Children in movies are always a bit of a mixed bag. On the one hand, it’s nice to meet new talent before it’s been properly formed. On the other hand, there’s many movies in which they make you go “Jesus, why’d they add a kid to this?” Child actors, due to lack of experience and training, rarely raise a movie above what it already is. Every once in a while though, a diamond in the rough appears and we get to see a new child star be born.

Let’s take a look at some of the best child performances in Hollywood – you’ll know at least a few of these names, I assure you.

Christian Bale (Empire of the Sun)

Sure, we may know him mostly as being the best Batman in recent memory, but that wasn’t his first big acting gig. Bale starred in Empire of the Sun back in 1987, when he was only 12 years old. In that Steven Spielberg classic, he played the role of a child from a wealthy upbringing who gets imprisoned by the Japanese army. This leads him to become separated from his parents and lose his life of wealth. So basically, this movie tells the story of what would’ve happened if Bruce Wayne didn’t inherit all that money to become Batman.

Macaulay Culkin (Home Alone)

Despite having had a somewhat weird streak growing up and getting sidetracked through life (to put it mildly), Macaulay’s performance in Home Alone was well above what you would expect from a child his age. Whether you hate the movie or not, there’s a certain charisma to Macaulay that you can’t teach people.

Haley Joel Osment (The Sixth Sense)

We all still remember the phrase “I see dead people” from this movie, and the simple reason for that is that Osment’s portrayal was so perfect that this line haunts any audience. His role earned him an Academy Award nomination as Best Supporting Actor, but he sadly didn’t win.

Natalie Portman (Léon: The Professional)

While Natalie is currently slated to become the next Thor in the MCU, her acting career goes all the way back to Léon: The Professional. She gets taken in by an assassin at the ripe age of 13, after her parents are murdered. Naturally, she might want to take vengeance on someone for that.

Anna Paquin (The Piano)

Not only was Anna just 11 when she starred in The Piano, she actually won an Academy Award for her performance in it. The movie tells the tale of a daughter trying to help her mute mother get through regular life, and it netted her the Oscar as Best Supporting Actress.

Kirsten Dunst (Interview with the Vampire)

Despite only being 11 years old when she had to play a vampire daughter in this 1994 movie, her performance was so amazing that she actually got nominated for a Golden Globe as Best Supporting Actress. She didn’t win, but getting nominated at such a young age is surely an amazing feat.

Jodie Foster (Taxi Driver)

Not only is Taxi Driver still considered to be one of the best movies of all time, Jodie Foster’s performance as a 12 year old prostitute was so amazing that she’s been a household name ever since. Her role also netted her an Academy Award nomination as Best Supporting Actress, yet like many in this list she sadly didn’t win it.

Jacob Tremblay ( The Room)

There is no doubt that young Canadian actor Jacob Tremblayis a real diamond in a modern cinematography! The lead role in The Room has brought Jacob world fame, a great number of nominations and awards.

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