The Hot List: Top 20 Actresses Under 30
We’ve run our annual “girl power” list since the beginning, and because we’re still feeling nostalgic after celebrating the 400th LOVEFiLM newsletter the other day it’s interesting to go back and look at that first chart, and wonder whatever happened to the likes of Thora Birch (who came in at #8 on the strength of American Beauty and Ghost World), Hilary Duff (#14), and Lindsay Lohan (#7)… Remember her?
Still, eight years on quite a number of that first list still feature in this year’s chart, including the original number one, Scarlett Johansson, who was red hot in 2004 after Lost in Translation and Girl with a Pearl Earring. Her fortunes have waxed and waned a little bit – she and Keira Knightley (number 5 in the first chart) both dropped out last year when their careers seemed to lose momentum, but they’re back this year and at 27 they should both be around for the tenth edition.
Of course others no longer meet the age requirements. Kirsten Dunst turned 30 last week, and Andrea Riseborough is also out of contention; Michelle Williams, Natalie Portman and Jessica Chastain have all long since graduated to bigger and better things – in fact, remarkably, only one actress nominated for an Oscar this year was under 30 (in case you’re wondering, the ingénue from The Artist, Berenice Bejo, is 35). The exception: Lisbeth Salander, aka Rooney Mara.
Still, it’s always more crowded at the bottom, and there were quite a few young actresses vying for inclusion this time round who for whatever reason didn’t quite make the cut. Usually, their omission reflects the fact that they simply haven’t amassed much of a body of work yet, even if their talent has put them on our radar. Among these names for the future, I’d say look out for Julia Garner – who made an impression in a couple of brief scenes in Martha, Marcy, May, Marlene; Bella Heathcote (Dark Shadows) and True Grit star Hailee Steinfeld. Others are more established talents who have not had a particularly stellar twelve months – Ellen Page, for instance, Chloe Moretz (though we loved her in Hugo), Mila Kunis, Megan Fox, and Olivia Wilde (who suffered the indignities of Cowboys & Aliens and In Time). Twenty-year old Shailene Woodley was spectacular as Alex King, George Clooney’s eldest daughter in The Descendants, but with very little else lined up as yet, she didn’t make the final list either.
In sum, 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 tare playing and the buzz they are generating.See the movers and shakers from 2010.
Girl Power List 2012
1. JENNIFER LAWRENCE
Credits: Hunger Games, Winter’s Bone, X-Men First Class, Like Crazy
Combining down to earth grit, subtlety and resourcefulness, Lawrence already seems more mature and capable than most of her peers. She topped our list last year in part because of her astonishing, Academy Award-nominated performance in Winter’s Bone, and also because she had snagged the hotly contested lead in The Hunger Games, which we correctly noted was poised to become a Twilight sized smash. X-Men First Class doesn’t hurt either. La Lawrence has kept up the pace and then some. Later this year she has three films ready for release, the domestic horror The House at the End of the Street, with Elizabeth Shue, a minor role in the thriller Devil You Know (starring Lena Olin), and two potential prestige pictures, Susanne Bier’s Serena, costarring Bradley Cooper (and likely set for Spring 2013 in the UK) and David O Russell’s The Silver Linings Playbook, again with Cooper, plus Robert De Niro, Julia Stiles, Chris Tucker and another up and coming young actress, Taylor Schilling. According to reports Lionsgate is also in talks for Lawrence to star in an adaptation of best-selling memoir The Glass Castle – and of course there are sequels to X Men First Class and Hunger Games coming soon.
2. ANNE HATHAWAY
Credits: The Dark Knight Rises; Rachel Getting Married, Brokeback Mountain, The Devil Wears Prada, Becoming Jane, Get Smart, Love and Other Drugs
Debits: Bride Wars, Princess Diaries 2, Havoc
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. Then she shot back up to #2, in part because of her showy performance in Love and Other Drugs but mostly because 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. What else? Well, she’s Fantine in Tom Hooper’s Oscar-hopeful Les Miserables, and then she’s producing and starring in the spy thriller Puzzler… The possibility of a Judy Garland biopic remains on the back-burner for now. In the meantime, miaow!
