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Welcome to our new and ground-breaking feature at Player Affinity, Movie DiaBlog. We (Steven and Simon) sat down and drew up a list of our top five breakout stars of the summer of 2010 and then traded, writing in our own comments below the others’ choices. There’s not a lot of heated debate here, but the choices only overlap once and our conversation will at least get your mind going when it comes to defining a “breakout” performance or if an actor/actress has “broken though” into the mainstream and into the public consciousness.
5. Mary Elizabeth Winstead (Scott Pilgrim vs. the World)
5. Chloe Moretz (Kick-Ass)
Steven: Mary Elizabeth Winstead reminds me of Kate Winslet, but that’s probably because they’ve both played characters who dyed their hair numerous times in the same film. Anyway, when you star as the love interest in the summer’s most anticipated fanboy/comic geek film, you’re going to hit the radar. Winstead was catching and memorable as Ramona Flowers, the chill girl with a buried emotional past considering her exes have formed legion bent on destroying Scott Pilgrim. She’s not a scene-stealer, but she’s the only one who gets to work in a truly dramatic range. She might be slow to rise as far as being universally recognized, but she’s secured the support of the movie geek community, which will be key for her future. Next seen in: The Thing prequel (Apr. 29)
Simon: Winstead has the kind of luminous screen presence that will serve her well in the future. She owned her scenes as John McClane’s estranged daughter in Live Free or Die Hard and has now found her slice of fanboy heaven as Ramona Flowers in Scott Pilgrim vs. The World. We will see if she can find mainstream success as well in years to come.
Simon: At only the tender age of 13, Chloe Moretz has only been acting since 2005 with her big break in the horror remake The Amityville Horror. After steady but low-key acting gigs, 2009 proved to be the start of something for Moretz. She played the younger sister of Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s Tom Hansen in the indie darling (500) Days of Summer and would then go on to great things this year. A triple-shot of fame met young Moretz the most notable of which was her scene-stealing work as the switch-blade wielding Hit-Girl in the ultra-violent Kick-Ass. She also found exposure in a younger demographic with the adaptation Diary of a Wimpy Kid and finally will star in Let Me In, the remake of Swedish vampire flick Let the Right One In. Already rumored for the sequel Kick-Ass: Balls to the Wall amongst a slew of high-profile dramas, she has a long career ahead of her. Next seen in: Let Me In (Oct. 1)
Steven: There’s no question that Moretz is the “it” child star of now and if the maturity she has continues post-puberty, she’ll enjoy a long career even after the kid charm wears off. Kick-Ass wasn’t quite a summer film (the only reason she didn’t make my list), but there’s no doubt that this was her breakout year.
4. Mia Wasikowska (The Kids Are All Right)
4. Tom Hardy (Inception)
Simon: You can’t ask for much more in terms of success in one movie year: one billion dollar blockbuster and one critically acclaimed independent hit tipped for multiple Oscars. The former of which is of course Alice in Wonderland, the Tim Burton directed 3-D adventure in which she played the titular Alice. Mia Wasikowska was plucked pretty much from obscurity by Burton who wanted an unknown in the lead role and she pulled it off with poise. The latter half of her publicity boost comes from The Kids Are All Right, where she plays the daughter of a lesbian couple who cross paths with their sperm donor “father.” “Kids” is one of the most financially successful movies of the year as is it one of the most beloved amongst those who have seen it. Mia’s most prominent role before 2010 was in Edward Zwick’s WWII drama Defiance where she played a Jewish survivor and I think she will be just that in years to come. Next seen in: Jane Eyre (Mar. 11)
Steven: Couldn’t agree with you more about Wasikowska, but I have her much higher on my list. Anyone who can pull of billions in mainstream success and earn acclaim for an indie in the same year earns major recognition. And as far as career longevity goes, she might have the most of anyone. And she’s Australian, which counts for auss-ome points.
