It's been a busy year for the one-time 3rd Rock From the Sun star. Just prior to Looper he led adrenalin-pumping bike chase movie Premium Rush, and his role as John Blake in The Dark Knight Rises became one of the most hotly-discussed aspects of Christopher Nolan's Bat swansong.
Digital Spy takes a look back at Gordon-Levitt's five greatest big screen turns.
Mysterious Skin (2004)
Every now and then, you come across a film so troubling that you're pretty sure you'll never watch it again, regardless of how breathtaking it may be. Gregg Araki's stifling drama, which centres on two teenage boys united by a traumatic event in their past, is a textbook example. Gordon Levitt's promiscuous Neil remembers the sexual abuse he suffered at the hands of his baseball coach all too well, while Brady Corbett's Brian represses the memory entirely and become obsessed with alien abduction. Mysterious Skin is saved from total bleakness both by Araki's ethereal visuals and by the leads' gut-wrenchingly raw performances.
A neo-noir murder mystery set within a high school sounds like a recipe for genre-mismatch disaster, but that's just one of the many expectations Rian Johnson's debut feature confounds. Gordon-Levitt is lonely student Brendan, who becomes wrapped up in an increasingly warped and labyrinthine criminal underworld after his girlfriend (Emilie de Ravin) is found dead. Johnson's off-kilter use of language and breakneck pace demand commitment from the viewer, but the rewards are worth it, and Gordon-Levitt is a steadfast human anchor at the centre of the intricately organised chaos.
500 Days of Summer (2009)
Marc 'The Amazing Spider-Man' Webb's directorial debut used a nonlinear structure to turn a potentially conventional love-gone-bad story into a bittersweet, unusually truthful triumph. The professionally adorkable Zooey Deschanel plays manic pixie not-quite-dream girl Summer, whose cynical attitude to relationships doesn't derail the affections of Gordon-Levitt's Tom. His awkward, quietly idealistic charm is a pitch-perfect counterweight to Deschanel's breezy space cadet, and if Webb's script gives itself over to cliché at times, his performers never follow suit.
Based as it is on scribe Will Reiser's real experience, this comically-tinged drama about a young man diagnosed with life-threatening cancer was always likely to have the ring of authenticity to it, but Gordon-Levitt's brittle, painfully vulnerable turn as the stricken Adam cements its success. His chemistry with flippant-yet-devoted best friend Kyle (Seth Rogen) gives the film a core that's at once very moving, very funny and resolutely unsentimental, and it's thanks to the faultless restraint of his performance that Adam evokes tremendous sympathy without ever crossing the line into passive victimhood.
The Dark Knight Rises (2012)
Going into Christopher Nolan's final Batman chapter, Gordon-Levitt was handed both a blessing and a curse. Unlike co-stars Tom Hardy and Anne Hathaway, he wasn't burdened with the weight of fan expectations, but he also had to make the entirely new character of young Gotham cop John Blake resonate amidst a cast of familiar faces. At once idealistic and emotionally shut down, haunted by a childhood that to a large extent mirrors Bruce Wayne's own, Blake's an intriguing figure even before That Final Montage. It's a sterner, less soulful turn that we might expect from Gordon-Levitt at his best, but the steely charisma he emanates provided exactly the theoretical future this canny franchise needed.
Watch Joseph Gordon-Levitt speaking to Digital Spy about Looper below: