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2011 MTV Movie Awards Preview: Breakout Star

Chloe Grace Moretz in Kick-Ass
Lionsgate

What do George Clooney, Matthew McConaughey, Jennifer Garner and Robert Pattinson have in common? (Aside from being incredibly good-looking?) They've all been recipients of the MTV Movie Award for Breakout Star.

This year's nominees -- which include two youngsters who aren't old enough to drive yet -- hope to follow in their footsteps, having turned heads in 2010 as superheroes, vampires and budding entrepreneurs. Here's hoping these bright stars will end up with the careers of some of this award's past winners, rather than the offscreen exploits of some others (ahem, 2004 winner Lindsay Lohan).

Andrew Garfield, 'The Social Network'

Andrew Garfield in The Social Network
Columbia Pictures

The old "Spider-Man" theme song crooned of Spidey, "Nobody knows who you are." But when "The Amazing Spider-Man" lands in 2012, everyone will know who its star, Andrew Garfield, is -- thanks to his supporting turn as Eduardo Saverin, roommate and frenemy to Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg (Jesse Eisenberg) in "The Social Network." In the end, Zuckerberg may have gotten the fame and the big bucks; but Garfield's nuanced performance had us rooting for the jilted Eduardo... or maybe it was just his big, soulful eyebrows.

Chloë Grace Moretz, 'Kick-Ass'

Chloe Grace Moretz in Kick-Ass
Lionsgate

Don't let the pigtails and schoolgirl outfit fool you: Moretz's 11-year-old Hit-Girl is a stone-cold vigilante who'd ask you for a lollipop one second and gun you down the next. (Okay, just kidding. She wouldn't ask for the lollipop.) She doesn't just fight pretty good for a girl; as played by Moretz, she kicked more ass than most any other boy, girl, man or woman in the movies in 2010. Perhaps Hit-Girl wasn't the ideal role model for little girls everywhere, but we'll gladly hold her up as our role model.

Hailee Steinfeld, 'True Grit'

Hailee Steinfeld in True Grit
Paramount

Steinfeld's Mattie Ross doesn't do much actual fighting in this Coen brothers remake of the 1969 Western. But with little more than street smarts, a cool head and what they used to call gumption, this 14-year-old force of nature gets ornery marshal Rooster Cogburn (Jeff Bridges) and garrulous Texas Ranger Laboeuf (Matt Damon) to do her bidding, driving them to track down her father's killer while constantly letting them know who's boss. It's a charming and ferocious performance by a young actress who has true grit -- and talent -- in spades.

Jay Chou, 'The Green Hornet'

Jay Chou in The Green Hornet
Columbia Pictures

When Jay Chou was cast as Kato in Michel Gondry's "The Green Hornet," the Taiwanese pop star had a formidable task -- he was stepping into the shoes of martial-arts legend Bruce Lee, who played the role in the '60s TV series. (Plus, it was his first time acting in English.) But Chou made the role his own. His Kato, less a sidekick than a buddy to Seth Rogen's Hornet, provided some of the film's funnier moments and its most fluid action scenes; and the two actors showed real comic chemistry. Chou's already a big celebrity in China, and after this movie, his fame-meter stateside is rising faster than a... um, hornet.

Olivia Wilde: 'TRON: Legacy'

Olivia Wilde in Tron Legacy
Disney

You may have previously known who Olivia Wilde was from her work in TV -- as Alex, the lesbian bartender on "The O.C."; or Thirteen, the physician with Huntington's disease on "House M.D." -- but she didn't become officially hot, in several senses of the word, until she played digital warrior Quorra in "TRON: Legacy." Was it the fight scenes? The skintight latex bodysuit? The... pardon us, we're still thinking about that latex bodysuit. Suddenly, fanboys everywhere were chanting her name. She may have been a small-screen star before, but it looks like this Wilde girl (sorry) has hit the big time.

Xavier Samuel, 'The Twilight Saga: Eclipse'

Xavier Samuel in The Twilight Saga: Eclipse
Summit

As if there weren't already enough hotness in the "Twilight" series, in "Eclipse" we got Australian actor Xavier Samuel as Riley Biers, the young man who is attacked and turned by Victoria (Bryce Dallas Howard) into a vampire to lead the newborn army against our pals the Cullens. Who IS that guy?! the Twi-Hards asked when the first movie stills showed Riley leading the villainous vampires out of the water, his eyes (among other things) smoldering; and now that they know, poor Xavier's life will probably never be the same again.

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