The 10 Great Performances by a Child Actor

Published 5 years ago by , Updated January 9th, 2011 at 11:53 am,

Natalie Portman Leon The Professional The 10 Great Performances by a Child Actor

Many directors have spoken openly about the difficulties of working with child actors. Every once in awhile, however, a child actor brings forth a tour de force nobody saw coming and puts those directors to shame. Today, we’ve compiled our ten favorite U.S. performances of all time by a child actor.

There are plenty of fantastic performances to choose from, but few have the power to truly take over a movie. On the other hand, how many times have you cringed at every word spoken by an unseasoned child actor?

Still, experience is irrelevant in this situation. Regardless of the number of Gerber baby food commercials a youngster has starred in, their age dictates they have yet to put ‘the real work in’ as the saying goes. Expectations are almost always low and that is what makes the following performances so powerful. For example, one actor on the list hadn’t acted in his life prior to his role, while another had 32 performances under her belt.

Narrowing any list to ten can be difficult at times. That’s why we’ve also established a few honorable mentions:

Freddie Highmore’s emotional turn in Finding Neverland deserved to make the top ten, but I just couldn’t muster up a spot for him. Rory Culkin (Mean Creek) and McCauley Culkin (The Good Son) both gave their parents something to be proud of in their respective roles. But the following ten performances were unmatched and hinted at bright futures for the young actors responsible – provided they stay(ed) away from the usual problems that have plagued many child stars.

Update from the Editor: We’ve received some great feedback from readers with suggestions on young actors that they say should be on the list, so we’re going to do something unusual – We’ve compiled the suggestions and will offer readers the chance to vote for their three top picks (Leo DiCaprio and Ellen Page are not in the list because they were in their very late teens when the movies folks recommend them for were made). We’ll then update our list based on the results:

[poll id="65"]


10. Max Records – Where The Wild Things Are

Max Records Where The Wild Things Are The 10 Great Performances by a Child Actor

A film based on a book for children is a good place for a young actor to shine. But nobody knew what to expect when young Max Records was cast as the main character in Where The Wild Things Are. This rookie actor now had the fate of one of the most beloved children’s books of all time resting on his every move. Between Records and director Spike Jonze, the production was a shot in the dark.

But boy did they pull it off. Jonze created an environment on and off camera that Records could thrive in. The director had all cast and crew members with children use the production as a daycare center of sorts. There were kids on set at all times and it not only let the crew stay focused on their true goal, but Max Records was always in the right mindset.

Because the core of his performance was a result of a well-run set, Records drops a little lower on the list. Still, when the cameras were rolling, Records brought every emotion to the screen from fear to adoration. He gets some serious credit for opening himself up to the cameras and the audience.


9.Chloe Moretz – Kick-Ass

Chloe Moretz Hit Girl Kick Ass The 10 Great Performances by a Child Actor

While Kick-Ass didn’t pump the box office with money, nobody left the theater thinking about anybody other than Hit Girl. Maybe it is a testament to the character and not the performance, but the two should go hand-in-hand. The unbelievable charisma of Chloe Moretz was unmatched by any other actor in the film. And we’re talking about a girl who went toe-to-toe with Nic Cage and (literally) Mark Strong.

Instead of resorting to the obvious and ultimately awkward sex appeal of a female hero, Moretz went with a mysterious badass persona. Hit Girl is the reason Kick-Ass lives up to its name. The other characters and the movie’s style are enjoyable on multiple levels, but without Moretz’s turn as Hit Girl the film just doesn’t have the electricity it needed. She left the humor up to her Big Daddy (Nic Cage) and kept a straight face the whole way.

Moretz is definitely a force to be reckoned with, reminding us of a young Jodie Foster (see below) without the overwhelming sexuality. Moretz was fun to watch in (500) Days of Summer and should be even more graceful in Let Me In. Hit Girl was her coming-out character and the world will be able to recognize her because of an off-the-charts charisma that no other female youngster can match today.


