Tuesday Top Ten: for the list maker in me and the list lover in you
We spend a lot of time with the older ladies here at TFE -- the working legends as the case may be. So for a change of pace, some quality time with the young and still-rising. What follows is a list of the ten whose next decade on screen we're most intrigued to watch develop. The cut off for this list was 33 years of age because starting right about there... well, that's a HUGE time for actresses (many win Oscars or give career defining performances at 33/34). Let's look at the actresses who haven't reached that important time yet.
disclaimer: This list includes English language actresses only since American distribution of foreign films is so problematic. It can be hard to follow full careers but we could definitely use more Ludivine Sagnier (30), Tang Wei (30) and Ok-bin Kim (23) in our lives.
runners up: Abbie Cornish (27) must prove that Bright Star wasn't a fluke; Anna Kendrick (24) needs to do a musical comedy; Saoirse Ronan (15) we actually expect she'll be more crucial to the decade after this; Zooey Deschanel (30) needs to branch out from or subvert that Whimsical Love Interest rut; Kerry Washington (32) it's not too late Hollywood -- CAST HER NOW!; Zoe Saldana (31) will that double blockbuster year lead to anything substantial?; Maggie Gyllenhaal (32) if and only if she recaptures that Happy Endings/Secretary edge; Keira Knightley (25) but only if she wows in a modern piece soon; Mia Wasikowska (20) a flavor of the year or in the for the long haul?; Romola Garai (27) did we see the depth we thought we saw in Atonement? It's hard to tell; Perversely, we're excluding An Education's Carey Mulligan (24) from the following list because we laid it on a little thick about her future the other day. *backing away slowly*
10 AMANDA SEYFRIED (24)
Gets more beautiful every year. How is this possible? And she's still a few years away from the age of "canonical beauty" and still a decade away from the peak years of Actressing.
Trouble spot: Coasting on beauty. With her beauty that'll be tempting. (See: Mamma Mia!)
What we'd love to see: The return of her Mean Girls comedic timing. But until then, an erotic thriller Chloe sounds like a smart diversion.
9 ARI GRAYNOR (27)
After stealing Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist out from under its adorable leads with the power of pure hilarity, she wowed from the sidelines of Whip It and then stole entire chunks of Holy Rollers, too. With all this Grand Theft Movie, someone really ought to hand her a lead role and let her fight off hungry supporting players instead of the other way around.
Trouble spot: They haven't really made movies about funny girls in quite a long while. Hollywood wants its Romantic Comedy leads more Cute than Gut-Busting and the girls in male driven comedy are just window dressing rather than comediennes in their own right. She needs her own What's Up, Doc? But they don't make those!
What we'd love to see: A lead role, period. Or a killer "funny" supporting role in a serious movie, like the one Anna Kendrick landed for Up in the Air.
8 ELLEN PAGE (23)
People are fond of hating on Juno so if you're one of those types, direct your hate her way. See, if she hadn't been so damn good in it, nobody but nobody would've cared. Whip It proved again that she's more than capable of carrying and elevating a film. We worry about Inception ...by which we mean her part in it (Chris Nolan is great at many things... but hasn't shown any particular skill with actresses) and we worry that Page won't have the fortitude to be herself (if you don't like dresses don't girlie it up for the red carpet... pants never hurt the stardom of Hepburn or Dietrich) and being yourself is really the only way to make a concrete and lasting mark.
Trouble spot: Ubiquitous endorsement deal. Those are great for bank but bad for acting careers (see: Catherine Zeta-Jones and Scarlett Johansson)
What we'd love to see: An auteur using her as muse.
7 NATALIE PORTMAN (28)
I almost left Queen Amidala off of this list on the grounds that we might have seen it all already. She's already been in our lives for 15 years. But then, taking a look at her upcoming filmography which includes Darren Aronofsky's cool-sounding ballet thriller Black Swan and the potentially awesome / potentially disastrous Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (2011) Natalie looks to be taking her share of risks. She may be ruling the screen far better than she ever ruled her tiny corner of the Empire.
Trouble spot: Tends to bore in f/x epics. Keeps doing them. Thor is also on the way.
What we'd love to see: Black Swan. Right. Now.
6 DAKOTA FANNING (16)
In truth there aren't a lot of good roles out there for teenagers. Plus, Dakota doesn't seem all that likely as a candidate for high school comedies. But even at 6 she seemed preternaturally wise so was there ever any danger that she couldn't transition from child to adult star? That said, is she trying to transition too soon with her work in The Runaways (sex scenes, drug use, etcetera)? Whatever, she's completely watchable in it. And you have to be completely watchable for long-term stardom.
Trouble spot: Natural ability isn't everything and if she coasts on it rather than pushes herself to mature as an actor...
What we'd love to see: A mother/daughter drama with a formidable actress as co-star.
5 ROSAMUND PIKE (31)
"Books?" Pike was doing so much for An Education's decadent trajectory as the dim adoptive sister type "Helen" and she was doing it so very differently than she did the lovely sister act in Pride & Prejudice that we want to see how far her versatility goes.
Trouble spot: People who do great work in thankless roles, don't always get thanked (hence the adjective).
What we'd love to see: Joe Wright dump Keira Knightley as muse and focus on Rosamund. (Are they ever getting married or are they kaput? I can't keep up with these things)
4 MICHELLE WILLIAMS (29)
She's made such a potent dramatic mark in cinema that people barely mention Dawson's Creek anymore. Which is quite a feat if you think about it. She's terrific in the upcoming marital disintegration drama Blue Valentine (2010) she but that probably doesn't surprise you to hear after the tears she wrung as an emotionally paralyzed wife in Brokeback Mountain (2005) and a lost drifter in Wendy & Lucy (2008).
Trouble spot: Being seen as relentlessly dour and one-note given the heavy filmography.
What we'd love to see: A spiky comedy as palate cleanser. We know she can do it (see Dick, 1999)
3 EMILY BLUNT (27)
Is she a great work-in-progress or a limited beauty? She can play earnest period (The Young Victoria), brutal comedy (The Devil Wears Prada) and dangerous sexuality (Summer of Love) with nearly equal aplomb. But can she do more than one thing at once? All the greats can and that's exactly what's missing in her filmography: the signature role that brings all her parts together with a big starry ka-boom!
Trouble spot: Potential overexposure. She survived The Wolfman just fine (no really, she did) but did she need to do it in the first place? Not every role is right for the hot actress of the moment and you don't want to end up like Scarlett Johansson (renowned for beauty and suddenly not respected much as an actress despite some early displays of skill)
What we'd love to see: Her turn as The Black Widow in Iron... oh, damn!
2 REBECCA HALL (27)
A lot of the actresses on this list have been hot for some time. At least of few of them will have peaked by now, dashing our hopes at a richer decade to come. Not so with Rebecca who was so sympathetic in The Prestige, so humorously put-out in Vicky Cristina Barcelona, so arm candy in Frost/Nixon and so self-effacing in Please Give. In short, we literally can't imagine that she's already peaked.
Trouble spot: No defined persona. That can be an asset but sometimes casting directors want you to stay in your box.
What we'd love to see: Anything.
1 ANNE HATHAWAY (27)
We love. Simple as that. And more every year, too.
Trouble spots: As if.
What we'd love to see: Everything she'd like to show us. And definitely another performance as masterful as that Rachel Getting Married turn.
What's your list look like? Loving actresses is for everyone so share it and comment on this one. You know what to do.