2011 Hot List: Top 15 Actresses Under 30
We've run our annual "girl power" list for seven years now, and tweaked the rules from time to time – originally we had a top ten under 25, and last year we expanded that to a top 20 under 30.
This year we’re compromising on a top 15, in part because heavy-hitters like Natalie Portman and Michelle Williams (and this year’s discovery, Jessica Chastain) no longer qualify, but also because as yet, there is very little room to choose between the likes of Juno Temple, Blake Lively, Emily Browning, Felicity Jones and Zoe Kravitz. All are excellent prospects, but as yet none has really shown us more than flashes of potential. We’ve also sidelined some more established stars, like Keira Knightley and Scarlett Johansson for example, Abbie Cornish and Ellen Page… excellent actresses who command high salaries, but who haven’t shown us their best work this past year.
Better to consider this list a spot-check; a snapshot of whose careers are in the ascendant right now, based on the reception of their releases over the past 12 months, and on our best guesses about the projects they have lined up for the next year or so. To arrive at our rankings, we do look at the box office, and also at awards and critical reception – but also, less scientifically, we try to take the measure of career momentum by looking at the caliber of these actresses’ projects and collaborators, the kind of roles they they are playing and the buzz they are generating. It’s an inexact science to say the least, but if we have omitted True Grit discovery Hailee Steinfeld, for example, that’s not because she was less than terrific in the movie, it’s just that so far, there is no evidence this is anything more than a one-off, and we will have to wait and see if the planned Romeo And Juliet film she has lined up for 2012 proves otherwise.See the movers and shakers from 2010.
Girl Power List 2011
1. JENNIFER LAWRENCE
An Academy Award nominee for Best Actress at the age of 20, Jennifer Lawrence arrived with a bang as the gritty backwoods daughter forced to grow up too fast in Winter’s Bone. Lawrence was a Kentucky gal herself, but has been acting in New York and LA since the age of 14.
Unlike Hailee Steinfeld, the Coen bros discovery who also picked up an Oscar nomination (in the supporting category) this year, Lawrence has lots of momentum, including a substantial role in the latest X-Men and a supporting turn in upcoming Sundance winner Like Crazy. More than that, she has nabbed the starring role in what some are touting as the next Twilight series – or if you prefer, the pre-teen equivalent to the Millennium Trilogy, The Hunger Games. She’s been cast as Katniss Everdeen, who volunteers to participate in the dystopian version of a reality TV show. Part two, Catching Fire, is already in the works. Before that, we’ll see her playing Elizabeth Shue’s daughter in The House at the End of the Street. That line up is why Jennifer Lawrence has come out of nowhere to top our hot list this year.
2. ANNE HATHAWAY
Anne Hathaway has bounced up and down this list like a ping pong ball over the last couple of years. She was number one in 2009 on the back of Rachel Getting Married and Get Smart, but then slid to 19 with two much maligned rom-coms (Bride Wars and Valentine’s Day) with only her White Queen in Alice in Wonderland on the credit side of the equation. Over the past year, Maggie in Love And Other Drugs was a showy piece of acting that didn’t generate the hoped for Oscar nomination, but did steam up her image. Her gig hosting the Oscars with James Franco earned mixed reviews at best. So why is she back at this top? Simple: there wasn’t an actress in her twenties who didn’t want to play Catwoman in The Dark Knight Rises, and Hathaway got the job. You can’t get much hotter than that.
3. MIA WASIKOWSKA
Tim Burton’s Alice-in-Denial was an entrancing, novel interpretation of a beloved character, and Wasikowska navigated it with skill and subtlety – but that performance is as nothing to her superb, Oscar-worthy interpretation of Jane Eyre in the forthcoming film. This Jane is properly handsome, not a ravishing beauty, but graced with intelligence and compassion. Before that the Australian actress had impressed as Sophie in the first season of the TV series In Treatment, and as Chaya in Defiance. Her busy schedule also includes Gus Van Sant’s Restless, a Judd Apatow-penned comedy (Stainless Steel); Albert Nobbs - a nineteenth century Irish drama written by Glenn Close and John Banville (!); John Hillcoat’s bootlegger crime drama The Wettest County in the World with Shia LaBeouf, Tom Hardy and Gary Oldman; and down the line Chan-wook Park’s first Hollywood picture (Stoker), Arthur Miller’s A View from the Bridge, and a project with Jim Jarmusch.
