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The 13 Biggest Breakout Stars of 2013

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The 13 Biggest Breakout Stars of 2013

'Wolf of Wall Street' / 'Man of Steel' / '12 Years a Slave/ (Photo: WB / Fox Searchlight)

2013 had high-profile roles for such A-list stars as Brad Pitt ("World War Z"), Tom Hanks ("Captain Phillips" AND "Saving Mr. Banks"), Sandra Bullock ("Gravity") and George Clooney ("Gravity" again), though it was the work of lesser-known actors that in many cases made the bigger impression.

Every year has its share of Hot New Talent whose top-notch performances set the stage for even bigger things to come. Here are the 13 Breakout Stars of '13, the stars-in-the-making whose follow-up projects we're anxiously awaiting.

13. Rila Fukushima


By far the most memorable aspect of director James Mangold's distressingly personality-less "The Wolverine" was Rila Fukushima as Yukio, a mutant with the ability to foresee people's deaths ... and to make short work of a rowdy gang of barflys with her sweet sword. Fukushima, a model making her feature film debut, turned Yukio into a live-action anime character with her flaming red hair, piercing eyes and a stunning physical prowess that ensured she stole every damn scene she was in ... and maybe a few she wasn't as well.

12. Moisas Arias


It was a busy — and highly successful — year for 19-year-old Moisas Arias, who had not one nor two but three impressive roles to add to his resume: the lovably strange Biaggio, who takes on a poisonous snake and lives to tell the tale in the indie charmer "The Kings of Summer"; Antonio Perez, the son of the villainous El Macho (Benjamin Bratt) in "Despicable Me 2"; and Bonzo Madrid, surly commander of the Salamander Army in "Ender's Game." Arias currently doesn't have three roles lined up for 2014, but it's early yet.

11. Joey King


Speaking of three roles, young Joey King was also a triple threat in 2013, stealing hearts as the feisty but fragile China Girl in "Oz the Great and Powerful," Channing Tatum's in-distress daughter in "White House Down" and one of the terrorized Perron daughters in "The Conjuring." The 14-year-old Ms. King, who had already made quite an impression in yesteryears with her starring roles in "Ramona and Beezus" (2010), "Crazy Stupid Love" (2011) and "The Dark Knight Rises" (2012), will be seen next year in James Franco's latest William Faulkner adaptation, "The Sound and the Fury."

[Related: The 25 Best Movies of 2013]

10. Jackson Nicoll


Have you seen "Bad Grandpa"? Anyone who can hold his own against Johnny Knoxville in full-on "Jackass" mode — and in old man makeup, at that — deserves a breakout mention in our book. Really, when was the last time an eight-year-old played the straight man opposite an adult — and to such hilarious effect? Don't dismiss Nicholl, who also appeared in "The Fighter" (2010) and "Fun Size" (2012), as simply a comic foil, though — he's quite the Serious Actor, as evidenced by his main IMDb pic.

9. Adele Exarchopoulos


Léa Seydoux ("Mission Impossible - Ghost Protocol") has the flashier role with her blue hair and all, but it's Adele Exarchopoulos who carries most of the emotional weight of "Blue Is the Warmest Color," director Abdellatif Kechiche's controversial and completely fascinating three-hour tale of sexual awakening. Really, it's only a matter of time before this stunning actress is cast in some Marvel movie or equivalent thereof.

8. Barkhad Abdi


28-year-old Somali-American actor and director Barkhad Abdi is winning raves for his portrayal of Abduwali Muse, the leader of the group of Somali pirates that hijack the Maersk Alabama, in "Captain Phillips." Abdi has received nominations for an Online Film Critics Society Award, a SAG Award and, most notably, a Golden Globe for his performance in his feature film debut ... could he ride this wave all the way to an Oscar nom?

7. Margot Robbie


You can't help but notice the gorgeous blonde acting opposite Leo in the latest DiCaprio/Scorsese collaboration, "The Wolf of Wall Street." But it's hardly just looks: This Aussie (best known for TV's "Pan Am," and who also turned up this year in the underseen "About Time") can do a mean Brooklyn accent. Welcome to the big leagues, Ms. Robbie — see you in some superhero movie (maybe alongside Adele Exarchopoulos) within the next year.

