Sundance: We Have a Breakout

Six names on everyone’s lips

sundance breakouts!

The fest is done, but for some it’s just the beginning.

We’re talking about the newbies who are on their way to becoming red-carpet staples. From the slopes to the wait-list lines to the blogs, these six were the talk of the town.

Tilda Cobham-Hervey, 52 Tuesdays
Carey Mulligan has a twin. And she goes by Tilly. Okay, so they’re not really twins, but they definitely look alike — and share meaty acting chops. Cobham-Hervey plays Billie, a high-schooler becoming a woman as her mom becomes a man. It’s a multifaceted role fit for a seasoned actress. You can imagine our surprise when director Sophie Hyde revealed that all of her actors were first-timers [gasp].

Damien Chazelle, Whiplash
The film opened the fest, and crowds continued to sings its praises until closing night. But who’s the breakout? Miles Teller? Nope. He broke out last year with The Spectacular Now. J.K. Simmons? No. He’s been doing indie since before indie was cool. It’s Chazelle, the film’s writer/director. His tale about a talented drummer who takes a beating from his music teacher is this year’s Fruitvale Station (meaning it swept the big ones).


Earl Lynn Nelson, Land Ho
Who’d’ve thought a film about two old dudes road-tripping to Iceland would be such a hot commodity? It co-stars Paul Eenhoorn, who’s no stranger to the big screen — don’t forget his hit role in last year’s This Is Martin Bonner. But this year belongs to Nelson. As Mitch, he combines the charm of Walter Matthau with the foul mouth of Seth Rogen to comedic perfection.

Jenny Slate, Obvious Child
You might know her as Parks and Recreation’s Mona Lisa. Or for her stint on SNL (where she dropped the f-bomb live, oopsie). Or perhaps as the creator of Marcel the Shell with Shoes On. But it’s her big-screen debut that’s all the rage. Her turn as Donna Stern, a twentysomething stand-up comedienne who gets knocked up while life keeps knocking her down, sounds like every other indie role we know, but it takes an authentic and thoughtful jokester to poke fun at abortion — and actually be funny doing it.

Àstrid Bergès-Frisbey, I Origins
Mike Cahill opens his film with a close-up of a set of eyes worthy of a billboard. They belong to Bergès-Frisbey. Can’t place her? She’s the mute mermaid captured in the latest installment of Pirates of the Caribbean. Here, though, she’s Sofi, a spiritual beauty married to a methodical scientist (Michael Pitt). Though she’s in just the first half of the film, her presence lingers, like that light dot you continue to see after someone takes your picture.


Josh Wiggins, Hellion
He may be just 15, but he’s definitely da man. Wiggins plays Jacob, a kid raising hell because his mother just died and his father found a new love: booze. What about him is so great? He makes the kid in Mud look like a cry baby, taught co-star Aaron Paul (long live Jesse Pinkman) a thing or two during auditions (Paul said so in an interview), and has been dubbed the new Leonardo DiCaprio by Entertainment Weekly.

Now that’s saying something.

There’s more where that came from. Read up on our favorite films from the fest or take a Grammys quiz.

Photos: Courtesy of Visit Films; Andrew Reed; Lauren Logan / Courtesy of Sundance