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2012 saw a number of bonafide A-list movie stars emerge. Jennifer Lawrence, Channing Tatum, and Jeremy Renner all parlayed smaller success into box office hits. But what about those who started their big-screen journeys this year? Here is my list of the ten actors who entered onto my radar in the biggest ways this year. This list is of course subjective, since it depends in part on what movies I have and have not seen in previous years, as in most cases these performances are not actually acting debuts. These are just actors who I had not been familiar with prior to 2012.
1. Dane DeHaan, Chronicle/Lawless/Lincoln
DeHaan was far and away the big discovery of the year for me. I kept going to see movies without realizing he was in them, but he always impressed me. My first exposure to him was Chronicle, where he was convincing and darkly charismatic as a the young anti-hero who accidentally develops supernatural abilities. Then, he stole his scenes as the lovable Cricket in Lawless. His best work is actually yet to be released, though; he is one of the best parts of the impressive The Place Beyond the Pines, which I caught at TIFF. (The movie will get a theatrical release in March of this year.) DeHaan will also star alongside Daniel Radcliffe in the beat drama Kill Your Darlings, and it was recently announced that he’ll play Harry Osbourne in Marc Webb’s Spider-Man reboot sequel. There are definitely big things on the horizon for this guy.
2. Doona Bae, Cloud Atlas
Cloud Atlas was filled to the brim with Hollywood A-listers, but it was actually this young Korean star who stole the film for many people. Bae has had a prosperous acting career already, having starred in Korean cult favourites like The Host and Chan-wook Park’s Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance, but for those (like myself) who are less familiar with contemporary Korean cinema, she was a new face in Cloud Atlas. As a futuristic clone of sorts, Bae evoked the perfect combination of naivite, fear, and rebellion, making for one of the film’s most emotionally resonant storylines.
3. Quvenzhane Wallis, Beasts of the Southern Wild
There was a time when child acting largely consisted of charming lisps and mugging for the camera. But recent performers like Max Records (Where the Wild Things Are), Elle Fanning (Phoebe in Wonderland), and Bailee Madison (Brothers) seem to have upped the expectations. And now, Wallis (who was six when Beasts was filmed) offers a shockingly natural and emotional performance. Her maturity here is astounding. Just think of what she could be capable of in a few more years.
4. Samantha Barks, Les Miserables
Like Cloud Atlas, Les Mis had a star-studded cast offering a string of powerhouse performances. But along with Eddie Redmayne (who was a new face for some, but who I quite enjoyed in last year’s My Week With Marilyn) this young brit more than held her own in the role of Eponine. Barks played the role in the London production of Les Mis and was cast as a result of that, and her experience is certainly apparent. Along with havinga a great voice, Bark’s Eponine is an utterly compelling character, and she slays “On My Own”.
5. Skylar Astin, Pitch Perfect
We all love Anna Kendrick, so it’s no surprise that she was lots of fun in the silly but well-meaning Pitch Perfect. But Astin, who played the main love interest, was a very pleasant surprise. As part of the original Broadway cast of Spring Awakening (who wasn’t in that production?) it makes sense that he has the vocal chops for the musical numbers. But he also brought a quirky charisma that gave the film a little more bite than it might have had otherwise. Astin’s performance was charming thanks in part to his saucer-like puppydog eyes, but also largely because of some strong comedic timing and a down-to-earth charm that few performances in simple teen comedies can master.
6. John Magaro, Not Fade Away/Liberal Arts
Speaking of offbeat, we have this guy. He had no small feat as the lead in David Chase’s Not Fade Away, playing a rockstar-in-training, going toe-to-toe with James Gandolfini, and also having to embody the ’60s cool that the film celebrates. And for the most part, he did a really solid job. His Bob Dylan-esque vibe served him well, and he even made a convincing frontman in the band that he and his buddies start. I liked Magaro even more in a supporting role in Josh Radnor’s Liberal Arts, though, where he plays a depressed, David Foster Wallace-worshipping college student. He won’t be the easiest to cast, but the guy is memorable in the right role.
