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Jen Yamato

The Breakout Stars of 2010

From Carey Mulligan to Gabourey Sidibe, this year’s crop of films yielded plenty of fresh faces. But why live in the past? Let’s look to the future to predict next year’s biggest up-and-comers and see which neophyte stars and starlets you should have on your radar as we move into the year 2010.

Amber HeardAmber Heard, The Rum Diary. You may recognize this blond actress from supporting turns in Alpha Dog, Pineapple Express, or this year’s The Stepfather (not to mention a memorable cameo-length appearance in Zombieland). Tragically, Amber Heard never got the proper breakout she deserved; her earlier starring vehicle, the slasher pic All the Boys Love Mandy Lane, was shelved in 2006 and has never seen the light of day. Thankfully, Heard will have a few chances to get your attention in 2010, with no less than four films slated for release, including John Carpenter’s The Ward. Heard’s biggest 2010 movie, however, will be the Hunter S. Thompson novel adaptation The Rum Diary, in which she’ll tempt Johnny Depp’s existentialist reporter in 1950s Puerto Rico as the forbidden party girl Chenault.

Chris and Liam Hemsworth, Red Dawn and The Last Song. Next year look for double the hotness at the multiplex from the combined forces of Chris and Liam Hemsworth. The actor brothers, who got their start on the Australian soap opera Neighbours, once competed for the title role in Kenneth Branagh’s Thor (Chris landed the part) and in 2010 will each appear in their own potential breakout vehicles. Chris, seen in 2009 as Captain Kirk’s father in J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek, will lead the Wolverines in 2010′s remake of Red Dawn, while Liam will set teenybopper hearts aflutter by romancing Miley Cyrus in The Last Song.

Rooney Mara, Nightmare on Elm Street. If the last name’s familiar, it’s because Rooney’s older sis is Kate (We Are Marshall, Transsiberian). But in 2010, Mara will take the spotlight with a handful of high profile films of her own, starting with the Michael Cera comedy Youth in Revolt. In April, see her lead a cast of doomed teenagers as Nancy Thompson in Platinum Dunes’ remake of Nightmare on Elm Street (spoiler alert: she’s already signed on for a sequel) before she joins Justin Timberlake and Jesse Eisenberg in Aaron Sorkin’s Facebook movie, The Social Network.

Adrianne PalickiAdrianne Palicki, Legion. Best known as the town tramp on TV’s Friday Night Lights, Adrianne Palicki is poised to expand her film oeuvre in 2010. See her first in January’s Legion as a pregnant waitress carrying the messiah who gets stuck in the middle of a heavenly war, with only a shirtless angel (Paul Bettany) and a diner full of strangers to help her. Palicki will also appear in the ensemble cast of the fall remake Red Dawn and will reprise her role as a ditzy porn star in Sebastian Gutierrez’s Elektra Luxx.

Mia WasikowskaMia Wasikowska, Alice in Wonderland. Peek through the looking glass in 2010 and you’ll find Australian actress Mia Wasikowska, a relative unknown who nabbed the role of Alice in Tim Burton’s spring spectacle, Alice in Wonderland. The 20-year-old, who’s up for an Independent Spirit Award for her turn in this year’s indie drama That Evening Sun, could also make waves at Sundance 2010 in Lisa Cholodenko’s comedy The Kid’s Are All Right.

Logan Lerman, Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief. I’ve had my eye on 17-year-old actor Logan Lerman ever since he starred on the WB series Jack & Bobby, and in the years since he’s grown into a sturdy young Tiger Beat teen idol in the making. Next year, he gets his biggest break to date in the title role of Christopher Columbus’ Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief, where he stars as a modern-day teenager who discovers he’s descended from Greek gods. Based on the novel by Rick Riordan, Percy Jackson could eventually spawn a franchise and propel Lerman into leading man territory.

Chloe Moretz, Kick-Ass. In 2010, 12-year-old Chloe Moretz will become a household name thanks to two notable film projects: Kick-Ass and Let Me In. In Matthew Vaughn’s Kick-Ass, Moretz plays Nicolas Cage’s daughter Mindy (aka Hit Girl), an adolescent assassin armed with lethal skills, a pistol, and a pair of adorable pigtails. Just the sight of Moretz taking down a room full of bad guys threw crowds into a tizzy at Comic-Con, guaranteeing that Kick-Ass will be one of the most memorable, and maniacally violent, action films of the year. Also set for release in 2010 is Matt Reeves’ American remake of the Swedish vampire flick Let The Right One In, which stars Moretz as the lonely young vampire girl opposite Kodi Smit-McPhee (The Road) as the human boy who befriends her.

Jen Yamato writes weekly for Film.com.


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