By Oliver Lyttelton | www.oliverlyttelton.com September 11, 2012 at 12:05PM
One of the most exciting things about the coming of the fall movie season is the chance to see some new talent emerge from some of the prestige fare that'll be hitting theaters in the next few months. Last year, for instance, saw the likes of Jean Dujardin, Bérénice Bejo, Eddie Redmayne, Rooney Mara, Shailene Woodley, Elizabeth Olsen and Felicity Jones go from virtual unknowns to, if not household names, than certainly performers whose next moves would be watched closely.
So with the summer now an increasingly distant memory and festival season upon us, we thought we'd take a look at some of the names that are likely to break out over the next four months or so. Some we've tipped before, some are even newer, but you'll be seeing all of the faces below on screen before too long, and if the buzz behind them is correct, you'll be seeing them many, many times more. Read our picks below, and you can let us know who you're tipping for stardom this fall in the comments section below .
While it can't be said that there are very many actors who've come up that way ("The Namesake" star Jacinda Barrett was a graduate of "The Real World," and "Rock of Ages" lead Julianne Hough came to fame through "Dancing with the Stars"), there's still a certain stigma attached to being an actor or actress who was discovered in part through a reality TV series. But there's every chance the stigma might be lifted if Samantha Barks pulls off her key supporting role in Tom Hooper's film, "Les Miserables." 21-year-old Barks, who hails from the Isle of Man in the U.K., came to fame as a contestant on "I'll Do Anything," a 2008 Saturday night reality show that set out to find an actress to play Nancy in a new production of the musical "Oliver!," co-starring Rowan Atkinson. Barks was beaten at the last, placing third in the final, but was swiftly in demand in the musical theater world; she played Sally Bowles in a British tour of "Cabaret," and in the summer of 2010, landed the role of Eponine, the starving waif in love with Marius, in the long-running West End production of "Les Miserables." Off the back of that, she was selected to sing the part in a huge 25th anniversary all-star concert production of the show, and presumably impressed producer Cameron Mackintosh. Because when the film came to cast, Barks ended up beating out the rumored Taylor Swift for the same part. Among a cast that features Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe, Anne Hathaway, Amanda Seyfried, Eddie Redmayne, Helena Bonham Carter and more, Barks is the least known, but her part's a dramatic one, and she gets one of the show's best-known numbers, "On My Own," so she's likely to make a serious impression. If she's able to land parts away from the musical world, this could be the creation of a massive new star.
One of the major critical favorites at Sundance this year -- albeit one that hasn't yet got the crossover buzz of "Beasts of the Southern Wild" and "The Sessions," was Ava DuVernay's "Middle of Nowhere." The film involves a med student who drops out of school when her husband is sent to prison for eight years in order to focus her attentions on keeping his spirits up. But as his parole hearing approaches, she finds herself drawn to a bus driver who's fallen for her. DuVernay won Best Director in Park City and is increasingly seen as one of the most exciting new voices in African-American cinema, but the cast has won just as much acclaim. The men in the film -- Omari Hardwick ("Kick-Ass") as the husband, fast-rising star David Oyelowo ("Jack Reacher, "Lincoln," "Rise of the Planet of the Apes") as the bus driver -- are both familiar faces, but leading lady Emayatzy Corinealdi, who's getting just as much praise, is a new face, so much so that the film's trailer bills her 'And Introducing...' The New Jersey-born actress has only a handful of credits behind her -- most notably a four-episode run in "The Young & The Restless," TV movie "The Nanny Express" and a guest appearance in short-lived sitcom "Romantically Challenged." But by all accounts she gives a phenomenal performance in her first go at a lead, and could well become just as in demand as Oyelowo in the near future. Indeed, she's already wrapped another indie, "In The Morning," and recently signed to ICM, so big things are certainly expected in the future.