7. Alicia Vikander, Anna Karenina
Swedish-born Vikander played a naive but fiesty young woman in Joe Wright’s Anna Karenina, and she brought a slightly ethereal style that suited the film quite well. Her tenuous romance with the character played by Domhnall Gleeson (who is also good, but is disqualified from this list, since I’ve seen him in Never Let Me Go and the Harry Potter films) is charming, and more complex than one might originally think. Between this and A Royal Affair (which I have not seen), she seems to be finding her footing as a costume drama ingenue.
8. Bella Heathcote, Not Fade Away
This Australian beauty actually garnered more attention for her work in Dark Shadows (which I have avoided), but I thought she was quite charismatic in Not Fade Away. She perfectly captures the ’60s vibe, and while her character initially seems one-dimensional, Heathcote does some nice things with the nuance and facets that emerge as the film goes on.
9. James D’Arcy, Cloud Atlas/Hitchcock
It seems almost like cheating to call these “breakthrough” performances. Out of everyone on this list, D’Arcy certainly has the most extensive resume. I just am not at all familiar with him, since much of his work has been in Britain. But he made his mark in two small roles for me this year. He was so convincing in the 1970s Cloud Atlas storyline that I thought for a while that his character was actually being portrayed by an elderly man. He was also understated and lovely in the storyline where he played Ben Whishaw’s lover. And while he may have gone a touch too far over the top in Hitchcock, he brought some spot-on body language to his portrayal of Anthony Perkins.
10. Cody Horn, Magic Mike
This was actually a pretty divisive performance, but I thought Horn was quite effective as the love interest in Magic Mike. Her ultra low-key style was too affected or awkward for some, but I thought she was a great fit for Soderbergh’s stipped-down filmmaking approach. She brought an unexpected vibe to the film, but I thought it was an interesting portrayal.
Honorable Mentions: It was a good year for kid performances. Kara Hayward and Jared Gilman slipped into the Wes Anderson world perfectly in Moonrise Kingdom, while young Pierce Gagnon was disarmingly composed as Emily Blunt’s son in Looper. Sam Claflin edged towards Catching Fire superstardom in Snow White and the Huntsman, while Karan Soni was lovably dorky and understatedly hilarious in Safety Not Guaranteed. And in terms of complete acting rookies, Gina Carano kicked butt in Haywire, while Dwight Henry broke everyone’s heart in Beasts of the Southern Wild.
10. Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol
Tom Cruise, Paula Patton, Simon Pegg, and Jeremy Renner proved to be the dream team in this surprisingly entertaining franchise reboot. Also notable is director Brad Bird’s seamless leap from Pixar to live action. He created a taught, fast-paced thriller that exemplifies what going to the movies is all about.
Mixing human drama and gentle comedy, Beginners is a simple but effective story about family and love. The film is loosely based on director Mike Mills’ own experience with his father, and his closeness to the material only strengthens this heartfelt story.
8. Meek’s Cutoff
Director Kelly Reichardt deserves a lot of credit for turning a plotless 2-hour movie about a group of wandering pioneers into one of the year’s more compelling films. Reichardt’s stark visual style suits the subject matter perfectly, and subtle, ambiguous performances only strengthen the material.
7. Win Win
Paul Giamatti shines as a self-serving wrestling coach who takes a child prodigy under his wing in Win Win. It’s a quiet film, but with a stellar cast and a heartfelt story, it sticks with you more than you might think. In some ways it is a standard “indie” film, but without the pretentions that hinder some similar projects.
6. The Ides of March
Clooney directs a high-quality political thriller with a cast that most filmmakers could only dream of. Thankfully, with such a juicy story, he departs from his typically dry directorial style in favour a more popcorn-friendly flick full of drama, suspense, and plot twists.
5. Daydream Nation
Kat Dennings and Reece Thompson serve as very likeable leads in this quirky coming-of-age drama. The film is shot in an appropriately moody style, perfectly encapsulating the overboard misfit teen angst. Daydream Nation is simultaneously funny, moving, and just a little strange.
Bridesmaids says some nice thing about female friendships, but mostly, it’s just hilarious. Kristen Wiig proves that she deserves many more leading roles, and the supporting cast also gets to shine. With one laugh-out-loud scene after another, it’s the funniest film of the year.
3. The Descendants
The Descendants is a moving story about family and change, set against the gorgeous backdrop of the Hawaiian countryside. George Clooney and Shailene Woodley make for an appealing father/daughter duo, and director Alexander Payne deftly mixes heartfelt drama with small bouts of comedy.
