From blockbusters like Black Panther and Solo to groundbreaking independent films like Eighth Grade and Sorry to Bother You, 2018 was a standout year for new talent at the movies. Of the 15 actors whose performances made our list, four were making their film debuts, and two (Crazy Rich Asians’ Henry Golding and Roma’s Yalitza Aparicio) had never even acted before this year. Others, like Widows’ Elizabeth Debicki and To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before’s Noah Centineo, are established players on the verge of much bigger stardom. Here are Yahoo Entertainment’s picks for the breakout movie stars of 2018. — Gwynne Watkins, Ethan Alter and Kevin Polowy
Breakout moment: There’s some hefty star power in 2018’s box-office champ Black Panther, including Chadwick Boseman, Michael B. Jordan, Lupita Nyong’o, Angela Bassett and Forest Whitaker. But many of the film’s most memorable lines (“Don’t scare me like that, colonizer!”) belonged to the 25-year-old Guyanese Londoner, who brought the perfect blend of wit, spunk and spot-on comedic timing to her vital role as T’Challa’s techno-savvy sister, Shuri, our new favorite Disney princess.
Next up: Wright will co-star with fellow Disney hitmaker John Boyega (Star Wars) in the sci-fi romance Hold Back the Stars, which is being described as “Romeo & Juliet meets Gravity.” — K.P.
Breakout moment: After working as a hairdresser in London and as a travel-show host in Malaysia, Golding, 31, made his high-profile acting debut in the biggest romantic comedy of 2018, Crazy Rich Asians. After proving that he looked amazing in (and out) of a tux, Golding cemented his leading-man status as Blake Lively’s husband in the suburban thriller A Simple Favor.
Next up: Paul Feig’s holiday romance Last Christmas opposite Emilia Clarke; Guy Ritchie’s crime drama Toff Guys, with Matthew McConaughey and Colin Farrell. — G.W.
Breakout moment: Criminally overlooked in its theatrical release, George Tillman Jr.’s adaptation of Angie Thomas’s bestselling novel The Hate U Give has the dramatic and thematic goods to become this generation’s To Kill a Mockingbird. And Stenberg’s code-switching high school student, Starr, is absolutely a modern-day Scout. The former Hunger Games star also impressed in two other 2018 releases, Where Hands Touch and The Darkest Minds.
Next up: Stenberg doesn’t have an announced project in the works, but after The Hate U Give, we imagine that she’ll be snapped up soon. — E.A.
Breakout moment: Anyone who sees If Beale Street Could Talk will be spending a lot of time face-to-face with Layne, 26, whose gorgeous closeups are the emotional center of Barry Jenkins’s acclaimed romantic drama. The Hollywood newcomer (whose prior onscreen experience consisted of a single Chicago Med episode) is one to watch this awards season.
Next up: Sci-fi thriller Captive State, with John Goodman and Vera Farmiga; Native Son, an adaptation of Richard Wright’s 1940 novel about a Chicago family during the Depression. — G.W.
John David Washington
Breakout moment: The 34-year-old star of Spike Lee’s BlacKkKlansman brings gravitas and humor to the tricky role of Ron Stallworth, the African-American detective who infiltrated the Ku Klux Klan in 1970s Colorado. Washington (a former NFL player and son of Denzel) also starred in two smaller, well-reviewed 2018 films, Monsters and Men and The Old Man & the Gun — and coincidentally, he played a police officer in those too.
Next up: Monster, based on Walter Dean Myers’s young adult crime novel, premiered at Sundance in 2018 and is awaiting distribution. — G.W.
Lana Condor and Noah Centineo
Breakout moment: The Vietnamese-American actress made her film debut as Jubilee in X-Men: Apocalypse, but when this year’s Netflix rom-com To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before became a surprise hit, 21-year-old Condor was instantly promoted to being one of her generation’s biggest stars.
Next up: Robert Rodriguez and James Cameron’s anime adaptation Alita: Battle Angel; the Syfy series Deadly Class, about a high school for assassins; and a sequel to To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before. — G.W.
Breakout moment: Teenage viewers of Netflix comedies To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before and Sierra Burgess Is a Loser may have already known Centineo, 22, from his roles in Disney Channel and ABC Family shows. But when those movies attracted an audience of all ages, Centineo’s Ruffalo-esque looks and strong Instagram game truly entered the mainstream.
Next up: The Charlie’s Angels reboot with Kristen Stewart and Elizabeth Banks; Good Trouble, a spinoff of Freeform’s The Fosters (which gave Centineo his first major TV role); and a sequel to To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before. — G.W.