3. CAREY MULLIGAN
Credits: The Great Gatsby, An Education, Wall Street, Never Let Me Go, Drive, Shame
Last year was another good one for Carey Mulligan: most agreed her heart-stopping rendition of New York New York in Shame was a highlight of that provocative, intense movie – certainly Steve McQueen seemed to think so. Mulligan gave the movie its emotional catharsis. And she was the beating heart underneath the slickster cool of Nicolas Winding Refn’s neo-noir Drive. How many actresses can go from Ryan Gosling to Michael Fassbender to Leonardo DiCaprio? (She got married somewhere in there too.) Not just any old DiCaprio movie either, but Baz Luhmanann’s adaptation of the greatest novel of the twentieth century, The Great Gatsby. Daisy Buchanan is one of those dream roles that come along once in a lifetime, and for Luhrmann & Co to entrust it to an English actress speaks volumes for the esteem in which she is held
4. KEIRA KNIGHTLEY
Credits: A Dangerous Method, The Duchess, The Edge of Love, Atonement, Pride and Prejudice, Pirates of the Caribbean Trilogy, The Jacket, Bend It Like Beckham, Love Actually
Debits: Debits: London Boulevard, Domino, Silk, King Arthur, Thunderpants
Knightley lost some traction when My Fair Lady was indefinitely postponed; then London Boulevard and Last Night looked better on paper than they did on screen. But even though critics were divided there were many strong advocates for her all-or-nothing performance as Sabina Spielrein in A Dangerous Method (notably, of course, director David Cronenberg). The film wasn’t a huge box office success but it was a must-see, and it reestablished Knightley’s credibility at a time when things seemed to be slipping away. Whether a comic remake of Melancholia with Steve Carrel is the way to go Seeking A Friend for the End of the World will tell, but then KK has AK coming up: Anna Karenina, for her long time supporter, Atonement director Joe Wright. Jude Law costars and Tom Stoppard wrote the script. So: F Scott Fitzgerald vs Victor Hugo vs Leo Tolstoy… Next year’s Oscars certainly have literary pedigree on their side. Can Keira measure up to memories of Garbo and Vivian Leigh in the part?
5. SCARLETT JOHANSSON
Credits: The Avengers, Iron Man 2, Vicky Cristina Barcelona, Match Point, Lost in Translation, Girl with a Pearl Earring, Ghost World, The Prestige
Debits: The Spirit, Scoop, The Nanny Diaries, The Island, Home Alone 3
Scarlett’s brilliant career faltered a couple of years ago (The Spirit, He’s Just Not That Into You and The Island would explain that). Personally, I enjoyed seeing her fresh, natural, no make up performance in We Bought a Zoo, but Cameron Crowe’s family film didn’t exactly set the box office alight. Scarlett’s sizzling turn in the Avengers Assemble movie should put all that to rights, and she’ll follow it with Jonathan Glazer’s eagerly awaited (by me anyway) Under the Skin, then plays Janet Leigh opposite Anthony Hopkins’ Sir Alf in Hitchcock – spot on casting.
6. EMILY BLUNT
Credits: Salmon Fishing in the Yemen; Young Victoria, Sunshine Cleaning, The Devil Wears Prada, The Jane Austen Book Club, My Summer of Love, Charlie Wilson’s War, Dan in Real Life.
Debits: The Wolfman, Wild Target
Blunt’s maybe the most vivacious actress working in the mainstream today – just so long as she steers clear of costume dramas (The Wolfman; Young Victoria) and too many feeble light comedies (Wild Target) she has a great career ahead of her. She’s one of those actors who has the knack of making her costars seem better, brighter, sexier (even Rhys Ifans!) which should certainly see her in good stead. The Five-Year Engagement is only so-so, but Your Sister’s Sister has a more authentic edge that she takes in her stride, and the upcoming time travel thriller Looper (with Joseph Gordon Levitt and Brick director Rian Johnson) seems like a smart move after her Assassination Bureau hit. Then there’s a movie with Colin Firth, another pairing most people are going to want to see.
7. ELIZABETH OLSEN
Credits: Martha Marcy May Marlene; Silent House
The younger sister to Mary Kate and Ashley, the 21-year-old Olsen is sensational in Martha Marcy Mae Marlene, the creepy, absorbing indie debut by Sean Durkin. Flipping between the innocent, impressionable beguilement of Marcy May (as she is renamed by John Hawke’s cult leader) and Martha’s crippling, bed-wetting anxiety and anger after her escape, this is a punishing role but a star-making performance, a spellbinding portrait of a shattered young woman who has been systemically and cynically stripped of all autonomy, and who doesn’t know if the pieces will ever fit back together again. And did I mention she’s gorgeous? Comparisons to the young Emmanuelle Beart would not be out of place. Work-wise, the hippy comedy Peace, Love and Misunderstanding puts her in the company of Jane Fonda and Catherine Keener, good role models for sure; but then she’s hanging with De Niro and Sigourney Weaver in paranormal thriller Red Lights… Next year’s Therese Raquin and Kill Your Darlings also have plenty of promise.. Word is she also has the female lead in Spike Lee’s remake of Oldboy (if it happens), a part turned down by Rooney Mara and Mia Wasikowska. Their cast-offs could prove her box office breakthrough.
