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5 Startling Performances in 2015 From Stars You’ve (Probably) Never Heard Of

2015 has been a great year for fresh faces and rising talent. From horror to romance to drama and action, cinemas have been filled with a lots of new actors and actresses that have given some truly memorable performances. While it’s never easy choosing the best, here are 5 startling turnouts from some names you might not know, but probably will very soon.

Olivia DeJonge5a as Becca

The Visit

The Film: M. Night Shyamalan’s quasi-horror/nod to fairy tales was a real surprise, especially given the genre. Shyamalan crafted a little gem of a film that was fun to watch, was very well-written and managed to be clever with what would seem a tired trope. The story focuses on two children, a teenaged girl and her younger brother, who visit their grandparent’s farm. This is the first time the four have ever met, and expectations are high. Becca (DeJonge) is an aspiring filmmaker and decides to document the experience, hoping to make a movie about the importance of family. Things take a dark turn though when the grandparents exhibit some very peculiar behavior. (Read our review).

The Performance: Olivia DeJonge plays Becca, an insecure teenager with a real talent for looking through the lens of a camera, which allows her to examine everything else but herself. This is not unnoticed by her observant little brother who sees the struggle Becca goes through on a daily basis, keeping a brave face as she tries hard to be the stronger of the two. DeJonge carries the film, wholly convincing as the curious and conflicted teenager. Remarkably effective, in one scene, when she confronts a pain within that comes to define her, she voicelessly expresses her sorrow. It’s gripping and heartbreaking. While the film is well-worth watching, it is because of DeJonge that it remains memorable. A tremendous performance.


4aAna Mulvoy Ten as Young Alice

The Girl in the Book

The Film: Based on the real life experience of writer/director Marya Cohn, The Girl in the Book is a touching tale about a young teenaged girl living under the influence of a savagely close-minded and unfeeling father, leading her to seek comfort in the arms of an older man and mentor who betrays her trust and affections for personal gain. Told in the present and as a flashback, we see Alice in two roles, the older Alice (Emily VanCamp) is near 30 and so scarred by her experience, she is hardly able to maintain a feeling relationship, using men for sex and moving on. In flashback, young Alice (Mulvoy Ten) is strong-willed but naive, tender and without direction. Things come to a head when Alice the adult works for a publishing house that is reissuing the book that made Milan Daneker (Michael Nyqvist) famous. He’s also the man who hurt Alice and now Alice is in charge of promoting his work, a fictionalized account of their relationship. (Read our review).

The Performance: While VanCamp is very good and the star of this film, the young Mulvoy Ten is simply stunning. Innocent and curious, the ingenue is like clay in the much older man’s hands, but Mulvoy Ten doesn’t just play the character as just sweet. She is smart, aware that her body and her feelings are changing but inexperienced about what to do. Throughout the film, she begins to crumble, and two scenes especially showcase this young stars incredible talent, one when she attends a public reading of Daneker’s book and the other when Daneker takes from her a moment that he most assuredly has no right to take. Mulvoy Ten is heartbreaking and gives one the finest young adult performances of the year. (Read our interview with Mulvoy Ten here).


3aMark Rylance as Rudolf Abel

Bridge of Spies

The Film: Based on a true story, Steven Spielberg’s intelligent drama on the prisoner exchange between the Soviet Union and The United States on the brink of the Cold War is a taunt, exciting film starring Tom Hanks as the lawyer who brokers the deal. The story follows the capture of two spies, one in the U.S., played by Rylance, and the other in the U.S.S.R., played by Austin Stowell. It’s all about the politics and finding a way to keep honor on both sides as the drama plays out in Berlin as the Communists build their wall. (Read our review).

The Performance: Mark Rylance plays Rudolf Abel, a highly trained Soviet spy who has long been passing secrets and information to the KGB in Moscow. Once caught, he accepts his fate with a decidedly stoic approach, earning worry from his appointed lawyer (Hanks) who questions why his client seems so accepting of his predicament. Rylance is superb throughout, his charisma and confidence both chilling and inspiring. There isn’t a flawed moment in his performance as he easily matches the always impressive Hanks. This is by far, one of the best performances of the year.


2aKaridja Touré as Vic

Girlhood (Technically 2014, widely released in North America, 2015)

The Film: A French language film directed by Céline Sciamma, Girlhood is a striking story about life in a poor Paris suburb. The plot centers around a group of African-French girls trying to carve out a place in the tough neighborhood. The gang gets into fights with other locals, steal whatever they can, and disrespect anyone in their way, but they are not bad people, just living in bad times. The newest in the group is Marieme (Touré), who takes the name Vic, and soon establishes herself as a force to reckon with. Contending with no money, no hope and rough boys on the streets, Vic faces a hard daily life. (Read our review).

The Performance: Karidja Touré plays Marieme, a 16-year-old with a mother who works so much she is never home, leaving her under the care of her abusive brother. With poor scores in school, she is forced into unskilled labor but abandons it all when the girls of a local gang ask her to join. Initially unsure of her place, she soon takes to her new friends with a passion she’s never experienced, the bond they form unlike anything in her life. Toureé is mesmerizing from start to finish, sumptuously believable as the troubled Vic in a shockingly good performance.


1aJason Mitchell as Eazy-E

Straight Outta Compton

The Film: Bringing the story of the highly-controversial and even more so influential rap band to the big screen, Straight Outta Compton tells the complex, violent, and entertaining story of N.W.A. Directed by F. Gary Gray with a cast of largely unknown actors, this emotionally-charged account focuses on the relationships behind the powerful music, concentrating on the incredible dynamic these young talents had and the hurdles they faced in bringing their vision to the masses. Never compromising, the film details the discrimination, the anger, and ignorance the members dealt with at every step but most importantly, the love that bound them together and made them as strong as they were. (Read our review).

The Performance: While the entire ensemble is well-cast, it is Jason Mitchell as Eazy-E, the band’s initial financial backer-turned singer that leads the pack. Mitchell is commanding as the one-time criminal forced to become both an entertainer and a business manager, trying to make money for the group but keeping the deals they make legit and fair as he works with producers who might not be on the up and up. Raw and terrifyingly authentic, Mitchell is a tour-de-force, setting the screen on fire with his impassioned and thought-provoking performance. He is one to watch.

Who was a fresh face for 2015 that you liked? Let us know in the comments below/

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