Seven Rising Hollywood Stars to Watch in 2010

2010 ushers in a new generation of actors ready to ascend Hollywood throne.

Jan. 4, 2010— -- If the fresh faces turning up now during the Hollywood award season are any indication, there's a new crop of stars eager to claim the Hollywood throne.

Of course, Meryl Streep may not be moving over anytime soon. Streep is competing against herself at the Golden Globes with two best actress nominations in the motion picture, comedy category for "Julie and Julia" and "It's Complicated."

But look for newcomers Carey Mulligan and Gabourey Sidibe to possibly compete against Streep, the Academy's most nominated actress, when the Oscar nominees are announced the day after the Golden Globe Awards, which air Jan. 17.

"It will be a race between the veterans and the rookies, the most nominated performer ever against two young upstarts," Entertainment Weekly senior writer Dave Karger told

At the Globes, Mulligan, the star of "An Education," and Sidibe, the star of "Precious," are both up for best actress in the motion picture, drama category.

Another new face, Anna Kendrick will compete for best supporting actress in a motion picture at the Globes and is likely to pick up an Oscar nod in the same category.

Known to the teen-tween set for her role as Bella's classmate in the "Twilight" blockbuster series, Kendrick is winning kudos for holding her own as a young upstart opposite movie veteran George Clooney in "Up in the Air."

Not all the fresh faces belong to young upstarts. Jeremy Renner, 38, who plays a bomb technician in the critically acclaimed "The Hurt Locker," and Christoph Waltz, 53, the Austrian-born villain of Quentin Tarantino's "Inglourious Basterds," are both long-time actors who are finally enjoying the spotlight. Waltz is considered the front-runner for the Academy's best supporting actor next year.

Here are seven stars-in-the-making to watch for this award season and beyond:

Carey Mulligan

Chicago Tribune film critic Michael Phillips predicts Mulligan will "be around for decades."

"She's probably as good as Kate Winslet and even Helen Mirren," Phillips told

The 24-year-old English actress made her film debut in "Pride & Prejudice" with Keira Knightley but it was her role as an English schoolgirl growing up in the 1960s in "An Education" that has won over the critics.

New York Times film critic A.O. Scott said "An Education" wouldn't have worked without her. "It's a complicated character, naïve and silly and shrewd and reckless," he told "She does a good job of that."

You can also catch Mulligan in the recently released "Brothers," in which she plays a military wife.

But it's in this year's "Wall Street 2," where she'll play Michael Douglas' daughter and co-star with Shia LaBeouf, whom she's rumored to now be dating, that most American audiences will probably get to know her.

"There will certainly be a lot of media attention attached to that movie and that will help build a resume for her," Greg Kilday, film editor for The Hollywood Reporter told

Gabourey Sidibe

It's hard to believe Sidibe has never acted before and could be competing against one of the greatest actresses of all time, Meryl Streep.

"The acting branch doesn't always acknowledge newcomers," Scott said. "But I think Gabby is terrific. It's Gabby that holds the picture together."

Sidibe's own life -- born in Brooklyn, raised in Harlem by an R&B singing mother -- couldn't be further from that of her character in "Precious," in which she plays an illiterate abused teenage mother of two.

"When I was looking for Precious, I interviewed 400 girls," director Lee Daniels told Peter Travers, the host of ABC News Now's "Popcorn." "I saw Gabby's audition tape and she starts talking like this white girl from California."

Next up for the 26-year-old is "Yelling to the Sky," a Sundance project in which she plays a bully opposite Zoe Kravitz, the daughter of her "Precious" co-star Lenny Kravitz.

After that, Kilday said it may be a challenge for Hollywood and the independent film arena to find roles for Sidibe.

"Hollywood isn't always creative," he said. "To try to find roles that she will fit well in is going to be tricky. She may in some senses find herself competing with Jennifer Hudson, who already has an Oscar under her belt. Hudson hasn't done much in the way of film work since 'Dreamgirls.' I think Gabourey might face the same challenges."

Anna Kendrick

Kendrick is only 24, but she's been at the acting game for half her life.

At age 12, she earned a Tony nomination -- the second youngest ever -- for her role as Dinah in the Broadway musical "High Society." She made her film debut in 2003 in the musical comedy "Camp," but it was her role in "Twilight" that brought her fame.