8. Jodie Foster – Taxi Driver

Taxi Driver Jodie Foster The 10 Great Performances by a Child Actor

Needless to say, Taxi Driver is a pretty hardcore movie. Robert De Niro’s pinpoint performance as Travis Bickle is frighteningly real. Even alone onscreen he needs no help to engage the audience. But the film really hits its stride when a 12-year-old child prostitute named Iris (Jodie Foster) gets into Bickle’s cab in an attempt to escape her pimp (Harvey Keitel). Foster has been a mesmerizing onscreen persona ever since.

It is Iris who ultimately causes the true divide in Travis Bickle’s mind. She serves as a positive distraction, but also a driving force for his intensity. His disgust for those around him explodes when he realizes how her disgusting pimp has been treating her. Foster is tremendously believable in her role and helps Bickle just as much as he helps her.

It’s no real surprise that Foster was great, as this was already her 33rd role as an actress. At only age 14, she already had more performances than some have in their entire careers. While Taxi Driver was not her most memorable role, it certainly caught the attention of the world and earned her an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actress.


7. Henry Thomas – E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial

Henry Thomas E.T. The Extra Terrestrial The 10 Great Performances by a Child ActorWhen people think of E.T.‘s child prodigy, the name Drew Barrymore tends to come up. While she deserves the recognition, E.T. was actually owned by another child actor – Henry Thomas. Spielberg may have been searching for the next great star, but it would be another five years until Empire of the Sun that he jump-started a superstar career. Still, Thomas was everything E.T. needed from its human protagonist, Elliott.

Thomas was forced with the task of acting alongside an awkwardly-shaped alien while treating it like a household pet. But E.T. was not just a dog in alien form. It was up to Thomas to convey the emotion of having a secret you want to share with the world. The movie is about more than fitting in – it is about love, doing the right thing and the protective nature of a young man with his first true friend.

The role didn’t call for a teary-eyed kid who had to steal the show from E.T. Instead, the brilliance of Thomas’ performance is in the subtlety. He knew the movie wasn’t about him as much as an alien’s attempt and fitting in while surviving. Elliott was our only way to truly connect and ask, “What would I do in this situation?


6. Haley Joel Osment – The Sixth Sense

Haley Joel Osment The Sixth Sense The 10 Great Performances by a Child Actor

As Cole Sear in The Sixth Sense, Haley Joel Osment not only became a household name, but also gave us one of the most abused movies quote of all time. While that famous line from anybody’s mouth would sound just as great, you have to give Osment some credit for his delivery – there’s is now no other real way to say, “I see dead people.

Yet, that line was only one of an entire film. The emotional range of Osment’s performance is what drives the story. He is so afraid that it bleeds through the screen and into our hearts as viewers.

It’s hard to pinpoint if his character reactions are real or if Osment was simply that good. He never really amounted to much, even with a plethora of other great opportunities at a young age. Either way, he brought M. Night Shyamalan’s thriller to life and pumped just enough emotion into it to make it feel like a complete film. He even got an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor, although I would argue he is the main character.

5. Dakota Fanning – Hounddog

Dakota Fanning Hounddog The 10 Great Performances by a Child Actor

Hounddog is a film that most people missed, but needs to be seen. Dakota Fanning’s career is filled with childhood hits and evidence of a superstar. It would be difficult to truly bash any of her performances, though I never did see any of the Twilight movies. Hounddog deals with some very serious issues and puts Fanning right in the heart of it all.

The movie follows Lewellen (Fanning) through an unspeakably rough phase in her childhood. She is tormented from many angles, but mostly by the absence of a mother and a struggling relationship with her father. Yet, through the sounds of Elvis Presley’s music, she finds a comfort zone that allows her to grow emotionally. The music is all she has and when she discovers Elvis is coming to town, she will do anything for a ticket.

In her desperation, a group of young boys take advantage of Lewellen and offer a trade – Elvis tickets for a nude performance of his hit single, “Hounddog.” The controversial scene ensues when she is eventually raped and left without a ticket. The emotions run high in Hounddog and it is not for people weak stomachs. However, thanks to Dakota Fanning’s riveting performance, it is a movie worth watching. Without her it could have easily fallen into the depths of mediocrity, but it excels with every moment Fanning is on screen.


