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5 Breakout Performers & Directors From The 2012 Cannes Film Festival

Photo of Oliver Lyttelton By Oliver Lyttelton | The Playlist May 29, 2012 at 3:31PM

One of the greatest things about film festivals, one of the things that gets you through the worst films, the lack of sleep, and the terrible B.O. of your fellow moviegoers, is the chance to discover new talent. You'll see absolute newcomers blast off into the stratosphere, or relatively well-known faces suddenly show what they've always been capable of, and it's never less than a thrill.
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Cannes Breakouts

One of the greatest things about film festivals, something that can even get you through the worst films, the lack of sleep, and the terrible B.O. of your fellow moviegoers, is the chance to discover new talent. You'll see absolute newcomers blast off into the stratosphere, or relatively well-known faces suddenly show off what they've always been capable of, and it's never less than a thrill.

And this year's Cannes Film Festival was no exception. With the festival now in the rear-view mirror, we've picked out five major talents who broke out at this year's festival, and whom we're certain we'll be hearing more from in the years to come. Check them out below, and if you were in Cannes, feel free to weigh in with your own suggestions too.

Brandon Cronenberg
Brandon Cronenberg ("Antiviral")
Given that Lena Dunham has been hit with a wave of accusations of nepotism, despite having parents who aren't even in the business, one can only imagine that Brandon Cronenberg must have been a little worried, given that his father is Canadian master filmmaker David Cronenberg, whose new film "Cosmopolis" debuted at the same Cannes festival as his son's first directorial effort, "Antiviral." It must have been doubly concerning that Cronenberg Jr's film is in the same body-horror wheelhouse that his father made his name in. And although "Antiviral" didn't win over every critic, it was warmly received by many, including The Playlist, and seems to suggest that the apple didn't fall far from the tree. But Brandon wasn't always destined to follow in his father's footsteps: according to an interview the director did with the L.A. Times, he'd always resisted the idea of going into the family business, spending his early years focusing on video art and poetry (although he did work in the special effects department on his dad's "eXistenZ"). But in his late 20s, he finally came around to the idea, and made his debut short "Broken Tulips" in 2008, followed by "The Camera And Christopher Merk," which premiered at TIFF in 2010. And then came the feature, in "Antiviral," which he says come out of watching a TV talk show in which audience members clamored to catch the flu from Sarah Michelle Gellar. Starring Caleb Landry Jones from "X-Men: First Class" and Sarah Gadon, from "Cosmopolis" and "A Dangerous Method," it revolves around a worker at a bizarro clinic who smuggles celebrity diseases to sell on the black market; a very Cronenbergian subject, we'd all agree. Even the less enthusiastic reviews suggested that Brandon is one to watch: our own review said that the film "is bursting with visual flourishes and ideas" and that it "shows tremendous promise." Where he goes from here isn't yet clear, but we're looking forward to wherever it is.

Chris O'Dowd
Chris O'Dowd ("The Sapphires")
For every comedian from across the pond who makes it big in Hollywood -- Simon Pegg being the latest, thanks to "Star Trek" and "Mission: Impossible -- Ghost Protocol" -- there are the likes of Ricky Gervais and Steve Coogan, who've never quite found the same big-screen success. 32-year-old Irish actor Chris O'Dowd definitely seems to be in the former category -- put it this way, when you've been funnier and more likeable than Jon Hamm in not one, but two different movies, you're probably onto something. And O'Dowd's starring role in Cannes crowd-pleaser "The Sapphires," which Harvey Weinstein unveiled at the festival, looks to cement his stardom. O'Dowd got his start (after a tiny role in Mike Leigh's "Vera Drake") in the cult sitcom "The I.T. Crowd," alongside Richard Ayoade, and we soon saw him pick up leading roles in things like "The Boat That Rocked" and the little-seen "Frequently Asked Questions About Time Travel," opposite Anna Faris, while the U.S. came calling with parts in "Gulliver's Travels" and "Dinner With Schmucks." None really landed, but things changed quickly last year: first he showed serious dramatic range in BBC miniseries "The Crimson Petal And White," a surprising casting choice that paid off in spades, and then he played the romantic lead in smash-hit "Bridesmaids," leaving much of the audience swooning. Since then, he's become very much part of the Apatow gang, developing a script with the super-producer, and set to appear in "Girls" and "This Is 40," along with reuniting with Hamm, Kristin Wiig and Maya Rudolph this spring in "Friends With Kids." But "The Sapphires" should push him even further -- he plays the manager of an Aborigine girl group touring Vietnam in the 1960s, and by most accounts walks away with the picture. Harvey hopes that it'll be a crossover hit in the vein of "Strictly Ballroom" and "Muriel's Wedding," and judging by the reaction on the Croisette, it might well happen, boosting O'Dowd's profile even further. And he's certainly not lacking things to do at the moment. O'Dowd is writing TV shows for Sky in the U.K. and NBC in the U.S., he's booked roles in John Michael McDonagh's "Calvary" and the dance comedy "Cuban Fury," and will topline a TV series created by Christopher Guest. Pretty good going, all in all. 

This article is related to: Features, Cannes Film Festival, Chris O'Dowd, Matthias Schoenaerts, Tom Sturridge, Steve Oram, Alice Lowe, Brandon Cronenberg


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