Director Jason Reitman has said he wrote the part of Natalie in "Up in the Air" with Kendrick in mind. He needed someone with the chops to go up against Clooney and, judging from most critics' accounts, Kendrick succeeds.

"There's a lot of potential there," Kilday said. "She shows a comedic side in 'Up in the Air.' Presumably she could also step into dramatic parts. I suspect we haven't seen the whole range of her."

Up next in 2010: Kendrick will reprise her role of Jessica for the final chapter of the "Twilight" saga and will star opposite "Juno" star Michael Cera in "Scott Pilgrim vs. the World."

Jeremy Renner

Renner has been acting nearly 15 years, making a career out of playing likeable anti-heroes.

After all, this is a guy who was nominated for an Independent Spirit Award for playing serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer. But it's his role as an Iraq War bomb technician in "The Hurt Locker" that is getting all the critics' attention.

"It is one of the best movies about the Iraq War," Scott, from the New York Times, told "He gave an extraordinarily good performance and has announced his presence in a big way."

Renner was surprisingly overlooked by the Golden Globes, though not by his peers. He's been nominated by the Screen Actors Guild for outstanding male actor in a leading role.

"He's at the age where he can step into potential leading man parts from drama to action-adventure," Kilday said. "And I think the fact that he has been around means he's probably well known to casting agents. A lot of moviegoers don't realize how much they've seen him. He's usually the second or third guy in a group. But with 'Hurt Locker,' he's moving front and center."

Renner is set to star in next year's crime drama "The Town," directed by and starring Ben Affleck.

Saoirse Ronan

This young Irish actress stole the screen in her first major film "Atonement" from bigger-named actors Keira Knightly and James McAvoy.

Saoirse Ronan also earned her first Academy Award nomination. In her current film, Peter Jackson's "The Lovely Bones," Ronan is earning raves for her role as murdered teen Susie Salmon, the film's narrator, even if the film is not.

At just 15, Ronan, whose first name is pronounced "Seer-sha," is likely to be around for a while. Next up, Peter Weir's "The Way Back," in which she'll no doubt hold her own against Colin Farrell and Ed Harris.

"She's on the younger end of the spectrum, which means she has a lot of time and can play both teenage roles and move into young adult roles," Kilday said. "She's already established her credentials within the industry. Now she's building up a public persona in terms of film audiences."

Mia Wasikowska

This March, with the help of director Tim Burton, Australian actress Mia Wasikowska is sure to break out in a big way.

Wasikowska will star as Alice in Burton's "Alice in Wonderland," opposite Johnny Depp's Mad Hatter.

The buzz has been building for some time on this 20-year-old ballet dancer-turned-actress who displayed major acting chops in HBO's "In Treatment" and opposite Daniel Craig in "Defiance." In 2009, she starred with Hilary Swank as an aspiring aviator who hopes to follow in Amelia Earhart's footsteps in "Amelia."

If her past is any indication, Wasikowska could follow in the footsteps of Swank, who has won two Academy Awards. In 2010, she'll star as the daughter of a lesbian couple played by Julianne Moore and Annette Bening, who together set out to find her biological father. And she's set to act in "Milk" director Gus Van Sant's still unnamed next project.

"The fact that a serious director like Van Sant is interested in her speaks to her abilities," Kilday said. "She's got really solid acting chops along with the fact that she's going to be in big films."

Sam Worthington

The huge box office return of James Cameron with the film "Avatar" was sure to produce a star -- and it did with Australian actor Sam Worthington, who plays lead Jake Sully.

At 33, Worthington was known mostly to Australian audiences for his television work. Passed over to be Pierce Brosnan's successor as James Bond, he had only a few minor roles in films before Cameron took a shot on him for "Avatar," casting him in 2007.

Cameron also recommended him for a part in "Terminator Salvation" with Christian Bale. The movie, released last summer, was panned, but Worthington's performance was widely praised. Finally with "Avatar," Worthington has won widespread attention.

"I think he can inherit the action-adventure roles of other actors who are getting too old for them," Kilday said. "And once he can show other aspects of his personality, he could probably take on comedy and drama as well."

Up next, Worthington will play Perseus in the remake of "Clash of the Titans."