The Flix List: Five Notable Breakout Performances of 2010

I’ve been having way too much fun making lists lately, but this post is a continuation of sort from my Year in Review post. As I was making the list, I thought about some of the notable performances I saw from actors who aren’t yet a household name, hence the term ‘breakout.’  Some of these actors might have been working quite a while and might’ve garnered a certain level of recognition for their past work, but because of the popularity/buzz surrounding their movie last year, their career is swiftly gaining momentum. It’s no coincidence that all of these actors have been in my best picks or honorable mentions, and their performances certainly are a large part of what made the films great.

Obviously I haven’t seen ALL movies that came out last year, so my list came from the twenty-nine movies that I did see (thus, don’t scold me that I don’t put Jennifer Lawrence on the list as I haven’t seen Winter’s Bone). Anyway, here we go:

  • Andrew Garfield
    When they announced he was going to be Spiderman, I had only seen the 27-year-old Brit in the Red Riding Trilogy trailer that showed him in a retro outfit, smoking and sporting a sideburn, not exactly the clean cut Peter Parker one’d imagine. Then I saw him in The Social Network as Zuckerberg’s scorned BFF and I no longer went “Andrew who?” His earnest and affecting performance as Eduardo is one of the most memorable things about the film. I’ve since seen him in Boy A, a small indie about a formerly imprisoned young boy struggling to build a second chance at life. Again, his performance is one of the best things about the film and one that proves this young man has range, so don’t expect him to be type cast as a young superhero. He’s already rumored to also star in Michael Mann’s biopic of Robert Capa (per SlashFilm).
  • Tom Hardy
    Ask any girl who’ve seen Inception and it’d be hard pressed to find one who didn’t remember Tom Hardy’s character. But y’know what, dudes remember him, too. My buddy Vince asked me the day after he saw Inception last month, ‘who’s that British guy in the movie?’ and almost at the same time, I got an email from a colleague saying how much she loved him in the same movie! 😀 Coincidence? I think not. Even among a stellar ensemble, Hardy really stood out. Just as he did in Guy Ritchie’s Rocknrolla as Handsome Bob. Trust me, even sharing a screen with Gerry Butler, the guy still made an impression on me (if you know me at all, y’know that’s quite a feat :D) A lot of people who’ve seen him in Bronson would also say this guy is super bad ass, gaining 42 pounds and muscles to play the notorious criminal.

    He’s in high demand right now, lining up nearly half a dozen films post Inception, including high profile ones such as Mad Max and The Dark Knight Rises.

  • Olivia Wilde
    TV watchers are probably already familiar with the lovely Wilde from her stint in The O.C., The Black Donellys, and most recently, House. But 2010 has really been her breakout year on the big screen. Even before the movie opens, geeks and average moviegoers alike have likely seen her splattered in every piece of marketing campaign for TRON: Legacy, sporting a sleek, black bob in skintight leather suit. Fortunately, she’s got an inherent likability and acting talent to go with her pretty face. She didn’t get to do much in The Next Three Days but with her more beefed-up role in Cowboys and Aliens out this Summer, her career is definitely on the up and up.
  • Aaron Johnson
    I saw two Aaron Johnson movies last year that couldn’t be more different from each other, Kick-Ass and Nowhere Boy. Yet Johnson was believable in both and showed tremendous versatility as well as screen presence. He’s also proven adept with accents, always a great asset for any actor. His American accent in Kick-Ass is so darn convincing you’d never know he hailed from England. Johnson’s not even old enough to drink but displays a certain maturity in the way he carries himself on screen (perhaps that’s why he’s married to Nowhere Boy‘s director Sam Taylor-Wood who’s more than twice his age). He’s rumored to star in Bryan Singer’s Jack the Giant Killer next, and I hope we’ll see more of him in leading roles in the future.
  • Hailee Steinfeld
    You may not know her real name, but you sure remember her if you’ve seen True Grit or at least the trailer. As I said in my Year in Review post, the fourteen-year old held her own alongside her much older and more experienced actor. Her delivery and conviction was so spot-on and nothing less than awe-inspiring that naturally won the hearts of critics everywhere. She’s been nominated for practically every film society award around the country, as well as the coveted Screen Actors Guild Award for Best Supporting Actor. Not bad at all considering this was her feature film debut!

Honorable Mentions: Armie Hammer in Social Network, Chloe Moretz in Kick-Ass


Well that’s my list, folks. Which up and coming actor(s) caught your attention last year?