4. Kirsten Dunst – Interview with a Vampire

Interview with a Vampire Kirsten Dunst The 10 Great Performances by a Child Actor

It’s easy to see how Kirsten Dunst didn’t even make the poster for Interview with a Vampire back in 1994. She was a virtual unknown and the cast sported names like Tom Cruise, Brad Pitt, Antonio Banderas, Stephen Rea and Christian Slater. But once the credits rolled, everybody wanted to know who that young girl who sizzled onscreen was (pun intended).

Being forced to star in the between Brad Pitt and Tom Cruise is a difficult task for any actor, especially an 11-year-old. Somehow, Dunst grabbed your attention in all of her scenes. Her intensity and malice were a perfect example of the dark, corrupting side of the vampire affliction. She was a reminder that despite the romanticism of the condition, vampires are stone-cold killers, no matter how young or innocent they may look. That Dunst was even able to go there at such a young age (and so convincingly) is a testament to her accomplishment – and even Roger Ebert praised it as such.  She was creepy, exciting, intense and mature, all while acting alongside two of Hollywood’s biggest stars.


3. Bailee Madison – Brothers

Bailee Madison Brothers The 10 Great Performances by a Child Actor

Brothers flew under the radar, even with the talented cast of Natalie Portman, Jake Gyllenhaal and Tobey Maguire. But like many of the great child performances, the youngster in the cast had no problem succeeding amongst the bigger names. Maybe it was the unexpected surprise that made her so engaging, but Bailee Madison quite simply stole the entire film from three of the best young actors in Hollywood.

Every scene she is in will tempt you to tears. Her face melts with every emotion and sadness is her best. As a scared child of a scarred war veteran, she puts fear in our eyes as a viewer. This was not just another child actor. Bailee just might be another Meryl Streep, only in a 10-year-old frame.

I challenge anybody to watch the dinner scene and not break down as this innocent-faced little girl pumps attitude in her father’s direction. With every verbal lashing he gives her, she returns it with a 1,000-yard stare and an intensity unmatched by any child actor today.


2. Christian Bale – Empire of the Sun

Christian Bale Empire of the Sun The 10 Great Performances by a Child Actor

When we know of actors strictly for their roles as adults, it is easy to forget they were once child stars. Christian Bale is one such actor. Steven Spielberg struck gold with the 12-year-old from Wales and the film is a heart-wrenching tale of triumph at every level. I can’t speak highly enough of Empire of the Sun. Luckily, all I need to discuss is the brilliant performance turned in by a young Christian Bale.

While Spielberg loves working with children, I can’t say he’s brought many young characters to the screen that are as engrossing as Bale was. However, the 1987 war epic isn’t really about war as much as a child caught in the thick of it. Thanks to Bale’s turn as Jamie Graham, everything works: He is emotional, tireless, committed, engaging and pulls on your heart strings with the tenacity of Oscar bait.

It’s almost inhumane that he wasn’t granted an Oscar nomination. Spielberg puts Bale and his character, Jamie, through so much in 152-minutes it is amazing Bale kept his head on straight. He is as mature as any child onscreen and puts most adult actors to shame, including everybody else in Empire of the Sun.


1. Natalie Portman – The Professional

Natalie Portman Leon The Professional1 The 10 Great Performances by a Child Actor

It’s easy to forget Natalie Portman isn’t even 30 yet. The petite beauty is wise beyond her years and it feels like she’s been in movies a lot longer than 16 years. Her first major role would have been just as brilliant even if she were a seasoned child star. Yet, this was her first “real” role in a movie.

Most of the performances on this list excel because of the maturity of each youngster’s character. Sometimes a role is written that way, while others are the work of a dedicated child actor. Portman’s work in The Professional (a.k.a. Leon) is both. It’s hard to imagine what you’d do in Mathilda’s situation. From the start she can’t stand her family, yet when they are murdered she is overwhelmed with emotion. A typical character might simply mourn the loss of their family simply because it’s the usual thing to do. In Leon, Mathilda doesn’t care about her dead father, sister or mother-in-law. It is the death of an innocent boy, her younger brother, that brings her to tears.

