Meryl Streep is over. Just kidding. Don't hurt us! Truce! But really though, she can't win everything. Eventually, she'll get tired, want to settle down somewhere along the Santa Barbara coast, and give up her spot on the Academy Award stage to a bright-eyed newbie who's been practicing her acceptance speech in front of a mirror since she was a kid—which, as it turns out wasn't that long ago. And it's not like that newbie is undeserving either.
There's a crop of talent in Hollywood who are well-deserving of the praise Cate Blanchett, Audrey Hepburn, Halle Berry, and every other storied star they look up to gets. They're full of ability and have proven themselves in quality roles that reveal much about their future potential.
These are all of the young women gunning for that coveted Oscar gold. These are the 25 best actresses in their 20s.
Mary Elizabeth Winstead
Notable role: Kate Hannah in Smashed (2012)
If you happen to drive down Beverly Blvd. on Friday night, around midnight, take note of the long line for Edgar Wright's cult hit Scott Pilgrim Vs. the World. The girl those movie nerds are there to see? Mary Elizabeth Winstead's Ramona Flowers. As the girl with a shit ton of baggage—Scott Pilgrim literally has to fight off her seven evil ex-boyfriends—Winstead coolly oscillates between frustrating nonchalance and glimmers of guilt.
Winstead has already established herself as a fanboy's favorite actress, but thanks to a convincing performance in James Ponsoldt's festival hit Smashed, in which she plays a recovering alcoholic, crusty critics are remembering her name.
Notable role: Dee Roberts in American Violet (2008)
Since she made her critically acclaimed film debut in American Violet, Beharie's been touted as "the one to watch." She's got a commanding presence that demands you stay fixated her, whether she's playing a small role as Jackie Robinson's wife in 42 or Michael Fassbender's disturbed character's only shot of normalcy in Shame. Perhaps that's because she trained at Julliard, where was awarded a Shakespeare scholarship and studied in England.
Notable role: Frances Halladay in Frances Ha (2013)
A Cali native, Greta Gerwig came to New York for college—she attended Barnard—where she began a creative partnership with director Joe Swanberg. Both the star and director became synonymous with the mumblecore film movement, an aesthetic heavy on improvised-sounding dialogue that looped and stuttered and didn't quite get to the point. That, in fact, was the point, the aimlessness, the rejection of polish and closure.
Appraising the visuals of Gerwig's latest (and her best), Frances Ha, you'd be inclined to say that she's ditched her previous project for something shinier. The glorious black-and-white film is more beautiful than anything she's made before. Its loose style and candor recall those early mumblecore pictures, but it's more of a French New Wave picture than anything else. Chalk that up to director Noah Baumbach's love of foreign classics.
So, what's changed with Gerwig's performance style? Nothing, really. She's just as charming, just as physical with her humor (see: the slap-boxing in the park), and she's working with a director who loves her. No, really—they're in love. For those of us who have followed the gangly actress from the beginning of her career, there's nothing more satisfying than watching her lensed by someone in love with her.
Notable role: Emma in Blue Is the Warmest Color (2013)
If you've been keep your fingers on the pulse of the film industry, then you're aware of Lea Seydoux. The most talked about actress of the Cannes Film Festival 2013, the French talent starred in Abdellatif Kechiche's Palme d'Or-winning Blue Is the Warmest Color, which chronicles the heartbreaking whirlwind romance between two young women. And it's no smut film, assholes. Seydoux is being praised for her fearless and magnetic performance, which she's already exemplified in past films, namely The Beautiful Person and Belle Épine.
In 2014, she'll be starring in the French remake of Beauty and the Beast, with Vincent Cassel as the Beast. Um, she's the Beauty, if that wasn't already obvious.
Notable role: Martha in Martha Marcy May Marlene (2011)
While the Olsen twins have entirely stepped away working in front of the camera, their younger sibling, Elizabeth, has stepped up as the Olsen rep in Hollywood. But she's not merely Mary Kate and Ashley's lil' sis, a singing and dancing type suitable for YA mystery novels and ABC shows. Rather, she's a dramatic actress with good taste, one who was nominated for an Indie Spirit Award for her first film, the cult drama Martha Marcy May Marlene, and was in the running for a BAFTA Rising Star Award in January 2013.
Come 2014, she'll be a household name. She stars as the titular character of Oscar hopeful, Therese, about a woman in the 1800s trapped between a loveless marriage and a dangerous affair; the female lead in Spike Lee's Old Boy, out this October; and she's got a part in the upcoming Godzilla remake.
Who are your favs ONTD? Who's missing? Who's overrated?
View the 25 Best Actors in their 20s here.