2. Midnight in Paris
If you’ve ever wished to live in a different era, Woody Allen’s great Midnight in Paris will probably ring true for you. It’s a film that celebrates art, history, and the need for individuality, all told through Allen’s sharp, eloquent point of view. It’s also Owen Wilson’s best performance to date.
1. Super 8
Paying homage to the films of Spielberg (who is a producer here), J.J. Abrams crafted a hugely likeable sci-fi adventure with Super 8. Led by a cast of charming and distinct kids, this monster movie is exciting, fun, and everything that movies should be.
Warning: People who do not like Neon Bible will probably not like this list. But it happens to be my favourite Arcade Fire album so…
- Wake Up
- (Antichrist Television Blues)
- Neighbourhood #1 (Tunnels)
- We Used to Wait
- Keep the Car Running
- Deep Blue
- My Body is a Cage
- Ready to Start
- Seven Nation Army
- The Union Forever
- The Denial Twist
- Fell in Love With a Girl
- Ball and Biscuit
- We’re Going to Be Friends
- The Big Three Killed My Baby
- Hello Operator
- Hotel Yorba
- Effect & Cause
10. All Delighted People EP – Sufjan Stevens
The Age of Adz garnered the bulk of the attention for Stevens this year, but for me, it was this “EP” that provided far more interesting moments. All Delighted People is chocked full of the gorgeous, wispy melodies that Stevens is known for, and songs such as “Heirloom” and “Arnika” are just as stirring as anything on 2005′s Illinois. I would take this bare-bones acoustic guitar over computer blips any day.
9. The Monitor – Titus Andronicus
8. Halcyon Digest – Deerhunter
Deerhunter is a band that I’d never listened to much prior to the release of this album, but one listen through of Halcyon Digest was enough for me to know that this was a band/album that I could really get into. “Helicopter” is, of course, a highlight, but the each song is as enjoyable as they are varied.
7. I Speak Because I Can – Laura Marling
6. Brothers – The Black Keys
For some reason, 2010 was the year that The Black Keys broke out, despite the fact that they have been making albums for years now. Perhaps it was the strength of the songwriting on Brothers that did it, because this is garage-y blues rock at its best. Dan Auerbach’s voice always drips with passion, and the production here is tighter than ever.
5. Been Listening – Johnny Flynn
Johnny Flynn has no right to be this pretty AND talented. It’s just not fair. But with a voice beyond his years, Flynn beefs up the bare-bones guitar folk of his debut album and goes big(ger) on his sophomore disc, Been Listening. “Howl” explores blues to great effect, while “The Water”, a lovely duet with Laura Marling, sticks closer to his roots. Flynn’s greatest vocal asset is the wail that he can unleash, but he wisely uses that sparingly, making those heated moments all the more striking. He’s a songwriter with a knack for understated melody, and Flynn shows growth, and heaps of potential, here.
4. King of the Beach – Wavves
On King of the Beach, the newst album from Wavves’ Nathan Williams, he ups the production values, but doesn’t compromise his cheerfully defiant slackerdom. The album’s title track, “Post-Acid”, and “Green Eyes” embrace catchy surf-pop melodies, while other tracks such as “Baseball Cards” embark on a more drawn-out, experimental route. Either way, Williams’ creativity and exuberence is infectious, and King of the Beach is a front-to-back snarkily fun time.
3. The Wild Hunt – The Tallest Man on Earth
Kristian Matsson’s voice takes some getting used to. But even though the tone of his voice can initially seem harsh, this Swedish singer-songwriter sings with a tenderness that highlights its lovely, ragged peaks. And the contrast Matsson’s empassioned singing style and his delicate melodies intertwines perfectly. And boy, does Matsson know how to write a melody. The songwriting here is impeccible, with “Burden of Tomorrow” and “King of Spain” serving as rousing highlights.
2. Gorilla Manor - Local Natives
In a similar vein to Fleet Foxes, this is an album full of layered vocals and organically percusive rhythms. And this L.A. quintet plays that card very well. The songs are uniformly fantastic, with highlights including “World News”, and the Band of Horses-esque “Wide Eyes”. Considering that this vivacious collection of songs is only their first album, Local Natives is a band that I will definitely be following closely in the future.
