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Nate Parker, right, with Armie Hammer in &quot;The Birth of a Nation,&quot; a drama about the Nat Turner slave uprising.
Nate Parker, right, with Armie Hammer in "The Birth of a Nation," a drama about the Nat Turner slave uprising. (Elliot Davis, Sundance Institute)

Tuesday, Vanity Fair came out with its annual Hollywood issue and it was really ... safe.

The 13 actresses included more perennial awards favorites than of-the-moment up-and-comers. Diane Keaton landed on the cover, even though her only recent contribution was the bomb "Love the Coopers," and the other familiar faces included Jennifer Lawrence, Cate Blanchett, Rachel Weisz and Viola Davis.

The only hint that this cover was shot in 2016 was the presence of Alicia Vikander, Brie Larson and Charlotte Rampling. The most surprising aspect of the photo shoot was that Keaton dressed herself.

(Frederick M. Brown, Getty Images)

The magazine used to be a little riskier in its selections. True, the results could be kind of hit or miss — in 1999, Barry Pepper, Leelee Sobieski, Anna Friel and Vinessa Shaw made the cut — but at least the picks were interesting. You might even see a person you hadn't yet seen in action on the big screen.

These days, not so much. Continuing last year's trend of playing it safe (Channing Tatum, Amy Adams, Reese Witherspoon, etc.), this year's cover is an excuse to fawn over the already fawned over.

Meanwhile, there are a lot of up-and-comers this year worthy of a shout-out. Might some of them end up being the Skeet Ulrich or Fairuza Balk of 2016? Sure. But at least we're trying ...

Nate Parker


The actor is in just one movie this year, but it's poised to be huge. "The Birth of a Nation" was the toast of Sundance. The drama about the Nat Turner slave uprising won the two top awards at the festival and sold for a record-setting $17.5 million to Fox Searchlight. The movie probably won't get a release until late in the year, when all the awards contenders hit theaters, but when it does, expect plenty of Oscar chatter.

Ruth Negga

(Tibo & Anouchka, SND)

It looks like the Ethiopian-born actress is about to have a very good year. For starters, she's starring in the hotly anticipated television series "Preacher," an adaptation of the comic book series about a man who travels the country in search of god after he becomes possessed by a supernatural spirit. Negga will also star in the big-budget video game adaptation "Warcraft," which comes out this summer. And, on a more understated note, she'll play Mildred Loving opposite Joel Edgerton in "Loving," a historical drama about the interracial couple that was sentenced to prison in Virginia in the 1950s.

Alison Sudol

(Matt Sayles, Invision)

Best known as a musician — she goes by the name A Fine Frenzy — Sudol has been hopping around television shows for a couple years. You may have seen her in recurring roles on "Transparent" or "Dig." But now she's jumping into movies in a big way. She'll be playing Queenie Goldstein, one of four leads in the upcoming Harry Potter spinoff "Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them," opposite Eddie Redmayne, Katherine Waterston and Dan Fogler.

Keith Stanfield

The "Dope" and "Selma" star has landed himself in some of the buzziest dramas of the year. Stanfield has roles in Oliver Stone's "Snowden," the satire "War Machine" with Brad Pitt, and Don Cheadle's Miles Davis biopic "Miles Ahead." He'll also star in Donald Glover's FX series "Atlanta," set in the city's rap scene.

(Sundance Channel)

Charlotte Le Bon

The Canadian actress is following up roles in "The Walk" and "The Hundred-Foot Journey" with some higher-profile projects. She's the woman at the center of a love triangle involving Oscar Isaac and Christian Bale in Oscar winner Terry George's "The Promise." She'll also be trying her hand at action, opposite Idris Elba and Richard Madden in "Bastille Day." Meanwhile, she'll be in "Anthropoid," one of two historical thrillers about the plot to assassinate Nazi SS comander Reinhard Heydrich scheduled for a 2016 release.

Riz Ahmed

The London-born Ahmed landed on the radars of movie-goers with a memorable part in "Nightcrawler," in 2014, which led to one big upcoming year. He's starring in what are sure to be two of 2016's most lucrative hits: the untitled Jason Bourne sequel, starring Matt Damon, and the "Star Wars" spinoff "Rogue One."

Alden Ehrenreich

Ehrenreich certainly made an impression in the second trailer for the Coen Brother's "Hail, Caesar!" Opposite Ralph Fiennes, he gets a hilarious, lengthy lesson in how to properly say the word "simple." The movie comes out this weekend, so we'll see if he's as good in the rest of the movie as he is in the clip. Ehrenreich has made an impression on some top directors, starring in movies by Woody Allen ("Blue Jasmine"), Francis Ford Coppola ("Tetro," "Twixt") and Warren Beatty (the untitled Howard Hughes movie that ended shooting a year ago but may or may not get released this year).

Edgar Ramirez

Ramirez has had memorable supporting roles in movies for years, but the Venezuelan actor hasn't yet had his star turn (unless you count "Point Break," which you shouldn't). That's changing this year with his lead role in "Hands of Stone." He plays boxer Roberto Duran, and Robert De Niro plays his trainer. He'll also be sharing the spotlight with Matthew McConaughey in Oscar winner Stephen Gaghan's mining thriller "Gold." Meanwhile, he's also been cast as Dr. Kamal Abdic in "The Girl on the Train."

Haley Bennett

Bennett is practically pulling an Alicia Vikander this year with five movies coming out, all of which are getting major buzz. The first is a little iffy — again, Beatty's movie about Howard Hughes — but she has other movies in the pipeline, including Terrence Malick's A-list-heavy untitled movie starring Christian Bale, Rooney Mara and Michael Fassbender; "Thank You for Your Service," a drama about military veterans with PTSD; Antoine Fuqua's remake of "The Magnificent Seven"; and the adaptation of the best-selling novel "The Girl on the Train."

Jack Reynor

One of the most entertaining characters in the most heart-warming movie at Sundance was Reynor's sweet big brother in the musical "Sing Street." But he'll also star in the drama "The Secret Scripture," with Rooney Mara and Theo James, and opposite Brie Larson and Armie Hammer in Ben Wheatley's "Free Fire." He'll have a role in "HHhH," the other movie about the Anthropoid mission during World War II to assassinate Reinhard Heydrich, not to mention Andy Serkis' "Jungle Book: Origins," alongside Benedict Cumberbatch, Cate Blanchett and Christian Bale.

Browse photography at Denver.Gallery.