Where 2014 was the year of Chris Pratt, Margot Robbie, Miles Teller, and Jack O’Connell, I want to look at whose star rose the highest in 2015.
It should also be said I leave out the aforementioned bearing in mind that they had a better 2014, than 2015. Pratt was the star of the second biggest grossing film of the year, so maybe it’s harsh to leave him out, but I feel 2014 was his breakthrough. Margot Robbie was also a star of Focus, and filming Suicide Squad, but Wolf of Wall Street was undoubtedly her rise to stardom.
- Dakota Johnson
A late entry to the list, but it might be slightly bias to leave Johnson out. Although Fifty Shades of Grey was absolutely abysmal, it would be hard to slate Johnson for it. There’s only so much an actress can do with terrible, terrible, dialogue. She was also in Cymbeline, which was largely panned, although her witty performance was praised. Her third film of the year was Chloe and Theo, which we’ll quickly brush under the rug and talk about Black Mass! Hey, Black Mass, that Johnny Depp film woo yeah! In all seriousness, she was pretty good in that, even in a relatively small part as Jimmy Bulger’s estranged wife. It was a good film, but her best one of the year looks to be A Bigger Splash, in which she stars alongside Ralph Fiennes and Tilda Swinton. It came out in September (in Italy, so that still counts), but hits screens here later this year. Definitely one to keep an eye out for.
- Taron Egerton
Egerton starred in two of my favourite films of 2015, Kingsman: The Secret Service, and Legend. Although his role in Legend wasn’t enormous, he blew audiences way in the lead role of Kingsman as “Eggsy”. The role saw him nominated for a BAFTA Rising Star, as well as Teen Choice and Empire awards – not a bad breakout role. He was also nominated as one of GQ’s 50 Best-Dressed British men… so there’s that too, which I’m sure he’s delighted about. He was also in Testament of Youth, starring Kit Harrington (aka Jon Snow) and someone else who gets a mention further down this list…
7. John Boyega and Daisy Ridley
It only seemed fair for them to be joint, as you really can’t separate their performances in Star Wars: Episode XII. Ridley has also appeared in Scrawl though, and got good reviews in that, but how can we not focus on the (currently) third highest grossing film of all time. Boyega as Finn was funny, loveable, and instantly became one of the nation’s favourite young actors. The same could be said for Ridley, who shone as Rey. She has already been compared to household name Kiera Knightley, which is alright. Aaaand Ridley’s been in Casualty as well, so she’s really going places.
- Lea Seydoux
The French actress has moved to a global audience with her appearances in The Lobster and that new James Bond film, Spectre. Well okay, she’s been in Inglorious Basterds, and Blue is the Warmest Colour – for which she was nominated by BAFTA for Rising Star – however Spectre has pushed her into the limelight. She played the alternative Bond Girl, one who fought James and really did put up the good fight. When we think of Bond girls, we normally think of skimpy little bikinis and sex appeal, but Seydoux was different as Dr. Madeleine Swann. She was intelligent and challenged Bond, and Seydoux acted it perfectly.
- Oscar Isaac
Again, perhaps unfair to say this is his breakthrough year after Inside Llewyn Davis, but c’mon, the guy has had a year to remember. In Ex-Machina (another of my favourite films of 2015) he played Nathan Bateman – a typical mad genius. He was creepy, unhinged, and so unlikable. Contrast that with Poe Dameron, an X-Wing pilot from Star Wars: Episode XII, and he couldn’t play more of a different character. Poe was warm, funny, and was one-half of the fandom’s relationship, Poe and Finn.
- Brie Larson
Previously known as ‘that girl from 21 Jump Street’, Brie Larson has shown us her true acting talent. Starting with a smaller part in the mixed-review film Digging for Fire, she continued her year with another small part in the hit comedy Trainwreck. These promising, if still comedic parts, did not show signs of a potential Oscar-winner. However, her performance in the outstanding Room has seen the award nominations come streaming in. The film’s plot is not all that, but it is the performance of Larson, as well as her co-stars, that have seen this film get such critical acclaim.
- Domnhall Gleeson
Over the course of the past year, Gleeson has become one of my favourite actors. He seems to be in EVERYTHING these days, from 2013’s About Time, to Frank in 2014. But he hasn’t stopped there. In the lead male role in Ex-Machina, he shone as Caleb, a programmer who wins the chance to meet the CEO of the software company that he works for, and stay with him for a week. I’m really not selling it well, but please, please watch it. Oscar Isaac is amazing, Domnhall Gleeson is amazing, and another actor did okay in it…but I’ll get onto that.
He then played Jim Farrell in Brooklyn, which is earning rave reviews and Oscar nominations. And from these two likable characters, he then plays General Hux in Star Wars: Episode XII – clearly quite a strong, young, cast then. He shows off an impressive range as an actor, and takes the leadership from this role into his final one of 2015, in The Revenant. As Andrew Henry, the leader of the expedition of fur hunters, Gleeson does well with what screen time isn’t Leonardo DiCaprio fighting for his life, and rounded off an impressive year in yet another film nominated for Best Oscar. He has the Midas touch, it would seem.
- Tom Hardy
Losing out narrowly to top spot, Hardy has had an incredible year. Starring in Child 44 (rubbish), London Road (good), Mad Max: Fury Road (really good), Legend (good), and The Revenant (OSCARWORTHY), Hardy has had a jam-packed schedule. It must be said that even though Child 44 is pretty shite, Hardy was still solid in the lead role. In London Road, he was stellar. In Legend, where he played both main parts, he was outstanding. In Mad Max, despite little dialogue, he was immense. In The Revenant, he just about matches with DiCaprio in terms of performance – and that’s a pretty high accolade. He managed to break free of the typecast of ‘enormous psychopath’, even if he did play a couple last year as well, but hey, don’t fix something if it ain’t broke.
- Nicholas Hoult (Mad Max, Kill Your Friends, Dark Places)
- Ty Simpkins (Jurassic World, Hangman, Meadowland)
- Michael Fassbender (Steve Jobs, MacBeth, Slow West)
- Joel Edgerton (Black Mass, The Gift, Life)
- Alicia Vikander
It was a pretty busy year for Vikander, who starred in six films in 2015. Starting with Testament of Youth, which came out right at the start of the year, she played a student who abandoned her studies to become a war nurse. She then moved onto Ex-Machina – have I mentioned what a good film that is yet? Her role as Ava, a piece of AI, saw her nominated for a Golden Globe and a BAFTA for Best Supporting Actress. But that wasn’t enough for this starlet, who was then nominated again as Best Actress for her role in The Danish Girl, in which she plays Gerda Wegener, the wife of one of the first males to undergo transgender surgery. Oh, and she got an Oscar nod for that as well. Some people just want it all…
What do you think? Who was your favourite star last year? Let us know in the comments or tweet @film_swot.
Author: Andrew Petrie