By Indiewire | Indiewire May 15, 2013 at 9:30AM
One of the single greatest opportunities for an actor to break out on the
world cinema stage, the Cannes Film Festival, has helped launch
countless careers. With the 66th edition kicking off tonight with the European premiere of Baz Luhrmann's "The Great Gatsby" (starring a breakout actress who made this list...), we run down the 10 actors who could leave Cannes as the next Jean Dujardin. Here are Indiewire's picks for the 10 actors to watch this year.
Berenice Bejo, "The Past"
We know what you're thinking: Why is she on this list? Academy Award nominated for her graceful turn in "The Artist," Berenice Bejo is a bonafide star in France, but in the black-and-white sensation Academy Award winner Jean Dujardin came out as the true stateside breakout -- that and he got to utter some dialogue at the end of the film, while Bejo did not. Despite a prolific career onscreen in France, it's arguable that many have yet to see the actress prove she's not just a silent force. In Asghar Farhadi's follow-up to his universally acclaimed "A Separation," Bejo gets her meatiest role to date and rumor is she knocks it out of the park as ex-wife to "A Prophet" star Tahar Rahim. Pundits, having not even seen the film, are saying she has a good shot at netting a prize at the closing ceremony based on the positive buzz. Whatever the outcome, Bejo is sure to leave this year's Cannes more popular than ever.
While Baz Luhrmann's 3D take on "The Great Gatsby" has earned mixed reviews since screening for critics ahead of its Cannes launch, most agree on one thing: That Australian newcomer Elizabeth Debicki stands out among the starry cast, despite only appearing in a handful of scenes. As the golfing, long limbed beauty Jordan Baker, Debicki radiates a cool confidence -- no small feat considering she landed the role mere months after leaving the Victorian College of the Arts, and had to act opposite a heavyweight like Leonardo DiCaprio, under the direction of one of her country's most revered filmmakers.
As the titular 25-year-old who dreams of becoming a dancer despite his paralyzation, Souleymane Deme's role in Mahamat-Saleh Haroun's latest has all the trappings of a breakout role from this year's festival. After his uncle begins to fall ill, he decides to get involved with a group of petrol smugglers in order to get the supplies necessary to save him. While there have only been a few pictures released of the film up to this point, Deme has remained the focal point of all the materials, and the clearly devoted role has already turned heads for its clear physicality. As a complete unknown, this may be just the kind of actor-propelled drama to stand out amongst the ensemble casts of this year's festival, and make the first-time actor one of the stand-outs of the event.
At 26, French-Canadian theater and film actress Sophie Desmarais is still a relative newcomer, and probably her only brush with international visibility so far has been an appearance in Xavier Dolan's "Heartbeats." A starring role in a Cannes-bound film is a pretty decent way to put yourself on the map, however, and Desmarais is about to make herself known as the titular college athlete in Quebecois director Chloe Robichaud's first feature, "Sarah Prefers to Run." The drama stars the young actress as a girl who goes to great lengths in order to be able to run on the track team of a first class university. She also stars in Sébastien Pilote’s second feature "Le Demantelement," screening in Critics’ Week.
Will Forte, "Nebraska"
SNL favorite Will Forte, who's hilarious characters range from MacGruber to Senator Tim Calhoun to The Falconer, has taken a break from comedy of late. Although he dabbled in comedic film roles after leaving SNL in 2012, Forte has begun to take on more serious acting. At this year's Tribeca Film Festival Forte made his dramatic appearance in Steph Green's Irish drama "Run and Jump." Yet Forte seems to be pretty content on showing us his serious side with his lead role in Alexander Payne's black-and-white Palme d'Or-competing "Nebraska." The drama follows an alcoholic father with dementia who is taken on a road trip by his estranged son (Forte), only to become stuck in a small Nebraska town together.
Go to page 2 for 5 more picks...
