After a month of Cinematical expertly digging through one genre after another and nailing down the best entries in each one during the last decade, it seemed like there was an important cache of contributions that might not get the recognition they deserved: breakthrough performances or films. Such a designation crosses the boundaries of genre, sometimes happens in a film less deserving of praise, or otherwise finds itself overlooked. But after poring over the list of so many thousands of movies made in the last ten years, I've put together a svelte collection of superlative contributions which I believe qualify as the breakthroughs of the decade.

(It should be noted that we aren't pretending that these actors and filmmakers never made movies before the ones we're celebrating here. Rather, these are the moments in their career that they crossed over and introduced themselves in a way that audiences could no longer ignore.)