Tuesday, January 01, 2013

FILM: The Breakout Actors of 2012

Here's a list of the actors who made a name for themselves this year:
Dane DeHaan (Chronicle & Lawless)
I'll give you a minute to get over the fact that he looks like Leonardo DiCaprio circa What's Eating Gilbert Grape…now focus. This baby-faced 25-year-old made his debut on HBO—first in "In Treatment," then in "True Blood." It was a little hard to notice him though, because I was too busy trying to figure out what the fuck a werepanther was. But there was no ignoring him after Chronicle, the sci-fi drama where he played a troubled young boy who acquires telekinetic powers and goes on a rampage. In a time when administrations have to devise school shooting procedures and even elementary school kids aren't spared, DeHaan had to make audiences sympathize with a teenage murderer long enough so they could understand his perspective. He then went on to costar in Lawless, where he played a slightly disabled bootlegger during Prohibition. Amongst burly, defiant gunslingers, he was a vulnerable innocent. He was the catalyst that brought the fighting to a head. He had very little screen time to make the audience get attached to him, to make them plead for his survival, but he succeeded to the point where the viewer was ready to pick up a sawed off shotgun of their own.
What Else You Can Rent: Jack and Diane
His Future Projects: The Place Beyond the Pines, Kill Your Darlings, Devil's Knot, and The Amazing Spider-Man 2, where he'll play Harry Osborn, Spider-Man's best friend and the 2nd Green Goblin.

Ben Whishaw (Cloud Atlas & Skyfall)
The first time I saw this British actor was six years ago in the little-scene fantasy horror Perfume: The Story of a Murderer. It was about a man who created perfumes using the dead bodies of beautiful women…that he murdered. Not that dying from natural causes would've made that less creepy. The point is it was horrifying, but I couldn't stop watching because Whishaw seemed so entranced by the beauty of the process and the results that I too became entranced by the serial killer's skill. Morbidly entranced. He then appeared in the unorthodox Bob Dylan biopic I'm Not There., the dramatic romance Brideshead Revisited, the crime mystery The International, the love story Bright Star, and the Shakespeare adaptation The Tempest before anyone fully realized just how impressive he was. This year, he played five different characters in the Wachowski's Cloud Atlas and Bond's iconic tech guy Q in Skyfall. The only way I can describe his method of acting is to compare it to a sniper. Very reserved, quiet, undetectable, and then when you least expect it, he surprises you. Boom.
What Else You Can Rent: The BBC series "The Hours"
His Future Projects: The Terry Gilliam drama The Zero Theorem with Matt Damon, Tilda Swinton, and Christoph Waltz, and possibly Steven Spielberg's Robopocalypse with Anne Hathaway and Chris Hemsworth.

Scoot McNairy (Argo and Killing Them Softly)
You know those actors who appear in a million movies but no one ever knows their name? I'd name a few but…you wouldn't know who I was talking about. Do know though that Scoot McNairy is a face you'll being trying to place for years to come. He's a blessed addition to the character actors club that Hollywood is steadily stocking. While he played a fairly basic office drone in the suspense drama Argo, I preferred his performance in Killing Them Softly. He plays a misguided delinquent who thinks robbing backroom poker games qualifies as "making a living." When he finally comes face-to-face with his Grim Reaper, a bouffant-sporting, toothpick-nibbling, aviator-wearing Brad Pitt, he looks like a shivering rat, fearing the inevitable. And you were right there with him. He helped sell Pitt's tough-guy routine—who certainly needed help.
What Else You Can Rent: Promised Land
His Future Projects: The drama Touchy Feely with Ellen Page and Rosemarie DeWitt, the historical drama Twelve Years a Slave with Brad Pitt, Michael Fassbender, and Benedict Cumberbatch, and the futuristic drama The Rover with Guy Pearce and Robert Pattinson.

Mamie Gummer ("Emily Owens, M.D.")
I'm not even going to pretend like her CW series didn't suck ass. But I refuse to allow the world to think for one second that Mamie Gummer isn't an awesome actress. Not because she's Meryl Streep's kid and I'm applying nepotism math to calculate her talent, but because she manages to shine no matter how lame the content, which she proved last year in ABC's short-lived "Off the Map." And because when she's given stellar content, she gives you chills. Watch all four episodes she's appeared in on "The Good Wife" and you'll see. All that blonde and fair skin is a ruse. That girl's a firecracker! And she can destroy you with one word—and get away with it.
What Else You Can Rent: Evening, The Loss of a Teardrop Diamond, Coach, and He's Way More Famous Than You
His Future Projects: The drama The Lifeguard with Kristen Bell and Martin Starr, and the dramatic thriller Side Effects with Rooney Mara, Jude Law, Catherine Zeta-Jones, and Channing Tatum.

Craig Roberts (The First Time)
The baby-faced 22-year-old Brit stole every scene he was in in the little-scene teen indie The First Time. I've yet to see his 2010 debut Submarine, but if his screen presence is as intense as it is during the sporadic comedic moments he had in this film, I'm looking forward to it. Part of his allure is his extremely thick accent. He's like a cross between Daniel Radcliffe and Rupert Grint, except he seems wise beyond his years—always so focused, like he's sussing you out.
What Else You Can Rent: Submarine, Comes a Bright Day, Jane Eyre, and Red Lights
His Future Projects: The indie comedies Jolene: The Indie Folk Star and Premature, and an untitled comedy with Emma Roberts.

John Magaro (Liberal Arts)
His voice, I shit you not, sounds just like Dave Franco's—like a surfer dude who's smoked one too many blunts. That's what drew me to him at first when seeing Josh Radnor's Liberal Arts this year. The pipes didn't match the appearance, which is like a gene-splicing of Milo Ventimiglia and Edward Burns' spunk. The role called for a lost suicidal soul, and he played it with such nervous helplessness that it was difficult to not wonder what happens to his character next.
What Else You Can Rent: My Soul to Take, Down the Shore, and Not Fade Away
His Future Projects: The indie Deep Powder, and the Paul Greengrass drama Captain Phillips with Tom Hanks and Catherine Keener.
Alicia Vikander (Anna Karenina)
It's rather difficult to shine in a period piece that you're not the lead character in—especially when the lead actor is Keira Knightley, whose bread-and-butter are period pieces. But the 25-year-old Swede Vikander transforms from a naive and superficial young girl to a selfless and giving young woman throughout the course of Anna Karenina merely with subtle changes in her expressions and tone of voice. The viewer goes from considering her a desperate nuisance and inconsiderate heartbreaker to being impressed with her maturity and open-mindedness.
What Else You Can Rent: A Royal Affair
His Future Projects: The fantasy adventure The Seventh Son with Julianne Moore and Ben Barnes, and the Bill Condon Wikileaks drama The Man Who Sold the World with Benedict Cumberbatch.

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