5 Of The Most Underrated Breakout Performances Of 2015 So Far

Disclaimer: This post was originally written for No Perfect Movie, but since the site has gone down, I’ve decided to transfer all my work onto this blog.

It’s been a great year for breakout stars in Hollywood. We all saw O’Shea Jackson Jr, Corey Hawkins and Jason Mitchell tear up the screen in Straight Outta Compton, while Alicia Vikander will most likely have an Oscar nomination by next February – the only question is whether it’ll be for Ex Machina or The Danish Girl. However, this article is meant to put the spotlight on some of the other fantastic performances, which may have slipped under the radar. So, without further ado…

5) Mae Whitman, The DUFF

Mae Whitman - The Duff

It wasn’t quite the ‘spiritual successor to Mean Girls‘ it was hyped up to be, but that didn’t stop The DUFF from being a pretty enjoyable movie. Most of the credit for that should go to star Mae Whitman, whose witty and relatable lead turn as the hapless ‘Bianca’ was easily one of the most likeable performances of the year so far. Demonstrating expert comic timing along with some sharp chemistry with her co-star Robbie Amell, Whitman proved she deserves more time in the spotlight as a lead – rather than being restricted in monotonous supporting roles.

Next-Up: Whitman’s has a voice part in the first cross-cultural Chinese/American animated feature Rock Dog from Toy Story 2 co-director, Ash Brannon.

4) Matthias SchoenaertsFar From The Madding Crowd

Matthias Schoenaerts - Far From The Madding Crowd

Though Matthias Schoenaerts has been around for a little while, he’s only just found more mainstream success this year. After being one of the few redeemable aspects of the much-maligned murder mystery, The Loft, the Belgian actor showcased his dramatic talent opposite Carey Mulligan in Thomas Vinterberg‘s Far From The Madding Crowd. His supporting performance may have been (understandably) overshadowed by his more charismatic co-star, but there was a genuine likability about Schoenaerts’ ‘Gabriel Oak’ – even if he didn’t quite nail that West Country accent.

Next-Up: Schoenaerts will pop-up twice at Venice this year, first alongside Tilda Swinton and Ralph Fiennes in thriller A Bigger Splash – but he’ll gain more attention for his supporting role in Tom Hooper‘s early Oscar contender, The Danish Girl.

3) Lily JamesCinderella

Lily James - Cinderella

Who knew Cinderella would end up as one of the most pleasantly enjoyable flicks of the year? Despite the apparent lack of ambition (storytelling-wise), Kenneth Branagh delivered a fun live-action take on the animated Disney classic, but more importantly unearthed an enchanting new star in Lily James. Sincere and sweet, James made for an endearing protagonist – capable of even holding her own onscreen with the great Cate Blanchett. In a film widely-praised for its lavishly-designed sets and beautiful costumes, ‘Ella’ was the real beating heart at the centre of this tale.

Next-Up: She has a part in the Bradley Cooper-led kitchen drama Burnt later this year, but it won’t be until 2016’s Pride And Prejudice And Zombies that we see her back in a leading role. The jury’s still out on that one, but it’s got one hell of a title…

2) Bobby CannavaleDanny Collins

Bobby Cannavale - Danny Collins

A lot of people already knew how great Bobby Cannavale is, after his Emmy-winning turn on HBO’s Boardwalk Empire. He was also wasted in limited supporting roles in both Spy and Ant-Man this summer. His part in Danny Collins was far more meaty, and it was here that he got to demonstrate his incredible talent. Dan Fogelman‘s comedy is a ‘decent’ flick at best, but Cannavale’s work is almost awards-worthy. He delivers a relatable, honest and heartfelt performance as both a father and a son, while his chemistry with Al Pacino is fantastic. Expect big things from this guy.

Next-Up: A lead role in Terence Winter & Martin Scorsese‘s next HBO series, Vinyl, before possibly re-teaming with Pacino for Scorsese’s The Irishman, which has been stuck in development hell for a number of years.

1) Sarah SnookPredestination

Sarah Snook - Predestination

With one of the most touching and emotional performances of the year, talented young Aussie actress Sarah Snook really put herself on the map. Predestination was a mind bender of a movie, and to go into too much detail about it would cross into spoiler territory. However, in amongst all the time-travelling, twists and turns, Snook’s performance was essential in giving this flick some much needed humanity. And she nails it, demonstrating great range between youthful optimism and heartbreaking loneliness. I cannot speak more highly of this woman’s ability.

Next-Up: Having made her breakout in Hollywood in January, Snook’s sticking to her roots with a string of Australian produced indie flicks. However, chances are the next time we’ll see her is in Danny Boyle‘s Oscar hopeful, Steve Jobs.


So there we have it folks, five of my favourite breakout turns that may have slipped under the radar this year. Do you agree with these choices, or do you have someone else more deserving in mind? Feel free to drop a comment below or on Twitter!

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About Minty

Writer for @ComicBook_Movie & @MoviesTVComics. Professional procrastinator. Real human bean.
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