Steven Spielberg

When Steven Spielberg releases two films in a year you can guarantee a few things: there will be at least one happy ending; one film will be heavy while the other will be light; and he will push the boundaries of film-making. In 2011 Spielberg will release War Horse, a film adaptation of the emotional child’s story about a horse in World War 1, and The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn in which he will create an entire 3D film using Avatar motion-capture technology.

Natalie Portman

Natalie Portman is certainly being versatile this year. First we will see her play a ballerina on the edge in the Oscar-worthy and critically acclaimed Black Swan. She will then become Ashton Kutcher’s love interest in chick-flick No Strings Attached, an astrophysicist in Marvel’s comic film Thor and finally the warrior princess in male-directed fantasy comedy Your Highness. This year, Portman will finally get a chance to show her full range and hopefully prove to Hollywood that she can be box office gold.

Matt Damon

One male actor to look out for this year is Matt Damon who is hitting 2011 with no less than five film releases. Damon is known for being picky with roles but this is to his credit, as he often chooses meaty, interesting ones. He will narrate Inside Job, a documentary about the financial crisis, play a reluctant psychic in the new Eastwood film Hereafter, a cowboy with a lisp in the Coen brothers’ True Grit, a politician in thriller The Adjustment Bureau and then to round it all off a scientist in star-studded Contagion.

Matt Isard

Cary Fukunaga

Cary Fukunaga’s feature film debut, Sin Nombre saw him riding atop Mexican railroad cars, braving bandits, foul weather and low-hanging tree limbs. The director was richly rewarded at the 2009 Sundance Film Festival, picking up the US Dramatic Directing Award and the Cinematography Award. However, Latin American railroad yards are replaced by Victorian manor houses in his latest project, an adaptation of the classic Jane Eyre, out in March, starring Mia Wasikowska as the eponymous heroine. 2011 looks set to be another successful year for this promising director.

Alisha Patel

Robert Pattinson

It may strike some as superfluous to flag Robert Pattinson as an actor “to look out for” in his capacity as one of the 100 most influential individuals on earth (dixit Time). Yet 2011 will see a new Robert Pattinson. In stark contrast to the Twilight saga, he has chosen that most salacious and amoral tale for his next role: an adaptation of Maupassant’s Bel Ami, where he plays the eponymous anti-hero, a social climber cum seducer of women.

Sam Jindani