Sundance Film Festival 2016: 10 Stars to Watch
The Sundance Film Festival is the birthplace of new stars. With indie film darlings like Elizabeth Olsen, Brit Marling, and Felicity Jones emerging each year, Team InStyle was on the lookout for breakthrough performances, sartorial savvy, and even Hollywood heritage (we’re looking at you Lily-Rose Melody Depp and Maude Apatow) at this month's fest. Some of these up-and-comers were being buzzed about before we hit the ground in Park City (Morgan Saylor, Sarah Gadon), while others took us by complete surprise (J.J. Totah kills it with Carrara marble in Other People!). Here are the 10 rising stars we singled out for 2016.
Ben Schnetzer of Goat
Nick Jonas has been getting all the attention for his role in the fraternity hazing drama, Goat, but co-star Ben Schnetzer, 25, is really the one to watch. Not only does the New Yorker strike us as a young Johnny Depp—that mop of gorgeous brown hair!—his talent actually delivers. Schnetzer has previously starred in the critically lauded film, Pride, and he has a few films on deck for the year, including Warcraft and Snowden. In person, he’s kind, generous, and overall warm, which is rare these days. We hope we see him much, much more.
Lily-Rose Melody Depp of Yoga Hosers
Speaking of Depps, Johnny Depp and Vanessa Paradis’s 16-year-old daughter Lily-Rose stars in Kevin Smith’s latest odd Sundance flick, Yoga Hosers, as a convenience store clerk alongside Smith’s own daughter, Harley Quinn Smith. The film itself has gotten mixed reviews so far, but Depp has not—and this is just the start for the teen. Three other films from her are due out this year: The Dancer, Planetarium (with Natalie Portman), and Moose Jaws, another Smith film.
Amandla Stenberg of As You Are
Stenberg’s role alongside Jennifer Lawrence as Rue in The Hunger Games propelled the now 17-year-old into the spotlight. But it’s her outspoken attitudes on race, gender, and beauty that have kept her there, thanks to her massive social media following. In As You Are, she explores teen sexuality in a way no coming-of-age film ever has, proving Stenberg to be one of the most interesting young people to watch. "I am excited because I hope this film provides representation for people who are struggling with their identities in environments that don’t feel conducive to whoever they are,” she told us. She’s intelligent, empowered, and fearless. Everyone better watch out.
Logan Lerman of Indignation
Lerman caught our eye when he played an introverted teen in 2012’s The Perks of Being a Wallflower with Emma Watson. But with Indignation, Lerman, 24, proves he can hold a film as a romantic leading man, too. In the movie, based on Philip Roth’s novel of the same name, Lerman’s character’s short-lived love affair with coed Olivia (Sarah Gadon) sets into motion a series of tragic events, but the pair’s chemistry and pinpoint performances are utterly captivating. Lerman is handsome, smart, and on our radar for major stardom in the year ahead.
J.J. Totah of Other People
The 14-year-old has a minor, supporting role in the family drama Other People, but his two scenes as the flamboyant little brother with an unapologetic attitude toward Carrara marble helped him steal the movie completely. He’s already had an arc on Glee and Disney is rumored to be starting a new show with him it. We hope they do.
Sarah Gadon of Indignation
Quickly becoming one of Hollywood’s It girls, Gadon’s performance as troubled college student Olivia in Indignation—one of the first films to land a big-studio deal at this year’s festival—is measured and elegant, showing off her acting chops alongside fellow up-and-comer Logan Lerman. 2016 is set to be her star-turning year as she gets ready to premiere her other buzzy project, Hulu’s 11.22.63 with James Franco on Feb. 15.
Ferdia Walsh-Peelo of Sing Street
The newcomer was discovered by director John Carney, known for musical films Once and Begin Again, in an open casting call in London. Now, his first movie ever is Carney’s Sundance hit Sing Street, and Walsh-Peelo’s turn as Cosmo, an outsider who forms a band to get a girl, is putting him on the map—he just signed with the huge Hollywood agency WME. “When I went to the audition, the queue was so long, I wanted to go home,” he said. We’re glad he stayed. Now his career is ready to take off and we expect much more from this one. He’s like a cooler, less tattooed Harry Styles. Mmmm.
Dylan Gelula of First Girl I Loved
With minor roles in shows like Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, Gelula is still relatively unknown, but she shines in this modern coming-of-age story about Anne, a high school girl who falls in love with her female classmate. As their flirtation develops, and turns into something deeper, Anne faces hostility from her best friend Cliff, who has feelings for her as well. Gelula’s natural beauty and her genuine portrayal of a 17-year-old coming to terms with her sexuality makes the film worth a watch, despite some awkward moments. And we’re willing to bet she’ll land more meaty roles soon, thanks to this part.
Maude Apatow of Other People
The darling daughter of Judd Apatow and Leslie Mann stars in Other People as one of three kids coping with their mom’s terminal cancer diagnosis. The film is funny, touching, heartbreaking, and hopeful—and one of our favorite flicks at this year’s Sundance. It also marks Maude’s first non-Apatow produced movie. (She previously made appearances in her dad’s comedies This Is 40, Funny People, and Knocked Up.) We can’t wait to watch the 17-year-old continue to branch out and grow into what is sure to be a stellar—and hopefully hilarious—acting career.
Morgan Saylor of White Girl
Saylor is best known for her three seasons on Showtime’s Homeland, alongside Claire Danes and Damian Lewis, but get ready to see the 21-year-old in a whole new light. In White Girl, Saylor stuns audiences with her raw portrayal of a reckless college student who spends her first summer in New York spinning through a dark world of drugs, sex, and violence. It’s a role so shocking it’s sure to garner attention—and acclaim—for the newcomer.