Every year we see a whole host of actors and actresses make a name for themselves as they grab everyone's attention in what proves to be their breakthrough role... I am glad to say, 2015 was no different as a whole host of stars proved they are actors to keep an eye on going forward.

Alicia Vikander

Alicia Vikander

Some actors had their breakthrough role with their debut film performance while others sent their star rocketing after showing early promise in other movie projects.

We take a look at some of the stars who have made a huge impact in 2015 with performances that we have been talking about all year.

- Taron Egerton

When it comes to British actors in 2015, few have made a bigger splash on the big screen than Taron Egerton. Egerton made his feature film debut at the beginning of the year, when he took on the central role in action/comedy Kingsman: The Secret Service.

The movie was one of the biggest sleeper hits of the year and saw Egerton team up with director Matthew Vaughn. Egerton takes on the role of Eggsy and plays the film's hero with an assurance and a confidence that it is hard to believe that this is his first major film role.

Kingsman: The Secret Service follows Eggsy, who is recruited to start training to be an agent in a top-secret organisation. When billionaire philanthropist Richmond Valentine wants to take over the world, Eggsy is called into action.

Kingsman: The Secret Service is one of the best British films to hit the big screen this year and saw Egerton team up with Colin Firth, Mark Strong, Michael Caine, and Samuel L. Jackson. The movie was a critical hit upon release and went on to gross over $414 million at the global box office - easily making back its $81 million budget.

The movie was based on the graphic novel by Mark Millar and a sequel is already in the pipeline, which will see Egerton return to the central role of Eggsy. And 2015 has been a very successful year for the actor as we have also seen him in Legend and Testament of Youth.

2016 promises to be an even bigger year for the actor as he has already completed work on Eddie the Eagle - where he will take on the role of Eddie Edwards. He is currently filming Billionaire Boys Club and lending his voice to Sing. Next year will see him start filming the Kingsman sequel and Robin Hood: Origins. Egerton will take on the role of Robin Hood in the film, while Otto Bathurst is in the director's chair.

Taron Egerton
Taron Egerton

- Lily James

For television fans, Lily James was best known for her role as Lady Rose MacClare in hit period series Downton Abbey, but she was to become a major leading lady when she teamed up with filmmaker Kenneth Branagh for Cinderella. Cinderella was the latest Disney movie to be given a live-action makeover and James landed the film's title role.

James is no stranger to the big screen with the likes of Fast Girls and Wrath of the Titans already under her belt… but this was the biggest leading role of her career and it was to be the film that sent her star truly rocketing. Cinderella was the first feature film of Branagh since the not so great Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit and it saw the director well and truly back on form as he delivered a faithful and charming adaptation of a tale that we know so well.

James was perfectly cast as Cinderella and it is a movie that really did allow her to shine. It is a genuine and sensitive performance from the young actress as her interpretation of the character really does pull the audience into the story and the film. She has a wonderful chemistry with Richard Madden while Cate Blanchett is one of the best movie villains of the year as Cinderella's stepmother.

James and the movie won over critics and audiences and was a critical and commercial hit - it went on to gross over $542 million at the global box office and is one of the highest grossing movies of the year.

And James' acting future looks very bright indeed as she is set to return to the big screen in the New Year with Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, which an adaptation of the novel of the same name by Seth Grahame-Smith. The book/film is a new interpretation of Jane Austen's novel and will see James play Elizabeth Bennet, as we have never seen her before.

The actress is currently filming The Kaiser's Last Kiss and will be returning to the small screen for a new adaptation of War and Peace - she is set to take on the role of Natasha Rostova in the series.

Lily James
Lily James

- Jamie Dornan

Jamie Dornan has had an acting career that has spanned almost a decade, but it was 2015 that was to be his major breakthrough year. Like James, Dornan was best known for his role as Paul Spector in TV series The Fall but he took on the role of Christian Grey for the first time, as Fifty Shades of Grey was adapted for the big screen.

Fifty Shades of Grey was one of the most talked about and anticipated films of early 2015 and it was to be the biggest film role of Dornan's career to date. Not only did his help establish him as a film actor, but it also turned him into something of a sex symbol. Fifty Shades of Grey made stars of Dornan and leading lady Dakota Johnson, who took on the role of Anastasia Steele.

