I was reading a review at Anomalous Material a few days ago and came across a film that struck me. It made me remember how great the movie was and how shocked I was that such a young actor was the star. He’s quite the “A” list actor today and as this list will show there are quite a few of these noted performers that are some of the biggest stars to grace the silver screen ever. Enjoy the list, as I couldn’t stop writing, and even today as I’m posting a day late (sorry-needed a day off) I’m still thinking of other performers that I may have missed. What a group of talented children.
10. Anna Paquin as Flora McGrath
The Piano (1993)
Who can deny the performances in this slow moving deliberate film by Jane Champion? I was never a fan of the movie itself, but the performances can’t be ignored, and the youthful Anna Paquin ‘s in particular, which happened to steal the Oscar that year as Best Supporting Actress. She’s a very talented woman now, but you can see she’s had the talent since she was just a young girl.
9. Ricky Schroder as T.J.
The Champ (1979)
Over the years some have said his performance was overacted but I disagree. Jon Voight was great in “The Champ”, but it was Ricky (pardon-he’s a serious actor now-RICK) who stole the show. You can say what you want about the rest of the film, but if that blonde haired, blue eyed little boy doesn’t have you in tears when he’s crying for the Champ to wake up, you’ve got to be dead inside.
8. Dakota Fanning as Lucy Diamond Dawson
I am Sam (2001)
Anyone who’s a fan of recent cinema knows the uber talented young actress Dakota Fanning, but for me it was 2001 when I discovered who she was. Her soft and innocent eyes emoted emotions far beyond her years, and while Sean Penn regressed his age, she became older. It was an incredible switch, and whether you are a fan of the film or not, it was where she became a star, and frankly still hasn’t had that remarkable of a performance since. Though she was remarkable in Man On Fire.
7. Jodie Foster as Iris
Taxi Driver (1976)
Jodie Fosters performance in Martin Scorsese’s Taxi Driver cannot be overlooked. When we take into consideration that she was playing against Robert DeNiro in one of his most exciting moments ever as Travis Bickle , the sociopath coming unhinged, it’s remarkable that she stood out as such an individual source in the film. Clearly her talent has not waned since then, but I still think of Iris as one of the most memorable performances by a kid (she was only 14) that I can remember.
6. Kirsten Dunst as Claudia
Interview With The Vampire (1994)
I also love her performance in Little Women, but standing out against the likes of Tom Cruise, Brad Pitt, and Antonio Banderas, and stealing scene after scene still shocks me. Playing Claudia, the woman trapped in a child’s body, she haunted Interview and gave it the melancholy mood that even Pitt didn ‘t successfully emote. Her suffering and translating of that confusion while still being a child but essentially playing an adult is simply dumbfounding to me, especially considering she’s such a lackluster actress now.
5. Anna Chlumsky as Vada Sultenfuss
My Girl (1991)
I also loved McCauley Culkins performance in this movie, but it was Anna Chlumsky as the dramatic, imaginative, and creative Vada Sultenfuss that carried this wonderful coming of age film. Anna’s simply became this character and came alive. She was an individual, and while always carrying herself as strong and positive on the outside, you could easily grasp the lonely and heart broken girl inside, which of course just makes the ending that much more painful. A beautiful film and performance.
4. Kelly Reno as Alec Ramsey
The Black Stallion (1979)
I’m pretty sure Kelly Reno doesn’t even speak for the first forty minutes or so of the film. When he and “The Black” are marooned on the island together, it is one of the most memorable moments of cinema for me as a child. So much emotion is exchanged through animal and boy without words even spoken. When Alec and “The Black” finally are rescued from the island and back to the real world the transition of his character is incredible, especially that the connection between the two is kept. It was an astounding and memorable performance.
3. Christian Bale as Jim ‘Jamie’ Graham
Empire Of The Sun (1987)
When did I discover that Christian Bale was an incredible actor? In 1987 watching Empire Of The Sun. In 1941 Jamie Graham is separated from his parents and held in a prisoner camp in a Japanese occupied Shanghai. The range of emotions the young Bale had to connect with at such a young age to make this Spielberg gem plausible is utter insanity for his age. Watching it even know I’m genuinely astonished, especially when he commands the screen against one of the greatest actors of all time, John Malkovich.
2. Victoire Thivisol as Ponette
Beyond the fact that a child is the main star of this film, let’s take into consideration how many years young Victoire Thivisol actually was. She was only four years old! The story of Ponette is about a little girl whose mother dies. In reaction this young girl withdraws from the people surrounding her, talks to god, and tries to manage anyway she can to bring her mother back. The story is so sad, but the performance is insanely riveting. How a child that young could share those kind of emotions is beyond my comprehension. Insanely amazing.
1. Natalie Portman as Mathilda
The Professional (1994)
If Natalie Portman’s performance in The Professional doesn’t blow you away, I don’t know what will. She and Jean Reno are incredible together, and while her role in “Beautiful Girls” comes to a close second to her role as the young Mathilda, I can’t remember a child stealing the screen with such absolute totality as she does in “The Professional”. Any child paired against GaryOldman and Jean Reno and being the star is something that can’t be ignored. Love this character and still love Portman just for it.
Honorable Mentions: Mara Wilson in Matilda, Abigail Breslin in Llittle miss sunshine, Elijah Wood as Mike (Radio Flyer, 1992), Linda Blair The Exorcist as Regan (1973), Justin Henry, Kramer vs. Kramer, McCully culkin Home Alone, Christina Ricci as Wednesday Addams, and Henry Thomas in E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial (1982)
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