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The Top 21 Breakout Stars of 2010

Lionsgate / Sony

The year 2010 has been a year chock-full of fresh, young (and not so young – we love you, Machete) faces vying to overthrow the Hollywood's mainstays -- and they're playing to win. Right, Sam Flynn?

Whether it was the youngest billionaire in history taking over the internet ("The Social Network"), kids beating up adults ("Kick-Ass") or kids beating up each other ("The Karate Kid"), it's clear this new batch of rising stars is not a group to mess with.

So hide your kids, hide your wives: Here are our picks for 2010's biggest breakout stars.

21. Brenda Song

Sony

Seen In: "The Social Network"

NextFactor: Song's been known for years to younger audiences as the Paris Hilton clone, London Tipton, on Disney's "The Suite Life of Zack and Cody." But adult audiences will find her hard to forget as the less-than-wholesome/pyromaniacal girlfriend of Andrew Garfield in "The Social Network." Burn, baby, burn.

20. Charlie Day

Warner Bros.

Seen In: "Going the Distance"

NextFactor: As the irredeemably stupid Charlie Kelly on TV's "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia," Day proved he could carry a show made on a shoestring budget. This year, he graduated to the big leagues as one of Justin Long's homies in the Drew Barrymore rom-com "Going the Distance." We can't wait to see how horribly hilarious he is in his next film, "Horrible Bosses," with Jason Bateman and Jennifer Aniston.

19. Keir Gilchrist

Focus

Seen In: "It's Kind of a Funny Story"

NextFactor: Best known for his work on the HBO series "The United States of Tara," Gilchrist moved into movies with a lead role in the indie dramedy "It's Kind of a Funny Story," where his puppy dog eyes play the perfect straight men to Zach Galifianakis's perpetually fluctuating expressions and wild-man beard.

Read our NextFactor Q&A with Keir

18. Quinton "Rampage" Jackson

Fox

Seen In: "The A-Team"

NextFactor: It's hard to replace Mr. T. After all, he was a bodyguard for Muhammad Ali -- yeah, THAT Muhammad Ali. So when "The A-Team" movie was gearing up, the part of B.A. Baracus clearly needed to be filled by someone outside of the normal, un-freakishly muscular, Hollywood casting circles. "To the UFC!" someone might have yelled. Well, if that's what someone yelled, they were right to yell it. This champion fighter fit snugly under T's mohawk and might just be the next big action star.

17. Rooney Mara

Sony

Seen In: "The Social Network," "Youth in Revolt," "Nightmare on Elm Street"

NextFactor: In a film criticized for its lack of three-dimensional female characters, Rooney was the exception as the face that launched a million Facebook profiles and voice of reason that put Mark Zuckerberg in his place. This time next year, Rooney will be starring in the first installment of David Fincher's remake of "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo," so something tells us we'll be seeing a lot more of this earnest beauty.

16. Mary Elizabeth Winstead

Universal

Seen In: "Scott Pilgrim vs. the World"
NextFactor: Winstead's been quietly rising up the Hollywood ladder for several years now, but officially turned heads and hearts as Ramona Flowers, the rainbow-haired object of Michael Cera's affections who's plagued by a rash of killer exes. Next she'll be seen in the highly anticipated remake of John Carpenter's "The Thing." No word on what color her hair will be.

15. Logan Lerman

Fox

Seen In: "Percy Jackson & the Olympians: Lightening Thief"
NextFactor: After landing several great roles on television and in movies ("Jack and Bobby," "3:10 to Yuma"), this likable teen heartthrob and son of a Hollywood manager landed the role of demigod Percy Jackson. Besides the strong likelihood he'll reprise that role in several planned sequels, you can also see Lerman going one for all in "The Three Musketeers" next fall.

14. Noomi Rapace

Music Box Films

Seen In: "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo"
NextFactor: Noomi caught the eye of Hollywood after starring as Lisbeth Salander in the Swedish film adaptation of the global sensation "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo," along with its two follow-ups. She'll soon be appearing opposite Robert Downy Jr. in the "Sherlock Holmes" sequel. This will be her first English-speaking role (and Downey's 50th or so).

13. Noah Ringer

Paramount

Seen In: "The Last Airbender"
NextFactor: After hearing about an open call for the lead character, Aang, in "Last Airbender" through his taekwondo club in his hometown of Dallas, Ringer sent in a video of himself doing his sick martial arts moves. And it worked! He was suddently a major character in a major film by a major director (M. Night Shyamalan) -- a film that became a major surprise hit. For his troubles: He'll next been seen in the highly anticipated summer release "Cowboys and Aliens," with Daniel Craig and Harrison Ford.

12. Kodi Smit-McPhee

Overture

Seen In: "Let Me In"

NextFactor: Most audiences first met this actor in last year's "The Road," where his heartbreaking journey across a post-apocalyptic America showed he had real talent. His lonely eyes proved once again perfect for this year's remake of the Swedish vampire drama "Let the Right One In." But so much gloom and doom. Could someone please throw this kid a comedy? He's going to have mental breakdown before he gets out of junior high.

