10. Evan Rachel Wood:
Evan Rachel Wood is not only a talented movie actress but has also excelled in television and theater roles. She also proudly includes in her resume her talent as a singer. She began her career in the late 1990s, appearing on television in productions such as American Gothic and Once and Again. Wood made her debut as a leading film actress in 2002's Little Secrets, becoming more widely known after her transition to a more adult-oriented Golden Globe-nominated role in the critically acclaimed Thirteen.
Wood continued acting in mostly independent films, including Pretty Persuasion, Down in the Valley (which also featured an outstanding performance from Edward Norton), Running With Scissors, and most recently in the big studio production Across the Universe (2007). Wood's acting has drawn critical praise and she has been described by The Guardian as being "wise beyond her years" and "one of the best actresses of her generation". For 2008, the young actress has the following films lined up: The Life Before Her Eyes, Phantasmagoria: The Visions of Lewis Carroll and The Wrestler.
Why she's in the top 10: Her talent is undeniable - just watch her in Catherine Hardwicke's Thirteen (together with Nikki Reed, who co-wrote the script with Hardwicke) and you'll see why she's a young actress to be reckoned with. Even in such lesser-known films as The King of California and Down in the Valley, her acting prowess is awesome. Not to mention her performance in the recent Across the Universe.
And - she's even prettier than some of the most popular models out there!
9. Sienna Miller:
Being a fashion model is often considered a disadvantage for those aspiring to become an actress. Such is the case with Sienna Miller. Being involved with Jude Law didn’t help either, or so it seems. Says Miller:
"It was like best of times, worst of times. I don't want to talk about Jude out of respect to him, but at the point that it was happening I was falling madly in love with him. In one sense it was a really happy time. I'm not going to talk about what it was like, because it was really intense and really intimidating. Boring!"
For now, relationships are definitely taking a backseat for Sienna Miller. Aside from being a finalist in BAFTA’s Orange Rising Star, the actress is one of the busiest with a string of back-to-back film projects.
After Factory Girl, Stardust and Interview, Miller will next be seen in four highly-anticipated films: Hippie Hippie Shake (with Cillian Murphy), The Edge of Love (also with Murphy and Keira Knightley), A Woman of No Importance and Stephen Sommers’ GI Joe where she plays The Baroness.
Why she's in the top 10: Jealous and insecure critics have lambasted her for 'weak character portrayal' in her recent movies (well, mostly in Factory Girl), but the criticism is often related to the fact that they can't get over her being a former model. Why is that? Some people seem to find it hard to accept models as being capable of more than just posing for fashion photogs...
Given the proper acting vehicle (which might come with The Edge of Love), Miller can compete with anyone in the acting department.
8. Christina Ricci:
Previous performances aside, Christina Ricci definitely rocks! In Black Snake Moan, Ricci is Rae, a young nymphomaniac who continues to search for love although she is unable and unwilling to shake her promiscuity and drug use. Not an easy role for a Hollywood actress, but Ricci delivers. While critical response to the movie was mixed, there is no denying Ricci's capacity to disappear into her role and make it her own. Controversy about the movie's promotion, however, irritated the actress:
"The way that movie was marketed was probably one of the most disappointing and upsetting things that's ever happened to me in my career. I have no interest in exploiting women any further than they've already been exploited...All they [marketing bosses] cared about was college-age boys going to see it."
On a lighter note, her follow-up film transformed the actress into something quite different. In Penelope, Ricci played the title role, an aristocratic girl born under a curse which left her with a pig's snout instead of a nose. The comedy-fantasy film also stars James McAvoy and Reese Witherspoon.
What makes Ricci one of the hottest young actresses today is her list of outstanding performances in a string of high-quality films. Her longevity, which is just one of the many qualities she holds, enables her to rank high on our list. Among her notable movies are Monster (with Charlize Theron), Sleepy Hollow (with Johnny Depp), Casper and The Opposite of Sex (For her performance as Dede, Ricci was nominated for a Golden Globe and attained the unofficial title of the Sundance Film Festival's 1998 "It" Girl.).
Says Ricci on her role in Monster:
"...because I was playing a supporting role to somebody whose demands are much higher in the film. I mean what was asked of Charlize was so much more intense than what was asked of me, so in a way it’s a much more comfortable position to be in because you can be the one who’s there to help. And when you’re the one who is there to help you don’t feel the pressure of being the one who’s there to perform, which I think in that way is a nice position to be in.”
Why she's in the top 10: Definitely an actress for all seasons, Ricci has proven time and again that she can shine in both leading and supporting roles, and that's something many younger (or even older) actresses can't claim they're capable of.
7. Ludivine Sagnier:
Arguably one of France’s most talented, Ludivine Sagnier, has proven her mettle in both period and contemporary films. From François Ozon’s 8 Women and Swimming Pool to Laurent Tirard’s Molière to Christophe Honoré’s Love Songs and Claude Chabrol’s The Girl Cut in Two, Ludivine has these filmmakers as admirers.
