Barkhad Abdi made his acting debut in Captain Phillips, with the Somalian emigrant learning of an audition through the local news in Minneapolis. Now, his strong performance opposite Tom Hanks has made him a front runner for a best supporting actor Oscar nomination. He's already been nominated for a Golden Globe, SAG Award and Critics' Choice Award for his work. Abdi told The Hollywood Reporter's breakthrough performers panel that he and his agent are currently pursuing his acting career.
Avicii was already an EDM star thanks to the success of his crossover hit "Levels," but his 2013 mainstream smash "Wake Me Up" helped him surpass that earlier popularity. The country-inspired dance hit, featuring uncredited vocals from soul singer Aloe Blacc, reached No. 4 on the Hot 100 and even got played on Adult Alternative radio. "[Avicii has] stepped up and out of dance with this current body of work," Island Def Jam president/COO Steve Bartels told Billboard. "It's not niche anymore. It's relevant in a much broader way."
Chadwick Boseman starred in one of 2013's surprise box-office hits, playing Jackie Robinson in 42. Following his well-received performance in Warner Bros.' baseball biopic, the actor landed the role of James Brown in another biopic, the Tate Taylor-directed Get on Up. He'll next be seen in Ivan Reitman's Draft Day, starring Kevin Costner, Jennifer Garner and Denis Leary.
Daniel Bruhl's supporting role in Ron Howard's Formula One racing drama Rush earned him widespread critical acclaim and nominations for Golden Globe, SAG and Critics' Choice Awards. He could also receive a best supporting actor Oscar nomination for his efforts.
Chiwetel Ejiofor has received widespread acclaim for his starring role in 12 Years a Slave. The actor is now a front-runner for a best actor Oscar nod and has already received nominations from the Independent Spirit Awards, SAG Awards and Golden Globes, where he had the rare distinction of being nominated for his work in a film and in a TV series (Starz's Dancing on the Edge) in the same year.
Adele Exarchopoulos first got people talking at Cannes, where the conversation quickly shifted from her prolonged lesbian sex scene in Blue is the Warmest Color to her performance throughout the film, which was impressive enough to earn her, co-star Lea Seydoux and director Abdellatif Kechiche the Palme d'Or. Since then her work in the film has been praised by various critics and could earn her a best actress Oscar nomination.
Greta Gerwig was already a familiar face to savvy film fans, after roles in Greenberg, No Strings Attached, the 2011 Arthur remake and Lola Versus, but she received awards recognition for her work in Frances Ha, earning Golden Globe and Critics' Choice nominations.
Oscar Isaac has received special recognition for his work in the Coen brothers' latest, Inside Llewyn Davis, with the Wall Street Journal's Joe Morgenstern saying the titular character is "played to perfection" by Isaac. Isaac is currently nominated for a Golden Globe for best actor and an Independent Spirit Award for best male lead and is set to team up with former Julliard classmate Jessica Chastain in J.C. Chandor's next film A Most Violent Year, replacing Javier Bardem.
Michael B. Jordan
Michael B. Jordan was already known to fans of Friday Night Lights and The Wire, but he transcended this earlier popularity with the critical acclaim and awards recognition he received for his role in Fruitvale Station. THR's Todd McCarthywrote: "the film certainly will serve as an effective springboard for...Jordan and others involved." The actor has been nominated an Independent Spirit Award and won the National Board of Review's breakthrough performance prize. He'll next be seen alongside Zac Efron and fellow 2013 breakthrough star Miles Teller in That Awkward Moment.
Brie Larson shined in this summer's Short Term 12, with critics praising her performance, including THR's John DeFore, who wrote that the actress "gives a breakthrough performance that should open doors to bigger dramas." Larson also had small roles in both The Spectacular Now and Joseph Gordon-Levitt's Don Jon, and she was recently in talks to star opposite Mark Wahlberg in Paramount's remake of The Gambler. She won the best actress prize at this year's Gotham Awards and has been nominated for an Independent Spirit Award and a Critics' Choice Award.
Lorde's debut single "Royals" spent seven weeks atop the Alternative airplay chart, surpassing Alanis Morissette's "You Oughta Know" as the longest running No. 1 song on that chart in its 25-year-history and the first by a solo woman since 1996. The New Zealand teen also earned four Grammy nominations, including record and song of the year for "Royals," which was also played as New York City mayor-elect Bill de Blasiowalked to the stage during his victory celebration.
Macklemore & Ryan Lewis
Macklemore & Ryan Lewis' album The Heist may have been released in late 2012 but the duo really hit it big this year. Their debut smash "Thrift Shop" ended 2013 as the No. 1 song of the year on the Billboard Hot 100, after spending six weeks at the top spot. "Thrift Shop" is also the year's No. 1 title on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs and Rap Songs charts. The duo won Breakthrough of the Year at the first ever YouTube Music Awards and received seven Grammy nominations including nods for Album of the Year, Best New Artist and Song of the Year.
In June, Orphan Black's Tatiana Maslany beat out more seasoned actresses like Julianna Margulies and Claire Danes to win best actress at the Critics Choice TV awards. She followed that surprising triumph with a TCA Award for Individual Achievement in Drama, a Young Hollywood Award for Breakthrough Performance and a guest-starring gig on NBC's Parks & Recreation. Although her summer buzz didn't result in an Emmy nod, Maslany ended 2013 up for a Golden Globe and People's Choice Award for her work as nearly a dozen clones on BBC America's sci-fi drama.
Lupita Nyong'o, who previously worked as a production assistant on The Constant Gardener, ushering Ralph Fiennes to the set, landed the role of Patsey in 12 Years a Slave three weeks before graduating from the Yale School of Drama. Since then, the best supporting actress Oscar front-runner has received the New Hollywood Award at the Hollywood Film Awards, been nominated for the breakthrough prize at the Gotham Awards and is up for a Golden Globe, SAG Award and Independent Spirit Award.
The cast of 'Orange Is the New Black'
Orange Is the New Black's popularity on Netflix has vaulted its largely unknown cast to stardom, but Taylor Schilling, who plays a fictionalized version of the woman whose memoir the show is based on, and Uzo Aduba, who plays Suzanne "Crazy Eyes" Warren, have particularly broken through. Schilling, who previously top-lined NBC's single-season TV series Mercy before taking on a series of forgettable film roles, ended 2013 nominated for a Golden Globe. Aduba has received critical acclaim, with The New York Times calling her work "scary and hilarious."
For Miles Teller, who had parts in high-profile films like Rabbit Hole, Footloose, Project X and 21 & Over, the critical acclaim he received for his leading role in The Spectacular Now may have been long overdue. The actor will soon be seen alongside Zac Efron and fellow 2013 breakthrough star Michael B. Jordan in That Awkward Moment and opposite his Spectacular Now co-star Shailene Woodley in the highly anticipated Divergent.
Scandal star Kerry Washington went from the star of a Twitter sensation to an awards contender this year, picking up her first Emmy nod and becoming the fifth African-American to be nominated for the best drama actress prize. Although she didn't win the Emmy, she ended 2013 with Golden Globe and SAG Award nominations for her work on the ABC series, which saw ratings for its third-season premiere jump 71 percent year-over-year, pulling in 10.5 million viewers.