1. Sigh No More – Mumford and Sons
Mumford and Sons was one of the year’s biggest success stories, and with their debut album, they proved that the attention was well-deserved. With propulsive banjos and beautiful melodies, this rousing group of folk-rock stompers begs for repeat listenings. Something about the timbre of Marcus Mumford’s voice is infinitely pleasing.
Paste may not be a physical magazine anymore, but that doesn’t stop them from consistently cranking out quality material on their website. And much like last year, when they had a different “Best of the Decade” list for every day of December, they are going list-crazy for 2010, too. And they aren’t wasting any time, because today they posted their choices for the top 50 albums of the year. Figured I’d share some thoughts. (You can click here to read the full list.)
- They get some of the most buzzed-about albums of the year out of the way quickly. Flying Lotus, Local Natives, Yeasayer, The Black Keys, and Deerhunter reside in spots #49-45, respectively. But Paste has always favoured their own “discoveries” to blog favourites, so I suppose that’s not too surprising.
- Fulfillment of requisite Josh Ritter slot? Check. (#38)
- I enjoy how after naming She and Him’s Volume One the best album of 2008, they are obligated to place Volume Two somewhat high on the list (#30)
- Laura Marling, Vampire Weekend, The Tallest Man on Earth don’t even crack the top 20? What’s even left? This either means that it was such an amazing year for music that those great albums have to settle for lower spots, or that Paste will have a top 10 that I don’t like/have never heard of.
- Apparently I’m not the only one who likes to make breathless pronouncements about things, because Paste writes the following in their review of Justin Townes Earle’s Harlem River Blues: “If [Earle] can keep his demons at bay, we’ll one day see his three names cozied up against those of Johnny Cash, Hank Williams, George Jones and the other denizens of country music’s pantheon.” Perhaps I should check out this album (I like the couple of tracks that I’ve heard).
So before reading the top 10, I tried to think of what they hadn’t covered, and there were a lot of big releases that I thought might find a spot:
- Sufjan Stevens (who I predicted for #1)
- Arcade Fire
- Janelle Monae
- LCD Soundsystem
- Joanna Newsom
- Kanye West
- Mumford and Sons
- Antony and the Johnsons
- Johnny Flynn (he and Monae were both on their list of acts to watch in 2008, so I think they’ll want to include at least one of them – more likely Monae – here)
- Best Coast
This is way too “mainstream” of a top 10, so some will inevitably left off the list completely, but I had thought that a lot of these would at least fall in the 40′s or 30′s somewhere.
* * *
So in actuality, the Paste top 10 went like this:
10. Frightened Rabbit – The Winter of Mixed Drinks (I haven’t heard it, but I’ve heard great things about it)
9. Sufjan Stevens – The Age of Adz (Lower than I was expecting. And even though one listen is hardly enough to go on, this album doesn’t do much for me.)
8. Phosphorescent – Here’s to Taking it Easy (Haven’t heart it, but I do love his 2007 song, “Wolves”)
7. Arcade Fire – The Suburbs (We’ll definitely be seeing this one a lot on top 10 lists. I do like the album a lot, but it still hasn’t totally won me over. I much prefer Neon Bible, at this point)
6. Sleigh Bells – Treats (I don’t get the love for this album at all.)
5. Titus Andronicus – The Monitor (I DO get the love for this album.)
4. Kanye West – My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy (It was inevitable. I haven’t listened to it yet, but apparently this album is “perhaps this century’s definitive portrait of torment, vanity, self-delusion, and pathos”. Wow.)
3. Mumford & Sons – Sigh No More (It’s becoming a bit of a mainstream crossover, and deservedly so. Fantastic album.)
2. Janelle Monae – The Archandroid (Time for some horn-tooting.)
1. LCD Soundsystem – This is Happening (Well, I haven’t heard this one, either. But from previous work, I don’t think I’m the biggest LCDS fan.)
Either I’m better versed in new music this year, or Paste is going for bigger names. Because I’m familiar with all of these albums and have heard half of them already. And it usually takes me forever to catch up on all of the big albums from the year. Overall, it’s a predictable top 10, but not a bad one, I suppose.