Besides a few recent exceptions (Eva Green and Gemma Arterton aren't doing too badly), building a big screen career after playing a Bond girl isn't always the easiest thing in the world. For every Famke Janssen or Michelle Yeoh, there's an Izabella Scorupco or Denise Richards, and only a handful of people in the world can name a Bond girl of the Roger Moore or Timothy Dalton eras (we're not sure even Moore or Dalton could do it...). It's taken a few years, but Olga Kurylenko, who played vengeful Camille Montes in "Quantum of Solace," looks like she'll be cementing her stardom in a big way in the next few months. The Ukranian-born former model had a handful of roles pre-Bond, including "Paris, je t'aime" and "Hitman," and her first few roles after that breakout weren't especially inspiring: another video game adaptation in "Max Payne" and a villainess in Neil Marshall's Roman actioner "Centurion" opposite a pre-stardom Michael Fassbender. But 2012 has seen things pick up in a big way, and that's set to continue in the coming months. Late last year, she starred in Chernobyl drama "Land of Oblivion," giving a performance we called "a small revelation" (read our review and interview with Kurylenko from the Marrakech Film Festival). And a few months back, she starred in Starz's increasingly strong cable drama "Magic City" alongside Jeffrey Dean Morgan and Danny Huston, giving another good performance. But the big one lands later in the week: at the end of 2010, Kurylenko was cast as Ben Affleck's wife in "To the Wonder," the latest film from reclusive auteur Terrence Malick. And as it turns out, it's very much her film with the actress getting more screen time than any of her better-known co-stars. Some have issues with the character, but we thought Kurylenko was terrific in the film, certainly showing that "Quantum of Solace" barely scratched the surface of her talents. She's also playing Sam Rockwell's girlfriend in Martin McDonagh's "Seven Psychopaths" in the next few months, which will hopefully bring more critical plaudits, and next year returns to the blockbuster arena in Tom Cruise's "Oblivion." So all in all, she'll be nearly inescapable in the next few months.
Starring in the feature film debut of writer/director David Chase, the man behind "The Sopranos," a TV show regarded by many as the finest-ever example of the genre, would come with a little pressure for anyone. But if you're virtual unknowns carrying a movie for the first time, one can only imagine that you'd be feeling the pressure a little more, and that's the case for John Magaro, Will Brill and Jack Huston, who star in Chase's film "Not Fade Away." Huston is by some distance the best known; part of the Huston acting dynasty (John Huston was his grandfather, Angelica and Danny are his aunt and uncle), the British-born Huston has racked up a number of screen credits in the last few years, showing a charisma befitting his surname in films like "Factory Girl," "Outlander" and "The Twilight Saga: Eclipse." But it's in the last couple of years that he really grabbed attention, often stealing the show playing war veteran-turned-mobster Richard Harrow, who wears a mask to disguise a horrible facial injury, in the Terence Winter-created HBO show "Boardwalk Empire." But in fact, Huston doesn't have the lead role in "Not Fade Away" -- instead, it's relative newcomer John Magaro. The actor's had a handful of screen credits so far, including Neil Jordan's "The Brave One," Richard Kelly's "The Box" and a lead in Wes Craven's dreadful "My Soul to Take," but nothing of the magnitude of his part in the Chase film, in which he plays a New Jersey kid who defies the wishes of his father (James Gandolfini) to form a band with two friends in the early 1960s. The central trifecta is completed by theater vet Will Brill, who makes his screen debut (bar a brief appearance on "Louie") here. With the film premiering at the New York Film Festival, this could turn out to be one of the big surprises of the fall, and if it works out, it's likely to take its three young leads with it.
Scoot McNairy has come to the brink of stardom more than once in the past -- he had roles in films like "Wonderland" and "Herbie Fully Loaded" in the mid-noughties, and five years ago toplined the well-received indie romance "In Search of a Midnight Kiss," but could never quite convert either into true Hollywood attention. But that all changed when the Texan actor starred, with his girlfriend and soon-to-be-wife Whitney Able, in Gareth Edwards' micro-budget sci-fi "Monsters." The film proved to be a big festival hit, and suddenly McNairy was the toast of the town. And while he had a number of offers floating around (including Logan Marshall-Green's part in "Prometheus" and another in "Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter"), he seems to have pretty good taste, turning down both for three serious, dramatic pictures from top directors which will land in the fall. First up is Ben Affleck's based-in-fact drama "Argo" as Iranian Consul Officer Joe Stafford, one of the hostages that Affleck's CIA team is tasked with rescuing (and was our Telluride reviewer's stand-out member of the ensemble), swiftly followed by a major role in the return of the "The Assassination of Jesse James" helmer Andrew Dominik, with crime tale "Killing Them Softly," in which McNairy and "Animal Kingdom" star Ben Mendelsohn play two junkies who rip off a mob-affiliated card game, bringing enforcer Brad Pitt down on them. And finally, the very tail end of the year brings Gus Van Sant's "Promised Land," alongside the film's writers, Matt Damon and John Krasinski, as well as Frances McDormand, Rosemarie DeWitt and Hal Holbrook. He's not letting up, either. He's got both Steve McQueen's "Twelve Years A Slave" and "Your Sister's Sister" director Lynn Shelton's "Touchy Feely," with Ellen Page coming up as well.