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15 Breakout Stars of #TIFF15

It’s always the surprise ones.

We go into the festival thinking that certain celebrities are going to be the standout of the best films and we vault their films right to the top.

Only once the festival is over do we realize that the stars of tomorrow (and quite often, today) are staring us right in the face. Often undetected, (though certainly not for long), they are attending red carpets, interviews, Q & A’s, and often times hanging out at the parties. In no particular order, here are our fifteen breakout stars of #TIFF15.

Chad McKinney Beast

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Usually, the stars of TIFF are green, but Chad is perhaps the greenest of all, not having starred in anything prior to a stunning turn in the movie Beast. Hailing originally from San Francisco, and having experience as a boxer, the film by brothers Sam McKeith and Tom McKeith focuses almost exclusively on McKinney’s Jamie Grey. Though his father in the film Garret Dillahunt who plays Rick Grey may be more well-known, (and apparently actually resembles McKinney’s real-life father), McKinney is the soul of the film. Playing a boxer determined to win a fixed fight, McKinney draws on his boxing experience to mix it up in the ring, but then brings his A Game to scenes on the streets of Manila, where he prides himself on vomiting for real, twice. Chad is just an all-around great guy and a star in the making, (and his suit game is on point). This guy is a true discovery.

Odessa Young The Daughter, Looking for Grace

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Perhaps the best part about having Odessa Young at the film festival for not one, but two separate films, is the fact that she is just about the hippest sixteen-year-old that you’re ever going to meet.

Once again, her fashion sense is on point, as she rocks a t-shirt of The Stranglers and a very serious looking jacket. But much more important than her fashion sense is her acting ability. The actress is so strong with her pink hair as Hedvig in Simon Stone’s The Daughter and perhaps stands out even more so as the titular Grace in Sue Brooks’s Looking for Grace, the rock that holds the film together, even stealing the show from Richard Roxburgh, (the Duke from Moulin Rouge!) She can can can become a huge star.

Marilyn Lima Bang Gang

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Of all the places for an actor or actress to be discovered, we would not think of finding a future star on her personal tumblr page. But yet this is where Bang Gang director Eva Husson, who has been searching for months to discover an actress that could play the role of George discovered Lima. Apparently, the free spiritedness expressed by Lima on the site helped to suggest to Husson that she would be right for the role.

And what a role! Bang Gang features a rotating group of actors, (after all, see the title), but despite her looks and relative inexperience, Lima nails the role. What is next for the diminutive actress? Learning English.

Alban Lenoir French Blood

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Sometimes, some way, the role of a lifetime just drops right into your lap. The character of Marco Lopez, a skinhead looking to be reformed might be that role for Alban Lenoir. (Great name, by the way)

The sight of the actor blowing kisses to his director Diastème shows much Lenoir owes the success that will come with this role. The movie is extremely difficult to watch but extraordinarily hard-hitting, and represents a change of pace for the sloping foreheaded Lenoir, who is now getting cast in comedies, and with actors Jean Dujardin and Jean Reno.

In French Blood, Alban Lenoir gives a tour de force performance.

Kevin Janssens The Ardennes

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A Flemish actor from Belgium who seems to have the look of a star? While this description could easily fit Matthias Schoenaerts, his fellow Belgian Kevin Janssens appears set to break out in a very big way. The secret to Janssens’ success may very well be his bad boy image. When we first interviewed him, he was kicking back, relaxed, almost like no big deal. But when it was time to speak, Janssens shot right into the conversation and praised the film in which he appears.

In the extremely well-shot fast paced The Ardennes, first-timer Robin Pront expertly cast Janssens as Kenny, the brother that was left behind, rather than Dave, the one that got away, and the anguish is present in almost every scene in which Janssens appears, leading to a very violent but yet somehow fitting conclusion to the dark tale.

Where does Janssens want to go next? Jimmy Fallon, of course.

Michael Lennox A Patch of Fog

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It’s not only the actors that can be the stars of the festival. First-time feature director Michael Lennox appears with the fantastically funny and yet resonant A Patch of Fog, featuring Conleth Hill and Stephen Graham. The Northern Irishman is a first-time helmer of a feature. He first burst on to the scene with a short film, Boogaloo and Graham with the same sort of inflection. In fact, the writer and director Lennox describes A Patch of Fog as something of a longer short film. Over and over again in our interview A Patch of Fog was described as being smaller budgeted, but the film pops. The performances are great, (obviously), but the film could very much rival a huge studio film. What is more is that Lennox has made a film that is not about The Troubles of Northern Ireland, but could be set anywhere and everywhere.

Lindsay Burdge Lace Crater

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The film Lace Crater is a character study, and the character being studied is Burdge’s Ruth. The book on Ruth reports that beyond the supernatural elements of Lace Crater, Burdge plays a person who suffers from a similar malady to one that we all do at times — she’s lonely. And the only “person” that can offer her comfort is Michael, a ghost. Despite his resemblance to Scarecrow, Michael is truly from the beyond, but, then again, so is Burdge’s Ruth. There is something uncanny in her performance, that she is also playing someone that is not quite human. This element seems to resemble the closing day’s film Vertigo, but contains something belonging to only director Harrison Atkins. Burdge was previously featured in the film Come Down Molly, and can definitely break out in a big way. Perhaps she’s the Greta Gerwig of the future.

