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On The Rise 2012: 10 Actresses Poised For The Big Time

by Oliver Lyttelton
March 30, 2012 4:48 PM
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Jessica Brown-Findlay
Jessica Brown-Findlay
Among the unlikeliest pop-culture phenomenons of the last few years is the enormous American success of the British period drama "Downton Abbey," which has gripped both the U.S. and the U.K since it premiered late in 2010. Its cast are already becoming frequent sights on screen: Michelle Dockery will appear in "Anna Karenina," and Dan Stevens is headlining the drama "Summer In February." But it's looking increasingly like the biggest breakout star of all of them will be Jessica Brown-Findlay, who plays the youngest Crawley daughter, Lady Sybil, in the series. The actress shone from the first as the most progressive, contemporary character on the show, and aside from further TV roles on "Misfits" and alongside one of our male picks, Daniel Kaluuya, on "Black Mirror," the show also landed her the lead role, alongside Felicity Jones, in the British film "Albatross." While that movie was relatively unexceptional, she's excellent in it as a teen who begins a relationship with her best friend's father, and it's only served to bring her even more attention. Next up is more TV work, as the lead in epic Ridley Scott-produced miniseries "Labyrinth," along with Smiths-themed indie "Shoplifters Of The World," which will mark her U.S. debut, while she's also attached to the Scottish romantic comedy "Not Another Happy Ending," with "Doctor Who" star Karen Gillan. But the film that's going to launch her into the stratosphere is "A Winter's Tale," the directorial debut of screenwriter Akiva Goldsman. Both Russell Crowe and Will Smith will be appearing, but it's Brown-Findlay who has the lead, as a dying young woman who falls for a thief. It should be just the first of many leads to come.  

Alice Englert
Alice Englert
When your mother is one of the most important filmmakers of the last twenty-odd years, it's got to be pretty tempting to go into the family business in some way. But while 17-year-old New Zealand actress Alice Englert got her start in "The Water Diary," a short film helmed by her mother, the great Jane Campion, she's otherwise doing extremely well entirely on her own steam. Englert (who has also done some modeling) has a role in Roland Joffe's upcoming/long-delayed epic romance "Singularity," with Josh Hartnett and Neve Campbell, and from that won the lead in "In Fear," a top-secret psychological horror from writer/director Jeremy Lovering (BBC dramas"Miss Austen Regrets," "Money") and Big Talk Productions, the company behind "Hot Fuzz" and "Attack the Block." From that, she segued to join Elle Fanning in "Bomb," the latest from director Sally Potter, a 1960s-set coming-of-age tale also starring Alessandro Nivola and Annette Bening. And when that wraps, she's not hanging about, as the actress just landed the lead alongside fellow rising star Jack O'Connell in "Beautiful Creatures," Alcon Entertainment's hope at becoming the next "Twilight" or 'Hunger Games.' With a cast including Viola Davis, Emma Thompson and Jeremy Irons in supporting roles, and Oscar-nominee Richard LaGravenese at the helm, it seems to have a better pedigree than most of the competition, and if anything puts her on the A-list, it'll be this, when it opens next February.

Julia Garner
Julia Garner
When we were in our senior year of high school, we were mostly concerned with getting the opposite sex to talk to us and bartenders to give us drinks. But Julia Garner has bigger things on her mind, clearly. The ethereally beautiful 18-year-old first came to the attention of many as Sarah, one of the women in Patrick's commune in "Martha Marcy May Marlene." But it was in Berlin when we really suspected that she was going to be a star: Garner stars in "Electrick Children," as Rachel, a 15-year-old Mormon girl who falls pregnant with what she believes is an immaculate conception from a cover version of Blondie's "Hanging on the Telephone." Our review from the Berlinale said that "the camera doesn't so much love as fall at the feet of in worship. If she's not the next big thing, she's probably the next next big thing," and subsequent reviews from SXSW have echoed that. She told us in an interview that she's aiming to have a career like Philip Seymour Hoffman, and she certainly seems to be following his diversity: she's got small roles in "The Perks Of Being A Wallflower" and David Chase's "Not Fade Away," and is then starring in quirky indie comedy "HairBrained" with Brendan Fraser, in Leah Meyerhoff's intriguing-sounding "Unicorns," and in the horror sequel "The Last Exorcism 2," which is shooting right now. She's steadily building a strong resumé which will only lead to bigger and better things.

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  • Jessica | December 8, 2012 12:27 AMReply

    There is a typo in this article. The film "Unicorns" (starring Julia Garner) was directed by Leah Meyerhoff (not Leyer Meyerhoff) Thanks.

  • Alva | May 20, 2012 12:08 PMReply

    Wow I was not expecting to see Alicia Vikander on the list. I'm from sweden myself and it's just so weird to see someone from here make it in other countries. Anyway, it's a great list but I think Juno Temple should be on it as well. She's a HARD WORKING, EXTREMELY TALENTED actress with like thirteen films coming up, most of whom I'm REALLY looking forward to see.

