While there are still not enough good roles for women out there, particularly in mainstream Hollywood, that hasn't stopped a batch of young female stars from exploding from out of nowhere in recent years. Head-turning performances have helped launch faces like Carey Mulligan, Mia Wasikowska, Emma Stone, Jennifer Lawrence, Felicity Jones and many others into the stratosphere, and the success last weekend of "The Hunger Games" has hopefully put to rest the fallacy that huge audiences won't turn up to big movies carried by a woman.
With that in mind, and hot on the heels of our ten picks for actors on the rise yesterday, we've chosen ten actresses who, while yet to be household names, have wowed audiences and casting directors in recent years, and look like strong contenders to headline the big movies of the future. Check our picks our below, and weigh in with your own tips in the comment section.
As scorching as the performances from Michael Fassbender and Carey Mulligan in "Shame" were, there was one other performance in the film, from a less familiar face, that was almost as memorable. It was from, 27-year-old Florida-born actress Nicole Beharie, who played Brandon's colleague Marianne, who he attempts to develop an actual relationship with, one defeated by his sex addiction. Beharie was bright, warm and winning in the early stages, and confused and wounded when Brandon spurns her, unable to reconcile the idea of sex with someone he actually likes. While she didn't necessarily get the awards attention of her co-stars, it certainly turned a lot of heads, and should see Beharie turn up in more and more films. After graduating from Julliard, she landed the leading role in drama "American Violet," before starring alongside Rob Brown and Dennis Quaid in period football drama "The Express." At the end of 2010, she was cast alongside Jeffrey Wright, Mos Def and Paul Dano in John Guare's "A Free Man Of Color," a definite testament to her skills, and that seems to be what helped her land the part in Steve McQueen's film. Since "Shame," she's impressed with TV appearances in "The Good Wife" and "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit," and has indies "The Last Fall" and "Small Of Her Back" in the pipeline. But most high-profile of all is "42," Brian Helgeland's story of the glass-ceilling-breaking baseball player Jackie Robinson, in which Beharie joins newcomer Chadwick Boseman as Robinson and Harrison Ford as executive Branch Rickey, playing Rachel Isum, the love of Robinsons' life. The film looks like it could be a serious awards contender, and should only help on the path to making Beharie a household name.
To be on one of the best shows on TV is fortunate. But if you're on two of them, simultaneously, and the shows are wildly different, and you're terrific in both of them, then it starts to look like it's no accident. And that certainly seems to be the case with Alison Brie, who plays both Annie Edison on "Community" and Trudy Campbell on "Mad Men." 29-year-old Pasadena native Brie was actually in "Mad Men" first, and while it's a relatively minor role, she has always impressed, but it's "Community" that's really demonstrated her deft comic skills, while causing scores of geeks to develop major crushes on her. And of all the show's stars, it's Brie who's proving most in demand in the movie world; she went through a rite of passage for actresses by being brutally dispatched in last year's "Scream 4," and picked up some excellent reviews at Sundance for her turn alongside Lizzy Caplan in indie rom-com "Save The Date." And things keep looking up and up: "Mad Men" is back on the air, the ratings for "Community" have revived with a fourth season looking all but certain, and she'll shortly be donning a British accent to play Emily Blunt's sister in "The Five-Year Engagement." Can her own studio rom-com lead be far behind? She's shooting another comedy with promise, Dylan Kidd's "Get A Job," alongisde Bryan Cranston, Anna Kendrick, Christopher Mintz-Plasse and Jay Pharoah, but by the time her next hiatus rolls around, her own vehicle wil surely have materialized.