As the film progresses, her balance of vengeance and progressive maturity is fascinating to watch. The fact she is now in the hands of a quasi-mentally-challenged hired assassin makes her resurgence as a lost soul even more powerful. It truly is all the work of Portman, though; she knew her character backwards and forwards, giving her a realistic quality that bleeds through the screen.

Her face contorts with every emotion, her lust for revenge comes through with an unsuspecting humor and her sex appeal is as uncomfortable as it is realistic. She just fits so snug into this character of Mathilda that it’s hard to tell if she is even acting at times – but there is no doubt she portrayed a character that has experienced something way beyond Portman’s real life. It truly was the best child performance I can think of, even to this day.


That’s our list of great performances from child actors – let us know if you agree, disagree (or if there are any performances you think we missed), by leaving a comment below. Thanks for reading.

Header image by Jennifer L. Rogers

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  1. @ Mike: I cannot believe you passed over Elijah Wood in The Good Son.

    His haunted reactions to the evil of Macualay Culkin were impressive, way beyond his years.

    And how could you omit the classic turn of the boy in The Shining? He is the emotional center that makes Jack Nicholson’s looniness have weight.

    • I second this.

    • I third this. I was very surprised not to see the kid from The Shining. It was the first movie I actually thought about how impressed I was by a child actor.

      • are you guys talking about the TV version? or the Kubrick version?

        • Dear god. Kubrick version of course! The kid in the miniseries made me want to punch him in the face hahaha. I would nominate him for worst performance by a child actor.

          • well, considering that kid really didnt too too much after, i dont know if he would really qualify. yeah the tv version just was HORRID :)

        • Dear god. Kubrick version of course! The kid from the miniseries made me want to punch him in the face hahaha. I would nominate him for worst performance by a child actor.

      • I thought the Nicholson reference would have clarified it. No one talks of Steven Webber’s take on the author.

  2. Oh, and what about Jenny Augutter in Walkabout?

    • Good one.

  3. Awesome list.I agree Natalie Portman deserves number one.I know many would want Chloe as number one,but Portman’s preformance in The Professional is simply perfect.

    The Professional is one of my moms favorite movies and I got to see it as well when I was about 12(yes I know I was too young by social standards).The movie is deeply moving and I will not ruin the film with spoilers on this thread for anyone who has yet to see it.Its a fantastic film full of emotion,violence and small amounts of humor where needed.It says alot about Portman as an actress when she outshines fellow stars like Gary Oldman and French Badass Jean Reno.

    • the truth, did you sneak into a showing? :)

      • LMAO,I actually took the VHS from my parents library.We had a colum house video subscription and I remember taking it to my room and watching it.hahaha

        • *columbia house

          • LOL nice man, very nice :)

            • the truth, you should also, when you can check out the european version of the film too, good stuff :)

              • Thats the version my wife was telling me about.I have heard three people say its better than the original bc of the added content.I definitely will.:)

  4. hey mike, i mean this will all the seriousness..THANKS for not having Leo in the top sure he made it further down though lol..your list is was made with pin-point accuracy, good job man

  5. Abigail Breslin – Little Miss Sunshine (plus 1/2 dozen other movies)

    Linda Blair – Exorcist

    Ivana Baquero – Pans Labyrinth

    Ayush Mahesh Khedekar – Slumdog Millionaire

    Edward Furlong – Terminator 2

    Corey Feldman – any movie from 80s

    Mickey Rooney – Hard to think of him as a child star now, but he’s been doing movies since the 20s

    Anna Chlumsky – My Girl

    Ralph Macchio – Karate Kid

    i’m not disagreeing with the list of anything, i just thought it would be fun to list some of my other favorite

    • thats what the site is all about dan. i try to avoid lists lol, though there are certain topics i would make a list for on this site.

    • I dont know about ralph and the karate kid. His other films back then are better.

      River Phoniex : any movie as a child

      I agree with Mickey Rooney he was very talented so was his friend Judy Garland.