I’ve lived a relatively sheltered life. My parents were very careful about what I watched as a child and generally adhered to MPAA movie ratings. This is ultimately probably a good thing. But it also means that instead of slowly becoming desensitized to onscreen sex and gore over many years, I kind of just threw myself into it once I had more say in what I watched. And a bit more preparation probably would’ve been helpful before watching Requiem for a Dream in order to celebrate my movie-watching liberation.
That said, I’m up for most movies. I don’t think I’m especially squeamish, and I like it when filmmakers challenge the audience. But there are still a few movies out there that I’m hesitant to watch, even though they feature some of my favourite actors. And 127 Hours (opening today in limited release), which has caused a slew of fainting at screenings, is one of these films. I’m excited for it, and I’m definitely planning to watch it (but perhaps on the small screen, where I can pass out in the privacy of my own home, if need be). But I’m sure it won’t always be an easy experience. So in honour of this, I’m listing 10 films that I’m still too afraid to watch. I’m curious about all of them, and with the talent involved, maybe this will inspire me to finally bite the bullet and give them a try.
(Names in brackets are the actors that draw me to the project)
Hunger (Michael Fassbender)
From first-time director Steve McQueen, 2008′s Hunger tells the story of Irish hunger striker Bobby Sands (played by Michael Fassbender, who earned raves for his gritty performance). The film itself (which recently got a Criterion re-release) is said to be meditative, grim, and unflinchingly realistic. Not a fun time at the movies, but probably very worthwhile.
Mysterious Skin (Joseph Gordon-Levitt)
After hearing so much about Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s searing performance, I watched the first few minutes on YouTube. The film starts with flashbacks to the young boys being lured by a supposedly trusted little league coach. I hope to revisit the film soon (and I suspect that first part may be the most disturbing portion of the movie), but onscreen child abuse is always gruelling.
Hard Candy (Ellen Page, Patrick Wilson)
I’m always very nervous towards films about pedophilia, because that subject is often used simply for shock value. However, I’ve heard great things about this film, and I like both of the lead actors quite a bit. And the idea of the victim turning the tables on her captor is interesting.
Antichrist (Charlotte Gainsbourg)
Gainsbourg has impressed me in I’m Not Here and The Science of Sleep, but to be honest, I’m in no hurry to see this film.
The Killer Inside Me (Casey Affleck)
I love me some Casey Affleck, and it looks like he’s chillingly great here. The big controversy is the violence against women displayed on screen. It only got a 14A rating in Canada, though (as opposed to our “R” equivalent of 18A), so it must not be that bad…right?
Leap Year (Amy Adams, Matthew Goode, Adam Scott)
I’m just scared that it will make me hate Matthew Goode.
Funny Games (Michael Pitt, Naomi Watts)
American Psycho (Christian Bale)
Both films are slick satire, and I’m all for some sharp social commentary. I’m a bit weary of the brutality, but I’m not one of those people who’s ignorant enough to think that films like these and Fight Club (which I loved) are advocating senseless violence.
Savage Grace (Julianne Moore, Eddie Redmayne)
I’ve read some details about the plot, and honestly, it just sounds fucked up. Incest isn’t my jam. But Eddie Redmayne is. What to do?
Se7en (Brad Pitt)
Director David Fincher doesn’t pull his punches (see the lakeside killing in Zodiac). And a film revolving around a killer who is inspired by the seven deadly sins has all sorts of potential to disturb.
I posted my top 10 up-and-coming actors list recently, and I wanted to compliment it with a list of underrated actors. These guys are all hugely talented and offer a more unique alternative to some of today’s Hollywood leading men, but don’t get the work that they deserve.
1. Adam Scott
To be fair, those who are looking in the right places probably see plenty of this guy. He was the star of the now-cancelled cable show Party Down, and he’s since parlayed that into network success, landing a recurring spot on NBC’s delightful Parks & Recreation. As for the big screen, he stole the show as the douchebag brother in Step Brothers but also showed a more dramatic side in The Vicious Kind and Lovely, Still, two smaller recent films. The guy is a huge talent, and I’d love to see some higher-profile work (well, there was Piranha 3D…) come along with it.
