These Breakout Actors Made Us So Happy To Watch TV and Movies This Year

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Some of this year’s biggest movies and television shows this year have starred people who have ruled the Hollywood A-List for a while. Ethan Hawke. Julianne Moore. Michael Keaton. Jack Gyllenhaal. Ben Affleck. Viola Davis. But, there were some really memorable performances but new shining stars. Some of them have been hustling in small roles for a while like Selma‘s David Oyelowo and some of them starred in their first movie ever just last year like Ansel Elgort.

No matter their past movie history, these are our picks for actors who really had a big breakout in 2014.

Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer


Abbi and Ilana are our dream best friends. The amazing and hilarious show Broad City was a breakout hit this year thanks to the comedic genius of the two stars. We don’t feel like we need to describe this show but we guess we will. Ilana and Abbi are two besties trying to make it in New York. But Girls it is not. These ladies love weed, love hip-hop and love getting dirty. And to dance. They love to dance. Every episode is surprising and hilarious. But, it is worth watching the whole first season just to get to the finale. Lets just say that Ilana is her own worst enemy when it comes to her shellfish allergy. The two girls had strong support from Amy Poehler from the jump but now they can definitely carry themselves to season 2 in 2015.

Ansel Elgort


For an actor with four movies under his belt to be called one of GQ’s Men of the Year, he has to be doing something right. He was in both the dystopian young adult flick Divergent and the social media take down Men, Women & Children. But the film that really put him on our radar was The Fault In Our Stars. Also an adaptation of a young adult novel, TFIOS follows the heartbreaking romance between two young people who find love in a cancer patient support group. That should be enough to make you tear up just imagining it, you sensitive soul you. He also has a blossoming music career as an electronic artist named Ansølo. That amazing name alone should keep him on all of our radars.

Chris Pratt


Before Chris Pratt was cast in Guardians of the Galaxy, his name was probably only known by a few Parks and Recreation fans and people who know every minor character from The O.C. And maybe a few angry people who believe that Anna Faris should be their wife. But after he starred in two of the biggest movies of 2014, Guardians of the Galaxy and The Lego Movie he has become one of the hottest new household names. As popular as The Lego Movie was, the movie that really launched him into super Star Lord-dom was Guardians, probably because you could actually see his face. And his body. Now, Pratt seems to be on an impressive run with Jurassic World coming out next year and at least one Guardians sequel on the horizon.

Ellar Coltrane


Ellar Coltrane’s fame has been twelve years in the making. When he was cast as the “Boy” of Boyhood, Mason Evans Jr. in 2002 he was seven years old. Between then and when the movie wrapped in 2013, the cast all got together for 45 days filming the real life ageing of all of the members of the family. The movie finally came out this year and has topped a ton of critic’s best of 2014 lists. The actual physical progression of someone has never been depicted in a fictional film, making this a completely ground breaking film. It doesn’t seem like he has another movie immediately on the horizon, but he said he hopes to continue acting. He even shot an audition tape for a famously innovative director that he won’t name, New York reported. Having gotten his start in such a unique project, it will take something special to top it.

Gina Rodriguez


Gina Rodriguez is the star of an unlikely hit show. A show that thrives on ridiculousness. Jane The Virgin, tells the story of a girl, Jane, who thanks to a gyno mix up, gets artificially impregnated. Oops! The show is a loving homage to the great Telenovela, a type of story telling that takes the insanity of the American soap opera and turns it up to 11. It has been nominated for Best Comedy Series and Best Performance by an Actress in TV Series, Comedy for Gina. The show isn’t for everyone but we love it. It has what all good comedies have, a real heart. Gina is our underdog favourite.

Jack Falahee

It was very difficult to pick one breakout actor from How To Get Away With Murder. All of the new yong actors in that show are amazing. But there is something about the savvy, somewhat callous attitude Jack brings to his character Connor Walsh that makes him our favourite. The new show follows a group of law students and their teacher who delivers her lessons in unconventional ways. Connor gets ahead and what he wants by wielding his charm and day-um good looks. Boy is he good looking. After the crazy winter finale, who knows where the story is going to take Jack’s Connor when the show returns next year.

