You’ve seen my picks for The Top 5 Actresses to Watch in 2011, and now it’s the boys’ turn.
Some of these leading men have been in the business awhile, and some are relative newcomers who are just breaking out. But all of them have an impressive roster of projects in the works this year that should keep them on the map in 2011.
Honorable mention — Armie Hammer: He may not be getting quite as much buzz as his “The Social Network” co-star Andrew Garfield, but there is no question Hammer’s star is on the rise. His boyishly handsome looks and charming demeanor make him instantly likable, and if his performance in “The Social Network” is any indication, he’s got talent to back it up. He’s currently starring as J. Edgar Hoover’s protege and rumored lover in the biopic “J. Edgar” with Leonardo DiCaprio and director Clint Eastwood.
5. Alex Pettyfer: I’m not quite sure what to think of the trailers for Pettyfer’s latest movie, “I Am Number Four,” but one thing’s for sure – he’s quickly becoming the go-to actor for screen adaptations of young adult fantasy novels. In addition to “I Am Number Four,” this year he has the sci-fi thriller “Now” and “Beastly,” a modern retelling of “Beauty and the Beast” based on the young adult novel of the same name. He was also recently cast in “The Seventh Son,” based on the young adult series “The Last Apprentice.” With the “Twilight” franchise winding down, it appears as though Pettyfer is being groomed to become the next Robert Pattinson or Taylor Lautner.
4. Chris Hemsworth: Hemsworth made a solid first impression in his brief but significant role as Captain Kirk’s father in J.J. Abrams’ “Star Trek,” but few knew his name until he landed the coveted role of “Thor.” We’ll see if he has what it takes to be a superhero when “Thor” bows May 6, and he’ll reprise the role in the highly-anticipated “The Avengers” next year. Audiences might also get a glimpse of Hemsworth sans armor and cape thanks to a potential deal between Sony and MGM, which could allow his delayed “Red Dawn” and “The Cabin in the Woods” to finally see the light of day this year.
3. Anton Yelchin: Much like my No. 1 actress to watch in 2011, Emma Stone, Yelchin has been around awhile but his spotlight is steadily growing. He just starred in the Sundance Grand Jury Prize winner “Like Crazy” alongside my No. 5 actress to watch Felicity Jones, and his 2011 is only going to get busier. He has roles in Jodie Foster’s “The Beaver,” the horror-comedy “Fright Night” and the animated big screen adaptation of “The Smurfs,” not to mention he’s set to return as Pavel Chekov in the “Star Trek” sequel.
2. Henry Cavill: When Cavill was announced as the new Man of Steel in Zack Snyder’s “Superman” film, the reaction was decidedly mixed. Some loved him from his work on “The Tudors” and thought he fit the Superman physique. Others didn’t think he stacked up against past Clark Kents Tom Welling and Brandon Routh or the other actors on the shortlist, which included Matthew Goode, Matthew Bomer, Armie Hammer, Joe Manganiello and Colin O’Donaghue. But whatever your opinion of him, all eyes will be on Cavill this year as he steps into the Man of Steel’s iconic suit. But first up, he has the action fantasy “Immortals” with Mickey Rourke, John Hurt and Freida Pinto.
1. Andrew Garfield: Garfield was my pick for the top actor of 2010, and his career should only accelerate following the success of “The Social Network.” Being the new Peter Parker in Mark Webb’s “Spider-Man” reboot is reason enough to keep an eye on Garfield, but fans are eager to see what he’ll do next. After his powerful performances in “The Social Network” and “Never Let Me Go,” I hoped Garfield would still be open to those types of character-driven roles despite his new status as an action star. I think Garfield could benefit from tackling a wide variety of characters, and it looks like that’s exactly what he’s doing.
Variety recently reported he’s attached to star in “Back Roads,” in which he will play a young man whose mother is arrested for killing his father, leaving him to raise his three sisters. Even though he was snubbed for an Oscar nomination, he should still have his pick of meaty, interesting roles. I look forward to seeing what direction his career takes throughout 2011.
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