It’s interesting to note that when the films starring Natalie Portman, Scarlett Johansson and Romola Garai were translated into French, it was Saugnier who was sought after to dub their voices.
Says the actress:
"I'm much more confident in front of a camera, hidden by a character, enhanced by makeup, so I can go much further than I can in real life. Sexual acting is painful, because even though you're pretending, you have the skin of the person in front of you, and it's not the skin you wish you had. After that you run into the shower to get rid of everything."
Hopefully there will be a chance for the actress to do an English language movie in the near future.
Why she's in the top 10: In all honesty, it would be a crime not to have her in the top 10.
6. Scarlett Johansson:
Some girls have all the luck, but apparently, Lady Luck can change her mind…If that seems ominous, it’s because it relates directly to how Scarlett Johansson has been treating her acting career of late.
This report says it all:
Actress-turned-singer Scarlett Johansson's debut album has received a series of scathing reviews from music critics, who have branded the star's recordings "fussy and forgettable." The Lost In Translation star released her album Anywhere I Lay My Head, a collection of Tom Waits covers, this week. But several reviews of the 40-minute-long disc have been lukewarm, with commentators reserving their harshest criticism for Johansson's vocal abilities.
I still can’t get over her awesome performances in Lost in Translation and Girl with a Pearl Earring. She is such a terrific actress, but it seems her talent manager and those around her are taking her down.
After these two great films, it took three long years before Johansson was able to deliver another great performance courtesy of Match Point, directed by Woody Allen, the same filmmaker who once said that Johansson “will ruin her promising acting career by indulging in the party lifestyle - advising her to take inspiration from Meryl Streep instead.”
Allen’s remarks seem to be shared by both film industry insiders and her fans as well. Her upcoming film with Penelope Cruz, Vicky Cristina Barcelona, may hopefully give her the chance to shine and prove her critics wrong.
Why she's in the top 10: Ignoring her recent "singing aspirations blooper", she should have been ranked higher, perhaps even at the #2 spot. Her performances in Lost in Translation and Match Point are more than enough to satisfy the film critics in us, plus the fact that she's one of the most beautiful young actresses we have today...
5. Isild de Besco:
France’s multi-award winning and multi-talented actress Isild le Besco is hot on the heels of Ramola Garai in our Top 30 hottest young actresses at #5. Says film critic Marcy Dermansky:
Any film starring the mercurial French actress Isild le Besco is worth seeing. The twenty two-year-old actress is oddly beautiful, without the smooth, stylish poise one comes to expect from French films. At times, in fact, she can appear almost demented. Le Besco wears her long blond hair down to her waist, has a slight overbite, often bounces when she should be walking, undresses with absolute ease, and is possession of the most genuine, awe-inspiring smiles in cinema today. When the moment calls for it, Le Besco radiates such pure happiness that she makes me wonder if anyone else has ever properly experienced the emotion.
In an interview with the critic, Le Besco remarked:
"I always wanted to do my own thing," Le Besco said. "Even when I was young, I used to draw a lot, it was very important to me."
This need to create explains Le Besco's confident move from acting to directing. Le Besco wrote Charly for her younger brother, Kolia Litscher, who stars as Nicholas, an unhappy, semi-illiterate fourteen-year-old who leaves his small, impoverished life in search of the sea and, of course, himself. On his journey, he meets Charly (Julie-Marie Parmentier), an intense young prostitute who lives in a trailer. [ read more ]
Why she's in the top 10: Her performance in Backstage alone is more than enough to reduce a number of other actresses in the top 30 to 'mediocre'. That film and her successful transition into actually directing movies makes her one of the most talented young women in film today.
4. Romola Garai:
You might be surprised to learn that Romola Garai played the lead in the relatively unknown film called Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights with Mexican actor Diego Luna. The film was not huge but it allowed Garai to depart from the roles moviegoers had identified as her forte - classical/period films.
Definitely huge in the UK, Garai may be seen in the US as merely ‘supporting material’, a description that is so unfair to the actress. While talks about Knightley and Portman’s striking resemblance maybe considered old news, the ‘rivalry’ between Keira and Romola remains as hot as ever.
Says the Observer:
"As for the tireless Garai, she once again demonstrated an instinctive understanding of the vital difference between over performing and overacting. Garai was last seen on television in the BBC's Andrew Davies adaptation of Daniel Deronda, which was screened simultaneously with Davies's ITV adaptation of Dr. Zhivago, featuring Keira Knightley. Garai's Gwendolen was so superior to Knightley's Lara that it may have been the first time an actor was blown off not just the screen but off a whole different channel".
