Ones to watch: 10 stars on the rise

If there’s one thing I love, it’s “Golden Girls” reruns. If there’s one thing I love more than that, it has to be seeing actors with enormous talent bust right through the showbiz ceiling. Because, quite frankly, it’s the quiet talents, the lesser-known actors, who often prove to be the most interesting.

And so I present you with a list of actors and actresses primed to hit, as Postal Service would say, such great heights:

  1. Sarah Burns — If her perfectly timed performance as the love-obsessed Hailey in “I Love You, Man” is any indication, there’s no stopping this comedienne. Get some more films on that resume, Sarah, and give the people what they want. 
  2. Jack Carpenter — Remember the day Jack bowled you over with his gawky charm in “I Love You, Beth Cooper” because a few years down the road, he’ll be the next Jay Baruchel, only more accessible, less quirky. Count on it.
  3. Jemaine Clement/Bret McKenzie — HBO, in its infinite wisdom, saw fit to give “The Flight of the Conchords” to the world, and we fell hard for the saltine-dry comedic stylings of Jemaine and Bret. Take that to the big screen, boys.
  4. Brandon T. Jackson — As Booty Sweat-swigging Alpa Chino in “Tropic Thunder,” Jackson held his own against Robert Downey Jr. — no mean feat. It’s clear he’s got talent to burn, so smarten up, directors, and give him the match.
  5. Lee Pace — Pace is destined to be remembered as “that weird piemaker guy” from “Pushing Daisies.” But heads up, Hollywood: This Oklahoma-born talent has dramatic chops perfect for meaty leading parts like Calpernia in “Soldier’s Girl.”
  6. Aubrey Plaza — Aubrey steals whole scenes from Amy Poehler in “Parks and Recreation.” Then she steals Seth Rogen’s heart in “Funny People.” And she’s got a ball-busting indie hipness as cool as her bangs. What more could you ask?
  7. Kristen Schaal — This funny lady is hardly new to showbiz — she’s popped up in movies like “Adam & Steve” for years. But if it took her hilariously weird turn as Conchords stalker Melanie on “Flight of the Conchords” to make her a household name? OK, then. 
  8. Paul Schneider — Schneider might be the most underappreciated actor of his generation. He balances subtle comedy (“Lars and the Real Girl”) and drama (“All the Real Girls”) like a champ, and now he’s giving prime-time TV a whirl. Let’s hope he’s on the cusp of something big. He deserves it.
  9. Amanda Seyfried — My but the brick-brain girl from “Mean Girls” has come a long way. She made dumb look funny, then won us over as Lilly Kane in “Veronica Mars” and a conflicted bride-to-be in “Mamma Mia!” Methinks becoming part of Diablo Cody’s “It” list (re: “Jennifer’s Body”) will take her even farther.
  10. Charlene Yi — She played a perpetually stoned Yoko to Martin Starr’s Lennon in “Knocked Up,” and now she’s co-written what looks to be the sleeper indie rom-com hit of summer ’09, “Paper Heart.” We haven’t scratched the surface of what this girl can do.

Everybody knows how this works (you’ve been here, you’ve bought the T-shirt, you spat your gum out behind that tree root): What other actors/actresses do you see poised to do great things?

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10 Responses

  1. thumbs up for Lee Pace! I trust you saw him in The Fall, yeah? I love that movie, and he was great in it.

    • I have to credit you with alerting me to the fact that “The Fall” even existed — I saw it after you reviewed it. That was one of his I missed, and it was terrific. It will show up soon as a Netflix Pick, I think.

      M. Carter

  2. Lee Pace was extremely charming in Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day as well. Good choice.

    To this list I’d add Ben Barnes, who keeps making interesting and unique choices post-Caspian-breakout. I’m very, very excited to see how he’s handled Dorian Gray, as well as next year’s indie thriller Valediction. People like to pick on epic fantasy leads, it seems, but I thought he did a solid job with the material (as well as the accent, which was not supposed to be Spanish but an amalgam of the accents from other cast members). I really didn’t jump on the bandwagon, though, until I saw Bigga Than Ben, which sadly is not yet available through legitimate means here in the States. I think if he continues on his current path, he’s got a long and impressive career ahead of him.

    Additionally, Rebecca Hall’s been around for a bit, but she’s still flying under the radar a bit. I adore her; I thought she gave the most complex performance out of everyone in Vicky Cristina Barcelona. She’s an understated actress, though, which might be why she has yet to really break into the spotlight. She’s also co-starring in Dorian Gray, along with Mr. Barnes & Colin Firth.

    • Rebecca Hall! How quickly I forget. I really loved her in “Vicky Cristina Barcelona.” She was good, too, in “Frost/Nixon.” I think “Dorian Gray” has earned a place on my must-see list.

      M. Carter

  3. Amanda Seyfried!

    There is a lot of buzz about this girl, and yes she does have a pretty face, and hopefully talent to back it up. I have thus far not seen her in anything significant, but Mama Mia is sitting on my movie stack ready to be watched. You’ve inspired me to check her out. It’s moving to the top.

    Thanks!

    Heather

    • Amanda Seyfried left me in stitches after watching Mean Girls, and I’m without a doubt excited to see her in Jennifer’s Body. Megan Fox has zero acting chops, therefore Seyfried is going to have to carry the film on her own. I pray that is not a problem.

      • I think Amanda can hack it. This is her biggest shot yet, and I don’t think she’ll choke. She can carry “Jennifer’s Body” if she has to … though I’ll admit that I did think Megan Fox was vaguely funny in “How to Lose Friends.”

      • Megan Fox has very little acting talent, but when what she does have is utilized properly there is definitely something “It” about her even if it doesn’t translate into talent, so if Seyfried is as talented as advertised then it could work.

  4. Lovin’ your blog’s new look! Lee Pace, yes of course, you know I adore him. Like nothatwasacompliment said, see him in The Fall, he’s as exquisite as the movie. The little girl is adorable as well.

    I’d add Henry Cavill on your list. He’s probably too gorgeous for his own good, but if you’ve seen The Tudors, you know he’s more than just a pretty face. Saoirse Ronan is going to be huge soon, you might remember her from Atonement and now stars in The Lovely Bones by Peter Jackson.

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