The Next Wave: Top 10 Breakout Stars of 2012

The Next Wave: Top 10 Breakout Stars of 2012

By Andrea Miller on December 23, 2012
Listed, Best of...

Start boning up on your spelling, because this year's crop of on-the-rise stars have names, first and last, that can be a bit tricky.

Rust and Bone's Matthias Schoenaerts always takes us a few tries to get right as does pint-size wunderkind Quvenzhané Wallis' moniker but luckily their performances at the movies have been clearly brilliant and we foresee plenty of stellar film roles on the horizon for this hand-picked crop.

From starring in some of the year's biggest movies to smaller indies that got critics' attention, these breakout stars have experienced a very strong year and their careers are undoubtedly in full swing. You may not know them by name yet but stay tuned for the next wave of talented thesps who are about to take over the big screen and have more than impressed and made their mark over the past 12 months.

Get our list of 2012's Breakout Stars right now and get caught up on our Best of lists right here.

10. Matthias Schoenaerts - This Belgian actor has been at it for a decade but started getting noticed only last year when he starred in Bullhead, a drama nominated for the Foreign Language Oscar. But he really earned international acclaim this year in the Golden Globe nominated Rust and Bone, where he plays Marion Cotillard's lover. He has high-profile projects on the go, including Guillaume Canet's star-studded Blood Ties and Suite Francaise with Michelle Williams so he's definitely earned his spot on this list.

9. Ezra Miller - His terrifying turn in Lynne Ramsay's We Need to Talk About Kevin established Miller as one to watch but he really came into his own with The Perks of Being A Wallflower, bringing to life Steve Chbosky's coming-of-age best-selling book. As Patrick, the openly gay, extroverted member of the "island of misfit toys," as the core trio including Logan Lerman and Emma Watson dubbed themselves, Miller's performance was one of the best parts of the movie and his off-screen persona - clever, well-spoken, slyly sexy and hard to pin down - will help set him apart from other young actors as his star continues to rise.

8. Quvenzhané Wallis - Beasts of the Southern Wild director Benh Zeitlin was smart to scoop up non-actor Wallis when he saw her audition amongst some 4, 000 local Louisiana kids for the lead role in his fantasy drama. In fact, Wallis had to lie about her age, since the minimum requirement was six years old and she was only five, and apparently her strong personality - at five! - led Zeitlin to change the script to accommodate her indomitable spirit. In the part of Hushpuppy, a young girl caring for her dying alcoholic dad during a weather phenomemon on the Bayou, Wallis is the heart and soul of the movie and she shines onscreen. See her next in Steve McQueen's Twelve Years a Slave.

7. Dane DeHaan - This young Leo look-alike gave us the creeps in Chronicle as one of three boys who discover they have telekinetic powers after being exposed to some weird cave rocks and uses his powers for increasingly destructive acts. He then moved on to indie Jack and Diane then Lawless, the as-yet-frustratingly-unreleased Ryan Gosling pic Place Beyond the Pines and Lincoln, so the versatile actor is clearly in demand. His next two roles are big ones, playing Beat Generation fixture Lucien Carr alongside Daniel Radcliffe as Allen Ginsberg and Jack Huston as Jack Kerouac in Kill Your Darlings and taking on the role of Harry Osborn, originated by James Franco, in The Amazing Spider-Man 2.

6. Lily Collins - My what big eyes she has! The daughter of singer Phil Collins won the role of Snow White in one of this year's two movies about the raven-haired princess and though Mirror Mirror didn't get as much ink as the scandal-laden Snow White and the Huntsman, it established Collins as a capable leading lady. With only a handful of previous acting credits to her name (Abduction, The Blind Side), she won the role of Clary in the next big young adult franchise The Mortal Instruments and we know what that means for one's profile - hello, Jennifer Lawrence. Prepare to know her name.

5. David Oyelowo - This handsome Brit appeared in a handful of big movies in small parts (Rise of the Planet of the Apes, The Help) but really took the lead in the George Lucas-produced Red Tails and then kept up the momentum with award-winning indie Middle of Nowhere, Lincoln, The Paperboy and Jack Reacher. You know when you're sharing scenes with Tom Cruise, your career is in full swing. Oyelowo, pronounced "oh-yellow-oh", has a part in the upcoming Nina Simone biopic Nina and a part in Lee Daniels' ensemble drama (Oprah! Rickman! Redgrave! Schreiber! Cusack?) The Butler.

4. Tom Holland - The second person on our list who managed a career-establishing performance in their first movie, the 16-year-old Brit enjoyed a mature, successful big screen debut that seems, ahem, nearly impossible considering his lack of acting experience. Starring as the son of a married couple, played by Naomi Watts and Ewan McGregor, separated by a tsunami, and based on a real family's experiences, Holland's performance in The Impossible is so honest and authentic that even alongside A-listers, his talent stands out. And he's already booked an impressive follow-up with How I Live Now, starring opposite Saoirse Ronan and directed by Kevin Macdonald (The Last King of Scotland, State of Play).

3. Rebel Wilson - This funny lady stole most of the scenes she was in during Bridesmaids, acting the crazy roommate to Kristen Wiig's comparably normal co-habitator, but it was her performance in the comedy-musical Pitch Perfect as Fat Amy that made her one of the year's most impressive breakout stars. With a name like Rebel Wilson and a lack of self-consciousness required to really pull off physical comedy and the more audacious bits of laughter-producing dialogue, she was a revelation and in the world of comedy she seems one of the few willing to do whatever it takes to get a laugh. See her next in Michael Bay's Pain and Gain and, if casting and network issues get worked out, on her own TV show called "Super Fun Night."

2. Scoot McNairy - So, his actual name is John but we'll agree that Scoot is more memorable, although we keep spelling it as Scott on the first try. Either way, if you can get past the silly nickname and check out McNairy's on-screen work, we'll sure you'll be left wowed. Working his way up from bit parts on a handful of TV shows, he made an impression on viewers in Monsters, co-starring in the TIFF 2010 alien invasion flick alongside his wife Whitney Able, and continuing to rack up solid movie roles, culminating with this year's Argo and Killing Them Softly, where he carried his own opposite Brad Pitt. With five movies planned for 2013, Scoot's unusual name will start to become well-known.

1. Josh Hutcherson - The 20-year-old did his thing in kids' movies Bridge to Terabithia and the Journey to the Centre of the Earth series but experienced an entirely new level of fame after he scored the extremely coveted role of Peeta Mellark in The Hunger Games. Hutcherson was an admitted fan of the Suzanne Collins series about a dystopic Earth where teens are pitted against each other for the enjoyment of television viewers and took care to figure out how to bring to life the District 12 tribute, knowing the level of expectation on his slim shoulders. The movie, of course, went on to become on the year's biggest money-makers and won Hutcherson legions of fans who are eagerly awaiting the boy with the bread's return to Panem.

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