Friday, September 19, 2014
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Star Trek, The Next Generation: Best Actresses Under 30

This week's announcement that Anne Hathaway would co-host the Oscars (with James Franco) signals a generational shift in Hollywood. And gives rise to the question, who are the Generation Next Halle Berrys, Annette Benings and Meryl Streeps?

Star Trek, The Next Generation: Best Actresses Under 30

America Ferrera and Blake Lively in a 2008 publicity shot.
America Ferrera and Blake Lively in a 2008 publicity shot. REUTERS

This week's announcement that Anne Hathaway would co-host the Oscars (with James Franco) signals a generational shift in Hollywood. And gives rise to the question, who are the Generation Next Halle Berrys, Annette Benings and Meryl Streeps?

Limiting my choices to actresses under 30 (incredibly, Sarah Polley and Kerry Washington are 31 and 33), the bench isn't as deep as one would hope.

My top-of-head responses:

Kirsten Dunst, 28, scary good child actress (Interview With the Vampire, Little Women) so good at playing mature characters who hide their pain beneath a mask of vivacity, as in the Spider-Man films, The Cat's Meow, Marie Antoinette and All Good Things.

America Ferrera, 26, who can play intelligent (Real Women Have Curves) or goofy (Ugly Betty), always conveying a bedrock believability, as in the Sisters of the Travelling Pants films.

Anne Hathaway, 28, self-effacing beauty, slapstick charmer in the Princess Diaries films, the barracuda who thinks she's a goldfish in The Devil Wears Prada, drilling deep in Rachel Getting Married and capable of all the colors in the emotional spectrum in Love and Other Drugs.

Scarlett Johansson, 28, as nuanced at introspection (Lost in Translation) as at extroverted, in bombshell roles (Vicky Cristina Barcelona and Iron Man 2).

Keira Knightley, 25, a prickly pear mistaken for an English rose, terrific as the sporty soccer player in Bend it Like Beckham, the brainy Elizabeth in Pride and Prejudice and the conniving friend in Never Let Me Go.

Mila Kunis, 27, a knockabout comedienne (Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Date Night) unpredictable as mercury, as her Jekyll-and-Hyde performance in Black Swan attests.

Jennifer Lawrence, 20, moody beauty who plumbs her depths -- and ours -- in The Burning Plain and Winter's Bone.

Blake Lively, 23, nimble shape-shifter equally fine as the misunderstood rich girl in the Sisters of the Travelling Pants Films and Gossip Girl as she is as working-class mom in The Town.

Carey Mulligan, 25, sphinxlike presence who makes you wonder what she's thinking in An Education and Never Let Me Go and hypnotizes with her Mona Lisa smile.

Natalie Portman, 29, unusually versatile girlwoman of The Professional, Goya's Ghost and Garden State, who delivers a shattering performance as the perfectionist dancer in Black Swan.

Jurnee Smollett, 24, gifted with an ethereal voice and earthy beauty, she makes us hang on her every word in The Great Debaters. Why isn't she a movie star?

Emma Stone, 22, flat-out hilarious as the naughty-but-nice students in The House Bunny and Easy A, she is testing her dramatic chops in the forthcoming The Help.

Mia Wasikowska, 21, whether as the title character in Alice in Wonderland or The Kids are All Right, this young Australian is disarming, playful and intense -- all at the same time.

 

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Consider our Movies blog your essential guide to new movies and classics, interviews with filmmakers and stars, news and views on the latest screen trends, reviews and the occasional rant.

Carrie Rickey Film Critic
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