It’s the most wonderful time of the year! End of year lists are flooding the internet – from essential compilations like Kris Tapley’s top 10 Shots at Variety and Tomris Laffly’s outstanding collection of costume design at Film School Rejects, to a cornucopia of posts ranking the top 10 films of the year (including our very own coming soon!) – there’s an endless arrangement of opinions being submitted for our viewing pleasure. It’s fun to compare lists and argue the merits of the films, performances, and craftsmanship we preferred this year.

My personal favorite list to create is the top breakthrough performers of the year. Now in its ninth year (sixth at Awards Circuit), the list is meant to be more of a forecast to eventual, if not sudden, stardom. We have a history of being well ahead of the curve with this list (Alicia Vikander ranked third on our list for 2012, three years before she’d be appearing on other breakthrough lists for her performance in The Danish Girl and Ex Machina in 2015).

Each year I recap what we are defining as a breakthrough, since there are multiple ways to look at that term. So, if curious, see below.

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Last year we brought an additional layer to our list by installing a Spotlight Performer commendation (inspired by the early forecasting of Vikander’s star power). The intent of this citation is to foresee who might appear on the Breakthrough list the following year or two – a way of saying “keep your eye on this actor in 2018,” if you will. Last year’s debut Spotlight Performer was Riley Keough (“American Honey”). Will Keough make the Breakthrough list this year? Let’s find out!

But first…