Steven: Tom Hardy was on the periphery of this summer’s most talked-about movie, Inception, so while it will still be awhile before anyone talks about him in terms of stardom, his resume and future projects indicate a good guarantee. Hardy played Eames, “The Forger,” in Christopher Nolan’s blockbuster, the one who was able to assume the appearance of others in dreams. He demonstrated a quick wit in his limited time, but if you’re from the UK, Hardy has nothing left to prove. He starred in Guy Ritchie’s Rock n Rolla and won a British Independent Film Award for Nicolas Winding Refn’s prison drama Bronson, for which he packed on pounds of muscle. Still not sold on Hardy? He will replace Mel Gibson as Max Rockatansky in the upcoming Mad Max: Fury Road. Next seen in: Warrior (2011)
Simon: It always helps your chances of making the big times when you are a very talented individual, that and starring in one of the year’s biggest commercial and critical successes. He is the former and nailed the latter with his role in Christopher Nolan’s Inception. Look for Hardy to become a regular character actor in Hollywood.
3. Jaden Smith (The Karate Kid)
3. Zach Galifianakis (Dinner for Schmucks)
Steven: Yes, it helps when you’re “Will’s kid,” but daddy’s name was not connected in the promotion of this summer’s The Karate Kid remake and it currently ranks as the ninth biggest film of the year, fifth if you don’t count animated films. Jaden Smith’s first marquee role has grossed more than $300 million worldwide; Hollywood doesn’t just brush those numbers off. Certainly Jackie Chan had something to do with it, but The Spy Next Door didn’t help his cause back in January. You can bet that young Jaden, who burst onto the scene with his daddy in The Pursuit of Happyness will have quite a few more films written with him in mind as the child star. Now that Jaden has proven himself with “Kid,” having the parents he has means he’ll likely find work one way or another and at the least be well-supported. Next seen in: No projects currently in production.
Simon: Only three films deep, this young actor has found huge success. The lowest-grossing of his filmography is still $80 million dollars in The Day the Earth Stood Still and with this years surprise smash The Karate Kid, Smith has shown he can anchor a major film without the help of his famous father.
Simon: A successful stand-up comedian from the late ‘90s to the mid 2000s, Zach Galifanakis was able to scrounge out bit parts in Hollywood productions such as Into the Wild and What Happens in Vegas. It was in 2009 with the raunchy comedy The Hangover that proved to be his golden goose. Along with a supporting role in the Academy Award nominated Up in the Air, if the Hangover was his big break then 2010 is his break out. The stubbled stooge will have starred in an incredible four films by years end, all of which started in the Michael Cera starring film Youth in Revolt. He was featured prominently in the trailers for Dinner For Schmucks with Steve Carell and will also play a supporting role in It’s Kind of a Funny Story this fall. Finally he will team with one of the biggest stars working today, Robert Downey Jr., in the road trip comedy Due Date. This surge of films does not look to be slowing down with The Hangover 2 coming out next year in tandem with a “Shrek” spinoff Puss in Boots. Next seen in: Due Date (Nov. 5)
Steven: Few have broken out into the mainstream the way Galifianakis has, I would just argue that his role in The Hangover was enough to put him on the map as a 2009 breakout star considering all his films this year are a direct result of that film’s success and he was recognized this year as being “the guy from The Hangover.” At the same time, 2010 has reinforced Galifianakis as the hippest funnyman making movies right now considering the work that keeps rolling his way. His launch to success has simply been unparalleled in recent years.
2. Jay Baruchel (The Sorcerer’s Apprentice)
2. Mia Wasikowska (The Kids Are All Right)
Simon: Before this year, this squeaky-voiced Canadian was best known for supporting roles in Judd Apatow comedies the likes of Knocked Up and playing an actor-turned-soldier in Tropic Thunder. Baruchel also nailed the trifecta this year beginning with the surprise sleeper hit How to Train Your Dragon, which is now set to become a franchise. He headlined the low budget She’s out of my League, which showed that he could anchor a project of his own. Just this July he starred opposite Nicolas Cage in Disney’s The Sorcerers Apprentice which was not the franchise starter they had hoped, but found more success overseas. 2010 has proved that whether in a small-scale rom-com or a $150 million action adventure, Baruchel can hold his own on screen. Next seen in: No project currently in production.
Steven: Yes, 2010 was a huge year for this lovable shrimp and I seriously considered putting Jay on my list. I would have, had his main summer film in “Apprentice” not tanked at the box office. He was remarkably good in “League” and “Dragon” was a surprise smash hit, so he was set to land squarely on the map with a big Disney film alongside a proven tandem in Nicolas Cage and director Jon Turtletaub, but “Apprentice” fizzled. I still hold hope that Baruchel will get there, however.