      • i did like the film Explorers HAHA

    • Nowhereman,

      You have some good ones in there, but Ralph Maccio was in his 20s in Karate Kid. He just LOOKED like a mid-teen.


      • my bad :)

        how bout Jaden Smith from the new Karate Kid, he was also pretty good in Pursuit of Happiness

  6. Wow I usually have a ton of respect for this blog but this totally missed the mark.

    Dont have time to go into the 50 that belong above this list but how about Jean Pierre Leaud in the 400 Blows and Tatum O’Neal in Paper Moon.

  7. Two things
    1) I think Dunst’s performance in “Interview” may be the high point (and best) of her career. And that’s kinda sad.
    2) This list should be retitled The 10 Best English Language Performances By a Child Actor. Films like “Forbidden Games,” “Ivan’s Childhood,” “Fanny and Alexander,” and especially “The 400 Blows” should all be on here.

    • Definitely have to agree with your second point. Alng with your suggestions, I think Victoire Thivisol’s beautifully understated performance in “Ponette” should easily rank high on this list. And I dare anyone to watch Wrony (Crows) and not marvel at both young actresses. Maybe we should compile the list of 10 best non-English language performances by a child actor.

    • They said it was just based on American movies.

      • Initially we didn’t specify US only but I updated the post to reflect that. There are SO many foreign films with great performances by children and frankly I’m sure there are a lot I haven’t seen.


  8. The girl in “Orphen” was pretty good.

  9. Natalie Portman in The Professional is exactly why I want her to play Lisbeth Salander in The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. Love that character and for it to work we need talent like Portman

    • she actually would be AWESOME for the role agree

  10. Agree with Osment, but I’d have picked his performance in A.I. over The Sixth Sense role.

    • Osment was great in that movie. The sad thing is how the end was butchered. Credits should have rolled at the underwater fade-out. (Trying to avoid spoiling it)

  11. Truly a difficult task narrowing down the top 10 child performances.

    However, deserving at least an honorable mention is Christina Ricci in “The Addams Family” movies; acting alongside Raul Julia, Angelica Houston & Christopher Lloyd yet stealing pretty much every scene she was in!

    The others made it a great movie, she made it unforgettable! (particularly with her deadpan delivery on lines like, “Are they made from real girl scouts?!”) Lilith Crane couldn’t have said it better!

    • YES

      christina Ricci was perfect as Wensday Addams. this list must be done over with her in the top 5

    • :-D

    • She was actually on my Honorable Mention before I wrote the list in…I just took her out to make room for Culkin in Mean Creek, which I had to have.

  12. Bailee Madison in Brothers pissed me off!
    She was so f-ing annoying. I wanted to kill her! I honestly did!
    So yeah, she should not be on the list!

  13. I’m sad to see Abigail Breslin isn’t on the list. Maybe not for Little Miss Sunshine, but definitely for Signs.

    • I agree. Abigail Breslin is a great actress and I loved her in Little
      Miss Sunshine! However I don’t think it’s one of the greatest of all time.

      @Jess: Natalie Portman would be GREAT in The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, but the director of the American version says he wants the actress to be 25 or younger in order to stay true to the book. Portman’s too old.

      • it doesnt matter about dragon, the american version will be screwed up, american filmmakers have that sort of habit

  14. Ellen page – Hard Candy.

  15. Just one I can think is missing from the list – Catinca Untaru in The Fall. The first time I saw this film, she melted my jaded cynical heart within 5 minutes and left me blubbing like a baby towards the end.

    • Catinca is also who I was going to mention. Some can argue she wasn’t necessarily acting since half the time they didn’t tell her a camera was on her, but part of that is why I loved her performance: she was a child, not a child actress trying to act like a child. She was genuine and I love her in that film.

  16. Umm, are we just disregarding STAND BY ME in its entirety or is the massive density of amazing child acting in that film just automatically render it automatically Hall of famish and everyone on this list picks up where Stand By Me ends? Wil Wheaton, River Phoenix, Corey Feldman and Jerry O’Connell all got together and set the bar for childhood acting in that movie as far as I’m concerned.