8. EMMA STONE
Credits: The Amazing Spider-Man, The Help, Zombieland, Superbad, Easy A, Crazy, Stupid, Love
Stone didn’t get a nomination but she did notch up a great big dramatic hit with The Help, which at least got her invited to the ceremony (she was one of the better presenters too). She’s not yet made the transition away from comedic roles (and hey, there’s nothing wrong with that) but it’s only a matter of time: The Amazing Spider-Man won’t bring her gravity but plenty of gravy (including boyfriend Andrew Garfield), and then there the 30s gangster movie Gangster Squad, with Ryan Gosling, Sean Penn and Josh Brolin. Just don’t hold your breath for a comedy pairing with Jim Carrey any time soon.
9. KRISTEN STEWART
Credits: On the Road, Snow White and the Huntman, Twilight Saga; The Runaways; Into the Wild; Adventureland
Debits: Jumper; What Just Happened
Now that Bella Swann is all but over, Stewart has a lot riding on the reception of the year’s second Snow White movie (she must be hoping for a warmer reception that Lily Collins’ version mustered). But she will likely be even happier if Walter Salles’ Kerouac adaptation On the Road generates some excitement. The movie bows at Cannes, and although Sam Riley, Garrett Hedlund and Viggo Mortensen all feature (as well as Kirsten Dunst), commercial expectations are falling disproportionately on Stewart’s slim shoulders.
10. FREIDA PINTO
Credits: Trishna; Immortals; Black Gold; Slumdog Millionaire; You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger; Miral, Rise of the Planet of the Apes
Pinto has only made six films since her debut, Slumdog Millionaire, and they haven’t all been good by any means, but they have all been significant roles in movies that have been talked about _ and she’s played, what? Palestinian, English, Indian, American, and a Greek goddess for directors who fancy themselves artists (Julian Schnabel, Woody Allen, Tarsem). Whatever you may think of Michael Winterbottom’s version of Tess, Trishna, Pinto proved she was more than a (very) pretty face with that film – and stands to benefit from the box office hit Rise of the Planet of the Apes despite her faintly ridiculous role.
11. FELICITY JONES
Credits: Like Crazy, The Tempest, Chalet Girl, Page Eight, Cemetery Junction
Jones was great in the Sundance hit Like Crazy, playing an English girl who falls foolishly in love with an American (Anton Yelchin) and outstays her student visa. In fact she and Yelchin made the movie seem far more substantial than it was, injecting such emotional authenticity into the scenes that writer director Drake Doremus was able to let their faces carry most of the story. This was one of those Sundance hits that melted in the cold light of day, but it was enough to get Jones noticed in the States, and with her fiery Miranda in Julie Taymor’s The Tempest to back it up, she certainly seems on her way. At least, Ralph Fiennes thinks so, he’s cast her in his second directing effort, The Invisible Woman (currently shooting).
12. MIA WASIKOWSKA
Credits: Jane Eyre, Alice in Wonderland, In Treatment, The Kids Are All Right
Debits: Restless, Albert Nobbs
Why has the very gifted Mia Wasikowska dropped nine places down from last year? Because her Gus Van Sant movie Restless was a misfire, and because she brought next to nothing to Albert Nobbs, that’s why. And because she delivered an Oscar-worthy performance as Jane Eyre, but nobody seemed to notice. She has the lead in Stoker, the first English language film by Korean ace Park Chanwook – we hope it’s great, but it must be considered something of a gamble. Then there’s John Hillcoat’s Lawless, which we’re dying to see, but it will be a surprise if there’s much of part there for Wasikowska, what with Shia Labeouf, Tom Hardy, Gary Oldman and Guy Peirce to squeeze in. More promisingly, but still in preproduction, there is a comedy with Submarine director Richard Aoyade (The Double), and she hopes to play Emma Bovary, which would be quite a feather in her cap.
13. ANNA KENDRICK
Credits: What to Expect When You’re Expecting, Up in the Air, 50/50, Twilight, Scott Pilgrim vs the World, Rocket Science.
The 50/50, Up in the Air star suggests that her class and sophistication are only covers for vulnerability and loneliness.. a neat trick. Not sure if she can do anything else but with six (count em!) movies in the can and ready for release this year we’re sure to find out soon.
