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2008 has come and gone, and so have the movie stars of it. Robert Downey Jr. in Iron Man and Tropic Thunder? Freida Pinto in Slumdog Millionaire? Please, that’s old news my friends. In a country that has replaced the motto of “land of the free, home of the brave” with “make sure you Tivo it,” it only makes sense to throw away last year’s actors like a DVD of an Ashton Kutcher film at Christmas. But worry not, we’ve got you covered on who everyone will be talking about in 2009.

Malin Akerman

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When Watchmen will hit theaters is anyone’s guess (thanks Fox), but when it does all eyes will be upon Akerman in her Silk Spectre II glory. Plus, she was beautiful and talented enough to make me sit through the otherwise pathetic The Heartbreak Kid, which proves she is a superhero in real life as well. Add a part in Jon Favreau’s latest script Couples Retreat and Akerman’s date stardom is fast approaching. Plus, you can thank her for your cute girlfriend dressing up in a skin tight suit next Halloween. So there’s that.

Chris Pine

Ten People to Watch in 2009

How do you follow up acting next to Anne Hathaway and Lindsay Lohan in previous roles? You board the Starship Enterprise, of course and land the part of Capt. James T. Kirk , the second most beloved figure to a fanboy other than their mother, in J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek. Add a part in Killing Pablo, the true story of how Colombian gangster Pablo Escobar was assassinated, with Christian Bale and Pine will be appearing on our radar at warp speed.

Mia Wasikowska

Ten People to Watch in 2009

What is more impressive, Wasikowska’s acting ability or the fact that she managed to convince director Tim Burton not to cast Helena Bonham Carter or Winona Ryder as the lead in his adaptation of Alice in the Wonderland? While you ponder that question, think about this as well. Wasikowska is also showing up in Amelia, the story of legendary pilot Amelia Earhart. I smell Oscar buzz in this lady’s future. And if you get a chance, go on line and find her work in the zombie short I love Sarah Jane. It’s subtle and beautiful, like Wasikowska herself.

Sam Worthington

Ten People to Watch in 2009

Let’s play a game called Six Degrees of Termination, starring this Australian actor in 2009. Worthington is the lead in Avatar, James Cameron’s first full length feature since Titanic, and James Cameron directed the first two films in the Terminator franchise, which Worthington now is a part of with Terminator: Salvation! When you’re a one man pop culture game you clearly deserve to be a person to watch.

Anna Kendrick

Ten People to Watch in 2009

There aren’t many actresses that have the range to star in a Ben Stiller comedy, Jason Reitman’s follow-up drama to Juno and crime thriller in Elsewhere all in one year. But it’s no sweat for Kendrick, who appeared in Twilight but was truly a gem in Camp and Rocket Science. Oh, and she’s the 2nd youngest person to be nominated for a Tony Award. Somewhere the former cast from Cats is cursing her name as they sit in their litter boxes.

Saoirse Ronan

Ten People to Watch in 2009

Already adored by critics for her supporting work in Atonement, Ronan steps into her own this year as Susie Salmon, the slain teenager in Peter Jackson’s The Lovely Bones. It’s pretty good work for a 14 year old if you can get it. And I have heard that this Peter Jackson guy has a tendency to launch a few actors’ careers, so I’m betting Ronan sticks around for a while. Now if only we didn’t have to say the same for Orlando Bloom. Sigh.

Ben Barnes

Ten People to Watch in 2009

So let me get this straight. Ben Barnes gets to be Prince Caspian in 2008, and in 2009 woo the unbelievably gorgeous Jessica Biel in Easy Virtue and star as the title character in the adaptation of Oscar Wilde’s Dorian Gray? I hate this guy. And by hate I mean envy him for his talent. The only thing that could make this worse is if he was so incredibly good looking that he will make my movie date forget about me completely. (Looks at Barnes’ headshot.) Damn it!

Camilla Belle

Ten People to Watch in 2009

When you star in the sci-fi thriller Push, a film that is everything Heroes should have been, you get points in my book. Add her lead role in Three Stories About Joan this year and you can see why Belle will be getting buzz from the Rejects. Even more impressive is her ability to make us almost forget other films she was in like 10,000 B.C. and When a Stranger Calls. Almost. But she tipped the scales in her favor by having a Walker: Texas Ranger appearance on her resume.

Emily Mortimer

Ten People to Watch in 2009

You’ve may have seen Mortimer in Woody Allen’s Match Point, Lars and the Real Girl or even Redbelt. And she starred in last year’s Transsiberian, which made my list of films that flew under the radar in 2008. Still, Mortimer has never gotten her due as an extraordinary actress. That will all change when Martin Scorsese’s Shutter Island comes to theaters. Remember Emily Mortimer’s name. I have a feeling she is going to stick around for a while.

Kodi Smit-McPhee

Ten People to Watch in 2009

Any actor in a film based on a Cormac McCarthy novel is worth keeping an eye on, and Smit-McPhee will certainly do his part to entertain in the forthcoming The Road. Smit-McPhee dropped out of Wolverine: Origins to act with the cast of Viggo Mortensen, Charliza Theron, Guy Pearce and Robert Duvall. Smit-McPhee makes the list for being bold and special enough to hang with the heavyweights. Or maybe he is just too young to know better. He is only 12 years old after all.

Honorable Mentions: Daniel Barnz (director, Phoebe in Wonderland), Christopher Mintz-Plasse (actor, Kick-Ass), Mira Nair (director, Amelia).

Who will you be watching closely in 2009?


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