    And Keifer Sutherland was only 19 or 20 when they shot that, too.

    • keifer being that age still doesnt qualfiy him as a “childhood” actor. and youre right, that film is a clinic on this subject :)

  17. Great list, Mike. I’d second BrianM and scubadonc about Jean-Pierre Leaud in The 400 Blows. Totally natural performance.

    How about Laurence (or “Larry”) Fishburne in Apocalypse Now? He was 17 by the time it came out, but only 14 when filming began. Bonus points for surviving both the shoot itself and hanging out with Dennis Hopper…

  18. I saw Natalie Portman in BEAUTIFUL GIRLS well before I saw her in THE PROFESSIONAL and it was to me the most stunning performance by a child actor that I have ever seen. Wise beyond her years and a command of the screen I’ve seldom seen from many of our most talented adult actors.

  19. what about jake lloyd in ”the phantom menace” NOT!!!

  20. I can’t believe you forgot Tatum O’Neal in Paper Moon or Anna Paquin in The Piano. Hello???

  21. Pretty good list though despite not being a fan I think Leo should of made the list. Whats Eating Gilbert Grape and Basketball Diaries were both great performances. Also I would put Bale and Hit Girl as one and two. I would still have Portman on the list just not as high. I wouldn’t put the ET kid on there though.

    • lol..i had the feeling you would say something about leo. you never disappoint daniel :)

      • Gilbert Grape is his best performance ever in my opinion, but he was 19 and playing an 18 year old.

        • I wouldn’t say Gilbert Grape was his best ever I preferred Departed and Inception, but I would say it was his best pre Departed Performance.

          He was actually 19 when Gilbert Gape came out, but not during filming. While filming Gilbert Grape he was 17 and 18. However if you want to get a 16-17 film we can say This Boys Life his performance in that should easily get him on this list. Maybe that’s considered to old for the list though.

      • Meh Anthony not a fan of Leo, but his earlier performances pre Titanic were excellent. He was an actor with a lot of promise and wasted for a few years before finally turning out a few good performances again in recent memory. Leo is an actor that I know is talented, but I can’t bring my self to like because while he has shown amazing talent he has also shown he can be very lazy and he can make bad choices. I’d be a fan if it were not for Titanic, Romeo & JUliet, Man in the Iron Mask and all those film who put out right around then. As much as they are loved I also didn’t like Catch Me if You Can or Gangs of New York. Especially Catch me if you can.

        His child hood performances were excellent though I loved them and haven’t loved anything from him again until The Departed and then again in Inception.

        • I agree with you.Catch me if you can isn’t one of my favorites either.I have tried to give that movie a chance several times,yet I just dont like

          However gangs of new york is pretty good,in my opinion.Im not even gonna ask you to watch the Departed bc that one is pretty much beloved by all.

          • Yea Truth I mentioned in my post I loved the Departed it’s one of my all time fave films it’s been my number one film for a long time. I love that movie especially Jack N he is simply great in that film he delivers his speech at the beginning perfectly and it instantly hooks you in.

          • You know now that I think about it I also liked Body of lies with Leo and Crowe. While I hate more Leo films than I like that is slowly not being true. Two or Three more great films from Leo and I might actually call my self a fan.

            • i wont ever call myself a fan of his, or crowes lol

  22. Tim what was wrong with the ending of AI???

    Good call Abe, unfortunately hardly anyone here’s seen The Fall. Great film btw.

    And I never liked The Professional. There was nothing redeeming about that guy or how it ended.

    • easy there 790! lol ive always liked Jean Reno…and freaking Luc Besson actually needs to direct more movies instead of writing/producing.

    • It was purely by chance that I discovered The Fall but I’m so thankful I did – it’s one of the most beautiful films I’ve ever seen. I think your assessment is correct 790 as Cantinca didn’t make the extended vote Vic put up :(

  23. This is the worst list ever put together. Period.

    Jodie Foster at #8? That’s a joke, right?

