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Best Child Performances

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This in light of Quvenzhane Wallis becoming the youngest ever Best Actress nominee... Actors aged 13 or under. Contributions welcomed. (I hope the use of photos is helpful; if not, I can edit them out.)

Ana Torrent - The Spirit Of The Beehive

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Sarah Bolger - In America

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Victoire Thivisol - Ponette

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Justin Henry - Kramer Vs. Kramer

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Natalie Portman - Leon

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Kelly Reno - The Black Stallion

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Pascal Lamorisse - The Red Balloon

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Jackie Coogan - The Kid

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Tatum O'Neal - Paper Moon

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Haley Joel Osment - The Sixth Sense

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How old was the little girl in Whale Rider?

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Ivana Baquero - Pan's Labyrinth

Hailee Steinfeld - True Grit (I checked, she was 13 at the time of filming.)

Abigail Breslin - Little Miss Sunshine

Lina Leandersson - Let the Right One In

Kare Hedebrant - Let the Right One In (They were 12 when they filmed it.)

Drew Barrymore - E.T.

Freddie Highmore - Finding Neverland

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The best child performance discussion begins and ends with Ponette for me (Thivisol is unbelievable, but the other kids are great as well). Bonus fun fact: While I was looking up ages and such, I found out that the father in Ponette was played by Xavier Beaubois, who later directed Of Gods and Men.

A few others:

I think Thomas Doret was around 13 when The Kid with a Bike was filmed.

Judith Vittet in The City of Lost Children.

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Jesse Bradford gave a great performance in Steven Soderbergh's depression era film King of the Hill. He was only 12, maybe turned 13 during filming.

Edited by John Drew

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Tyler wrote:

: Bonus fun fact: While I was looking up ages and such, I found out that the father in Ponette was played by Xavier Beaubois, who later directed Of Gods and Men.

Wow! Awesome.

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I'm gonna pick a film few folks have had a chance to see yet ... Radu Jude's upcoming EVERYBODY IN OUR FAMILY, one of the most darkly-funny, unnerving, convincing and harrowing (yes, all those things at once) family-gathering-goes-awry films ever. I've already seen it twice and bumped it up to 10 on second viewing -- making the film the early front-runner for 2013's best film (sez I). But the daughter is played by Sofia Nicolaescu, who has a charm, a liveliness, an innocence in everything she does, even (especially) when her character is exposed to things I hope to God she's unfamiliar with IRL, but have to think she probably is.

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Having recently watched The Kid With A Bike, I would definitely agree with adding Thomas Doret to the list. I love this sort of unshowy, quietly aggressive performance.

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And of course Hailee Steinfeld, in a good adaptation of one of my favourite novels:

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I'm interested to see what she does next (I think she has seven films in the next year or so), but I'm a little concerned she may end up going the Hollywood Glam route.

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I'm interested to see what she does next (I think she has seven films in the next year or so), but I'm a little concerned she may end up going the Hollywood Glam route.

I'm most looking forward to Romeo and Juliet. I'd like to see how she handles Shakespeare.

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How old was the little girl in Whale Rider?

According to IMDb.com, Keisha Castle-Hughes was 12 when the film came out, so probably younger when it was being filmed.

Adding Saoirse Ronan at 12 or 13 in Atonement (13 when the film premiered)

Edited by BethR

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I think Edmund Meschke from Germany Year Zero qualifies, though I can't find his age online. Germany Year Zero was his only acting role, too.

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Jodie Foster in Taxi Driver - of course! I thought I had already put her, but no... She was equally good (and disturbing) in The Little Girl Who Lives Down The Lane.

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Anna Paquin in “The Piano” –she got best supporting actress at age 11.

The only reason she didn't appear on my initial list was the 'Scottish' accent; it doesn't reach the Dick Van Dyke level of awfulness, but still... (And a quick google reveals I'm not the only one, although I think it's a tad harsh to place her in such company.)

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Patty McCormack won "Best Actress in a Supporting Role" for The Bad Seed (1956). She would have been about eleven at the time.

Jurnee Smollett was nominated for several awards (though none from the Academy) at about the same age for 1997's Eve's Bayou.

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