Steven: Sometimes you can chalk it up to luck when a young unknown actress is cast as the lead character in a big Disney project called Alice in Wonderland that earns over a billion dollars worldwide, but in The Kids Are All Right, Mia Wasikowska (vah-sih-kohv-ska) proves she’s not going anywhere but up. Despite “Alice” being received with mixed reaction, Wasikowska was given much credit as the innocent and doubting Alice. In “Kids,” she really shows off her dramatic strength for her age, which is 20. Wasikowska also nails the typical naive American teenager who has stayed straight edge at her moms’ request. Despite showing poise and maturity, Joni has a few key moments where her fragility shines through and Wasikowska plays them perfectly. Next seen in: Jane Eyre (Mar. 11)
Simon: This Australian actress should thank Tim Burton every day of her career as if not for his choice to go with an unknown her break, while sure to happen eventually, would certainly not have been as drastic. With a slew of upcoming projects Wasikowska will soon be the new “it” girl in Hollywood.
1. Joseph Gordon-Levitt (Inception)
1. Michael Fassbender (Jonah Hex, Centurion)
Steven: Considering his roles in (500) Days of Summer and G.I. Joe: Rise of Cobra, Joseph Gordon-Levitt could have made my list last year, but the actor has really put himself back on the map with his strong performance as the quiet-but-poised Arthur. More and more people are aware that this is the same young guy who was “the kid on 3rd Rock from the Sun” and he’s being rumored for bigger and bigger projects, such as Christopher Nolan’s third Batman film.
At age 29, Gordon-Levitt’s boyish looks will be his best asset and greatest challenge. He’s not closed off from playing younger roles, but he might have trouble landing more dramatic parts for a few years. JGL’s renaissance can be attributed to charm, talent and sticking to more independent projects where his talent and recognition made him appealing to directors such as Rian Johnson (Brick), Spike Lee (Miracle at St. Anna), Kimberly Peirce (Stop-Loss) and Lee Daniels (Shadowboxer). The films themselves aren’t all terrific, but those directors have all made excellent films at one point or another, which speaks a lot to JGL’s talent. Peirce made Boys Don’t Cry and Daniels was nominated for an Oscar last year for Precious. Next seen in: Cancer comedy Live With It alongside Seth Rogen and Anna Kendrick.
Simon: One of this generation’s finest actors, whether stealing scenes as Cobra Commander in the ludacris “G.I. Joe” adaptation or joining fellow cast member Tom Hardy in mega-hit Inception, Gordon-Levitt has all the makings of a true movie star. Let’s hope that 2010 proves to be the year for this former child actor.
Simon: Debuting to American audiences in the HBO smash Band of Brothers, German Michael Fassbender has been on a golden streak starting back in 2006, but the beginning of this new decade is what will send him into the big leagues. Fassbender found critical acclaim in two indie releases, Hunger and Fish Tank along with shedding pints and pints of blood as Stelios in the graphic novel adaptation 300. With the Oscars earlier this year, he found his success continued as Inglorious Basterds was a favorite to walk away with a number of awards. While unfortunately not the case, he is now the lead in Neil Marshall’s Centurion, which is out this week as well as having scored a supporting role in Jonah Hex (though we wont hold that against him) But the biggest news for Fassbender came in late June when he landed the lead role in X-Men: First Class as a young Erik Lehnsherr a.k.a Magneto. A fantastic actor by all accounts, Michael Fassbender is my number one breakout star and deservedly so. Next seen in: Jane Eye (Mar. 11)
Steven: No name is being tossed around as an actor to keep an eye on than Fassbender. Good call putting him on this list – if I had to guess why I overlooked him it’s because he wasn’t a part of a big film that would really put his name out there this year. Obviously, this will change when he’s featured as a young Magneto in “First Class” next June in addition to the numerous other projects he has in development such as Jane Eyre and A Dangerous Method alongside Viggo Mortensen for director David Cronenberg. Those who don’t know what they’ve been missing will surely find out by “First Class” if not before.