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:-
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.