2. Sam Riley
Riley earned widespread acclaim for his performance as Ian Curtis in Control, so where are the prestigious roles that are supposed to follow? His follow-up Franklyn, barely made a blip on moivegoers’ radar, and he currently has two completed projects (13 and Brighton Rock) floating around in distribution hell. But the good news is that he’ll star in the anticipated On the Road, which is currently filming. It co-stars Kristen Stewart, Garrett Hedlund (who is about to blow up with Tron: Legacy and Country Strong on the horizon), Kirsten Dunst, and Amy Adams, and will undoubtedly boost Riley’s notoriety.
3. Michael Pitt
This is a guy who isn’t afraid to make risky choices. He took the Kurt Cobain comparisons full-circle in Gus Van Sant’s Last Days, partook in onscreen incest in The Dreamers, and played a psychotic killer in Funny Games. I also thought that he was very charming alongside Steve Buscemi in the underrated Delirious. And while a starring role in the highly acclaimed HBO series Boardwalk Empire is nothing to scoff at, Pitt’s the kind of unconventional leading man who should be getting all sorts of major movie roles.
4. Patrick Wilson
Like Michael Pitt, Patrick Wilson makes for an interesting twist on the conventional leading man. He’s got the movie star looks, but a lot of his movie choices have been decidedly unglamorous. His breakthrough work in Angels in America earned him an Emmy and Golden Globe nomination, and he’s since played a child predator in Hard Candy and an adulterer in Little Children. But lately, he’s mostly done smaller, lighter roles in films like The A-Team and The Switch. If that’s what he prefers then all the power to him, but he could definitely handle riskier work. There is a glimmer of hope, though, since Wilson is slated to star in the next Jason Reitman/Diablo Cody (Juno) project, Young Adult.
5. Clifton Collins Jr.
Never mind lead roles. This guy can barely get a part bigger than a cameo, lately. He’s recently had blink-and-you’ll-miss-it performances in Star Trek, Brothers, and Scott Pilgrim vs. the World. But when Collins is given more than two lines of dialogue, he’s fantastic. He charmed in Sunshine Cleaning, and his performance as killer/muse Perry Smith in Capote was tragic, frightening, and beautiful.
6. Martin Starr
The tragically short-lived TV series Freaks and Geeks spawned a lot of big names. And while it’s lots of fun to see a young James Franco, Seth Rogan, Jason Segal, Linda Cardellini, and Busy Phillips on the show, the real heart of the show is Martin Starr’s nebbish Bill Haverchuck. Obviously, he’s not a typical leading man type, but I thoroughly enjoyed Starr’s supporting performance in last year’s Adventureland. Aside from that and Party Down, he’s mainly been relegated to cameos in Judd Apatow movies, but this guy is too funny to not get bigger roles.
7. Paul Schneider
Paul Schneider has been around for a while, but it seems like he never got the break that he deserved. He first impressed me as the charming, exasperated brother in Lars and the Real Girl, but I’ve since enjoyed his work in All the Real Girls (one of his few leading roles) and The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford quite a bit, too. I didn’t think that he was as good of a fit in Bright Star (even though a lot of people loved him in it) or on Parks and Recreation, but in the right role, he can be great.
8. Billy Crudup
What happened to Billy Crudup’s career? It seemed as though he was poised for big things (and the studios seemed to agree, judging by his top billing in Almost Famous), yet things never really panned out. He’s mostly been relegated to supporting roles in big films (Public Enemies, Big Fish) and indie films that no one sees. At least his…revealing…performance in Watchmen got people talking about him again.
9. Joe Anderson
Remember the guy in Across the Universe who reminded everyone of Kurt Cobain? Well, that was Joe Anderson. The dude’s got the looks, voice, and acting skill. So why is his co-star Jim Sturgess, who has the personality of a door knob, getting all the work?
10. Nathan Fillion
Nerds like him because he was in Firefly and Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog. People with eyes like him because he’s attractive. Shouldn’t this equal more work? I suppose it’s to his credit that he hasn’t played the love interest in a Katherine Heigl movie yet, but surely he could step into the mainstream a little bit more? He was lovely and charming in Waitress and Trucker, and his TV show, Castle, seems to be doing well, which is more than enough proof that he could handle some bigger movie roles.
