Alden Ehrenreich, Suki Waterhouse, and 8 More Breakout Stars for the Rest of 2016

To say the past six months have been somewhat kooky might be something of an understatement. Politically and culturally there has simply been a lot to make you scratch your head over. And, sadly, Hollywood can relate. Audiences have turned away from a number of sequels many thought would be big hits and the long line of comedy bombs so far this year is almost unexplainable (some were even funny!). It’s such a strange year that only one of the 10 actors we suggested as potential breakouts in January has done so, Birth of a Nation star and director Nate Parker. Two more have time to make their mark before Dec. 31 – Riz Ahmed and Scott Eastwood – but new intel has allowed us to suggest a crop of new contenders that should make enough noise over the next six months to find themselves pretty damn close to the A-list.

Sasha Lane

Discovered by Honey director Andrea Arnold during a scout at a public beach, the 20-year-old landed the lead role in what was one of the most critically acclaimed and buzzed films at the 2016 Cannes Film Festival. Lane had never acted before, but she is absolutely magnetic on screen and the heart of Arnold’s look at the vagabond life many poor twentysomethings in America experience today. While she’s only booked one other movie so far (even with the previous publicity of her dating co-star Shia LaBeouf) once Honey arrives in theaters expect her to be the new “it” girl for both cinematic auteurs and Hollywood directors alike.

Aja Naomi King

King’s Birth director and co-star, made the previous edition of this list before the film was seen at Sundance in late January. King has already established herself as a part of ABC’s How To Get Away With Murder ensemble, but she’s likely to become a household name if she earns an expected Oscar nomination for her performance in Birth. And if the movie becomes the cultural phenomenon Fox Searchlight is hoping it will be? Watch out.

Aldis Hodge

Hodge landed his first acting gig at the age of nine in Die Hard: With a Vengeance and has worked steadily ever since. 2015 and 2016 are turning out to be his coming out party, however. Hodge played MC Ren in Straight Outta Compton last summer and has a key role in Jack Reacher: Never Go Back arriving in theaters this October. He’ll follow that Tom Cruise thriller with Theodore Melfi’s highly anticipated period drama Hidden Figures in January (a movie that just wrapped and could arrive in theaters a few weeks earlier for Oscar consideration).

Ruth Negga

You may have seen her on FX’s Preacher, ABC’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. or remember her from World War Z, but 2016 is when Negga is set to truly break out. The veteran actress stars opposite Joel Edgerton in Jeff Nichols’ civil rights drama Loving and she’s as close to a lock as you can get in June for an Academy Award nomination. The Focus Feature release premiered at Cannes last month and while reaction to the film overall was mixed to positive, Negga was universally praised for her performance as Mildred Loving, a woman who stood up to an antiquated Virginia law that banned mixed race marriages. There are simply note enough quality roles for women let alone women of color on the big screen these days, but after Loving arrives stateside Negga will find herself climbing near the top of studio casting lists.

Haley Bennett

The 27-year-old Florida native has had a relatively quick rise in Hollywood recently starring in both The Equalizer and Hardcore Henry. The fall of 2016 will be a game changer, however, as she has three major films arriving in the span of two months. First she’s reunited with Antoine Fuqua in The Magnificent Seven, she’s then featured as a member of Warren Beatty’s impressive ensemble for Rules Don’t Apply (the icon’s first directorial effort in 18 years) and, most importantly, Bennett has a pivotal role in Tate Taylor’s adaptation of the blockbuster novel The Girl on the Train. Simply, Bennett is about to arrive.

Abbey Lee

If you don’t see Nicolas Winding Refn’s The Neon Demon in theaters you’re making a huge mistake. It may not completely work, but beyond it’s hypnotic aesthetics the film features a slew of impressive performances. Jena Malone and Elle Fanning are getting most of the initial critical praise, but Lee’s portrayal of a model willing to blatantly undergo a cosmetic surgeon’s knife to keep her career afloat is terrifyingly good (especially after a second viewing). The Aussie has some experience as a supermodel herself, but the Mad Max: Fury Road beauty is smartly following Demon up with the Paramount comedy Office Christmas Party this December and is appearing alongside Idris Elba and Matthew McConaughey in The Dark Tower next year.

Suki Waterhouse

Another fashion model and actress making waves on the big screen, Waterhouse – who has over 1 million Instagram followers – has a so-so kick-off to 2016 after Pride and Prejudice and Zombies disappointed at the box office. Waterhouse’s fortunes should change over the course of the next six months with three films expected to hit festivals and theaters including James Cox’s Billionaire Boys Club alongside Ansel Elgort, Kevin Spacey and Emma Roberts; The Girl Who Invented Kissing opposite Vincent Piazza and Luke Wilson; and Ana Lily Amirpour’s The Bad Batch which also stars Jason Momoa, Keanu Reeves and Jim Carrey.

Emory Cohen

Cohen had made received some attention for his performances in The Place Beyond the Pines and on NBC’s Smash, but when a key role Best Picture nominee Brooklyn arrived he (or his agent) took complete advantage. The 26-year-old actor shot six films since and, as you might expect, not all of them knocked it out of the park. Detour barely hit theaters in April and The Duel is receiving a token release this month with a simultaneous debut on VOD. That being said, while Cohen missed out on playing the young Han Solo he does have David Michôd’s highly anticipated satire War Machine with Brad Pitt on the way, a Netflix release that could find him in yet another Best Picture nominee.

Alison Sudol

If you’ve never heard of Sudol you probably aren’t familiar with A Fine Frenzy. That’s OK because the 32-year-old says she’s retired her popular alternative music identity and is now concentrating on her fledgling acting career. Sudol should receive a mammoth boost in that department with a significant role as American witch Queenie Goldstein in the Harry Potter spin-off Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. The David Yates directed blockbuster should compete with Rogue One: A Star Wars Story as the no. 1 film this holiday season.

Alden Ehrenreich

Star Wars fans know Ehrenreich as the actor cast to play a younger Han Solo in Lucasfilm’s spin-off film planned for 2018. Some moviegoers may even recognize him for his movie stealing performance in the Coen BrothersHail, Caesar! earlier this year. Where Ehrenreich should really pop is in the upcoming Iraq War drama The Yellow Birds. The potential awards season player finds Ehrenreich and Tye Sheridan (X-Men: Apocalypse) as two young soldiers attempting to make their way through the horrors of the war. Warner Bros. has already put Ehrenreich at the front of their publicity campaign and that bodes well for a truly breakout year for the 26-year-old who also has a role in the aforementioned Rules Don’t Apply.

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