6. Oscar Isaac

Oscar Isaac has been making a strong impression over the past several years with supporting roles in "Sucker Punch" (2011), "Drive" (2011) and "The Bourne Legacy" (2012), but he finally gets to take center stage — literally — in the Coen Brothers' latest music-driven masterpiece, "Inside Llewyn Davis." Isaac shines in his melancholy, understated and often very funny performance, wandering the streets, subways and bars of wintry New York City with an escape artist cat and a big ol' chip on his shoulder.

[Related: The 13 Top Performers of 2013]

5. Gal Gadot


Israeli actress and model Gal Gadot has been giving Michelle Rodiguez and/or Jordana Brewster some formidable hottie competition in the last three "Fast & Furious" movies (including this year's mega-hit "Fast and Furious 6") but finally claimed the spotlight all for herself by scoring the high-profile role of Diana Prince/Wonder Woman in the upcoming "Batman vs. Superman." Look, no one is ever going to live up to the Wonder-ful legacy of Lynda Carter (who, for the record, is an inch shorter than Gadot), so just go with it.

4. Michael B. Jordan


By far one of the most powerful performances of the year was Michael B. Jordan's in the equally powerful "Fruitvale Station," director Ryan Coogler's dramatization of the final hours of Oscar Grant, who was fatally shot by BART police on New Year's Day 2009. Jordan is attached to Coogler's next project, "Creed," in which he'll play the grandson of "Rocky" rival and best friend Apollo Creed, and is rumored to be playing Johnny Storm/The Human Torch in "The Fantastic Four," which will be helmed by Jordan's "Chronicle" director, Josh Trank.

3. Brie Larson


Our third triple threat is Brie Larson, who until this year was arguably best known on the big screen for her role as Jonah Hill's love interest in "21 Jump Street" (2012). In 2013, Larson played Cassidy, the ex-girlfriend of the increasingly self-destructive Sutter Keely (Miles Teller) in "The Spectacular Now"; Monica Martello, the sister of the womanizing Jon Martello, Jr. (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) in "Don Jon"; and, most notably, Grace, a supervisor at a foster care facility for at-risk teenagers, in "Short Term 12," a performance that has earned her acting award nominations from several organizations, including the Chicago Film Critics Association, the Online Film Critics Society and many others.

2. Lupita Nyong'o


From college to Hollywood! Lupita Nyong'o scored a featured role in "12 Years a Slave" immediately following her 2012 graduation from the Yale School of Drama, proving that sometimes going to school for this acting stuff actually pays off. For her portrayal of Patsey, a female slave who befriends Solomon Northup (Chiwetel Ejiofor), Nyong'o has so far earned tons of Critics Association awards and a Golden Globe nomination for Best Supporting Actress. You can almost guarantee an Oscar nom is forthcoming ... as is an action star turn opposite Liam Neeson in next year's "Non-Stop."

1. Henry Cavill


British actor Henry Cavill had strutted his stuff — and impressive physique — on both the big screen ("Immortals") and the small ("The Tudors") before this year, but 2013 saw him flying high with the role of a lifetime: Clark Kent/Kal-El in "Man of Steel," director Zack Snyder's Superman reboot. Unlike his predecessor, "Superman Returns" star Brandon Routh, Cavill will get to play the role again — and take on the Dark Knight himself — in 2015's "Batman vs. Superman." Cavill certainly looks the part, but he has yet to prove whether he can stand (and fly) alongside Christopher Reeve in our hearts — maybe adding a scene in which he helps a little girl get her cat out of a tree would help. Well, good-bye, Frisky!

Honorable Mention: Louis C.K.

Louis CK in Blue Jasmine

C.K. in 'Blue Jasmine' (Photo: Sony Classics)

Before 2013, we really only knew Louis C.K. as a stand-up comedian and star of his hit television series, "Louie." (Fun fact: He also directed the cult classic "Pootie Tang.") Now he's popping up in movies made by Woody Allen ("Blue Jasmine") and David O. Russell ("American Hustle"), stealing scenes from the likes of Sally Hawkins and Bradley Cooper, respectively. What's next? A supporting role in, you know, a comic book movie or something?