Imeh Akpanudosen/GettyCreated in 2006 as a way of acknowledging the best new acting talent, the Rising Star is the only BAFTA award that's voted for by the general public. Here's a look at the five nominees hoping to follow in the footsteps of previous winners James McAvoy, Shia Labeouf and Kristen Stewart at this year's ceremony.Dane DeHaanFollowing a seven-episode stint on In Treatment, 27-year-old Dane DeHaan then starred as troubled superhero Andrew Detmer in the gripping found-footage sci-fi hit Chronicle, appeared alongside former Rising Star winner Tom Hardy in the Prohibition drama Lawless and played Ryan Gosling's son in The Place Beyond The Pines. Following rave reviews for his portrayal of Beat poet Lucien Carr in Kill Your Darlings, DeHaan will next be seen in zombie comedy Life After Beth and perhaps more notably, The Green Goblin in The Amazing Spider-Man 2.George Mackay21-year-old Mackay has already picked up a Scottish BAFTA for his performance in last year's fishing tragedy drama For Those In Peril. Before that, he appeared in a number of children's fantasy adventures (Peter Pan, The Thief Lord), starred as one of the Bielski brothers in Defiance and played Clive Owen's son in The Boys Are Back. While 2013 also saw him star opposite Saoirse Ronan in How I Live Now and showcase his vocal talents in The Proclaimers jukebox musical, Sunshine On Leith.Lupita Nyong'oThe oldest nominee on the list, 30-year-old Mexican-born, Kenyan-raised actress Nyong'o is also the least experienced in front of the camera with short film East River and MTV Base's controversial drama Shuga the only productions listed on her filmography before she landed her breakthrough role, female slave Patsey, in Steve McQueen's awards favorite 12 Years A Slave.Will PoulterThe youngest nominee at just 20, Poulter began his film career in 2008's under-rated coming-of-age comedy drama Son of Rambow before landing the role of Eustace Scrubb in The Chronicles Of Narnia: The Voyage Of The Dawn Treader. He continued to prove his talents in low-budget drama Wild Bill and stole the show from Jennifer Aniston and Jason Sudeikis as loveable dope Kenny in We're The Millers while this year will see him feature in British crime caper Plastic and the big-screen adaptation of The Maze Runner.Lea SeydouxBorn into one of France's most cinematic families, Seydoux grew up surrounded by a whole host of Hollywood stars and after working with the likes of Quentin Tarantino, Woody Allen and Ridley Scott, has gradually become one herself. A three-time Cesar Award nominee for her roles in The Beautiful Person, Belle Epine and Farewell, My Queen, the 28-year-old is an outside bet for an Oscar nod thanks to her compelling performance in the Palme d'Or winner Blue Is The Warmest Color.
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When we last left our heroes, they had conquered all opponents in the 74th Annual Hunger Games, returned home to their newly refurbished living quarters in District 12, and fallen haplessly to the cannibalism of PTSD. And now we're back! Hitching our wagons once again to laconic Katniss Everdeen and her sweet-natured, just-for-the-camera boyfriend Peeta Mellark as they gear up for a second go at the Capitol's killing fields.
But hold your horses — there's a good hour and a half before we step back into the arena. However, the time spent with Katniss and Peeta before the announcement that they'll be competing again for the ceremonial Quarter Quell does not drag. In fact, it's got some of the film franchise's most interesting commentary about celebrity, reality television, and the media so far, well outweighing the merit of The Hunger Games' satire on the subject matter by having Katniss struggle with her responsibilities as Panem's idol. Does she abide by the command of status quo, delighting in the public's applause for her and keeping them complacently saturated with her smiles and curtsies? Or does Katniss hold three fingers high in opposition to the machine into which she has been thrown? It's a quarrel that the real Jennifer Lawrence would handle with a castigation of the media and a joke about sandwiches, or something... but her stakes are, admittedly, much lower. Harvey Weinstein isn't threatening to kill her secret boyfriend.
Through this chapter, Katniss also grapples with a more personal warfare: her devotion to Gale (despite her inability to commit to the idea of love) and her family, her complicated, moralistic affection for Peeta, her remorse over losing Rue, and her agonizing desire to flee the eye of the public and the Capitol. Oftentimes, Katniss' depression and guilty conscience transcends the bounds of sappy. Her soap opera scenes with a soot-covered Gale really push the limits, saved if only by the undeniable grace and charisma of star Lawrence at every step along the way of this film. So it's sappy, but never too sappy.
In fact, Catching Fire is a masterpiece of pushing limits as far as they'll extend before the point of diminishing returns. Director Francis Lawrence maintains an ambiance that lends to emotional investment but never imposes too much realism as to drip into territories of grit. All of Catching Fire lives in a dreamlike state, a stark contrast to Hunger Games' guttural, grimacing quality that robbed it of the life force Suzanne Collins pumped into her first novel.
Once we get to the thunderdome, our engines are effectively revved for the "fun part." Katniss, Peeta, and their array of allies and enemies traverse a nightmare course that seems perfectly suited for a videogame spin-off. At this point, we've spent just enough time with the secondary characters to grow a bit fond of them — deliberately obnoxious Finnick, jarringly provocative Johanna, offbeat geeks Beedee and Wiress — but not quite enough to dissolve the mystery surrounding any of them or their true intentions (which become more and more enigmatic as the film progresses). We only need adhere to Katniss and Peeta once tossed in the pit of doom that is the 75th Hunger Games arena, but finding real characters in the other tributes makes for a far more fun round of extreme manhunt.
But Catching Fire doesn't vie for anything particularly grand. It entertains and engages, having fun with and anchoring weight to its characters and circumstances, but stays within the expected confines of what a Hunger Games movie can be. It's a good one, but without shooting for succinctly interesting or surprising work with Katniss and her relationships or taking a stab at anything but the obvious in terms of sending up the militant tyrannical autocracy, it never even closes in on the possibility of being a great one.
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