The Young Folks’ Breakout Artists of 2014


The Young Folks team has come together to list the very best in entertainment and pop culture for the year 2014!

From Andy Dwyer, to that girl who used to be on a Nickelodeon show, to a should-be Oscar winner, this year’s fresh breakout talent was limitless, and some will undoubtedly go under-appreciated (my heart breaks every time Gugu Mbatha-Raw doesn’t get nominated). Here are some of our picks for who had the biggest breakout year.

Allyson Johnson’s TOP TEN BREAKOUT STARs:

1. Jack O’Connell – Starred Up/71/Unbroken

Jack O’Connell has proven himself to be a force to be reckoned with this year, with not one but three performances that have won him rave reviews. Who knew Cooke from Skins was going to do so well for himself? Compared by many (myself included) to a young Tom Hardy, O’Connell has talent in spades and uses his particular brand of self-imposed masculinity and raw vulnerability to build these tremendously watchable characters. He’s one to watch without question, and I can’t wait to see what the next few years bring for him.


2. Rosamund Pike – Gone Girl

I think we had all known of Rosamund Pike before David Fincher’s Gone Girl, but most of us knew her by her fleeting roles such as those in Pride and Prejudice, An Education and The World’s End. Now she’s starred in a hit and could possibly be up for an Oscar nomination. She’s my favorite to win, and I’m sure she’s many others’ as well. Her performance was on Alfred Hitchcock horror and classic femme fatale levels to wonderful perfection.

3. Gugu Mbatha-Raw – Beyond the Lights/Belle

I’ve already said this in numerous other articles, but let’s get something straight: she should be winning awards this season and yet she’s not even in the conversation, and it’s tiresome. Regardless, this has easily been her breakout year with two powerhouse performances and critical love.


4. Grant Gustin – The Flash

This is just my guess, and I say this as a fan of Ezra Miller, but I believe by the time the movie version of The Flash hits theaters, DC fans are going to be very, very attached to Grant Gustin’s Barry Allen. In all honestly, I wish DC and Warner Brothers would have taken a shot with Gustin because he’s doing some fine work as the speedster, and each week it seems he’s getting better – and he started off strong. So yes, that’s my hunch. I’m already deeply attached to Barry and I can only imagine that it will continue on a similar path.

5. Ava DuVernay – Selma

This is a wonderful underdog story. Her last film, Middle of Nowhere, had difficulty getting distribution, and now Selma is a frontrunner in the Best Picture conversation. Female filmmakers – which are few due to the overwhelming male dominance in the business – are having a fantastic year-end run, and wouldn’t it be great for it all to be topped off with her being nominated for or winning the Best Director prize?


6. Agata Trzebuchowska – Ida

She wasn’t a name anyone had heard of before Pawel Pawlikowski’s deeply personal film Ida, and now she has starred in a film seen by an impressively large audience and it looks to be a Best Foreign Language Picture favorite. To think, she was found simply by sitting in a cafe when a friend of the director’s spotted her, noticed her natural beauty and thought she’d be a great fit for the leading role. And for all of us who have now seen the film, we know she was.

7. Gina Rodriguez – Jane the Virgin

I know I wasn’t the only one who initially saw the title of the TV show and guffawed. We were all obviously proven wrong as we watched an unfathomably charming show unfold, and leading it was star Gina Rodriguez. The show was the first CW show ever to receive any sort of awards love, and Rodriguez was nominated for Best Actress in a Comedy at the Golden Globes.

8. Chris Pratt – Guardians of the Galaxy

Andy Dwyer has had a fantastic year. He starred in two of the highest grossing films of the year with The LEGO Movie and Guardians of the Galaxy. He’s going to be in the upcoming Jurassic World and he’s topping this all off with the last season of Parks and Rec in January. He’s a genuinely good actor, and whether he’s on the big screen or small, animated or kicking butt in space, he’s immensely charismatic and enjoyable to watch.

9. Ilana Glazer & Abbi Jacobson – Broad City    

So they broke out… but to a much smaller crowd. This is me hoping that more and more people realize that they’re two of the funniest comedians out there today, and check out Broad City.

10. Damien Chazelle – Whiplash

It’s not his first film, but it’s the one people are going to remember him for. More of a conductor than director for Whiplash, he confidently and with great zeal created a film worth talking about and one that’s become considered one of the best of the year.

Gabrielle Bondi’s Breakout Artists of 2014

  1. Gina Rodriguez My favorite TV show of 2014 also has the number one breakout artist of the year. Gina Rodriguez brings a ton of charm, grace and sincerity to her character who is dealing with quite an unbelievable situation. If there’s one reason you should tune into Jane the Virgin, it’s her.
  2. Gugu Mbatha-Raw – I didn’t see Belle or Beyond the Lights until recently, but I can’t deny how lovely and talented Gugu Mbatha-Raw is. She brings so much to her performances and is utterly captivating on screen. I can’t wait to see what she does next.
  3. Sam Smith – Smith may be slightly overplayed on the radio; it’s hard to complain when Sam Smith has such a smooth and soulful voice. Between their debut album and their infectious vocals in Disclosure’s “Latch,” Sam is here to stay.
  4. Rosamund Pike – If you’ve seen Gone Girl, you KNOW what I’m talking about.
  5. Cary Joji Fukunaga – I’ve had a crush on this director for a few years, since I saw his first feature film, Sin Nombre. Fukunaga blew audiences away with his impeccable direction of the first season of True Detective. Check out this amazing scene from the series:
  6. Outlander stars: Caitriona Balfe, Sam Heughan, & Tobias Menzies – While Caitriona deserves the bulk of recognition for captivating work as time-traveling nurse Claire Beauchamp in Outlander, it’s hard to not also mention two of her co-stars, who both turn in some great work. Sam Heughan is charming, youthful and intense as Jamie Fraser; Tobias Menzies successfully tackles a complex dual role as Frank Randall (Claire’s husband) and Captain “Black Jack” Randall (a villainous man out to discover Claire’s secrets in anyway that he can).
  7. A24 Films – This independent film studio turned out some of the year’s best films that it made me take notice. Just look at this list and tell me that they’re not on a roll:  Locke, Under the Skin, Enemy, Laggies, A Most Violent Year, The Captive, Obvious Child, Life After Beth, The Rover, and Tusk.
  8. Chris Pratt – Chris Pratt owned 2014 for many reasons, but my favorite reason is Guardians of the Galaxy.
  9. Ariana Grande – Whether you’re a fan or not, Ariana Grande had a huge year with chart-topping singles and a new album. Her big voice and catchy ballads give me hope that a melisma resurgence in Pop is happening.
  10. Jenny Slate and Gillian Robespierre – These two ladies are the masterminds behind one of the best films of the year, Obvious Child. All I want for the next decade or two is for Gillian and Jenny to team up again and again to give us more authentic, funny, and sweet stories.

Luciana Villalba’s Breakout Artists of 2014

  1. FKA Twigs
  2. Rosamund Pike
  3. Chris Pratt
  4. Sam Smith
  5. MNEK
  6. Kaytranada
  7. Gina Rodriguez
  8. Cast of How to Get Away with Murder
  9. Ariana Grande
  10. Charli XCX


Exit mobile version