As exciting as it is to observe the time tested craft of veteran performers like Meryl Streep, Cate Blanchett, and any number of other reliable thespians, it is sometimes even more invigorating to watch new stars take form before our eyes. So far in 2015, we have paid witness to a good many noteworthy breakout actresses. Handfuls of fledgling screen actresses have used the cinematic year to showcase their aptitudes for drama, comedy, and action, earning in the process a new familiarity that'll follow the best of the bunch throughout their careers.
While I haven't exactly rounded up a comprehensive list of all the blossoming performers to win our attention throughout the first eight months of 2015, what I could manage was a list of the nine who have stuck in my mind most rigidly. Be it due to my personal appreciation of their onscreen prowess, or an observation of just how often these actresses are brought up in conversation, I couldn't avoid branding this collection of ladies the most significant breakouts of the year in film.
If you're on the hunt for heroes in the last legs of their "unsung" periods, you'd be wise to check out any of the below performances.
1. Bel Powley in Diary of a Teenage Girl
Though likely familiar to British audiences for her work on television shows including M.I.High, Murderland, and Benidorm, Powley was an unknown in America before teaming up with the ubiquitous Kristen Wiig for this coming-of-age drama. Just as debut director Marielle Heller's picture has been heralded as the brazen and intimate look at female adolescence that Hollywood so desperately needed, Powley has been lauded for delivering a heroine the genre deserved.
2. Lola Kirke in Mistress America
It would have been far too easy for Lola Kirke, known best previously for her minor role in Gone Girl and her familial connection to Girls star Jemima Kirke, to be overshadowed in the riotous Mistress America by writer and costar Greta Gerwig. But Kirke's subdued temperament betrays as much cunning, empathy, and darkness as Gerwig's up-tempo mania, making them the perfect dramedy duo.
3. Chiara D'Anna in The Duke of Burgundy
Another magnetic veteran-newbie duo, this one amped up by a steamy romance, exists in The Duke of Burgundy. Longtime actress Sidse Babett Knudson is joined by the much younger Chiara D'Anna, in her sophomore picture. D'Anna, despite her fresh entry into the world of acting, commands the screen just as powerfully as Knudson does, often taking the reins of the film entirely.
4. Kitana "Kiki" Rodriguez in Tangerine
Whether or not Kitana "Kiki" Rodriguez has plans to follow Tangerine with another acting gig has yet to be seen. If not, we'll cherish her performance as Syn-Dee Rella, a newly released convict who zooms around Los Angeles hoping to exact revenge on her adulterous boyfriend, as a one-hit wonder for the ages.
5. Joanna Newsom in Inherent Vice
I couldn't wholeheartedly wish a film career upon Joanna Newsom, fearing that it might take time away from her musical endeavors. (If you're yet uninitiated into the Newsom fandom, prepare to declare Have One on Me the best album of the past five years.) But her crisp, otherworldly recurrence throughout Paul Thomas Anderson's masterful Inherent Vice at least makes the decision a tough one.
6. Rebecca Ferguson in Mission: Impossible — Rogue Nation
More common than remarks about Tom Cruise's sustained stardom and life-risking lunacy following the release of the latest Mission: Impossible episode were those about franchise newcomer Rebecca Ferguson. Having starred previously on the miniseries The White Queen, Ferguson displayed enough big screen charisma to render her the film's biggest talking point, and to open conversation about how quickly her talents will land her a blockbuster all her own.
7. Olivia Cooke in Me and Earl and the Dying Girl
Me and Earl and the Dying Girl has met a good deal of backlash for, as some decree, using the titular ill-fated young lady as a means to self-discovery for the likewise titular "me" (a boy named Greg, played by Thomas Mann). But the cancer-stricken Rachel is handled with spirit and humor by Olivia Cooke, whose talents are proven by her ability to enrich what many see as a secondary character at best.
8. Phyllis Smith in Inside Out
As just about everyone has seen one episode of The Office at some point or another, most likely in the form of a TBS rerun, you're most probably familiar with the frowning face and sullen vocals of Phyllis Smith. Smith doesn't exactly break from form as Inside Out's Sadness, but the wholly empathetic character does show us new intricacies to her downtrodden shtick.
9. Kiersey Clemons in Dope
The funniest part of a genuinely funny flick, Kiersey Clemons proves in Dope to be as able-bodied a cinematic sidekick as any of the guffawing goofballs we fell in love with via the films of National Lampoon, John Hughes, and the collective '90s teen genre.
Images: Sony Pictures Classics (2); Fox Searchlight Pictures (2); Artificial Eye; Magnolia Pictures; Warner Bros.; Paramount Pictures; Disney; Open Road