Anushka Manchanda Angry Indian Goddesses

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Surely each one of the seven Angry Indian Goddesses could be represented here, but Manchanda is perhaps the Goddess that makes the biggest impression in Pan Nalin’s film. “Mad” Madhurita may be the Angriest of the Goddesses, but what impresses most about Manchanda, Sarah-Jane Dias, Amrit Maghera, Rajshri Deshpande, Sandhya Mridul, Pavleen Gushral and Tannishtha Chatterjee, (who also stars in the acclaimed TIFF film Parched) is how well they all seem to get along with each other, both on screen and off. And the reactions from the Angry Indian Goddesses public screening have been nothing short of tremendous, even placing as the runner-up for the Grolsch People’s Choice Award. Moviegoers are praising the film, the fashions, but most of all the actresses, who are poised to break out a big way, (apparently being spotted in Kensington Market prior to the film’s was a highlight). Though Manchanda may stand tallest, each Goddess makes the film’s ending that much more surprising and resonant.

Abraham Attah Beasts of No Nation

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How is it at all possible for a teenaged Ghanian who has never acted before to hold his own opposite titan Idris Elba in Beasts of No Nation?

Well, this is how it happens. There is a scene towards the end of the film where Agu has lost hope in God, and his face is wracked with guilt and haunted with the atrocities he has commtted in the scene prior, hopeless. It normally takes an older and a much more seasoned actor to portray so many heavy emotions without uttering a word, (see Charlotte Rampling in 45 Years). Watch out for Attah during Awards Season.

Karl Glusman Love, Stonewall

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The original worry about the film Love was that the actor Karl Glusman lacked a certain je ne sais quoi. He felt a little bit “off” for the role of Murphy. Yet our interviews with Glusman and Gaspar Noé reveal that Glusman is perfectly fine, it’s the character that is so confused, that makes such stupid choices that it was transferred to the actor, who in real life has charisma to spare.

Whether it’s discussing the dreaminess of actor Ryan Gosling, (they share the same agent), or mentioning that a future screening of Love may take place in Benicio’s house, or just taking in a screening of The Martian along with Noé, going (relatively) unrecognized, Glusman is one to watch. He also appears in Roland Emmerich’s Stonewall. This American finds some rather interesting projects to gravitate towards, (he feels almost like a European’s conception of an American, like someone almost not of the place and time). We have great Love for the actor.

Randeep Hooda Beeba Boys

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From the first moment of the first press conference, the Beeba Boys made a huge impact. But we’ve got to respect the leader of the Beeba Boys himself, Indian actor Randeep Hooda. His Jeet Johar has the perfect combination of menace and accessibility. And there is something quite hilarious about a crime lord who lives with his parents and his son, and perhaps only Hooda could have pulled off this difficult role for writer-director Deepa Mehta.

There is something so infectious about the Beeba Boys and their spirit during the festival, (not to mention their choices of fashion on the Roy Thomson Hall red carpet). Hooda is a true leader both in and out of the film. If you don’t like it, you can kiss my chittar.

Jacob Tremblay Room

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Despite restricting the list to international stars, (as it has been an amazing year for Canadian breakout), the performance of B.C.’s Jacob Tremblay in Room just could not be left off this list. Without this brave performer, the film may not have won the Grolsch People’s Choice Award. Tremblay is electrifying and naturalistic as Jack in Lenny Abrahamson’s Room.

Christopher Abbott James White

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Classifying Abbott as a performer best recognized from a certain TV show does not do him justice. Audience members probably weren’t expecting the formidable performance that he delivers in James White. The film requires Abbott to be believable but also slightly askew, and boy, does he deliver on both counts.

James White is the type of movie that may seem uncomfortable or even slightly numbing at the point of watching. But then the movie lingers on and continues to hammer home feelings long after watching it. This is in large part because of Abbott’s assuredness as James White, because he is never less than one hundred percent believable. Yes, that is Awards buzz that you’re hearing.

Judah Lewis Demolition

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Far and away the biggest surprise about opening night film Demolition, the young Judah Lewis brings a sense of realism to his portrayal of the son of Naomi Watts’s character Karen Moreno, Chris. When he is not onscreen, we yearn to see him in the film once again.

Lewis will next appear as the young Johnny Utah in Point Break. If his future is to become as big a star as peak Keanu Reeves, then we have only one thing to say to that: Whoa!

Reynaldo Pacheco Our Brand is Crisis

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When you star in a movie alongside heavyweights like Sandra Bullock, Joaquim de Almeida, Billy Bob Thornton and Ann Dowd, your performance really needs to stand out, which is absolutely the case for Reynaldo Pacheco in Our Brand is Crisis. The actor, from La Paz, Bolivia, was previously seen in the festival film Beginners, and makes his mark here as an idealistic supporter of candidate Pedro Gallo. Pacheco serves as the moral compass, as the beacon of social morality. He is definitely one of our ones to watch.

Until next year!