Each new movie calendar year brings gleeful anticipation for truly thrilling cinematic surprises, be they for multi-tentacled CGI creatures, massive Michael Bay-splosions, or tear-jerking biopics.
One of the best feelings of all, though, is to come out of a theater beaming at having discovered a new talent that you just know will be around for many more years to come. All these folks have that potential for longevity, but they're starting things off with a clean slate as they attempt to win us over with breakout performances in some of Hollywood's biggest films.
Starring in: "Haywire" (Jan. 20)
Next Factor: Common practice dictates that action movies star actors who are coached to fight. Steven Soderbergh decided that that was for chumps, so he went ahead and got himself a real Women's MMA champion in Carano -- and lo and behold, the girl can act, too. Early critical word pegs her as bringing a level of intensity (and sexy) that puts Bourne and Bond to shame.
Starring in: "The Hunger Games" (March 23)
Next Factor: This child actress was literally plucked from a Disney catalog at 4 years old to begin shooting commercials. At 14, playing the kid version of Zoe Saldana and doing Parkour in "Columbiana" wasn’t enough for her, so she took it upon herself to become Katniss' fateful ally Rue during the 74th annual "Hunger Games." Fans of the book know Rue's significance for Katniss and look forward to Stenberg's portrayal.
Starring in: "Dark Shadows" (May 11); "Lincoln" (December)
Next Factor: Performing as a young version of Michael Stuhlbarg's character in "Hugo" caught the twisted eye of Tim Burton, who cast this Australian as David Collins, one of the creepier kids you're likely to encounter in the house of "Dark Shadows." He'll then play Tad, Lincoln's stuttering youngest son, who famously yelled, "They killed Papa! They killed Papa!" on April 14, 1865.
Starring in: "Battleship" (May 18)
Next Factor: She's sending out a far more urgent SOS than her No. 1 single when aliens in souped-up battle armor try to sink her battleship. Making your film debut in one of the summer's biggest tentpoles is a bold move on Rihanna's part, but we would expect nothing less from the R&B/pop superstar.
Starring in: "Rock of Ages" (June 1)
Next Factor: Director-choreographer Adam Shankman has called Boneta the "next big thing," and he'd better be, since this handsome 21-year-old Mexican sensation is leading an otherwise star-studded cast including, but not limited to, Tom Freakin' Cruise. He also gets up close and personal with his smokin' hot costar Julianne Hough. That's one off-the-charts lucky dude.
Starring in: "Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Killer" (June 22)
Next Factor: Look out, Daniel Day-Lewis, 'cause this Lincoln means business. Despite only having appeared in a handful of small roles in films like "Kinsey" and "Flags of Our Fathers," this star of Broadway's "Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson" was chosen for another off-kilter take on a president in the $70 million-dollar 3-D romp. Should prove an equally bloody good time.
Starring in: "Men in Black 3" (May 25); "The Raven" (March 9)
Next Factor: Allowing Eve to play a younger iteration of renowned actress Emma Thompson during the 1960s depiction of the Men in Black is a big seal of approval for the 29-year-old, who just became a franchise queen with a role in the "Star Trek" sequel. The Oxford-trained beauty will also play the wife of John Cusack's Edgar Allen Poe. Quoth the Raven, "She's got it goin' on."
Starring in: "G.I. Joe: Retaliation" (June 29); "Red Dawn" (Nov. 2)
Next Factor: After shining brightly on TV's "Friday Night Lights," Palicki got her big shot at fame playing "Wonder Woman" in one of the most controversial failed pilots of last year. She retaliated by landing her first major movie role as female "Joe" Lady Jaye, and she'll continue to kick butt in the long-delayed "Red Dawn" remake.
Starring in: "Warm Bodies" (Aug. 10); "Jack the Giant Killer" (June 15)
Next Factor: We included Hoult on last year's list since we knew he'd make a Beast of himself, but 2012 could be the real deal. He'll bring that trademark sensitivity to his tragicomic "Warm Bodies" zombie, which will melt hearts faster than you can say "Robert Pattinson." He'll then go bigger -- a lot bigger -- for Bryan Singer's blockbuster take on the whole legendary beanstalk incident.
Starring in: "Warm Bodies" (Aug. 10)
Next Factor: Another up-and-coming thespian feeling that "Warm Bodies" heat is Tipton, a former "America's Next Top Model" finalist who'll play Nora, the bestest gal pal of Teresa Palmer's Julie. You might faintly recall her as one of Seth Rogen's caddish conquests in "The Green Hornet," but she was a standout in "Crazy, Stupid, Love." as the babysitter crushing on Steve Carell.
Starring in: "Skyfall" (Oct 26)
Next Factor: This French actress-model has it all: beauty, looks, prettiness ... okay, those are all the same thing, but she's got it in spades, and that's what you need to make a worldwide impression as the next Bond girl. With director Sam Mendes at the helm, here's hoping her acting skills will be equal to her other appealing traits.
Starring in: "The Twilight Saga - Breaking Dawn Part 2" (Nov. 16)
Next Factor: The rapidly aging Renesmee Cullen becomes the pivotal character in this final chapter in the "Twilight" saga, and an 11-year-old TV actress's performance will be the subject of much debate among fans. Foy could very easily use this as a springboard to a flourishing career or, less hopefully, become cannon fodder for an "E! True Hollywood Story." Or perhaps both -- the sky's the limit.
Also Check Out: 30 Actresses to Watch in 2012
Starring in: "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey" (Dec. 14)
Next Factor: We've been rooting for this gent since the original British "The Office," and now he's won the role of a lifetime as a young Bilbo Baggins in Peter Jackson's "Hobbit" movies, perhaps the most hotly anticipated fantasy films since, well, "Lord of the Rings." Jackson felt the actor was so ideal he actually built in a production break to accommodate Freeman's commitment to "Sherlock."
Starring in: "The Life of Pi" (Dec. 21)
Next Factor: Pi Patel is an Indian boy who decides to practice Hinduism, Christianity and Islam at the same time, because he's big-time into God and stuff. Sharma, a 17-year-old newcomer, was handpicked by Ang Lee to carry one of the most precocious characters in modern literature as he sails a life raft with a hyena, zebra, orangutan, and a tiger named Richard Parker. In Ang we trust.
Also Check Out: 30 Actors to Watch in 2012
Starring in: "World War Z" (Dec. 21); "The Marriage Counselor" (July 27)
Next Factor: This recording artist and nephew of soul legend Smokey Robinson is taking it to the next level with a plum part opposite Brad Pitt in the biggest zombie epic of all time. After he survives that, Tyler Perry will take West to school in "Counselor" opposite Vanessa Williams and, yes, Kim Kardashian.