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Who were the new British movie stars that sparkled the brightest in 2010? Here’s a list of the breakout actors and actresses who could become household names on our shores in the very near future:

5. Andrea Riseborough, Brighton Rock

 Brighton Rock hasn’t even hit theaters, but Riseborough’s performance — alongside roles in Never Let Me Go and Made in Dagenham — has sent seismic ripples from across the pond. When those three films premiered at this year’s Toronto Film Festival, The Hollywood Reporter heralded Riseborough the “It girl” of the event. “What Andrea has that many actresses of her generation do not have is a bona fide chameleon-like ability to be totally different from part to part,” Brighton Rock director Rowan Jaffe said at Toronto. It’s her role as a gullible waitress in Brighton Rock that has critics scrambling to find new superlatives with which to praise her. “To say her achievement deserves an Oscar would be somehow to demean it,” The Guardian‘s David Cox gushed. Brighton Rock won’t see a commercial release until 2011, so Riseborough will have to wait until 2012 for a shot at that statue.

4. Luke Evans, Tamara Drewe

 A taut torso can certainly help an actor break through: just ask Brad Pitt, post Thelma and Louise. Such was the case with Luke Evans, who made indie audiences suck in a breath when he appeared onscreen as the hunky handyman in Tamara Drewe. Indiewire‘s Anne Thompson was one of the smitten: she declared Evans the breakout star of the film, not headlining actress Gemma Arterton. Director Stephen Frears told Thompson that, when casting the role of Andy Cobb, Evans “came in the room and it was what we were looking for. A hunk like you used to see in westerns, like Gordon McRae…There aren’t many men like that.” Hollywood is already sold on Evans: he appeared this year in Robin Hood and Clash of the Titans.

3. Alice Eve, She’s Out of My League

 In a year that hasn’t been particularly kind to budding British actresses not named Carey Mulligan or Rebecca Hall, Alice Eve is a standout. As the babelicious Molly in the lowbrow rom-com She’s Out of My League, Eve received fantastic notices even among weak reviews for the film itself. Rolling Stone‘s Peter Travers called her “sparkling,” while The Philadelphia Inquirer‘s Carrie Rickey favorably compared her performance to Cameron Diaz‘s in There’s Something About Mary. In 2011, Eve is set to star opposite Luke Evans in an adaptation of The Raven.

2. Tom Hardy, Inception

 Before Inception, Tom Hardy had been toiling on the edges of stardom for a decade. But, after appearing in Christopher Nolan‘s blockbuster thriller, Mr. Hardy has become one of Hollywood’s most sought-after actors. The character of Eames, the gifted “forger” in Inception, was a fine showcase for Hardy’s talents, displaying both his suave erudition and his charming swagger. Could he make heroes with brains and style hip again? One hopes.

1. Andrew Garfield, The Social Network

 As Eduardo, the kind-hearted Facebook co-founder betrayed by Mark Zuckerberg, Garfield didn’t have the showiest role in The Social Network. Jesse Eisenberg had the witty, withering lines; Justin Timberlake had the drug-induced implosion; and Armie Hammer — well, there were two of him. Yet Andrew Garfield may have upstaged them all, playing a salt-of-the-earth man in a world teeming with narcissistic, disingenuous jerks. Sony’s decision to hire him as Spider-Man‘s new Peter Parker is looking smarter by the day.

by Kevin Wicks

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By Kevin Wicks
Kevin Wicks is the founding editor of Anglophenia.