15 Breakthrough Performers of 2010

Many of the stars on last year’s list continued to dominate cinema in 2010; and just like last year a few of the stars on this year’s list have been working for quite some time, but in 2010 they’re finally getting their due.

Andrew Garfield made his debut in 2007 in the not-well received Lions For Lambs and the under-seen Boy A. Last year he was fabulous in Terry Gilliam’s The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus, sadly that too went a little under the radar. This year, however, Garfield had two stand-out performances: as Tommy in the much-debated adaptation of Never Let Me Go and as Eduardo Saverin in David Fincher Best Picture contender The Social Network. Garfield has received multiple nominations for his performance in the latter and is widely considered a front-runner for a Best Supporting Actor Oscar nomination next week. He’s also been named the new Spiderman, which has begun filming already and is due out in theaters in 2012.


Also introduced to the world via The Social Network, was Armie Hammer who portrayed twins Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss. It was recently announced that Hammer has been cast in Clint Eastwood’s upcoming J. Edgar Hoover bipoic, which will also star Leonardo DiCaprio.


Tom Hardy has been knocking around Hollywood and the England film industry since 2001, and although he’s had several acclaimed roles it wasn’t until last July that he became a household name. As Eames the forger, Hardy stole nearly every scene that featured him in Christopher Nolan’s blockbuster Inception. Hardy, arguably, even had the best line in the film. Yesterday it was announced that he will be playing the villain Bane in Nolan’s The Dark Knight Rises, due in theaters in 2012.


Garrett Hedlund made his screen debut in 2004’s Troy, but it was his role as Jeff Bridges’ son in last year’s TRON: Legacy that made Hedlund one of Hollywood’s new actors du jour. Hedlund recently finished filming the role of Dean Moriarty in the adaptation of Jack Kerouac’s On The Road. The film, which is due in theaters later this year, is directed by Walter Salles and also stars Sam Riley, Kristen Stewart, Kirsten Dunst, Amy Adams and Viggo Mortensen.


Jack Huston is the no stranger to the entertainment business, as he is the great-grandson of Walter Huston, the grandson of  John Huston and the nephew of Anjelica Huston and Danny Huston. Although he’s been working in the industry since 2004, he made a splash earlier this year as the philandering (and doomed) fiance of Rosalie Hale (Nikki Reed) in The Twilight Saga: Eclipse, followed up by a heart-rending turn as Richard Harrow in the last five episode of HBO’s Boardwalk Empire. Huston’s Harrow was so well received the character is being added as a series regular for its second season.


Aaron Johnson has been in several films in smaller roles since 2002, but in 2010 the United States got to see the Brit in two lead roles and one supporting role opposite the biggest up-and-coming actress: Carey Mulligan. Early in the year we saw Mulligan and Johnson co-staring in the indie romance/drama The Greatest, in March Johnson kicked it up a notch with a starring turn in Kick-Ass and in October his John Lennon biopic Nowhere Boy got a limited release. Johnson’s next project is the Irish period piece Albert Nobbs, co-staring with Glen Close and Mia Wasikowska.


Twenty year old Jennifer Lawrence made her film in 2006, but 2010 was most definitely her year. Lawrence starred in (and dominated) the indie drama Winter’s Bone, which is widely considered a shoe-in Best Picture nominee. Lawrence’s performance has garnered the young actress four critic award wins for Best Actress, as well as another 13 nominations – including at the Golden Globes, Critics’ Choice and the up-coming Screen Actors Guild. Lawrence’s next projects include Jodie Foster’s The Beaver and as Mystique (a role first brought to the big screen by Rebecca Romijn in 2000’s X-Men) in X-Men: First Class.


Another up-and-coming star who made her mark in Fincher’s The Social Network, Rooney Mara dominated her short screen time in the film and her presence was felt throughout as the one that got away and spurred fictionalized Mark Zuckerberg to found the Facebook empire. Mara made her screen debut in 2005 and in 2010 was also seen in the A Nightmare on Elm Street reboot. Next up for the 25-year-old is the role of Lisbeth Salander in the American version of The Girl In The Dragon Tattoo, which will also be directed by David Fincher and is due out later this year.


Although she made her screen debut in 2005, audiences got their first major look at Chloe Grace Moretz last year as Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s smart-mouthed little sister in (500) Days of Summer. However, in 2010 Moretz has established herself as one of the most versatile young actors working today with her star-making roles in Kick-Ass and Let Me In. Moretz has six films lined up for 2011, included the Scorsese-helmed Hugo Cabret.