The Guatemalian-born actor and singer-songwriter Oscar Isaac is probably most recognizable as Carey Mulligan's criminal husband Standard from "Drive." It may be hard to imagine the blood-covered gangster from Nicholas Winding Refn's film as a 1960s folk musician with a cat in the Coen Brothers' upcoming "Inside Llewyn Davis." Yet when retracing Isaac's past roles, including parts in "Sucker Punch," "Robin Hood" (2010), "W.E." and rom-com "10 Years," it's easy to see how diverse he really is. Isaac's musical history, including the song he wrote and performed in "10 Years" and his long-time love of music, are what make his Dave Van Ronk-inspired role in the Coen's film even more promising. If the guy can sing, look menacing against Ryan Gosling and carry a cat through 1960s Greenwich Village, he's definitely an interesting actor to keep an eye on.
After impressing Sundance audiences with his commanding lead turn in the Grand Jury prize winner "Fruitvale Station," Michael B. Jordan is sure to endear himself to the international market at its European premiere. The actor has defined himself on the small screen by starring in "The Wire," "Friday Night Lights" and "Parenthood." On the big screen, he got to fly high in both "Chronicle" and "Red Tails," and appeared opposite Keanu Reeves in "Hard Ball." Despite an impressive CV and a solid number of years in the business, Jordan is far from a household name.That could change once "Fruitvale Station" comes out this summer and receives an expected awards push from The Weinstein Company. In Ryan Coogler's feature-length debut, he plays a twenty-something Bay Area resident who sees everything go from good to bad over the course of an increasingly problematic New Year's Eve in 2008. Octavia Spencer also co-stars. Jordan is currently filming the romantic comedy "Are We Officially Dating," starring Zac Efron, Imogen Potts and Miles Teller and he's rumored to be in final talks to play the Human Torch in the upcoming "Fantastic Four" reboot.
Vithaya Pansringarm, "Only God Forgives"
Character actor Vithaya Pansringarm hasn't been on the scene for long. In fact, his first role didn't appear in theaters until 2010. But with seven projects released since then (including a role in "The Hangover: Part II"), and four currently in post-production, it's easy to see him breaking out in a big way with the right role. As Chang in Nicolas Winding Refn's "Only God Forgives," a gangster believing himself to be a god and the primary antagonist to Ryan Gosling's character, it seems that this villainous role may be just the push he needed. Little has been seen of the role at this point, with much of the trailer's focus placed on Gosling and Kirsten Scott Thomas' characters, but if Refn's past characters are any indication, this is sure to be a brutal and fascinating role that'll be hard to shake once the film is over.
Actress Valeria Golino's directorial debut "Miele" should be hard to avoid at Cannes, given the sensitivity of its subject matter. Jasmine Trinca, the Italian actress best known for roles in "The Son's Room" and "The Best of Youth," will be at the center of that attention, playing an icy angel of death; an overly committed practitioner of euthanasia on the terminally ill. The film is a psychological character study of Trinca's cool idealist, and as such she dominates the film. Regardless of how the controversial film is received, it's certainly a role that should give Trinca more visibility.
Little Hermione Granger has fully embraced the Muggle world and all its contemptble aspects; stealing and pole-dancing that is. Sofia Coppola's R-rated "The Bling Ring" looks to be Emma Watson's true break away from the 11-year-long role that brought her fame. Although she's kept busy since the end of the "Harry Potter" films with parts in "My Week With Marilyn" and "The Perks of Being a Wallflower," Watson's "Bling Ring" character may just be her Vanessa Hudgen's "Spring Breakers" equivalent -- the end of her good-girl, child actor phase. After all, stealing from celebrities homes, smoking cigarettes, and partying aren't things you'd see Miss Granger ever doing, but Watson, why not? If anyone's going to prove themselves outside of Hogwarts, it's certainly her.
[Nigel M. Smith, Erin Whitney, Cameron Sinz and Mark Lukenbill contributed to this article.]