1. Elizabeth Olsen (Silent House, Martha Marcy May Marlene): "Who would have thought that the first star-of-the-future to break out of the festival would be the younger sister of child-stars-turned-troubled-punch-lines Mary-Kate & Ashley Olsen?…Within a few days, she was cast alongside Robert De Niro and Cillian Murphy in Red Lights.”
2. Felicity Jones (Like Crazy): "With no fewer than seven projects set to hit theaters or go before cameras in the next year, it was only a matter of time before she found the role that tipped her over the edge, and it looks to have arrived, in Drake Doremus’ Like Crazy…even if she’s been beaten out for Snow White by Kristen Stewart, we’re sure she’ll start booking some high-profile gigs in the next few months, and, as long-time fans, we’re delighted."
3. Brit Marling (Another Earth, The Sound of My Voice): "former investment banker Brit Marling isn’t just an onscreen talent, but also an offscreen one; she co-wrote, produced and starred in two well-regarded sci-fi pics,…Fox Searchlight snapped up Another Earth, and it’s bound to launch Marling both as an actress and a writer…The world’s her oyster at this point, and we imagine a studio will allow her to play on a bigger canvas very soon.
4. Lubna Abazal (Incendies, HERE): "Abazal’s outstanding in [Incendies], and we’re sure her performance will continue to be talked about for the rest of 2011…Whether she can break out of the slightly thankless nature of her role in “Body of Lies” remains to be seen, but we’re just glad that a terrific actress has had such a strong start to 2011."
5. Adepero Oduye (Pariah): "It’s both lazy and faintly depressing that any serious, African-American drama to play at Sundance will draw comparisons to Precious,…but like Precious, [Pariah] showcases a young actress who, like Gabourey Sidibe, should be moving forward with leaps and bounds from now on."
Miranda July: "her follow-up to the 2005 sensation Me and You and Everyone We Know—won near-unanimous acclaim and served as an excellent refutation of the sophomore slump."
Ezra Miller (Another Happy Day): "The Big Surprise: He’s a recurring guest on TV’s Royal Pains, and between his funny, poignant performance here and a starring role in the upcoming We Need to Talk About Kevin, opposite Tilda Swinton, everyone will know Miller soon." [He was also the funniest part of City Island]
Michael Shannon: "The Next Philip Seymour Hoffman: His thrilling intensity—as seen on HBO’s Boardwalk Empire—is profoundly disturbing in Take Shelter [with Jessica Chastain, pictured], in which he plays an ordinary man driven to madness by apocalyptic visions."
John Hawkes (Martha Marcy May Marlene): "The Oscar Nominee: If there were assists in film, like in basketball, Hawkes would be the Steve Nash of Sundance: In last year’s Winter’s Bone, he brought out the best in fellow nominee Jennifer Lawrence. This year, he’s a deeply creepy cult leader opposite festival breakout Elizabeth Olsen."
Vera Fermiga (Higher Ground): "The Actress Who Wanted to Direct: The pregnant Farmiga makes a strong debut with a religious drama, in which she also stars. “We did preproduction in my first trimester, production in my second, and post in the third. There were a lot of things gestating and being born.”
[Sundance Portrait Photos courtesy of Filmmaker Magazine / Jamie Stuart]