Miles Teller, Jake Abel and five more up-and-coming-actors

Miles Teller from the film "Spectacular Now" at

Miles Teller from the film "Spectacular Now" at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival at the Fender Music Lodge in Park City, Utah. (Jan. 18, 2013) (Credit: AP)

Who's worth watching in the movies these days? If you're trying to spot the next big star, your guess is as good as mine. After all, who could have predicted the upward trajectory of Channing Tatum? Or, conversely, the gradual disappearance of Megan Fox? At any rate, if you're looking for actors who haven't yet been overexposed and may still escape the pigeonholing and typecasting of Hollywood, I have a few names to suggest. Some are American, some foreign, some young, some less so, but all are embarking on careers that could go in any number of interesting directions.

Here are seven actors to watch in the coming months and, perhaps, years.

Oscar Isaac

This Guatemalan-Cuban actor with dark good looks and soulful eyes wouldn't seem easy to miss, but he has spent much of his career on the sidelines. He brightened up 2010s big-budget bore "Robin Hood" as a hilariously debauched King John and lent a note of sensitivity to the bloody Ryan Gosling vehicle "Drive," but true stardom eluded him. Fitting, then, that his breakout role is a long-struggling folk musician in the Coen brothers' "Inside Llewyn Davis," one of the year's most hotly anticipated releases. And, yes, he really does sing and play guitar. Isaac was once the front man for a Miami rock band, The Blinking Underdogs.

 

Adèle Exarchopoulos

The French actress with the five-syllable surname is France's latest cause célèbre, thanks to her role in the steamy lesbian drama "Blue Is the Warmest Color." Exarchopolous, 19, plays the ingénue Adèle -- the director renamed the character for her -- opposite Léa Seydoux, 28, as the more experienced Emma. The two reportedly spent 10 hours and 100 takes on just one of the film's many explicit sex scenes, but the work paid off when a Cannes jury (led by Steven Spielberg) awarded the Palme d'Or to the film and, in an unusual step, to the actresses themselves. Oscar whispers about Exarchopoulos have begun, which means host Ellen DeGeneres may want to practice pronouncing that name.

 

Miles Teller

A 26-year-old actor with the gift of gab and "aw shucks" vulnerability, Teller could be the younger brother of Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson. He's also at a crossroads, with a resume that includes the dark drama "Rabbit Hole," the 2011 remake of "Footloose" and two party-hearty flicks, "Project X" and "21 & Over" (both from the makers of "The Hangover"). Earlier this year, Teller drew high praise for portraying a glib teenager with a serious drinking problem in the critically acclaimed "The Spectacular Now." Next up are "Divergent," a dystopian adventure film, and "That Awkward Moment," with Zac Efron and Imogen Poots.

 

Jake Abel

If you're over 16, you may not recognize Abel, a frequent supporting player in young-adult fantasy films. Time and again, however, he's the best thing in them. As a villainous demigod in the "Percy Jackson" movies and a bullying jock in "I Am Number Four," Abel was so charming and funny he made it hard to root for the heroes. His shining moment came in "The Host," an abysmal Stephenie Meyer adaptation about an Earth girl (Saiorse Ronan) whose body is invaded by an alien. Abel, as her baffled suitor, took some truly atrocious lines -- "Let me guess, you're of two minds?" -- and made them sparkle. He recently landed a more serious-sounding role as a World War II radio man in the upcoming "Ghosts of the Pacific."

 

Dane DeHaan

In person, DeHaan looks like a pale English schoolboy, but on-screen, this 27-year-old American projects a fearsome intensity. Few noticed him in the sci-fi film "Chronicle" (as a bullying victim who gains superpowers) or in the backwoods drama "Lawless" (as Shia LaBeouf's bootlegging buddy). But after playing a coiled ball of teenage rage in last year's "The Place Beyond the Pines," attention was finally paid. DeHaan currently can be seen as Lucien Carr in the Beat Generation drama "Kill Your Darlings" with Daniel Radcliffe and as a roadie in the concert film "Metallica: Through the Never," but all eyes are on next year's "The Amazing Spider-Man 2," in which he'll play villain-in-the making Harry Osborn.

 

Lupita Nyong'o

Born in Mexico, raised in Kenya, and educated at Hampshire College and Yale's School of Drama, Nyong'o has the kind of exotic backstory and stately beauty that make for great press. But she worked behind the camera, as an intern on "The Namesake" and production runner on "The Constant Gardener," before getting her big break as Patsey in this year's Oscar contender "12 Years a Slave." As a woman pushed to her emotional breaking point, Nyong'o was singled out by Variety as "a stunning discovery." She's set to appear next year in the Liam Neeson action film "Non-Stop."

 

Scott Haze

For a brief introduction to this little-known actor, watch the trailer for "Child of God," directed by James Franco and co-written by Cormac McCarthy. (It was released in Manhattan earlier this month.) The trailer is only 40 seconds of Haze, as the backwoods outcast Lester Ballard, looking disheveled, insane and clearly intent on harm. Reportedly, Haze simply showed up that way -- filthy and undernourished -- after living in the Tennessee mountains for three months with only an iPod full of Eminem for company. Franco, who befriended Haze at the Playhouse West acting school in Los Angeles, said audiences may suspect that he simply "found some maniac in the woods and shot him. But it is Scott giving the performance of a lifetime."

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