We Rank 19 Child Actors From Most Talented To Least

Matilda GIF(via)

This is a crazy world of ours, and I feel like people are getting famous younger and younger. Some of them because they’re talented, but some just…because. They’re all extremely lucky and hard-working, but let’s not labor under the assumption that all child stars are created equal. I was never one myself, but that doesn’t mean I’m not capable of gazing upon their working and making judgements on it.

Judging kids. This is my job as a journalist asshole. So in honor of that, I present to you…19 Child Actors Ranked From Most To Least Talented. Does it make it better that they’re all mostly grown up now? I hope so. I’m sure you’ll let me know.

1. FREDDIE HIGHMORE

Freddie Highmore 65th Annual Primetime Emmys September 22 2013 Los Angeles California(Photo: Adriana M. Barraza/WENN)

This kid. Holy crap. He was reportedly so good in Finding Neverland that his costar Johnny Depp said that if Freddie wasn’t hired to play Charlie in Charlie And The Chocolate Factory, Johnny would walk. Respect.

2. QUVENZHANE WALLIS

Quvenezhane Wallis Big Fish Opening Night October 7 2013 New York City NY(Photo: Joseph Marzullo/WENN)

At nine years old, Quvenzhané became the youngest nominee ever for Best Supporting Actress. I mean, this girl was recognized for her work in Beasts Of The Southern Wild at an age when I was still working on chapter books, so I’d say she deserves her spot on this list.

3. HAILEE STEINFELD

Hailee Steinfeld Ender's Game Photo Call October 7 2013 London England UK

(Photo: WENN)

It’s no nine, but Hailee being nominated for an Oscar at at age fourteen for her work in True Grit is nothing to sneeze at.

4. SAOIRSE RONAN

Saoirse Ronan attending a screening of The Host in New York City March 2013

(Photo: C. Smith/WENN)

Girl, you would be higher on this list if you’d done Atonement more recently than The Host. But seriously strong work. You make learning your name worthwhile.

5. CHLOE GRACE MORETZ

Chloe Grace Moretz Carrie World Premiere October 7 2013 Los Angeles California

(Photo: Dave Bedrosian/Future Image/WENN)

Ever since I saw her in (500) Days Of Summer, I’ve honestly been in disbelief that Chloë’s as young as she is. She’s just so goddamn poised and talented. And she was only twelve in that movie! Good lord.

6. MARA WILSON

Mara Wilson as Matilda Cheerios Scene

(Photo: Columbia Tristar via IMDb)

I think Mara made really great choices as a kid — Matilda and Mrs. Doubtfire were two of my favorites — and she’s successfully made it into adulthood with no scandals, so she gets bonus points!

7. ABIGAIL BRESLIN

Abigail Breslin 2013 Teen Choice Awards August 11 2013 Los Angeles California

(Photo: Adriana M. Barraza/WENN)

I’m sorry, but Abigail has owned my heart ever since that amazing dance in Little Miss Sunshine.

8. MACAULAY CULKIN

Macaulay Culkin 82nd Annual Academy Awards Hollywood CaliforniaMarch 7 2010

(Photo: Adriana M. Barraza/WENN)

Our first throwback! Sure, he doesn’t do anything now, but Macaulay was seriously holding it down on the child actor front for a while there. I mean Home Alone? My Girl? Richie Rich? What a power player.

9. ELLE FANNING

Elle Fanning 24th Annual GLAAD Media Awards April 20 2013 Los Angeles California

(Photo: Brian To/WENN)

I hope you’re not too terribly shocked to see Elle before Dakota, but this is just how I feel, people. She’s the more indie of the two sisters, and somehow manages to make her career look effortless instead of torturous.

10. DANIEL RADCLIFFE

Daniel Radcliffe Kill Your Darlings Premiere Los Angeles California October 4 2013

(Photo: Brian To/WENN)

Listen, he’s not the kid from Harry Potter anymore! But it’d be okay if he was, because I thought DanRad was pretty dece in those movies! I mean he’s not at the top of my list, but he was definitely holding his own out there.

11. DREW BARRYMORE

Drew Barrymore New York City Ballet 2013 Fall Gala September 19 2013 New York City

(Photo: C. Smith/WENN)

The original gangsta of child actors. I mean not including Shirley Temple and stuff. I actually really like Drew’s younger work like E.T. obviously, and I can’t possibly be the only person who’s obsessed with Babes In Toyland. But bottom line, showbiz really janked Drew up, so I pushed her down the list a little bit so as not to encourage others to go the same route. (I am very influential, you see.)

12. DYLAN AND COLE SPROUSE

Dylan and Cole Sprouse Children Affected by Aids Founations Santa Monica California October 24 2009

(Photo: Apega/WENN)

I’m out of the loop a little because I never watched the Disney Channel when I was a kid, but I’m told these two are quite talented. I was reasonably impressed by them sharing a role in Big Daddy though, so I kept them reasonably high on the list. YOU’RE WELCOME.

