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.
Elizabeth Debicki, “The Great Gatsby”
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.
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Souleymane Deme, “Grisgris”
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
Sophie Desmarais, “Sarah Prefers to Run”
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
Go to page 2 for 5 more picks…Oscar Isaac, “Inside Llewyn Davis”
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.
Michael B. Jordan, “Fruitvale Station”
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.
Jasmine Trinca, “Miele”
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.
Emma Watson, “The Bling Ring”
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
[Nigel M. Smith, Erin Whitney, Cameron Sinz and Mark Lukenbill contributed to this article.]