... and says The Independent:
In 2004, she excelled in a film that required no ribcage constriction whatsoever. Inside I'm Dancing is one of the few features that can be truthfully described as a paraplegic comedy, Garai playing a no-nonsense nurse having to deal with a wheelchair-bound and wilfully mischievous James McAvoy. This project, at least, is one the actress appears entirely happy with: "Absolutely the best creative experience I've had to date." But 2004 was also the year of her least creative experience to date, Dirty Dancing - Havana Nights. "A terrible film, just awful. I did it because my profile wasn't high enough in America and I wanted to give it a quick boost. I was under the assumption that Havana Nights would be successful, but it wasn't. It was awful, and I was awful in it. A huge mistake, and I regret it deeply."
Coming up for the actress is an exciting role playing Jackie Kennedy in Flying Into Love, a provocative new look at the JFK assassination as seen through the eyes of Jacqueline Kennedy and four individuals whose lives are altered by this tragic event and its haunting legacy on the American psyche.
Why she's in the top 10: Garai has all the makings of a great actress - she's both remarkably good in contemporary and period movies, and she has also excelled in theatre, a feat not easy to duplicate.
3. Ellen Page:
Quite new on the movie scene but with a definite and powerful presence, that's Ellen Page! This is what film critic Roger Ebert has to say about Miss Page:
"Has there been a better performance this year than Ellen Page's creation of Juno? I don't think so. If most actors agree that comedy is harder than drama, then harder still is comedy depending on a quick mind, utter self-confidence, and an ability to stop just short of going too far. Page's presence and timing are extraordinary. I have seen her in only two films, she is only 20, and I think she will be one of the great actors of her time."
It seems the Academy agrees as they made Page one of the year’s nominees for Best Actress. While she lost the award to Marion Cothilard, Page has already begun her transition from being just a minor player in the industry to becoming one of its most influential (albeit youngest) stars.
The young Canadian actress is also known for her frank and honest opinions. Says Page on older men-younger women pairings:
"I’ll work with a director that I really like and we’ll keep hanging out. He might be a 30-year-old guy, but it’s totally cool. Yet, the older-men-preying-on-younger-women thing is not attractive. Being in the film industry, I’ve worked with older, high-rolling men that think they’re the shit, hanging out with 17-year-old girls, and it’s disgusting. It’s like, Who do you think you’re fooling?"
With Smart People, Whip it!, and Peacock under her belt, Ellen Page is definitely the one to watch - this year and the next and the next...
Why she's in the top 10: Aside from the fact that her movies are awesome - both box office hits and acclaimed by critics - she is one of the youngest actors ever to be nominated for an Oscar. Plus, she's so honest, whereas others her age look artificial and well-rehearsed by a well-oiled Hollywood-based PR machinery.
2. Keira Knightley:
Her striking resemblance to Natalie Portman is actually putting Keira Knightley at a disadvantage. But she has proven many times that she can match anyone in terms of both box office appeal and critical acclaim. With a reported salary of $5 million per film, Keira is one of today’s highest-paid actresses.
Thanks to her breakthrough performances in Bend it Like Beckham, The Pirates series and The Jacket as well as her Oscar-nominated role in Pride and Prejudice and the more recent acclaim she received for playing the lead in both Atonement and the upcoming Dylan Thomas biopic The Edge of Love, the Knightley star is shining very brightly right now.
"We all need romance in our lives, but marriage and living happily ever after is not something I even think about at the moment and certainly won't for a while," she says. "But who knows? It's a nice dream."
Why she's in the top 10: How surprising to note that she used to play small, supporting roles (think Star Wars and playing "double" to Queen Amidala a.k.a. Natalie Portman), and then fast forward to Pride and Prejudice! While some of you might still have doubts, with Atonement, apparently she has proven she got what it takes to be at the very top.
Oh, and she's also Chanel's signature model!
1. Natalie Portman:
Arguably one of the most talented young actresses in the industry, Natalie Portman blows the competition away with her ability to choose the right roles and to turn down projects that simply doesn’t fit. Her outspoken nature, which is often misconstrued by the media, allows Portman to prove she is not just a pretty actress but that she is independent-minded and not afraid to pursue other endeavors.
From her role as the little girl Mathilda in Leon (The Professional) and her award-winning role as Alice in Closer to other memorable characters she played in such films as V for Vendetta, Where the Heart Is, Goya’s Ghost, My Blueberry Nights and the Other Boleyn Girl, Portman remains one of the most sought-after actresses in the industry while managing to keep both her integrity and professionalism intact.
Directing her first movie under her production company Handsomecharlie Films, Portman will next prove her mettle as a filmmaker. Entitled A Tale of Love and Darkness, the film is a drama based on the memoir of Amos Oz, a writer, journalist, and advocate of a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
But we have to remember that almost all films are written and directed by men. Female characters are women imagined by men, so it's always this classic figure of a sexy woman with a childish innocence.
Here’s her chance to show what kind of vision she has as a filmmaker.
Why she's numero uno: One word (er, two actually): Undeniable talent.
The other list -- > tMF's hottest young actors