Every year there are actors who attend the Toronto International Film Festival as relative unknowns, jetting off in a trail of Oscar buzz as they teeter on the verge of full-blown stardom. Seriously, the list could go on and on, but some standouts include Freida Pinto and Dev Patel (Slumdog Millionaire), Carey Mulligan (An Education), Gabourey Sidibe (Precious), Lupita Nyong’o (12 Years a Slave) and Alicia Vikander (The Danish Girl). This year, our sights are set on these soon-to-be stars:
Sennia Nanua is the London-based 12 year-old stealing scenes opposite Glenn Close and Gemma Arterton in her debut feature, The Girl with all the Gifts (a sci-fi thriller about a fungal infection gone awry). Note: she plays the head zombie-girl, Melanie, who ultimately has the power to save or destroy humanity.
Australian actor Joel Edgerton (Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones) and Ethiopian-Irish actor Ruth Negga (Breakfast on Pluto) have remained relatively unnoticed in Tinseltown despite starring in several features. Sharing screen time and mega chemistry as a couple fighting against a Virginia law prohibiting interracial marriage, in the historical drama Loving, is their ticket to awards’ season noms.
Ashton Sanders (Straight Outa Compton) sends you straight into the ugly cry as he conveys the intense loneliness, sadness and pain of a bullied teenager in Moonlight. This coming-of-age story follows an African American boy, Chiron, living in Florida as he moves from boyhood to adulthood, struggling to come to terms with his sexuality and identity amidst a backdrop of poverty and drugs. One of the buzziest films at the festival (we’ve heard the word “masterpiece” tossed around more than once), it’s pretty much a Best Picture nominee shoe-in.
Sasha Lane makes her feature film debut, locking lips with her real-life ex Shia LaBeouf in American Honey. This Cannes Jury prize winning flick about a group of hard-partying, road-tripping teens who sell magazines door-to-door, also stars Elvis’s grand-baby Riley Keough.
Sunny Pawar is the latest wunderkind we’ll see all dressed up in tux come awards’ season. This pint sized prodigy plays a five year-old boy, Saroo Bierley, who is accidentally separated from his family in India and adopted by an Australian family (the matriarch being Nicole Kidman). Twenty-five years later, (now played by Dev Patel) he uses Google Earth to find his village and make his way back home. Sounds far-fetched, but it’s actually a true story based on the book A Long Way Home. FYI: Pawar can be seen next in a flick about international sex trafficking, Love Sonia, with Freida Pinto and Demi Moore. And then hopefully, someone will cast him in a comedy.
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