14. ROONEY MARA
Credits: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Lawless, The Social Network.
Mara deserved her Oscar nomination, finding new insights into Lisbeth Salander and successfully banishing the memory of Noomi Rapace – no easy feat. In fact, some of us think she deserved to win it. She could well top this list before she hits 30. And yet… for now at least, she has surprisingly little on the horizon. From what we understand there are no immediate plans for the further adventures of Lisbeth. That leaves Lawless (yes, she’s in it too), Steven Soderbergh’s Bitter Pill (about which precious little is known, including the size of Mara’s role), and theoretically a Spike Jonze movie next year (inherited from Carey Mulligan). She’s also just been linked to the UK production Brooklyn, adapted by Nick Hornby from Colm Toibin’s novel, but there’s no director attached to that yet. It seems Hollywood isn’t quite sure what to make of the pale, protean Mara.
15. ABBIE CORNISH
Credits: Bright Star, W.E., Limitless, Sucker Punch, Stop-Loss, A Good Year, Somersault, Candy
Cornish may not have great taste in material if WE and Sucker Punch are to go by, but the failings in Madonna’s movie were not of her making, and she’s getting rave reviews at the Tribeca Film Festival for The Girl, a US indie in which she plays an impoverished Texan mother who takes to smuggling Mexicans over the border for cash. She’s also the female lead in Martin McDonagh’s first US movie Seven Psychopaths (this is the guy who made cult favourite In Bruges). In other words, there is reason to hope she’s getting her act together now.
16. AMANDA SEYFRIED
Credits: Mamma Mia!, Dear John, Chloe, Jennifer’s Body, Letters to Juliet
Debits: In Time, Red Reding Hood, Gone
Saucer-eyed blonde Seyfried has suffered her share of dogs of late, what with clunkers like In Time, Gone, and Red Riding Hood. So maybe playing Deep Throat star Linda Lovelace in Lovelace will be a step up, and if it isn’t, she also has a supporting role in Les Miserables to come – plus a splashy ensemble comedy with Robert De Niro, Diane Keaton et al (The Big Wedding). Seyfried has a name, she just needs to stop it becoming a byword for mediocrity.
17. LILY COLLINS
Credits: Mirror Mirror, The Blind Side
Debits: Abduction, Priest
Not to be confused with Lily Cole, Collins is of course the daughter of a certain drummer/singer/pop star – and the star of Mirror Mirror, a movie in which she showed at least a glint of personality. She has a couple of not necessarily very exciting prospects in the can, but she has also been cast as Clary Fray, the heroine in Cassandra Clare’s teen fiction best-seller The Mortal Instruments. The project has been entrusted to Karate Kid director Harold Zwart.
18. DAKOTA FANNING
Credits: The Runaways, Twilight Saga, Charlotte’s Web, War of the Worlds
Fanning (and kid sister Elle, who made such an impression in Super 8) is a showbiz veteran at age 18, but she’s also a genuine talent. Ol Parker has given her the lead in his second feature, Now is Good; Fanning’s Brit flick renaissance also includes Effie, in which she plays John Ruskin’s teen bride Effie Gray. The reason you should be excited about this, the script is by Emma Thompson, who also costars; Mr Thompson – Greg Wise – plays Ruskin.
19. GRETA GERWIG
Credits: Damsels in Distress, Arthur, No Strings Attached, Greenberg, Baghead, LOL
Gerwig is an odd duck, a daffy, slightly ungainly, unglamorous yet very appealing presence who represents a distinctly twenty first century conception of a movie actress. She’s a kind of anti-star, someone who came up out of the US independent “mumblecore” movement and somehow found herself playing romantic leads opposite Ben Affleck (in Greenberg) and Russell Brand (Arthur). She stole the dire No Strings Attached out from under the much more conventional Natalie Portman, and this year headlines her own mainstream rom-com, Lola Versus. I think the jury is still out on whether popular audiences will respond, and there may not be much range here, but for now she is fresh, ingenuous presence.
20. EMMA WATSON
Credits: My Week With Marilyn, Harry Potter
Next stop Hollywood? We wondered aloud last year, when Watson swapped Hogwarts for a supporting role in My Week with Marilyn. It wasn’t a very demanding role as it turned out, and she was only okay in it. But yes, Watson has headed West, and stars in the comedy The Perks of Being A Wallflower later this year. More intriguingly she’s also starring in the new film from Sofia Coppola, a director who has done big favours to Kirsten Dunst and Scarlett Johansson in the past. The Bling Ring is based on the true, fairly recent story of a group of LA teen thieves who targeted the homes of celebrities.