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2023 Breakout Movie Performances

December 23rd, 20232023 Breakout Movie Performances

Throughout 2023, audiences have been treated to some exceptional theatrical experiences across the board. Those movies, which have featured larger-than-life characters and enchanting stories both big and small, introduced us to a crop of actors who all made an impact on the big screen, one way or another.

As we look back on the year and all our favorite movies, we just can’t help but highlight some of the breakout movie performances that introduced us to new actors or turned up-and-comers to stars overnight. Here are the actors who stole the show, and our hearts, in 2023.

Cailee Spaeny

In October, Sofia Coppola offered up a different perspective of the Elvis story with PRISCILLA, an A24 biographical drama not about the “King of Rock ‘n Roll,” but his wife, who was portrayed by Cailee Spaeny. A star in the making thanks to movies like BAD TIMES AT THE EL ROYALE, VICE, and HOW IT ENDS, Spaenyreached new heights in 2023 with her triumphant and decorated take on one of the most recognizable names and faces in the history of American music.

After finding the balance between bringing a historical figure to life while also making the performance her own, Spaeny received a Golden Globe® nomination for her efforts, and there’s a good chance we’ll be hearing her name come up a lot more in the future..

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Halle Bailey

Halle Bailey had her work cut out for her when she was cast as Ariel in the live-action remake of THE LITTLE MERMAID, and she excelled in bringing one of Disney’s most beloved characters to life on a grand scale. Rob Marshall’s live-action musical adaptation works as well as it does because of Bailey and her dynamic range, both as an actress and singer.

Bailey already had a great career thanks to her portrayal of Skylar “Sky” Foster on the hit dramedy series “Grown-ish,” but THE LITTLE MERMAID catapulted her into superstardom. The multi-talented performer will be given a chance to shine again when she takes on the role of the young Nettie Harris in THE COLOR PURPLE.

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Lily Gladstone

KILLERS OF THE FLOWER MOON was one of the most anticipated movies of the year and was anchored by two of director Martin Scorsese’s most prolific collaborators: Leonardo DiCaprio and Robert De Niro. Despite those two electric, menacing, and unforgettable performances, it was Lily Gladstone, who plays Mollie Burkhart, who ended up stealing the show and serving as the three-and-a-half-hour epic’s heart and soul.

Gladstone’s performance was a revelation and captured the dynamic nature and richness of a self-assured woman who stood up for herself and her people in the face of adversity, corruption, and brutality.

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Dominic Sessa

THE HOLDOVERS, Alexander Payne’s coming-of-age dramedy film about a teacher, a cook, and a student spending the holidays together at a New England boarding school, is getting a lot of praise as we close out the year, and rightfully so. Though we could go on and on about the brilliance and nuance of Paul Giamatti and Da’Vine Joy Randolph’s performances, we just can’t overlook the powerful breakout turn by Dominic Sessa, who plays Angus Tully.

THE HOLDOVERS is not only Sessa’s first movie, but it’s also his first time acting on screen, which is wild to think about after watching him hold his own with Giamatti and Randolph for over two hours. Hopefully, this is the beginning of a long and fruitful career.

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Priya Kansara

Nida Manzoor’s POLITE SOCIETY felt like one of those movies that came out of nowhere and became an international sensation you were hearing about all the time upon its release last spring. A lot of that is due to the dynamic performance by Priya Kansara as Ria Khan, a British-Pakistani aspiring martial artist who embarks upon a quest to save her older sister… from getting married.

This action-packed comedy is made all the better thanks to Kansara’s comedic timing, heart, and martial arts skills. POLITE SOCIETY is worth seeking out even if you’re only giving it a watch to see the “Bridgerton” star kick all kinds of tail on her epic and hilarious quest.

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Teo Yoo

Celine Song’s PAST LIVES is without a doubt one of the best movies of the year, and one everyone should check out sooner rather than later. Set over 24 years, the A24 romantic drama follows Nora Moon (Greta Lee) and Hae Sung (Teo Yoo) and the various stages of their relationship. From classmates in Korea to penpals years after Nora’s family relocates to Canada to their eventual reunion in New York as adults, this rich experience is something to behold.

Teo Yoo, who was already an up-and-coming star in his native South Korea before landing the role of Hae Sung, was dynamic in his portrayal of a lonely and confused man trying to come to terms with his past and what destiny has in store for him. There’s a sadness and eagerness to the performance that makes for a rich and emotional experience.

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Each of these actors and actresses, many at different stages in their careers, captivated audiences and gave us reasons to laugh, cry, and feel this year. And while we don’t know what the future holds for these stars after their 2023 breakout movie performances, we can’t wait to see them again on the big screen at AMC Theatres.

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