You’ve seen them in your favourite recent movies – you just might not know it. They’ve shared the screen with actors such as Meryl Streep, Bruce Willis, and Pierce Brosnan. They’ve played such memorable roles as “Teenager #1″ and “Boy on Bike”. They are the next wave of up-and-coming actors.
Everyone likes to predict which young performers will hit it big, and these ten actors, while hardly household names, have proven that they have charisma and talent, even in the smallest of roles. If you hurry, you can still claim that you liked them before they hit it big.
And if you’d like to see more lists of up-and-coming actors, check out the archive!
1. Reece Thompson
Why he’s on the list: Because he’s already proven that he’s a leading man. After a slew of bit parts in TV shows and straight-to-DVD movies, Thompson got his first big starring role with 2007′s fabulous but underseen Rocket Science. Playing a stuttering debate team hopeful, Thompson grasped the off-beat humour of the film perfectly and also added some genuine emotional heft. The same year, he took the lead in The Assassination of a High School President, and Thompson’s modern riff on the hard-boiled detective genre was a blast.
Where you’ll see him: In two different indies screening at TIFF. Daydream Nation is a “provocative yet humorous romance” starring Kat Dennings, and Thompson will play the younger of her two love interests. As well, he’ll play a friend to Michael Angarano in Max Winkler’s comedy
Ceremony, which also stars Uma Thurman.
2. Zoe Kazan
Why she’s on the list: Because she knows how to pick a role. Even her earliest credits include films like Fracture and Revolutionary Road. Kazan (who, yes, is the granddaughter of Elia Kazan) has since gotten larger roles, and audiences are most likely to recognize her as Meryl Streep’s younger daughter in It’s Complicated, or alongside Zac Efron in Me and Orson Welles. But the critical acclaim came with a little-seen film from last year called The Exploding Girl, which stars Kazan as a college student suffering from epilepsy.
Where you’ll see her: Her biggest upcoming film, Meek’s Cut-Off, is a period-piece western premiering at TIFF. The film is directed by Kelly Reichardt (Wendy and Lucy), and it stars Paul Dano, Bruce Greenwood, and Michelle Williams. She’ll also take a supporting role in Happythankyoumoreplease, the directorial debut of actor Josh Radnor (How I Met Your Mother)
3. Mark Rendall
Why he’s on the list: Because he’s a magnetic, quirky presence. Before he got cast in larger parts, he (like most Canadian actors, it seems) paid his dues on various homegrown children’s shows and made-for-TV movies. After voicing everyone’s favourite aardvark, Arthur, and a starring role in the Canadian film Childstar, he began to land supporting roles in some larger Hollywood films. In 2007′s Charlie Bartlett, he stole the show as Kip, a sensitive, depressed teen. He’s also appeared in Silk, 30 Days of Night, My One and Only, and earned praise for his work in The Exploding Girl
Where you’ll see him: He actually doesn’t have any upcoming projects currently listed on IMDB, aside from a short film called Up & Down.
4. Olivia Thirlby
Why she’s on the list: Because she’s just plain awesome. She’s best known as Juno‘s shrewd best friend, but her first role was in Paul Greengrass’ acclaimed drama, United 93. Since then she’s appeared in a slew of smart indies, including Snow Angels (a Times Like Those favourite), The Wackness, Uncertainty, Breaking Upwards, and Solitary Man.
Where you’ll see her: In Kenneth Lonnergan’s follow-up to You Can Count on Me, Margaret, whose cast includes Anna Paquin, Matt Damon, Mark Ruffalo, Kieran Culkin, and Matthew Broderick. Thirlby will also take supporting roles in the Ivan Reitman-directed No Strings, The Darkest Hour (an alien thing with Emile Hirsch), and Dredd (another sci-fi thing, written by Alex Garland [28 Days Later, Never Let Me Go]). As well, she’ll finally get to try her hand in leading roles in M and The No Game.
5. Johnny Simmons
Why he’s on the list: Because he’s on the rise. With only a handful of feature credits to his name, Simmons has quickly transitioned from films like Evan Almighty and Hotel for Dogs to a trio of showier roles. He was terrorized by Megan Fox in Jennifer’s Body and charmed as Michael Cera’s bandmate “Young Neil” in Scott Pilgrim vs. the World. But for me, the performance that showed the most promise was a supporting role in The Greatest. He played a likeable but very flawed teenager struggling to come to terms with the death of his older brother, and Simmons deftly handled a complicated range of emotions.