Read our NextFactor Q&A with Kodi

11. Elle Fanning

Focus

Seen In: "Somewhere"

NextFactor: Most write-ups on Elle Fanning start with the mention of her famous sister, Dakota (as, it would seem, does this one). But not for long. Critics have been noting the enchanting performances of this precocious 12-year-old in films like Sofia Coppola's "Somewhere" and last year's "Phoebe in Wonderland," and Elle's rapidly emerging from beneath her sister's adorable shadow. Be warned: The sisters may soon partake in an adorableness battle of epic, adorable proportions!

10. Danny Trejo

Fox

Seen In: "Machete"

NextFactor: Sometimes breakout stars aren't new to showbiz and are, shall we say, less than fresh-faced. Trejo's intimidating appearance (he used to be the San Quentin State Prison welterweight boxing champ), has made him director Robert Rodriguez's go-to-guy when in need of a baddie. But 2010 proved the year Trejo emerged from character actor to full-on action star, thanks to Rodriguez's joke trailer-turned-ridiculously fun pulp flick "Machete." The Mexploitation movement is on.

9. Garrett Hedlund

Disney

Seen In: "TRON: Legacy" "Country Strong"

NextFactor: This 26-year-old might soon be a household name. He had the bone structure to co-star beside such well-chiseled gents as Brad Pitt ("Troy") and Mark Wahlberg ("Four Brothers"). But how does he look throwing a digital Frisbee? Pretty darn good. We'll see if his lead role in "Legacy" can catapult him to true stardom. If not, he'll get a second chance opposite Gwyneth Paltrow in "Country Strong," which features absolutely no Frisbees.

8. Hailee Steinfeld

Paramount

Seen In: "True Grit"

NextFactor: This newcomer beat out over 15,000 other girls for the part of Mattie Ross in the Coen Brothers' new twist on "True Grit." This is no small feat considering just how picky -- not to mention flawless -- the Bros. Coen are when it comes to the task of casting. Sure enough, Hailee's already been showered with critical praise as a 14-year- old girl seeking revenge for the death of her father.

7. Aaron Johnson

Lionsgate

Seen In: "Kick-Ass," "Nowhere Boy"

NextFactor: It's hard to ignore this striking, 20-year-old star of the underground hit "Kick-Ass," who's set to reprise his role in the sequel, the eloquently entitled "Kick-Ass 2: Balls to the Wall." Even harder to ignore is his engagement to baby mama and "Nowhere Boy" director Sam Taylor-Wood, 24 years his senior. The hoopla over their relationship somewhat overshadowed the fact that Johnson delivered a second kick-ass performance this year as a young John Lennon in "Boy."

Read our NextFactor Q&A with Aaron

6. Mia Wasikowsa

Disney

Seen In: "Alice in Wonderland" "The Kids are All Right"

NextFactor: Whether portraying the title role in Tim Burton's billion dollar-grossing version of "Alice in Wonderland" or shining brightly in the more modestly budgeted indie hit "Kids Are All Right," no working actress quite embodies that all-American girl quite like Mia. If you've seen the wonderful "Kids," you know what we mean. Of course, she's Australian but... whatever.

5. Tom Hardy

Warner Bros.

Seen In: "Inception"

NextFactor: It takes a striking presence to stand out in a cast like the one "Inception"' showcased, but this British actor, who drew raves a year earlier in the indie "Bronson," did exactly that. And if you missed him in 2010, he'll be hard to overlook in 2011. Director Christopher Nolan announced Hardy will play a major role in the "The Dark Knight Rises" and Hardy will also headline the upcoming "Mad Max" reboot.

4. Jennifer Lawrence

Roadside Attractions

Seen In: "Winter's Bone"

NextFactor: Critics haven't stopped talking about this Louisville native's haunting performance in the gritty "Winter's Bone" -- and she ain't hard to look at, neither. Now that she's conquered the arthouse crowd (and will likely soon be an Oscar nominee), it's time to make that time-honored journey to the make-up chair, turn blue, and appear in "X-Men: First Class." (And if that didn't give you a nerdgasm, FYI, January Jones co-stars as Emma Frost.)

3. Jaden Smith

Sony

Seen In: "The Karate Kid"

NextFactor: Some forces of nature are unstoppable: the tides, the sunrise, Will and Jada Smith's spawn joining the Screen Actors Guild while still in the womb... Not all stars' children wind up fitting that part themselves, but Jaden is a naturally gifted performer whose future looks as bright as his fathers, with similar box office chops: "Karate Kid" was the surprise hit of the summer, raking in $176 million. He also raps...

2. Chloe Moretz

Lionsgate

Seen In: "Kick-Ass," "Let Me In"

NextFactor: Moretz was the talk of comic book geeks and concerned parent groups alike when the tween stunned audiences as the murderous (and uncomfortably flirtatious) Hit-Girl in "Kick Ass." And she killed again (literally) months later in "Let Me In." Hot as can be in Hollywood, 2011 might be the year of Chloe, with the 13-year-old scheduled to be in up to seven new films. Can't say we'll tire of her – well, because otherwise she might hurt us.

1. Andrew Garfield

Sony

Seen In: "The Social Network," "Never Let Me Go"

NextFactor: It was quite a year for this British thespian. His unassuming good looks and talent for commanding an audience's sympathies might just nab him the status of Hollywood's next "everyman" (see: Jimmy Stewart, Tom Hanks, etc.), not to mention an Oscar nomination for serving as the moral compass in "Social Network." And oh yeah, he also signed on to play Spider-Man in the 2012 reboot.

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