Enders Game The recent release of Ender’s Game gives us two really great young actors, both of whom are following up highly acclaimed previous work. Hailee Steinfeld showed astonishing screen presence and self-assuredness as Mattie Ross in True Grit, with Asa Butterfield having followed up noteworthy work in Son of Rambow and the Boy in the Striped Pyjamas with a similarly striking performance as the eponymous hero of Scorsese’s tender fable Hugo.

They join a long and rightly lauded parade of actors who, rather than go with affected cuteness or over-acted eloquence beyond their years, have instead inhabited child roles and delivered sincere and affecting performances.

Here are half a dozen of the best:-

True Grit

6. Hailee Steinfeld – True Grit

Steinfeld’s performance in True Grit is nothing short of astonishing and she will do well to match it at any point in what will undoubtedly be a considerable and richly-lauded career. As Mattie Ross, a teenage girl looking to employ Jeff Bridges’ craggy Rooster Cogburn to avenge her father’s murder, Steinfeld delivers strength, feistiness, eloquence and vulnerability, yet wholly without affectation.

She is wise and shrewd beyond her years, yet believably so and still unmistakeably a child. Her early conversation with the man who had sold ponies to her father and with whom she strikes a bargain to sell them back is a masterful blend of acting, script-writing and direction. The look of bewliderment on the man’s face, as he is verbally brow-beaten into a deal he’d just as soon not strike is priceless and the effortless and irresistable momentum of Mattie’s negotiations are a wonder to behold.

Considering the calibre of the actors she is squaring off against (Jeff Bridges, Matt Damon, Josh Brolin), that Steinfeld doesn’t entirely shrink into the background is impressive enough. For her to not only hold her own, but genuinely shine and linger in the memory as long as she has is testament to a performance of enduring quality.

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Dave has been writing for HeyUGuys since mid-2010 and has found them to be the most intelligent, friendly, erudite and insightful bunch of film fans you could hope to work with. He's gone from ham-fisted attempts at writing the news to interviewing Lawrence Bender, Renny Harlin and Julian Glover, to writing articles about things he loves that people have actually read. He has fairly broad tastes as far as films are concerned, though given the choice he's likely to go for Con Air over Battleship Potemkin most days. He's pretty sure that 2001: A Space Odyssey is the most overrated mess in cinematic history.