Emily Meade, "Bluebird"
24-year-old actress Emily Meade does a remarkable job of playing a virginal teenager in "Bluebird," Lance Edmands solemn ensemble character study. That, and she stands out among a cast that includes Tony-nominee Amy Morton, "Mad Men" vet John Slattery and "Girls" hunk Adam Driver. Meade is no newcomer to scene -- she's been working since 2006 -- but she's long been relegated to sub-par horror fodder ("My Soul to Take") or well-intentioned but misguided dramas ("Twelve"), when not appearing in TV shows like "Boardwalk Empire" and "Law & Order Special Victims Unit." In "Bluebird" she gets a role and film worthy of her considerable talent.
Amy Morton, "Bluebird"
Steppenwolf Theater core group member Amy Morton has been slaying it on stage for over 20 years, netting a Tony nomination and a slew of other accolades in the process. On the big screen however, Morton has remained relatively unknown save for some supporting work in "Up in the Air," "8MM" and "The Dilemma." Hopefully that changes once festival audiences catch her devastating lead turn in the solemn ensemble drama "Bluebird." In the film, Morton stars as a school bus driver whose one tragic mistake shatters the lives of those involved, including that of her husband ("Mad Men"'s John Slattery) and daughter (Emily Meade, who also made this list).
Michael J. Willett, "G.B.F."
Michael J. Wilett makes his film debut in "G.B.F.," a "Mean Girls"-style teen comedy that inverts the gender to place a man (Wilett) at the heart of the storyline. Wilett, a TV actor who's appeared in "Cougar Town" and "United States of Tara," here plays Tanner, a high schooler who outs himself becoming his school's first openly gay student. The news piques the interest of the school's most popular three girls, each of whom want to claim Tanner as their own Gay Best Friend (G.B.F. of the title).