Jack O’Connell


If you are a fan of the original UK version of Skins you are probably saying out loud, “Uh duh! I could have told you this five years ago.”
Jack O’Connell is about to get a big push thanks to World War II hero Louis Zamperini and superstar Angelina Jolie. His new movie Unbroken comes out on Christmas Day, head to head with another movie we are excited for, Into The Woods. Jack plays Louis, a teenage delinquent turned Olympian runner turned WWII Japanese Prisoner of War. He also kept carving out an edgy career path in the movie Starred Up. The film is about a troubled and violent young man who ends up in the same prison as his father. His character Eric Love seems like the worst British inmate since the real and film versions of Charles Bronson. (Swoon… Tom Hardy). We hope that one day he becomes the muse of some great director. Maybe Unbroken director Angelina Jolie is that person.

Jenny Slate


Jenny Slate is one of the funniest people in the world. Her much beloved film, Obvious Child, came out this year and we cannot stop yelling at people to see this movie. After Jenny Slate’s character gets dumped, she has a drunk one-night stand with a guy at one of her comedy gigs. And then, whoops, she gets pregnant. The story then becomes a beautiful, funny and sensitive take on dealing with an unwanted pregnancy. In this film she also shows real heart. Plus, Jenny is the co-creator of Marcel The Shell With Shoes On, that had a great reintroduction to the world this year with their third instalment. Not to mention she has a reoccurring role on two of our favourite shows, Parks and Recreation and Bob’s Burgers. More Jenny please!

Miles Teller

Ah Miles Teller. Our love for this man is no secret. His breakout role this year is as Andrew in the film Whiplash, a compact, exciting story of the mentor and mentee relationship. The movie tells the story of a jazz drumming prodigy played by Miles who is schooled and abused by a tyrannical drumming teacher. Miles has mostly made his mark in Hollywood with bro-y comedies like this year’s That Awkward Moment, mixed with flashes of dramatic genius in some smaller indies. This movie will really catapult him to super stardom. He also had a small role in the big film, Divergent which apparently he wasn’t very happy to be in. Now he will be heading in to the superhero zone as Mr. Fantastic in The Fantastic Four films starting next year. As long as he keeps room in his schedule for films like Whiplash, we are all good.

David Oyelowo


David has been a working successful actor since 1998. From Lincoln to Rise of the Planet of the Apes he has established himself as a solid, respected actor. But this year was definitely his breakout year because of an outstanding performance as Martin Luther King Jr. in Selma. His complete embodiment of the civil rights leader has earned him a Golden Globe Award nomination and likely an Oscar nomination. The Brit nails the powerful voice of MLK and gives an intimate snapshot into his personal moments. He also had a minor role as a principal in the space epic Interstellar and role in the critic fave A Most Violent Year. He is also incredibly charming in interviews. Be prepared to see him a lot more.

Tessa Thompson


Tessa Thompson wins our award for coolest breakout actor of 2014. The Much digital team is obsessed with her. Okay, two of us are. She is also our fashion dream girl. Tessa was the star of Dear White People, which explores the different paths of four African American characters at an Ivy League College. From reality star ambitions to political radio addresses, their decisions and words reflect how the characters feel about their racial identity. The film was a festival darling and was developed with help by crowd funding on Indiegogo. Plus, she also played the historic role of Diane Nash in Selma, the story of the civil rights fight in Selma, Alabama. Although 2014 was he breakout year, we want her to dominate 2015.

Tony Revolori


If you saw Wes Anderson’s The Grand Budapest Hotel this year, you will have been charmed by Tony Revolori. The man who plays the young Zero Moustafa was paired so perfectly with Ralph Fiennes’ Monsieur H. The film tells the story of an author telling the story of a hotel owner telling the story of how he got to where he is. His mentor, the concierge Monsieur H. is accused of murder and the caper begins when a group of misfits get together to prove his innocence. Oh, and this is also all set against the backdrop of pre-World War II Europe. The cast, as you could guess, is stacked with people from Tilda Swinton to Jeff Goldblum but Tony really stands out. He is completely cool under pressure. Plus, he also has one of the most heartbreaking monologues in movies this year.