There are hundreds of talented actors at this year’s Sundance Film Festival but it’s impossible to give everyone their due without seeing the actual movies. With so many choices and such little time, TheWrap asked dozens of Hollywood types which stars are poised for breakout success at this year’s festival. Here are 10 who could steal the spotlight this week, listed in alphabetical order.
Movie: “Blue Ruin” (Spotlight)
Why He’s One to Watch: Blair may not look like a leading man but he sure does carry Jeremy Saulnier’s low-budget revenge thriller, which could lead to bigger things in the future. His quietly unnerving performance has already won over film critics who caught the film at either Cannes, AFI Fest or Fantastic Fest. While Blair previously co-starred in Saulnier’s debut feature “Murder Party,” but that movie didn’t have hot indie distributor Radius-TWC in its corner.
First Screening: Friday, Jan. 17, 11:30 a.m. at the MARC
Movie: “Boyhood” (Premieres)
Why He’s One to Watch: Because Richard Linklater has an eye for talent and he’s been using it to watch Coltrane for more than 12 years. We’re going to see the semi-professional actor age from a young boy to a grown man in this potentially fascinating cinematic experiment. You can bet that agents and managers will be lining up to sign him if he’s even half as talented as Linklater’s past discoveries, which include the entire cast of “Dazed and Confused,” more or less. Coltrane also popped up in Linklater’s 2006 dramedy “Fast Food Nation,” so clearly the director saw something he liked midway through filming.
First Screening: Sunday, Jan. 19, 9:45 p.m. at the Eccles
Movie: “Ping Pong Summer” (NEXT)
Why He’s One to Watch: Like Liam James in last year’s “The Way Way Back,” Conte does an admirable job playing a fairly passive character who is coaxed out of his shell one summer. Conte excels at making the largely-internal character relatable, plus he looks like a young Emile Hirsch, which never hurts. This slight but sweet coming-of-age film represents a promising sign of things to come.
First Screening: Saturday, Jan. 18, 11:30 a.m. at the Library
See photos: 18 Must-See Movies at Sundance
Movie: “The Babadook” (Park City at Midnight)
Why She’s One to Watch: Director Jennifer Kent asks a lot of the ethereal Australian actress, who has to act paranoid while conveying maternal warmth to her troubled young son. As her scary situation spirals out of control, the performance seems to mirror the character’s debilitating state of mind, picking up steam as the film goes along. Davis is a veteran actress who appeared in the two “Matrix” sequels, as well as Baz Luhrmann’s “Australia,” but “Babadook” represents a real step forward and a great opportunity to maximize her exposure as a dramatic lead.
First Screening: Friday, Jan. 17, Midnight at the Egyptian
Movie: “Song One” (U.S. Dramatic Competition)
Why He’s One to Watch: Flynn is a South African born English musician who has been on the rise since 2005. Flynn is blessed with rock star looks and if he shows even a flicker of chemistry with Anne Hathaway, she’ll be more likely to co-host the Oscars again with him than James Franco. Flynn is coming off back-to-back Olivier Assayas movies in “Something in the Air” and the upcoming “Sils Maria,” but it’s Kate Barker-Froyland’s feature directorial debut “Song One” that could establish him as a capable leading man. It all depends on whether he hits the right note and the film strikes a chord with audiences.
First Screening: Monday, Jan. 20, 3:30 p.m. at the Eccles
Movie: “The Skeleton Twins” (U.S. Dramatic Competition)
Why He’s One to Watch: Pre-festival buzz has indicated that Hader comes into his own in this film and proves himself capable of so much more than Stefon on “Saturday Night Live” and catchy T-Mobile commercials. If Will Forte can be taken seriously thanks to “Nebraska,” why can’t Hader find success stepping outside of his comfort zone? In his first lead feature role, Hader and fellow “SNL” alum Kristen Wiig play estranged twins in despair who reconnect to repair their relationship in attempt to fix their lives. If that doesn’t pique your curiosity, we don’t know what to tell you.
First Screening: Saturday, Jan. 18, 2:30 p.m. at the Library
Also read: 5 Breakout Movie Stars From Early 2014
Movie: “Little Accidents” (Premieres)
Why He’s One to Watch: Holbrook is one of the hotter young actors in Hollywood, with roles in such films as “The Host,” “Jane Got a Gun” and David Fincher’s “Gone Girl.” While he’s been consistently solid each time out, he has yet to make a lasting impression, though this drama could change his fortune and show audiences what casting directors see in him. He plays a man who survives a mining accident and comes into contact with the lonely wife of a mine executive (Elizabeth Banks) and a young local boy. This one may leave you haunted in the way a good drama should.
First Screening: Wednesday, Jan. 22, 6:30 p.m. at the Eccles
Movie: “Camp X-Ray” (U.S. Dramatic Competition)
Why He’s One to Watch: The press may fawn over Kristen Stewart but Maadi, who starred in “A Separation,” has a chance to make headlines of his own with his turn as a Guantanamo Bay prisoner who strikes up an unlikely friendship with a female guard. It’s a complex character full of humanity and we suspect Maadi will seize the moment and leave audiences wondering who stole the spotlight from K-Stew.
First Screening: Friday, Jan. 17, 12:15 p.m. at the Eccles
Movie: “The Guest” (Park City at Midnight)
Why She’s One to Watch: Monroe has been sneaking up on Hollywood lately, popping up in Jason Reitman’s “Labor Day” and Ramin Bahrani’s drama “At Any Price.” and Sofia Coppola’s “The Bling Ring.” “The Guest” is her first lead role and who better to share the screen with than “Downton Abbey” star Dan Stevens as a homicidal veteran. Genre fans should get used to seeing her, as she also has a thriller with James Badge Dale and a horror movie with Keir Gilchrist in the can.
First Screening: Friday, Jan. 17, 11:45 p.m. at the Library
Movie: “Jamie Marks Is Dead” (U.S. Dramatic Competition)
Why He’s One to Watch: Everyone knows Monaghan as gay teen Ian Gallagher on Showtime’s “Shameless” but that could change if “Jamie Marks” lives up to its potential. The teenage thriller is Carter Smith’s follow-up to the underrated horror film “The Ruins” and the fashion photographer’s knack for striking imagery is said to be put to good use here. With upcoming turns in two high-profile Weinstein Co. releases between “The Giver” and “Vampire Academy,” Monaghan is an actor on the rise, and “Jamie Marks” can only help his ascent to movie stardom.
First Screening: Sunday, Jan. 19, 8:30 p.m. at the Library