s Star Trek reboot. His performance as Chekov guaranteed a decent amount of exposure as the film grossed more than 300 million dollars at the box office; of course his role stood out as one of the most endearing supporting performances in the film and Yelchin easily amassed a sizeable fan-base.
His energetic, warm-hearted Chekov payed due justice to the original part played by Walter Koenig while adding a shadow of his own personal charm.
Yelchin’s role as Chekov was reprised in the critically acclaimed 2013 sequel, Star Trek into Darkness where he played alongside notable actors such as Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, and Benedict Cumberbatch. He filmed the part for a third film, directed by Justin Lin, which is set to be released in late July this summer.
1. Green Room by Jeremy Sauliner
This gritty thriller is one of Yelchin’s final performances and was extremely well received at the 2015 Cannes Film Festival.
Yelchin plays the unfortunate Pat who painfully defends himself against a group of Neo-Nazi predators looking to cover up a murder Pat’s band witness in their green room. His character endures a truly gut-wrenching hour and a half of torment and torture as the plot unfolds.
The film hardly stops for breath once the carnage begins and Yelchin’s performance during the brutal narrative is particularly powerful. Playing along the legendary Patrick Stewart and young starlet Imogen Poots, Yelchin easily holds his own in a fight for life performance.