    Interesting that Anna Paquin can also win an Oscar for The Piano, and doesn’t give an honorable mention. I’m glad to see Bailee Madison from Brothers there. That balloon bit at the dinner table has some merit so I’ll give you that (Not to mention that’s how a young child would act in such a setting)

    Maybe this is a list that’s too hard to call.
    No love for Carrie Henn from Aliens, either.
    Peter Billingsley from A Christmas Story

    Jennifer Connelly in Once Upon A Time In America?

    I also have to agree with the above regarding Haley Joel Osment. It should be AI, not Sixth Sense.

    • carrie henn hasnt done too much after that

      • That’s beside the point. The list asks for Great Performances by a child actor (from a US released film). Should I have mention Heather O’ Rourke instead?

    • Dude it’s just a list. It’s not a first draft for a new country’s constitution or someone’s wedding vows. It’s a list that is meant to spark debate and discussion. Sorry you would rather poop on a person for having different opinions than yours instead of having discussion.

      • And dude I can also disagree with this list and/or think it misses the mark by leaps and bounds. Note that I also wrote that perhaps this is possibly a tough list to come up with.

        Let me lend you the shovel for your own poop before you step in it, okay, Paul?

        • The title is “10 Great” not “100 Great”; everybody can’t be included on a list or the purpose of the list is completely lost.

          “Worst List ever. Period.”

          Really? So you disagree with every single person on this list? You think Peter Billingsley from A Christmas Story gave a better performance than Christian Bale in Empire of the Sun or Dakota Fanning in Hounddog?

          And very curious on why you and others think Carrie Henn deserves to be in a list like this at all; simply because she was a kid and in a popular sci-fi film? She barely had any lines.

          I think Tami Erin did a great job as Pippi Longstocking but you don’t see me complaining because she wasn’t mentioned.

  24. Due to all the impassioned feedback I’ve added a poll to the article above so that readers can help choose who should be on the list. You can select up to 3 actors who you think should be featured.



    • good call vic, i feel like list is justified though, but i see your point :)

  25. no mention of Haley Joel Osment in Pay it Forward? SHAME on YOU!

    • he was better in the sixth sense

      • I disagree Anthony I think he was much better in Pay It Forward I consider it by far his best performance.

        • lol disagree all you want im used to it :)

      • mmmmm…No…He controlled the screen and our journey through the film in pay it forward…Agreed him and Willis were fantastic, but for Osments best film…Pay It Forward every time

        • While I didn’t care about Sixth Sense all that much, I think we can agree that Haley Joel Osment was one of the best child actors of the last fifteen years. The debate here is like a Shirley Temple: good films, great films…which one to choose from.

  26. By the way Mike props for being among the few people who can still say something nice about Bale and respect his acting despite the recent turn in popularity.

    • Even though he acted like a pompous ass on the set of T4, that doesn’t mean the work he had done up to that point wasn’t great. I still like Bale and look forward to seeing him in other features :)

      • my favorite bale movie is still American Psycho, even after all these years

  27. Yeah Abe, we need to spread the word of mouth about “The Fall”. One of the best films ever.(Imo)
    Yeah Reno’s a great actor Ants, but The Professional lost me during the scenes where Portman’s family is killed, as he watches and does nothing. Then out of somekind of guilt he trains her??? Wth??
    Didn’t feel anything for his character or the film after those scenes.
    Never saw, “Pay it Forward” but (IMO) A.I, was Hally’s best performance hands down. Also one of the most misunderstood endings in a Kubrik inspired Speilberg film.

  28. Lol I actually threw my copy of Departed in the trash right after watching it.
    I didn’t pay for it so I had no buyers remorse.

    Cliché gangsta film if ever there was one… (Imo)

    • well the departed sufered from being the american remake of infernal affairs..a much beter hong kong film that marty’s remake was

      • oh suffered also because leo was in it :)

  29. Um what…no carrie henn from ‘aliens’? So disappointed. What’s with that Vic?

    • Glad to see I wasn’t the only one. But hey, the late Heather ‘O Rourke from Poltergeist is also AWOL, and there’s just too many kids from movies that that’s what makes this list near impossible and why there’s so much discussion on it.