4. KRISTEN STEWART
Debits: Jumper; What Just Happened
Stewart has played Jodie Foster’s daughter in Panic Room, Meg Ryan’s daughter in In The Land Of Women, and Robert De Niro’s daughter in What Just Happened? Since then, of course, she’s also played Billy Burke’s daughter, Bella Swan, in Twilight – the kind of recurring role in a hit franchise that you could build a career on, assuming you have what it takes to capitalize. Her impressive, gritty performance as Joan Jett in The Runaways suggests that she does – it’s enough to make even Bella-beaters reassess – but the movie didn’t bring in a wide audience. With Walter Salles’ On The Road in the can (and more Twilights, of course), Stewart is starting work on a live action Snow White (one of two rival productions going ahead this year) opposite Thor, Chris Hemsworth.
5. CAREY MULLIGAN
Baz Luhrmann has cast Mulligan as Daisy opposite Leonardo DiCaprio in his imminent The Great Gatsby – a coup that would excite us more if Baz wasn’t planning to shoot the thing in 3D (and if we hadn’t seen Australia). Still, it’s a considerable sign of the respect Mulligan has accrued so early in her feature film career. That began with precocious schoolgirl Jenny in An Education of course, which garnered a nomination for Best Actress and a Bafta win. Oliver Stone rushed her into his Wall Street sequel and there were small but telling spots in Public Enemies and Brothers. Her work on British TV (Mrs Pritchard, Bleak House, Northanger Abbey) shows she has what it takes to last. Since last year we have also seen her in Never Let Me Go, a semi-successful movie, but another terrific performance. Oh, and she has the good fortune to co-star with Ryan Gosling in Nicolas Refn’s Cannes hit, Drive. And like all the hottest actresses this year, she also co-stars opposite Michael Fassbender in Shame, Steve McQueen’s follow up to Hunger.
6. EMILY BLUNT
Debits: The Wolfman, Wild Target
Blunt’s meteoric career faltered over the last couple of years with a series of not-so-great choices (The Wolfman, Gulliver’s Travels, Wild Target). But she was terrific in the adaptation of Philip K Dick’s The Adjustment Bureau, warm, funny and unpredictable – she even had chemistry with Matt Damon, which isn’t always easy. It wasn’t a huge hit, but it was enough to remind Hollywood why they were so excited by Blunt in the first place. Her crowded dance card includes Your Sister’s Sister from Humpday director Lynn Shelton, Lasse Hallstrom’s memorably monickered Salmon Fishing in the Yemen (opposite Ewan McGregor and scripted by Simon Beaufoy), a thriller – Looper – from Brick director Rian Johnson; and a rom-com from Jason Segel and Nicholas Stoller.
7. KIRSTEN DUNST
Debits: Elizabethtown; Levity
Kirsten Dunst dropped out of sight for a while, which got tabloid tongues wagging, and her ‘comeback’, if that’s what it was, in How to Lose Friends and Alienate People, was an anti-climax. But Dunst seems well and truly back on track. Despite her director’s calamitous press conference in Cannes, Dunst picked up the best actress award at the festival for Lars von Trier’s Melancholia, and easily the best reviews of her career. Andrew Jarecki’s first dramatic feature All Good Things was a bit of a non-event in the US, but she’s also in Walter Salles’s On the Road, and she’s costarring with Jim Sturgess in the first English feature from Juan Solanas, son of the great Argentine director Fernando Solanas. These are adventurous, non-commercial choices – the former child star has come of age.
8. FREIDA PINTO
Probably the biggest winner in Slumdog Millionaire, Pinto has gone on to work with Woody Allen, Julian Schnabel and Tarsem (as Phaedra in The Immortals). Granted, the Schnabel (Miral) was overloaded with good intensions, but she certainly held her own there, and in the Allen film too. If talent like that wants to work with you, you’ve already arrived. Tarsem’s film is still to come, as is Black Gold, a historical Middle East drama from Jean-Jacques Annaud. Pinto seems to have the entire south Asian market cornered! Also coming soon, her first big budget blockbuster, Rise of the Planet of the Apes, opposite James Franco, and she’s about to start shooting Michael Winterbottom’s take on Thomas Hardy’s Tess of the Durbervilles, transposed to modern India, Trishna. It’s a role that did Nastassja Kinski no harm at all.