  • DG Brock | April 3, 2012 7:01 PMReply

    As a director, I can say that Alison is a dream to work with and a major talent. May she get many good roles. She deserves them and can handle them.

  • D | April 3, 2012 12:31 AMReply

    Brie Larson was fantastic as the lead's best friend on the fun yet short-lived series "The Middleman." She also had a brief role on a recent episode of "Southland."

  • anon | April 1, 2012 11:51 PMReply

    man...i thought that was milla jovovich up at the top...

  • Robert Gallegos | April 1, 2012 8:45 AMReply

    I am a big fan of movies and television series' however I am not familiar with any of these actresses. By looks alone, I see talent in Alison Brie and Jessica Brown-Findlay. I agree that women need to be more of a focal point of movies and television shows. I enjoy watching women act because of their beauty and emotion. I am excited because I think a lot of upcoming actresses are going to be successful, including Kaitlyn Dever and Haley Pullos. Well it was nice reading about this topic. Feel free to message me.

  • tomcmh | March 31, 2012 7:19 PMReply

    Good call on Alison Brie. Hopefully 'Five Year Engagement' does well. It could be a nice launching pad for her movie career.

  • JDT1971 | March 31, 2012 7:06 PMReply

    This list ought to have incorporated Holliday Grainger. I reckon she will be a seven figure sum actress by the end of 2012 and the start of 2013.

  • Alex S | March 31, 2012 4:12 PMReply

    Great list; however, has anyone heard of India Ennenga (Treme/Nobody Walks)
    She's pretty great

  • Mary L | April 10, 2012 10:10 PM

    Oh c'mon. That was probably the worst movie ever screened in Sundance this year (sorry to anyone involved). It was horrible.

  • B. Stokes | March 31, 2012 4:05 PMReply

    Would love to see some "on the rise" actresses who are older than 35. You can break out at any age yes?

  • Please | March 31, 2012 1:56 PMReply

    It's embarrassing that they chose that mess Kristen Stewart over those actresses for Snow White. The producers obviously didn't get the memo that Stewart isn't liked and all her non Twi-films have flopped.

  • Amy | March 31, 2012 12:13 PMReply

    Great to see a mention of Taissa Farmiga.

  • Taylor | March 31, 2012 11:08 AMReply

    Nice list. Excited about Ruth Wilson, Alison Brie and Jessica Brown-Findlay hitting it big, great work from all three on the small screen.

  • Mony | March 31, 2012 1:15 AMReply

    Interesting list, never heard of any of them. However it is refreshing to see a list with relatively newcomers, or those not yet "big time"

    Should be interesting to see how they do

  • j | March 31, 2012 1:06 AMReply

    Although Jane Levy has a signficant role, Victoria Justice is the lead in Fun Size.

  • Megan | March 31, 2012 12:46 AMReply

    Finally Hollywood is getting beautiful actresses with talent again. "No daughters or sisters of ___" These girls are here because of their talent, their unique beauty, and hard work. Then again, a little bit of good luck never hurt anyone. ;-)

  • Natalie | April 2, 2012 7:47 PM

    Its crazy how many "sons and daughters ofs" are acting now. Ridiculous. Good to see some of these girls got there on their own purely out of talent. Would've been better to see all of them get there on their own though.

  • Robert Gallegos | April 1, 2012 8:46 AM

    I like your post. Do you have a favorite actress?

  • Jezelle | March 31, 2012 12:57 PM

    What are you talking about, Megan? One is the little sister of Vera Farminga and the other one Alice Englert is the daughter of a famous director. The other girls on the other hand have no connections and got there on their own. That's not true. Finally there's a black girl on the list...about time!

  • Jim | March 30, 2012 8:38 PMReply

    I still don't know how Olivia Thirlby hasn't gotten big yet.

  • Cinematic_high | March 30, 2012 7:36 PMReply

    About fucking time Hollywood smartened up! Ruth Wilson is a beast on Luther, and now I'll have another reason to watch The Lone Ranger besides Arnie Hammer....

  • matt | March 30, 2012 6:58 PMReply

    good list. Not sure why"Pure" is described as an addiction drama, but them's minor grapes

  • kris | March 30, 2012 5:31 PMReply

    riley keough.

  • Amie | March 30, 2012 5:02 PMReply

    Sarah Gadon oughtta be somewhere on that list.

  • Amie | March 30, 2012 5:23 PM

    Stop being a supercilious ass. I love how you can just assume to know everything about me based on an eight-word comment. I've never seen the Twilight movies or read the books and I don't care either which way about the stars, not that I even need to defend myself.

  • Emma Q | March 30, 2012 5:18 PM

    Says the girl who never knew she existed until she was in a film with Robert Pattinson

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