Speaking of Lisbeth Salander, Noomi Rapace originated the role in Swedish director Niels Arden Oplev’s adaptation of Stieg Larsson’s first book of his Millennium Trilogy – The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, which hit theaters in America in March of last year. Rapace played the role in films based on the second and third books as well, though those films were directed by Daniel Alfredson. Rapace has received several critic nominations for her performance in the first film, as well as a BAFTA, and is considered by many a dark horse contender for a Best Actress next week from The Academy. Rapace has recently started filming on Guy Ritchie’s Sherlock Holmes 2.


Mark Ruffalo made his screen debut nearly 15 years ago and in 2000 looked very much an Oscar contender with his performance as Terry Prescott in Kenneth Lonergan’s You Can Count On Me. Although Ruffalo received several critics awards and nominations, the film only received two Oscar nominations: Best Actress for Laura Linney and Best Original Screenplay for Lonergan. Although Ruffalo has been working steadily for the last ten years, he’s mostly flown under the radar with the greater public. In 2010, however Ruffalo had two stand-out roles, one as Leonardo DiCaprio’s partner in Martin Scorsese’s Shutter Island and the other as the sperm-donor father of Julianne Moore and Annette Bening’s children in The Kids Are All Right. Another contender for Best Picture, Ruffalo has received nine nominations and one win (NY Film Critics Circle) for Best Supporting Actor, including the Critics’ Choice, Independent Spirit, BAFTA and Screen ACtors Guild. Next up for Ruffalo is The Avengers, where he will be playing Bruce Banner/The Hulk.


Aussie Xavier Samuel gave a gripping performance as new-born vampire Riley Biers in 2010’s The Twilight Saga: Eclipse; it’s almost a shame the character dies (spoiler alert!) at the end of film, because Samuel added some much-needed energy to the franchise. Up next is another supporting role in Roland Emmerich’s historical thriller Anonymous, which questions whether Shakespeare actually wrote his own plays.


The best find, in my opinion, in 2010 is Hailee Steinfeld who completely stole the Coen Bros. adaptation of True Grit. The 14-year-old has garnered twenty-four nominations for her performance as Mattie Ross, resulting in 14 wins (with 3 nominations still pending a winner). Included in these nominations are the BAFTAs, Screen Actors Guild and Critics’ Choice. Like I said in my earlier post on Stienfeld, it’s a shame she’s being campaigned as a supporting actress, because she is most definitely the lead of the film. Regardless, hopefully next week she can add Oscar nominee to her resume.


Twenty-Two year old Emma Stone made her film debut in the 2007 comedy Superbad and has had numerous supporting roles since, such as 2009’s Zombieland, but her first major starring role came in last year’s Easy A. Stone received a Golden Globe nomination for Best Actress in a Comedy for her performance as Olive Penderghast. Stone has four films coming out in 2011 and is currently filming opposite Andrew Garfield in the Spiderman reboot as Gwen Stacy.


Aussie Mia Wasikowska is probably one of the most prominent new faces in Hollywood to come out of 2010. Although she made her screen debut in 2006 and even was nominated in 2009 for a Best Supporting Female Independent Spirit Award for her role in That Evening Sun, it was her turn as Alice in Tim Burton’s Alice In Wonderland that launched the starlet into the world’s eye. Wasikowska also had a supporting role as one of the titular kids in The Kids Are All Right. She has three films coming out in 2011, playing Jane Eyre opposite Michael Fassbender’s Mr. Rochester in yet another adaptation of Jane Eyre (side note: I have seen 8 other film versions of this story and am super-excited about this new version, though I have my doubts about Fassbender as Rochester), Gus Van Sant’s Restless and the Irish period piece I mentioned earlier Albert Nobbs.

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About cinemafanatic

Cinephile to the max.

Posted on January 20, 2011, in Top List and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. Albert Nobbs is set in Ireland

  2. I love love love this, and all your takes on the actors. This is a great piece – truly brilliant.

  3. I’m suprised David “Doctor Who” Tennant didn’t feature on this list since 2010 was the point where Tennant transcended being Doctor Who to become one of the pre-eminant British actors of the nation, starting with St Trinians: The Legend of Fritton’s Gold.

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