Beauty, brains and box office - three of the things that today's top young movie actresses have in common. An abundance of leading ladies under age 30 have been proving that they're far more than pretty faces, and with a few of these poised to leave their twenties within the next year, another group is coming up fast.
1. Angelina Jolie, 29: She is that rarest of all things, a true Hollywood original. Let's face it: No one but Angelina can claim to be an Oscar-winning international boxoffice draw/sex goddess/United Nations High Commission on Refugees Ambassador /mommy and all on the same day. Her relationship - whatever its true nature - with her "Mr. and Mrs. Smith" leading man Brad Pitt is just the latest in a long string of titillating tales that seem to trail her month by month. Hard to believe that she's done all this before hitting the big 3-0, which, by the way, happens June 4.
2. Kirsten Dunst, 23: When the then-pubescent Kirsten convincingly played a nasty old vampire trapped in a child's body in 1994's "Interview With the Vampire," holding her own onscreen with no less than Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt, we knew this was no ordinary child actress. She had It, and she still does -- acting ability, presence and an off-camera personality worthy of one of those savvy and savagely witty show biz gals in "Stage Door." Later this year, the "Spider-Man" ingénue may well make another upward leap with "Elizabethtown," the new Cameron Crowe flick.
3. Reese Witherspoon, 29: Smart, glamorous, ambidextrous (she glides from sweet to bitchy, sharp-as-a-tack to dimwitted, all with ease), is there anything she can't do? She studied literature at Stanford, started her own production company, and is a mother of two with husband Ryan Phillippe. She seems destined for long-term greatness of the Meryl Streep/Cissy Spacek variety. Look for her as hillbilly June Carter (with dark locks) in the upcoming Johnny Cash biopic.
4. Charlize Theron, 29: Chicks dig him, and no wonder. The guy looks great with a sword in his hands, as proven in "Lord of the Rings," "Pirates of the Caribbean," the soon-due "Kingdom of Heaven" and to a lesser extent in "Alexander" (he got his ass whupped in that one). He'll play a present-day corporate loser in "Elizabethtown" later in '05.
5. Natalie Portman, 24: Portman has always been great (witness her kiddie turn in "Beautiful Girls") but the fallout from "Closer" should be an Oscar-bound career. Of course, her role as Padme Amidala of the current "Star Wars" trilogy has already insured her movie immortality.
6. Beyonce Knowles, 23: Someone always has to be a show-off and become a superstar in more than one field. This Destiny's Child has already proven she's more than a bootylicious singer - that "more" being that she can act - in vehicles including MTV's "Carmen: a Hip-Hopera." Two anticipated turns on her credit list are the new "Pink Panther" movie with Steve Martin, coming up this summer, and the big-screen adaptation of Broadway's hit "Dreamgirls," which goes into production at year's end, and will have her playing the thinly-veiled diva of yore, Diana Ross.
7. Lindsay Lohan, 19: You can't go wrong when you're starring in Disney classic remakes like "The Parent Trap" and "Herbie: Fully Loaded." Though "Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen" was a total flop, the boffo success of "Mean Girls" earned her a $7.5 mil payday for her next flick. She's recorded an album, she's moving toward grown up movies (i.e. "A Prairie Home Companion," due in '06), so good things await.
8. Mandy Moore, 21: Hey, it's not art, but she knows what the teenage girls in her Disney Radio demographic want. "A Walk to Remember," "Chasing Liberty" and "Saved" gave her good-girl cred, and now she's inching toward adulthood with a role in "Romance and Cigarettes," a sleazy indie musical.
9. Keira Knightley, 20: We know she's tough. She wielded a scimitar in "King Arthur" and was a not-so-distressed damsel in "Pirates of the Caribbean." She plays another tough-girl, a bounty hunter, in the upcoming "Domino." Now we'd like to see whether she can really act.
10. Dakota Fanning, 11: She's got number two billing, second only to one Tom Cruise, in the new "War of the Worlds" remake. Now that's saying something about what Hollywood thinks of this tyke. A few years ago she was the youngest actress ever nominated for a SAG award. She's already worked with the likes of Sean Penn, Denzel Washington-even Vin Diesel! In next year's "Charlotte's Web," she co-stars with one Julia Roberts. Here's hoping she has other interests to fall back on if the acting thing doesn't work out.
Sarah Michelle Gellar, 28: It would be so much easier to take her seriously without that goofy "Scooby-Doo" stuff etched in our collective brains.
Hilary Duff, 17: Is the world coming to an end? Heather Locklear plays her mom in the upcoming "The Perfect Man." Meanwhile, we predict that Hilary's next film, "Foodfight," will win an Oscar.
Jessica Alba, 24: Yes, but can she act? The jury is still out.
Anne Hathaway, 22: This stage veteran has a sizeable fan base thanks to the "Princess Diaries" films - and two movies upcoming that are sure to show her range: "Brokeback Mountain," with Jake Gyllenhaal and Heath Ledger; and "Havoc." She plays a disaffected upper middle class teen who falls in with an East L.A. gang in the latter, and has a steamy scene with Freddy Rodgriguez of "Six Feet Under."
Amanda Bynes, 19: She was the closest thing we've seen to a mini-Carol Burnett from age 10 -- doing sketch comedy on "All That" and her own "Amanda Show" on Nickelodeon, and has achieved success on big screen ("What a Girl Wants") and small ("What I Like About You") as a near-grownup.
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