From a human-vampire hybrid to a pair of precocious love birds, these kids stole the show in some of this year’s biggest flicks. The peewee actors mirrored their strong-willed characters’ strengths, stirring Oscar buzz for several of their roles in 2012.
5. Pierce Gagnon in Looper
Not since Haley Joel Osment’s performance in The Sixth Sense has a child actor been able to successfully play equal parts adorable and creepy. Costar Emily Blunt, the five-year-old’s mother in the film, said ”the air shifted in the room” when Gagnon read for the role. Well, he certainly introduced an air of innocence to the time-travelling sci-fi thriller’s intense scenes.
4. Jared Gilman and Kara Hayward in Moonrise Kingdom
Wes Anderson is prone to casting precocious children in his comedies, but 12-year-olds Gilman and Hayward, who are now 13 and 14, respectively, stand apart from their predecessors. The young lovebirds ruled the film, stealing screen time from the likes of Bill Murray, Edward Norton, and Bruce Willis. They depict their characters’ innocent romance with nonchalance and beauty fit for a Wes Anderson flick.
3. Mackenzie Foy in The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 2
It’s a tall order to play the child of Edward and Bella. But the 11-year-old girl in the center of it all shined alongside her famous fictional parents.
2. Quvenzhané Wallis in Beasts of the Southern Wild
It’s only fitting that her character’s father refers to her as ”boss” and ”man” in this Louisiana-set mythical drama. Just as her on-screen persona effortlessly endures family turmoil, natural disasters, and wild creatures, the 6-year-old pint-sized heroine, who’s now 9, carries the entire movie on her far from Atlas-sized shoulders. Wallis beat out 3,500 kids for the role and could potentially beat out her much older peers to nab a best actress Oscar come February, which would make her the youngest winner in history.
1. Amandla Stenberg in The Hunger Games
We may have been cheering for Katniss, but it was 13-year-old Stenberg as doomed tribute Rue who stole our heart.
Written by Erin Strecker and Maane Khatchatourian
More Best of 2012:
The couples we’re shipping
The 5 best non-Adele songs of the year
Episodes we can’t erase from our DVR
On-screen couples with great chemistry
Say what? The worst movie lines of the year
The year in lyrics, from Taylor Swift to Carly Rae
The crying game
5 movies that stuck the landing