From actors you've never heard of to those whose familiar faces have been teetering around the edges of superstardom for a while now, here's our list of the unexpected stars who stole the limelight (and possibly Oscars) this year. Watch out for them in 2013…
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There's nothing quite so simultaneously infuriating and inspiring as the multi-talented creative. Ben Drew's the perfect example - not content with critical and commercial acclaim for his career as an Ivor Novello-winning rapper, 2012 was the year he built on roles in ‘Harry Brown’ and ‘Adulthood’ to become a bonafide actor and director in his own right. Not only did he hold his own against Ray Winstone in the remake of ‘The Sweeney’, but he wrote and directed the timely, gritty and well received crime drama ‘Ill Manors’.
Some people spend years slaving away at breaking into the acting big leagues. Suraj Sharma fell into it, which only makes his stunning turn in ‘The Life of Pi’ all the more impressive. He only attended the casting call to support his brother’s own audition, but found himself picked out the crowd instead, fronting the ultimate 'unfilmable' project. Considering he spent almost the entire film acting against an imaginary/CGI supporting cast, and succeeded in carrying the whole story on his shoulders, we’d advise he starts getting his shiniest suit ready for awards season.
Until 2012, Rafe Spall was primarily known for being a bit-part scene stealer (‘Hot Fuzz’, ‘One Day’)… and being Timothy Spall's son. But with a memorable (if somewhat unintentionally hilarious) turn in the biggest sci-fi movie of the year, Ridley Scott's return to the Alien universe ‘Prometheus’, and an invaluable part in Ang Lee's awards-baiting ‘Life of Pi’ (a role in which he replaced Tobey Maguire, no less), he's now firmly on Hollywood's radar.
It's not every day that a nine-year-old is considered for the Oscar race. But then Quvenzhane Willis is no ordinary pre-tween. Benh Zeitlin's breathtakingly beautiful, stirringly soulful post-apocalyptic fantasy drama ‘Beasts of the Southern Wild’ is all about the naturalism, and you don't find actors any more real than Willis, whose performance as Hushpuppy delivers the movie's beating heart and moving voice. Even more mind-bogglingly, she was just five when she originally auditioned.
Unless you were a mega-fan of TV's ‘In Treatment’ or ‘True Blood’, chances are you had never seen Dane DeHaan before he utterly stole the show in this year's most surprising superhero movie, ‘Chronicle’. The X-Men meets found-footage action drama hit new heights, quite literally. But take away the snazzy special effects, and it was DeHaan's performance that really carried the movie, as the shy introvert whose power ultimately corrupts him into the best super-villain of the year. Throw in a supporting role in gangster flick ‘Lawless’, and it's no surprise he's just been cast as Harry Osborn in ‘The Amazing Spider-Man 2’.
Steven Spielberg has a pretty good track record when it comes to picking up-and-coming stars, and if ‘War Horse’ is anything to go by, he's struck talent gold again. Picked from relative acting obscurity, Jeremy Irvine's heartfelt turn as the lead in Spielberg's wartime epic turned him into an overnight star, snagging him roles in Mike Newell's ‘Great Expectations’ reinvention, Dakota Fanning weepy ‘Now Is Good’, and alongside Nicole Kidman and Colin Firth in next year's ‘The Railway Man’.
The chances are you recognise Rebel Wilson from a brief but brilliant LOL-tastic performance in ‘Bridesmaids’, but 2012 was the year she made Hollywood her playground. A sizeable part in ‘What to Expect When You're Expecting’ led to a bigger part in the America-released (and hugely buzzed about) ‘Bacherlorette’, before stealing every scene in shameless fashion for 'Glee… but good' musical comedy ‘Pitch Perfect’ alongside Anna Kendrick. Awards and comedy superstardom beckons.
Until now, it's likely you knew Dave Franco best for his admirable if doomed role in ‘Scrubs’' final season. But with ‘21 Jump Street’, he used all his ‘Scrubs’ skills - the goofiness, the humour, and the craziness - and super-sized them with a supporting turn as memorable as Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill themselves. Next up, he has 'the next ‘Twilight’ (but better)' zombie romance ‘Warm Bodies’, and a notable turn in magician heist romp ‘Now You See Me’ alongside Mark Ruffalo and Morgan Freeman.
There's a reason ‘Skyfall’ swiftly became the highest-grossing film of all-time in the UK - not only did it deliver as a blockbuster, but it executed every staple Bond trait with style. Case in point, the Bond girls - and one in particular, Berenice Marlohe, who poured on seduction, charm and sexiness in a brief, but scene-stealing performance that is sure to bag her countless roles in the future. She’s already reportedly been snapped up for one of Terrence Malick’s upcoming projects.
Rewind five years, and Josh Hutcherson was on the cusp of tweeny super-stardom. With lead roles in ‘Bridge to Terabithia’, ‘Journey to the Center of the Earth’ and ‘Cirque du Freak: The Vampire's Assistant’, he looked set for the big time. But then it all went quiet, before he exploded back onto the global stage this year with a crucial role in the all-conquering phenomenon that is ‘The Hunger Games’, a return visit to ‘Journey 2: The Mysterious Island’, and, umm, ‘Red Dawn’. With three more ‘Hunger Games’ films on the cards, he's set to be everyone's favourite boy next door for the forseeable future.
While we're guessing that the role of ‘Les Miserables’ lead Eponine was always technically open to everyone, it was no surprise that Samantha Banks nabbed it. Not only did she play the role on stage from 2010-2011, but she performed the part so well, she was picked to headline the 25th Anniversary Concert too. So despite Hollywood's best and brightest all clamouring for the role (including Lea Michele, Scarlett Johansson and Taylor Swift), she was an easy pick - as beautiful as she is talented, she's drawn countless critical raves. Not only has she already been nominated for a whole bulk of awards, but she's sure to be considered come Oscars season.