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The 25 Best Breakthrough Performances of 2021

The 25 Best Breakthrough Performances of 2021

There’s no surprise given year when known quantities turn out career-best work in any given year — of course, Penélope Cruz is going to soar as a conflicted mother in the latest Pedro Almodóvar film, Benedict Cumberbatch will kill it as a repressed cattle rancher in a Jane Campion film, and Kate Winslet will nail the rough edges of a Pennsylvania police detective in freefall.

But that also means plenty of fresh faces and new talents get the chance to emerge out of the year’s best films and TV series. A watercooler sensation like “The White Lotus,” featuring a sprawling and diverse cast, meant many audiences were tuning into at least a few key new performers making their breakout bows. Meanwhile, in a year where film festivals were up and running again, a handful of foreign titles gained major crossover traction — meaning that new actors from overseas and beyond

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