Jennifer Lawrence, now 23, has two Oscar nominations and one win. (Ethan Miller / Getty Images)
Recently, I’ve been thinking about young females.
No, not in that way. Professionally.
I’ve pretty much been doing this pop-culture writing thing since the dawn of time, and I can’t recall there ever being as many talented young actresses in the film business as there are now.
When I say young, I mean under 25, and when I say talented I mean, Look out, Oscar, coming to getcha.
It was my discussion of the race for the Best Actress in a recent column that got me thinking about this. As I said then, the nominees seem pre-ordained: Meryl Streep for “August: Osage County,” Cate Blanchett for “Blue Jasmine,” Judi Dench for “Philomena,” Sandra Bullock for “Gravity,” Emma Thompson for “Saving Mr. Banks.”
All these women already have Oscars and all are past age 40, with three older than 50, two older than 60 and Dench at 78.
Well, look out, ladies, the youngsters are coming to take over soon.
Actually, one took over last year when the now-23-year-old Jennifer Lawrence won best actress for “Silver Linings Playbook.” It was Lawrence’s second Oscar nomination, and she may yet get a third nom (supporting actress) for the upcoming “American Hustle.”
At this point she’s looking like THE actress of her generation. And so what? Each generation it seems has an actress or two who immediately stand out.
The difference here is this generation has about 10 actresses with seemingly huge potential, and I’m sure I’m even forgetting a few names.
Let’s start with Mia Wasikowska, 24, who has already topped a $1 billion film (“Alice in Wonderland”), revived a literary classic (“Jane Eyre”), appeared in a bevy of critical favorites (“The Kids Are All Right,” “Albert Nobbs,” “Restless”) and had no fewer than three more films at the recent Toronto International Film Festival.
Or how about 19-year-old Saoirse Ronan? She was nominated for a supporting actress Oscar at age 13 for “Atonement”; she’s worked with directors Peter Jackson, Kevin Mcdonald, Neil Jordan, Joe Wright and Peter Weir; after next week’s indie “How I Live Now,” she will have Wes Anderson’s latest, “The Grand Budapest Hotel.”
Superstardom has sort of interfered with the acting career of Kristen Stewart, 23, but before “Twilight” she worked with David Fincher, Jon Favreau and Sean Penn. And she’s still squeezing edgy indies in between the blockbusters.
And don’t forget the Fanning girls. Dakota, 19, is still trying to recover from one of the more brilliant child actor careers ever; meanwhile her younger sister Elle, 15, keeps drawing rave reviews for films like “Super 8,” “Ginger & Rosa” and “Somewhere.”
Speaking of this year’s Oscar race, there seems to be a not-so-subtle movement among critics to push Brie Larson, 24, for a nomination for the wonderful indie “Short Term 12.” Larson, who also had “Don Jon” and “The Spectacular Now” this year, is a long shot, but she’ll get there eventually.
Emma Stone is 24 (OK, just for another week). Shailene Woodley is 21. Abigail Breslin is 17 and Chloe Grace Moretz is 16. Elizabeth Olson is 24; Emma Roberts is 22. All already have or soon will headline movies.
Are they all going to be Oscar winners? Probably not. Will they all have long, successful careers? Unfortunately, it’s unlikely. But a few have already left their imprint on film history. And as a group they show that the long-term potential for cinema is bubbling with promise.