Ah, that glorious time of year again...awards season. Now that 2015 is officially here, awards season is definitely in full swing in Hollywood and beyond — and that means tons of nominations are on their way, soon. Exciting times! And it looks like it's all officially starting now: Today, the British Academy Film Awards revealed their picks for Rising Star nominees this year with a video narrated by (recently engaged!) comedian Stephen Fry and, no surprise, the list is filled with some big names to watch.
So, who nabbed the big honors? According to EW, the award is definitely not considered a "true 'beginner’s award,'" so nominees are expected to have a good amount of critically-acclaimed projects on their resumes — it just recognizes rising talents and their exceptional work. And, this year, the nominees definitely had some of that: As announced in the BAFTA video, The Fault in Our Stars' Shailene Woodley, That Awkward Moment's Miles Teller, Belle's Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Unbroken's Jack O'Connell, and The Wolf of Wall Street's Margot Robbie all nabbed nominations for the big award, which has previously gone to very recognizable names like Tom Hardy (2011), Kristen Stewart (2010), and Shia LaBeouf (2008).
While the BAFTAs may be recognizing these accomplished stars' most recent, widely-known works, however, each of them have actually been on the scene for a while — and they all have lesser-known, but just as quality projects that are definitely worth a watch before the winner is announced at the BAFTA ceremony on Feb. 8:
What You Probably Know Her From: The Fault In Our Stars (2014), Divergent (2014)
One Project You Need to Watch: The Descendants (2011)
Before this movie, I honestly didn't realize the extent of Shailene Woodley's acting capabilities — and I really don't think I was alone. Apart from a bit role as Marissa's little sister Kaitlin Cooper during the early years of The O.C. (her role was later recast with Willa Holland), Woodley really just had the ABC Family show The Secret Life of the American Teenager under her belt...and to put it gently, that show wasn't exactly Emmy-worthy. Or, like, any award worthy. When she took on her role as Alexandra King in The Descendants opposite George Clooney, however, that's truly when it became apparent that Woodley was definitely something special — even Clooney praised her acting when the film came out, saying: "Long after we're in the ground, she's going to be at these events, getting awards...she's that kind of an actress. She's really something, that girl." From a guy like Clooney, that's big — and totally reason enough to watch (or rewatch!) this stellar film.
What You Probably Know Him From: That Awkward Moment (2014)
One Project You Need to Watch: The Spectacular Now (2013)
Teen movies, really, just aren't what they used to be. Back in the '90s, when teen queens like Kirsten Dunst, Neve Campbell, Sarah Michelle Gellar, and Jennifer Love Hewitt reigned supreme, the quality of the films wasn't exactly award-worthy — but they did speak to a generation in a way that teen films these days don't quite seem to. Maybe it's just nostalgia talking, but, honestly, can anyone say they were more affected by a teen film like Project X over Can't Hardly Wait , or She's All That ? I know I can't, which is what really makes a movie like The Spectacular Now so special: Starring Miles Teller and fellow BAFTA Rising Star nominee Shailene Woodley, The Spectacular Now absolutely is that teen movie that speaks to a modern generation — and it does it well, at that.
What You Probably Know Him From: Unbroken (2014)
One Project You Need to Watch: Skins (2009-2010, 2013)
Around the same time purportedly "shocking" teen TV show Gossip Girl premiered in the U.S. with subject material racy enough to piss off many a parent watch groups, another teen series, Skins, was making its debut over in the UK — and with material so racy, it would make Gossip Girl look like a downright after-school special. Even better, the acting (from actors who were actually teens at the time of filming, not 20-somethings who look nothing like high-schoolers!) was pretty great, and the show ended up producing a ton of stars, like Nicholas Hoult, Kaya Scodelario, Dev Patel, Joe Dempsie, Hannah Murray, and, of course, this guy: Jack O'Connell. Though O'Connell's defining performance is definitely his most recent in Unbroken, his debut in Skins is great — playing Cook, a severely troubled teenager, you can definitely see that acting in the tough roles comes naturally to this guy.
What You Probably Know Her From: According to the BAFTAs, Larry Crowne (2011)...but I'm gonna go ahead and say she's more widely recognized for her highly acclaimed starring role in Belle (2013).
One Project You Need to Watch: Beyond the Lights (2014)
When is there really a good romantic drama anymore? Really, think about the last one you've seen: Personally, it had been ages for me before Beyond the Lights was released just last year. Starring the ever-lovely Gugu Mbatha-Raw as a depressed pop starlet and Nate Parker as a young police officer she falls in love with, the film might not be the most highbrow, intellectual, or complicated there is — but it's a genuinely good film about a romance, and, honestly, I don't think they make enough of those anymore. Plus, it features an amazing performance from Mbatha-Raw, so it is definitely worth the watch.
What You Probably Know Her From: The Wolf of Wall Street (2013)
One Project You Need to Watch: About Time (2013)
Though Margot Robbie doesn't have the biggest role in this underrated romantic comedy from Love Actually writer/director Richard Curtis, she does have a pretty defining one: In the beginning of the film, her character Charlotte is the object of main character Tim's (Harry Potter/Unbroken's Domhnall Gleeson) affections and dreams. Though she's logically unattainable, Tim seems to firmly believe that dating her will immediately make his life perfect. Of course, since no one person can complete anyone else's life no matter who they are, and this quickly becomes apparent quite quickly — all thanks to Charlotte. (Additionally, this movie is a delightful romcom and Rachel McAdams is absolutely adorable, so it's worth watching for that alone.)