The five most poised to become cinema’s foremost leading ladies (well, most of them are already playing the leads anyway)...
Keira Knightley (23) - She was simply brilliant as Elizabeth Bennet in Pride and Prejudice, a woman ahead of her time, yet her passion for the man she loves required her to make a choice. Other actresses of lesser calibre might have made a caricature of this highly intense role, but Knightley gave it the charm, confidence and compassion as idealized by many viewers. She once again captured and bewilderd movie audiences with her role in Atonement, The Edge of Love and the highly-touted The Duchess, where she plays Georgiana, The Duchess of Devonshire, another strong character that advocates independent thinking among women.
While she has yet to win an Oscar, I don't think there are many who still doubt she can deliver a performance - any performance.
Natalie Portman (27) - Leon (The Professional), Anywhere but Here, Where the Heart Is, Closer, V for Vendetta, The Other Boleyn Girl - not just anyone can come up with such a diverse set of character portrayals on the big screen and remain most-sought after and credible. Aside from that, the lady is known for her opinions and views about movies and society:
"I wanted to be able to form my own sexual identity. If other people have you in their mind as some sort of sex object, you have two choices: either live up to it and become super-sexual or rebel against it and be super-asexual."
A Golden Globe for Supporting Actress in Closer and 6 other awards seem a bit inadequate for someone as talented as Portman. Hopefully, there will be some new movies that would allow her to shine once again.
Romola Garai (26) - I just watched her in Francois Ozon's Angel, and I was reminded of those old Hollywood actresses that are etched in my mind - there is that old Hollywood glamour about her. Yet, if you happen to look at her role choices, you know for certain, that Romola Garai is utterly a modern woman. Says Garai on her role in the Ozon feature:
"I think the main challenge is that she's essentially a pretty unattractive person in many ways but you have to approach a character like that believing in them, liking them, trying to understand them and appreciating what their world view is, and so I think that was a challenge occasionally because she wasn't always an easy character to like."
Nominations from Critics' Circle award-giving bodies are essentially not enough to give this young actress, the recognition she deserves.
Ellen Page (21) - I love her dry, sarcastic sense of humor. But I love her even more for her somewhat acidic and frank opinion about Feminism, society and movies in general. Says Page on her Oscar-nominated role in Juno:
"I loved that this girl was mature in some ways, and naive in other ways. Juno is different from what we normally see in films about teenagers -- but at the same time she has a lot in common with most of the people I knew in high school. There are a lot of really intelligent teenage girls and boys who are unique and don't just listen to and dress like Britney Spears, and who don't just want to fu** the hot guy."
What makes her a truly outstanding young actress is her ability to play opposite roles - the victim in An American Crime and the torturer in Hard Candy. But you can never accuse her of her lack of dedication in playing these roles, because she obviously studies these characters as she's so effective playing these characters.
Scarlett Johansson (23) - She talks sensible, yet there are times you might be inclined to doubt her. Is this another serious case of how an agent failed to come up with a 'consistent' star image? I don't think anyone who says something like the quote below is less smart than anyone who crosses the street of Hollywood everyday:
"I think that I sort of see other actresses are kind of proud of the way they look and show it off. That's never really been my style. I really don't think that it's disgusting or wrong, if you're 18 you're 18, it's your body, it's your right to show yourself, however, I don't really take a part in that. I like to look nice, but I think that there's ways of doing it that are more tasteful than just wearing a bikini wherever you go."
Yeah, she's got the body to flaunt, but I admire her for a number of fantastic roles she's done - Lost in Translation, Girl With A Pearl Earring, Match Point, The Other Boleyn Girl, Vicky Christina Barcelona.
The five most likely to follow in the footsteps of those above in the next few months (or years). Some of them are just taking stock and solidifying their hold actually...
Evan Rachel Wood (21) - 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 perfomance in the recent Across the Universe.
And - she's even prettier than some of the most popular models out there!
Dakota Fanning (14) - At the age of 8, Fanning became the youngest person to be nominated for a Screen Actors Guild Award, for her supporting performance in I Am Sam. She continues to grab the headlines as one of the most promising child actresses, and this time she's on the verge of becoming a young actress and tackle the more challenging roles identified with her new age group. Says Fanning:
"I've always wanted to be an actress, ever since I was a little girl. I've always played the mom and I play my sister as the daughter. I wanted to be an actress on television and movies instead of just around the house."
The teener has quite an impressive movie resume already: Sweet Home Alabama, War of the Worlds, Charlotte's Web, and currently showing, The Secret Life of Bees.
Saoirse Ronan (14) - Aside from playing one of the leads in City of Ember, Ronan actually made her first major motion picture appearance in the movie Death Defying Acts, although its release has been delayed until 2008. Her role in Atonement, for which she received an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actress, is her most famous role and movie to date. On her Oscar nomination:
"It's unbelievable. Mom and I were in bed and dad was waiting up for the announcements again, because that's the way my daddy is. It's kind of a bit weird actually, in a good way, in a fantastic way. I never expected this in a million years to happen. I can't believe it. I'm really proud as well that two Irish paddies have been nominated for an Oscar for the same film. It's really great for Ireland, great."
Saoirse is also appearing in The Lovely Bones, Peter Jackson's latest feature based on the book by Alice Sebold. She also considers Keira Knightley as her role model.
Kristen Stewart (18)- Watch out for Stewart as she establishes herself in 2008 as one of moviedom's most sought-after leading ladies! Up to now, what we have seen of Stewart are mainly notable supporting roles, and while she maintains her consistency in choosing her projects, these movies only hint at her potential - Panic Room, Catch That Kid, Speak, Zathura, The Messengers, In the Land of Women and the critically acclaimed Into the Wild.
But all that is about to change as she leads a pack of promising young talents in this year's most anticipated movie - Twilight. Says kristen on her love of acting:
"I love it because I love to tell stories. I like being in movies that have a great story. I'm not so interested in being a Hollywood star. It's a job, you know. When you wake up at six in the morning every day for a week, it feels like hard work."
AnnaSophia Robb (14) - She's sweet, funny, dramatic, charming. What more can you ask from a teen actor? I really love the way she portrayed her character in Bridge to Terabithia. I was surprised at how much I enjoyed that movie. It's one of those movies you'll come to love and felt lucky about for having decided to watch it in the first place. Up next for Robb is the comedy sci-fi, Race to Witch Mountain.
There are others of course who are equally talented: Emma Watson would be a charming and beautiful leading lady! Abbie Cornish was great in Candy and Stop-Loss. She will next be seen in Jane Campion's Brightstar. Transformers' damsel in distress, Megan Fox is also one of the up and coming leading ladies today. Others worth mentioning are Kat Dennings, Nikki Reed, and the young but talented Abigail Breslin.
The grammar/sentence structure in this article is epic fail (believe it or not, I proofread and slightly edited some of it for the sake of coherence), but I thought it was an interesting list. I'm glad someone finally recognised Romola Garai and Abbie Cornish, but Megan Fox? Really? It's also missing some seriously obvious choices - I would include Rachel McAdams, Emily Blunt, Eva Green, Kirsten Dunst, Anne Hathaway, hell, even Sienna Miller before I included Megan effing Fox. She will be movie eye candy, sure. Leading lady? I think not.