Where you’ll see him: He’ll play the son of Robin Wright’s rabble-rouser in The Conspirator. The Robert Redford-helmed film is already earning fairly strong reviews at TIFF, and it could be a chance for Simmons to reach a wider audience.
6. Zoe Kravitz
Why she’s on the list: Because she’s an intriguing on-screen presence. As the daughter of Lenny Kravitz and Lisa Bonnet, she’s already got star power behind her name, and Kravitz is starting to prove that she’s got the talent to back it up. She hasn’t wasted any time courting high-profile projects, getting her start with a small role in 2007′s No Reservations. She’s also appeared in The Brave One, and stole her scenes (despite her shakily written character) in The Greatest.
Where you’ll see her: The sultry actress will appear in one of this fall’s more buzzed-about indies, It’s Kind of a Funny Story (directed by Ryan Fleck and Anna Boden). She’s also got a couple of potential blockbusters on the horizon with supporting roles in X-Men: First Class and Mad Max: Fury Road.
7. Hunter Parrish
Why he’s on the list: Because he’s got the makings of a full-blown teen heartthrob (he’s already built a bit of a following thanks to his work on “Weeds”) early roles were fairly minor, but 2009 offered a couple of larger big-screen projects. First, he was almost unrecognizable as Zac Efron’s scuzzy nemesis in the surprisingly enjoyable 17 Again. And though he was given very little to do as Meryl Streep’s son in It’s Complicated, his sheer charisma (and blindingly white teeth) made him memorable.
Where you’ll see him: I believe that he’s still on “Weeds”, but aside from that, he doesn’t have any other projects listed on IMDB right now, oddly enough.
8. T.J. Miller
Why he’s on the list: Because he has the everyman humour of Jason Segel or Seth Rogan. Despite being one of the older names on the list (and working as a stand-up comedian for years), Miller made his film debut only two years ago in the much-discussed Cloverfield (if he doesn’t look familiar, it’s because he played Hud, the man holding the camera, and served as more of a narrator than a visual presence). He’s had small roles in Extract (as Jason Bateman’s metalhead co-worker) and How to Train Your Dragon. But his most prominent role to date was in this year’s woefully underrated She’s Out of My League, where he stole the show as “Stainer”.
Where you’ll see him: Miller seems to be everywhere this year, and he’s still got two more appearances to go by the end of 2010. He’ll appear in, um, Yogi Bear (alongside Dan Ackroyd, Justin Timberlake, and Anna Faris) and Gulliver’s Travels (which co-stars Jack Black and Jason Segel).
9. Lily Collins
Why she’s on the list: Because she could be the next big starlet. Aside from an appearance on 90210, Collins’ only film acting gig to date is as Sandra Bullock’s daughter in The Blindside, where she turned in a very respectable performance. She’s also done stage acting, modeling and writing, and happens to be the daughter of Phil Collins. Apparently others are taking note…
Where you’ll see her: She has a role in next year’s sci-fi thriller, Priest, alongside Paul Bettany and Christopher Plummer. She’ll also co-star in Abduction with Taylor Lautner (before you write it off completely, the supporting cast includes Alfred Molina, Jason Isaacs, Maria Bello, and Sigourney Weaver). And finally, she’s slated to take the lead in yet another film adaptation of Romeo and Juliet.
10. Caleb Landry Jones
Why he’s on the list: Because he has star potential. His first role was as “Boy On Bike” in No Country for Old Men. Despite only appearing on screen for a mere couple of minutes near the end of the film, he somewhat stole the scene from Javier Bardem (and if you’ve seen the movie, you know that it was a fairly memorable scene on its own). He’s since appeared in the “Friday Night Lights” TV show and Fred Durst’s The Longshots. This year, he found himself in a supporting role in the box office quasi-hit, The Last Exorcism.
Where You’ll See Him: He has a role in The Social Network, but considering he’s billed as “Fraternity Guy”, one would expect it to be a fairly minor one. More notably, he was recently cast as Banshee in X-Men: First Class. Previous instalments in the franchise have served as a launching pad for Ellen Page, Ben Foster, and James Marsden.