The movie is based on the novel by E.L. James and was adapted for the big screen by Kelly Marcel - who wrote the script for the fantastic Saving Mr Banks. The movie marked the return of Sam Taylor-Johnson to the director's chair for her first feature since she made her debut with Nowhere Boy.

Fifty Shades of Grey may not have been a critical hit, but fans of the book flocked to see the film and it grossed over $570 million at the worldwide box office. Dornan is set to reprise the role of Grey in the next two films in the series.

As well as starring in Fifty Shades of Grey this year, Dornan returned to the role of Paul Spector as the second series of The Fall came to the small screen. He also starred in The 9th Life of Louis Drax. And we are going to be seeing plenty of him on the big screen next year as he has already finished work on Jadotville and Anthropoid.

Jamie Dornan
Jamie Dornan

- Alicia Vikander

Alicia Vikander is an actress who has been on my radar ever since I saw her in the fantastic A Royal Affair alongside Mad Mikkelsen back in 2012. Since that wonderful performance in A Royal Affair, Vikander has only been going on way… and that is up. 2015 has been the major breakthrough year for her as we have seen her star in a string of films.

Testament of Youth, Son of a Gun, Seventh Son, and The Man from U.N.C.L.E. are just some of the movies that she has starred in this year, but it is Ex Machina that has really grabbed everyone's attention. It was back at the beginning of the year when this terrific science fiction film was released and was the feature film directorial debut for Alex Garland - who was best known for penning screenplays for 28 Days Later, Dredd, and Sunshine.

Ex Machina saw Domhnall Gleeson and Oscar Isaac star alongside Vikander in a movie that explored the idea of artificial intelligence and evaluation the human qualities of an A.I. Vikander played the A.I. creation and gave a sublime performance as Ava. Just when you think that you have Ava sussed, she goes down a completely different path that turns the film on its head.

Ex Machina is the best science fiction film that I have seen all year and leaves audiences asking their own questions about artificial intelligence - it really is an interesting, riveting, and hugely entertaining watch. Vikander's terrific performance has earnt her a Best Supporting Actress Golden Globe nomination.

And Vikander continues to whip up a storm on the big screen, as she is set to return with The Danish Girl - a movie that is already surrounded in Oscar whispers. The movie sees the actress team up with Eddie Redmayne for the first time, while Tom Hooper is in the director's chair.

Redmayne is set to take on the role of Lili Elbe, one of the first known recipients of sex reassignment surgery - Vikander will play her wife Gerda Wegener. Vikander has picked up a Best Actress Golden Globe nomination and she could find herself in the Oscar mix when the nominations are announced next year. In 2016, we are also going to see Vikander star in Tulip Fever, The Light Between Oceans, and the new Bourne film - which is currently being filmed.

Alicia Vikander

- Lea Seydoux

If you are a fan of foreign cinema, then the name Lea Seydoux will not be new to you after the actress received acclaim for her performance in Blue Is the Warmest Colour in 2013. However, the French actress has moved into more mainstream movies in 2015 and it was the role of Dr Madeleine Swann in Spectre that really helped boost her profile.

Seydoux was one of the big new additions to the Bond franchise in the autumn as she starred alongside Daniel Craig and worked with filmmaker Sam Mendes for the first time. Spectre was not the first blockbuster that Seydoux has worked on - she did appear in Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol - but it is the biggest film role of her career to date.

While Spectre has not quite lived up the hype of Skyfall in 2012, it has still been an enormous success and has helped make Seydoux a more recognisable face and name. As well as starring in Spectre this year, the actress was also part of the fantastic ensemble cast of sci-fi film The Lobster, which was the first English-speaking movie for filmmaker and writer Yorgos Lanthimos. The Lobster was a movie that has been met with critical acclaim on the festival circuit and only further cemented Seydoux as an acting talent to keep an eye on.

Seydoux will be back on the big screen next year with It's Only the End of the World, which is based on the play by Jean-Luc Lagarce. The movie sees Xavier Dolan in the director's chair, while Marion Cotillard and Vincent Cassel join Seydoux on the cast list.

The actress has also been linked to a role in upcoming X-Men spin-off Gambit. This will be the first solo film for the popular comic book character and Channing Tatum is set to take on the title role. The movie will see Doug Liman back in the director's chair.

Lea Seydoux

Other actors who have had fantastic breakthrough years include Brenton Thwaites, Bel Powley, Alison Brie, and Ellar Coltrane.

by for www.femalefirst.co.uk
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