Before 2015, Scott Eastwood was probably best known for his work in front of the fashion camera and for his screen legend father. Although he’s been appearing in movies since the mid-2000s, it’s only in recent years that Scott has begun to attain leading man status. After landing roles in WWII movie Fury and surf film The Perfect Wave in 2014, Eastwood hit it big in 2015 with The Longest Ride, the latest romantic drama to come from the pen of Nicholas Sparks. In the lead role of Luke Collins, Eastwood charmed audiences and IMDb users as a former champion bull rider who successfully wins over the heart of young college student Sophia Danko (Britt Robertson). Fans won’t have to wait very long to get more of Eastwood: He’ll star in Oliver Stone’s Snowden, set to hit theaters spring 2016.
2015 hit just the right notes for teenaged Steinfeld, who impressed audiences with her comedic chops in Pitch Perfect 2. Starring as wide-eyed first-year student Emily, she more than holds her own against a formidably funny ensemble cast and even voices the film’s signature song, “Flashlight,” at story’s end. In fact, around the time Pitch Perfect 2 hit theaters, Steinfeld signed a record deal, releasing as her first single a full-length cover version of “Flashlight.” But perhaps, Steinfeld’s most memorable music-related work this past year was as the Trinity in the music video for the enormously popular “Bad Blood,” where she appeared with bestie Taylor Swift and a bevy of other power females.
Recent history tells us that landing the lead role in a Nicholas Sparks-based movie is just the sort of career move that helps to jumpstart an actress’ reputation as a romantic leading lady. Such was the case for Rachel McAdams in 2004’s The Notebook and Amanda Seyfried in 2010’s Dear John. In 2015, Britt Robertson enjoyed a breakout year, marked by her lead role in The Longest Ride, where she stars opposite Scott Eastwood. Robertson plays Sophia Danko, a young college student who lands a dream job in New York City’s art world and ends up falling in love with a former champion bull rider. Additionally, Robertson starred in science-fiction film Tomorrowland, where she plays a science-savvy teen to George Clooney’s former boy-genius inventor.
2015 is not the first time that the British actress has introduced herself to Marvel universe fans as Agent Peggy Carter; she first appeared as the character in 2011’s Captain America: The First Avenger. It’s a role that kept her busy on movie screens this past year with stints in Ant-Man and Avengers: Age of Ultron. In recent years, she’s crossed into television, landing recurring work in ABC’s “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” and eventually the lead role in “Agent Carter,” which debuted in early 2015. Add in her efforts as Ella’s mother in the popular Cinderella, and it’s been a blockbuster year for Atwell by any measure.
Best known in recent years for her work in television as Zoe Barnes in Netflix’s “House of Cards,” Mara had quite the banner year on the big screen in 2015, with a slew of roles that demonstrated her acting range. In Captive, she played Ashley Smith, a single mother struggling with drug addiction who is randomly taken hostage in her own apartment. In Man Down, she is the wife of a former U.S. Marine, and in The Martian, she plays astronaut Beth Johanssen. Her most talked about role this year, however, was in Fantastic Four, where she stars as the smart and frequently invisible Sue Storm.
This Swedish actress has been well known to audiences in her native country since the late 2000s, but it wasn’t until this past year that she attained near ubiquity around the globe on the front pages of magazines and websites. By year’s end, Vikander will have starred in an amazing seven films during the course of 2015: Testament of Youth, Son of a Gun, Seventh Son, The Man From U.N.C.L.E., The Danish Girl, and Burnt. However, it’s Vikander’s role as Ava in the critics’ fave Ex Machina that may be her most memorable of the year. Expect more of Vikander in the coming year: She’s set to star in the next Bourne film in summer 2016.
During a press tour earlier this summer for Paper Towns, the model-turned-actress caused a bit of a social media firestorm for a seemingly awkward TV spot with local Sacramento news anchors. Her treatment by her interviewers and her subsequent response to the ordeal sparked widespread conversation for a time and cemented her status as one of the most talked about young celebrities in Hollywood. Nevertheless, her portrayal in the movie as mesmerizing and mysterious Margo Roth Spiegelman is a true breakout performance. Delevinge also had a memorable appearance in Taylor Swift’s enormously popular music video for “Bad Blood.” Another reason for increased attention on Delevingne this past year is her role in the much anticipated Suicide Squad, which is set to hit theaters in summer 2016.
Until this year, this South Carolina native was mostly known for her work on “Kyle XY” and in the Thor movie franchise. In 2015, Alexander garnered notoriety as Jane Doe in new NBC crime drama “Blindspot,” where she plays a woman who’s lost her memory and whose tattoos contain clues to a conspiracy that the FBI is trying to uncover. She’s nevertheless kept busy with movie work as well. She leads the cast of London Fields, which is based on the Martin Amis novel of the same name, and thriller Broken Vows.
It’s no surprise to find the star of Disney’s Cinderella on our list since the character is one of the most beloved and recognized over the years. James’ portrayal is true to the Disney canon, with her role requiring her to don the blue gown familiar to fairy tale fans of all ages. Interestingly enough, James had actually auditioned for the role of Anastasia Tremaine before being cast in the lead role. Aside from her work as a Disney princess, James kept herself busy on “Downton Abbey,” an upcoming “War and Peace” adaptation, and a supporting role in Burnt.
Bryce Dallas Howard
A veteran actress whose first movie appearance was in her father’s comedy Parenthood in 1989, Howard actually had just one feature-length film credit this past year. It just so happens that that film, Jurassic World, was the most popular of 2015. In the fourth installment of the Jurassic franchise, Howard co-stars with Chris Pratt as Claire, a workaholic parks manager. It’s a role that called for her to wear all white — in homage to Richard Attenborough’s character in the original film; both were directors for their respective parks.
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