Breakout moment: Tobago-born actor Duke, 32, made his unforgettable film debut in Black Panther as the intimidating but honorable warrior leader M’Baku (a role that he reprised in Avengers: Infinity War).
Next up: Jordan Peele’s Get Out follow-up, Us; crime drama Wonderland with Mark Wahlberg; action thriller Heroine; and Backyard Legend, a biopic of MMA fighter Kimbo Slice. — G.W.
Breakout moment: With small roles in numerous high-profile films (including Get Out, Selma and Straight Outta Compton), along with a part on the FX comedy-drama Atlanta, Stanfield, 27, has been circling fame for years. In 2018, his bold performance in the jaw-dropping cultural satire Sorry to Bother You has placed him firmly in celebrity territory.
Next up: The crime drama Uncut Gems with Adam Sandler; Rian Johnson’s all-star mystery film Knives Out; and the graphic novel adaptation Prince of Cats. — G.W.
Breakout moment: The actress who voiced adorable Agnes in the Despicable Me films, Fisher, 15, made waves with her achingly realistic portrayal of a middle-school vlogger in Eighth Grade. Fisher is already having a busy awards season, with Golden Globe and Critics’ Choice Award nominations among her accolades.
Next up: A starring role in The Shaggs, a film about the cult-favorite 1969 teen-girl band; a voice role in the animated film Addams Family. — E.A.
Breakout moment: Aparicio, 24, had just been certified as a preschool teacher in Oaxaca, Mexico, when director Alfonso Cuarón cast her as the star of his 1970-set Spanish-language drama Roma. Based on the Mexican director’s own childhood, the intense black-and-white film is shot from the perspective of a domestic worker portrayed by Aparicio, who appears in almost every frame.
Next up: Aparicio has told reporters that she plans to pursue an acting career but has not announced any new projects. — G.W.
Breakout moment: To borrow the rhymes of another rapper turned actor, the Queens-born performer didn’t miss her chance to blow up into a big-time scene-stealer in 2018. As one of the Ocean’s 8 crew, Awkwafina scored big laughs opposite veteran comic actresses like Sandra Bullock and Anne Hathaway. She was also crazy funny in Crazy Rich Asians as the friend who helps Constance Wu navigate Singapore high society.
Next up: A voice role in the Angry Birds sequel; a Sundance-bound feature, Paradise Hills, with Emma Roberts and Milla Jovovich. — E.A.
Breakout moment: Among the four-woman heist team at the center of Steve McQueen’s masterful crime symphony, Widows, Viola Davis is the brains, Michelle Rodriguez the heart, Cynthia Erivo the muscle and Debicki the soul. Debicki’s Alice, a widow thrust into the harsh realities of life after being sheltered from the world, traverses her own seven stages of grief, from denial to determination to badass businesswoman. Debicki — whom you may remember from Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 or The Night Manager — also gave a stunning performance as a secretly abusive riding instructor in 2018’s Sundance-to-HBO drama The Tale.
Next up: A major role in the upcoming Jordan Peele-produced HBO series Lovecraft Country; art-world thriller The Burnt Orange Heresy with Mick Jagger and Donald Sutherland. — E.A.
Breakout moment: Her fellow Blockers pact-makers Kathryn Newton and Gideon Adlon could just as easily be on this list, but there was something especially magnetic about Viswanathan, 23. Her performance as tomboy-gone-wild Kayla in the female riff on American Pie was equal parts relatable and hilarious. And it was a surprise bonus to discover afterward that she’s actually Australian.
Next up: She’ll soon be seen opposite one of our favorite Aussies of all, Hugh Jackman, in the comedy-drama Bad Education, about the largest public school embezzlement scandal in history.; TBS comedy Miracle Workers where Steve Buscemi plays God and Daniel Radcliffe plays an angel. — K.P.
Breakout moment: Was there a more daunting movie role in 2018 than the one that Ehrenreich took over by playing young Han Solo in Solo: A Star Wars Story? You could count us among the early cynics who thought Ehrenreich didn’t seem quite right for the role (then again, who did?), but ultimately the movie succeeded (and we’ll die on that hill that it was a creative success) because the 29-year-old was able to skillfully channel the swagger and charm of Harrison Ford’s iconic smuggler.
Next up: Ehrenreich currently has no roles on his docket, but considering the guy’s been enlisted by Francis Ford Coppola, Woody Allen, Warren Beatty and the Coen Brothers, we have no doubt that will change. — K.P.
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