The Sundance Film Festival didn’t just bring us 112 new feature films this year — it debuted some hugely promising young actors well worth paying attention to. After all, recent fests featured the breakout performances of Saoirse Ronan (“Brooklyn,” 2015), Lucas Hedges (“Manchester by the Sea,” 2016) and Timothée Chalamet (“Call Me by Your Name,” 2017), all of whom captured Oscar nominations.
Here are the most exciting performers from Sundance 2019.
The 21-year-old Dane had two daunting tasks for her first major film role in “I Am Mother”: carry a science-fiction movie on her shoulders and be the lead to Academy Award-winner Hilary Swank’s supporting character. Rugaard formidably pulls off both, acting alongside a robot for most of the 2-hour film and displaying remarkable vulnerability and vigor as the action heats up. Her poised-but-aggressive demeanor actually brings to mind a young Swank. Rugaard previously appeared in the short-lived Shondaland TV show “Still Star-Crossed” and Disney’s “The Lodge.”
Kalra is somehow totally new to acting. The 21-year-old Brit told the UK’s Evening Standard last year that he only got into the business “about a year ago.” That naiveté might be his biggest strength. In “Blinded by the Light,” he plays a working-class teen caught up in a love of Bruce Springsteen. He brings such honesty and euphoric charisma to the role, he takes you back to such star-making high-school performances as Matthew Broderick in “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” and Tom Cruise in “Risky Business” — the first big parts for both of those A-list actors.