9. CHLOE MORETZ
Moretz has grown up fast. There were innocuous cute kid parts in (500) Days of Summer, and Diary of a Wimpy Kid for instance, but then she went on to taking a bullet in the chest from her dad in Kick-Ass, and taking out a whole goon squad of bad guys too as Mindy Macready, aka pre-teen avenger Hit-Girl. It’s a movie she can't yet watch legally in the UK, ditto Let Me In, the skillful US transposition of Let the Right One In, a horror film of rare subtlety and feeling, and further evidence of this young performer’s immense potential. She has plenty lined up too: The Fields is a police thriller with Sam Worthington and Jessica Chastain; Hick is a Vegas comedy vehicle for another rising young star, Blake Lively; she’s in Tim Burton’s Dark Shadows, with Johnny Depp and let’s not forget Hugo Cabret, the 3D spectacle from Martin Scorsese.
10. MILA KUNIS
Kunis made a huge impression in this year’s must-see psycho-ballet thriller, Black Swan. Her pal Natalie Portman (who turned 30 this year) won the Oscar, but Kunis made a lot of people who had her pegged as a comic vamp sit up and take notice – even before that steamy make out scene. If you’re not sure where else you might have seen her, she was a star of TV’s That 70s Show for eight years, helped Jason Segal forget Sarah Marshall, and took Jason Bateman to the cleaners in Extract. Next up: a romantic comedy with Justin Timberlake, Friends with Benefits, plus The Muppets movie, another flick with Max Payne co-star Mark Wahlberg, and ultimately the lead in Sam Raimi’s eagerly awaited Oz: The Great and Powerful – but we will have to wait til 2013 to see that.
11. ANDREA RISEBOROUGH
Riseborough turns 30 in October, but the Geordie actress has enjoyed a breakthrough year. She was in no less than three movies at the Toronto Film Festival last September: Never Let Me Go (a small but memorable part), Made in Dagenham, and Brighton Rock. Combined with her TV roles in The Devil’s Whore and Party Animals, and her portrait of the young Maggie Thatcher in The Long Walk to Finchley, it was enough to bring her to the attention of Madonna, who cast her as Wallis Simpson in her directing effort, W.E.
12. OLIVIA WILDE
Daughter of Alexander and Leslie Cockburn, Olivia Wilde is more than just a pin up. That should become clear over the next few months as she turns up in her second blockbuster (Cowboys & Aliens), her first comedies (Butter, with Hugh Jackman, and The Change Up, with Ryan Reynolds and Justin Bateman), and her first sci-fi film – Andrew Niccol’s In Time, with Justin Timberlake. Then next year we will see her in a thriller by the director of The Counterfeiters (Blackbird), and something called Welcome to the People. In other words, she’s busy, and we’ll be seeing a lot more of her.
13. EMMA WATSON
We’ve shied away from including Emma Watson in the past, despite her enviable box office record and obvious popularity with boys of a certain age. It wasn’t clear if Watson meant to stick with acting, outside of the Harry Potter bubble, or if she had what it takes to play anyone other than Hermione. Questions about her acting have dissipated in the more recent Potter films, and there’s no doubt the roles will be there for her if she wants them. Increasingly, it seems she does. She’s co-starring with Kenneth Branagh (as Laurence Olivier) and Michelle Williams (as Monroe) in My Week With Marilyn, and currently shooting The Perks of Being a Wallflower with Paul Rudd and Logan Lerman – her first US production. Next stop Hollywood?
14. EMMA STONE
Credits: Zombieland; Superbad, Easy A, Crazy, Stupid, Love
‘Jules’ in Superbad, Emma Stone has established her credentials in a string of comedies, good, bad and indifferent. There was The Rocker, The House Bunny, and Ghosts Of Girlfriends Past – and (the good), there was Zombieland and Easy A, the best showcase yet for her sardonic, spunky shtick. More comedic roles are in the pipeline, including the promising Crazy Stupid Love, with Steve Carell and Ryan Gosling, Friends with Benefits, and Movie 43. All that, plus Gwen Stacy in The Amazing Spider-Man. Incidentally, word is she’s really a blonde, Judd Apatow suggested she go red for Superbad and the look stuck.
15. ROONEY MARA
Easily the best thing about the Nightmare on Elm Street remake (she was Nancy), Rooney Mara impressed David Fincher in her relatively small role as the girl who isn’t impressed by Mark Zuckerberg at the beginning of The Social Network. So much so, he chose her for probably the most hotly contested female lead of the year, Lisbeth Salander in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. It’s a career-defining role, and who better than Fincher to lead you through it? At the same time, the sexually explicit teaser poster for this movie has a lot of fans worried about where Hollywood is taking it.
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