13. DAKOTA FANNING

Dakota Fannin 70th Venice Film Fest Night Movies Premiere September 1 2013 Venice Italy

(Photo: Shotpress/WENN)

Ah yes, hello lesser Fanning! She’s done a lot more than Elle, but got so burned out on her when she was in everything, and I always feel so judged by her, through the screen that I think I hold that against her. And also I’ve never been able to take her seriously since Amy Poehler premiered that kick-ass impression on Saturday Night Live.

14. KIERNAN SHIPKA

Kiernan Shipka 5th Annual Los Angeles Haunted Hayride Premiere Night October 11 2013 Los Angeles California

(Photo: Nikki Nelson/WENN)

She’s very stylish and everything, both on and off of Mad Men, I just am not the biggest fan of her acting thus far. That’s just me — feel free to disagree. (Rhymes!)

15. EMMA WATSON

Emma Watson New York Premiere of Gravity October 2 2013 Manhattan(Photo: Ivan Nikolov/WENN)

Oh girl. I really did love Emma in Harry Potter, but everything since has fallen a little flat for me. I’m told that people liked her in Bling Ring, but I just couldn’t get behind it. Maybe if she was allowed to have her accent in movies? I don’t know if that’s it.

16. HALEY JOEL OSMENT

Haley Joel Osment Opening of Red Philadelphia Pennsylvania October 20 2011

(Photo: WENN)

I don’t know what it is about this kid, but whenever I picture him in my head, he always has a runny nose. Do you know what I mean? I just hear his voice in The Sixth Sense and Pay It Forward and the atrocious piece of garbage that was A.I. and I feel like it was always the same but somehow never what I wanted.

17. JONATHAN TAYLOR THOMAS

Jonathan Taylor Thomas ArcLight Cinema August 14 2013 Hollywood California(Photo: Try CW/WENN)

He was a cutie patootie (please immediately erase the fact that I said that from your mind) but I think we were all so dazzled by his dimples that we forgot to check if he was actually acting. I mean did you see Wild America? Unfortunately I did. Although I will say that he did excellent stuff as the voice of a young Simba in The Lion King. So you’re still not last, buddy.

17. MARY KATE AND ASHLEY OLSEN

Mary Kate Ashley Olsen Lexus Design Disrupted Fashion Experience September 5 2013 New York City NY

(Photo: Try CW/WENN)

You girls are lucky you look the same, or I don’t know if you’d ever have gotten any work at all. Honestly, what a lot of the same movie you made. You just kept setting it in different cities and genres until you’d made every possible combination.

19. JAKE LLOYD

Jake Lloyd 2010 Wizard World Big Apple Comin Con New York City NY October 2 2010

(Photo: Joseph Marzullo/WENN)

Oh y’know, just the kid who singlehandedly ruined Star Wars. RIP Jake Lloyd’s career.

Share This Post:
    • Rachel

      I’m so glad Emma Watson is so far down on this list! I’ve never really been a fan of her acting. In “Bling Ring” she wasn’t completely terrible, but the part didn’t really ask for much so it’s not like she had to even try that hard tbh. I feel like everyone is obsessed with her, and I’m just not seeing it personality or acting wise!

      • Hanna

        Totally agreed.

      • Andrea bianchi

        of course because you are a jelous bitch

      • Alexis Rhiannon

        Oh fun, another word you don’t know how to spell!

    • t-rez

      That was way too harsh about Jake Lloyd. One person doesn’t ruin a franchise.

      • FormerlyKnownAsWendy

        Jar Jar certainly had a hand in it, too.

      • Katie

        And Hayden Christensen and Natalie Portman’s terrible chemistry. It’s taken me a long time to even consider Portman as a valid actress because of that movie.

        I feel like this list is missing Alex D Linz.

        Also Freddie Highmore is inSANE in Bates Motel. Just incredible.

      • Alexis Rhiannon

        Freddie Highmore is a beast. I love him.

        And yes, totally forgot about the lack of chemistry between Hayden and Natalie. I think that kind of killed Hayden’s career too, right?

      • PaintingChef

        Also? Freddie Highmore in “A Good Year”. Best part of the whole movie (which, unlike the rest of the world, I kind of loved…)

      • Alexis Rhiannon

        Oh I didn’t see it!

    • Tóth János

      Sofia Vassilieva? Brandon Call?

    • Nbl

      I will always love Emma and I think she’ll only get better. Her career has a lot of potential. Coming from someone else who has a full time job and is a full time student, I can attest to the fact that it can be very difficult to put 100% into something when you’re being pulled a million different ways. I think now that she’s done with school, we’ll see some better acting. Although she had been very smart to stay away from potentially big blockbusters, which is good coming from the Leviathan franchise that was Harry Potter. As long as she doesn’t go for her masters (Don’t do it! It’s a trap!). Now using a Star Wars reference to segway into my Star Wars rant. I don’t think Jake ruined it, George Lucas had a pretty heavy hand in that, as well as a certain racist CGI character whose name shall not be spoken. But if you ever feel so inclined, I would suggest watching a good documentary on the rise of the Nazis (Nazis: An Evolution of Evil is a good one) and then re-watch the prequels . The similarities are pretty crazy and trying to find them distracts from the horrid acting.

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