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Who Would You Vote For as "Best Young Actor/Actress"?

Each year when my BFCA ballot arrives I stop in my tracks, stumped, when I get to "Young Performer". Categories that aren't Oscar correlative are often trickier.

Oh dear. How uneasy I feel..."

That's not because you're free of predicting (anyone trying to predict with their own ballot really ought to find a new profession -- criticism: ur not doing it right) but because it's a subsection of acting you probably haven't been discussing at all. You suddenly remember that you need to have been considering it with as much seriousness as you have made your other selections.

I imagine that Ellar Coltrane, the now 20 year old star of Boyhood, will be tough to beat since this category is for the 21 and under set. But even if the category were adjusted downward to 17 and younger (which we strongly support as a rule change -because it's always weird when an adult wins like least year when the prize went to the very explicit Blue is the Warmest Color... in a kid's category!) he'd surely be considered an exemption since he spent 12 years in front of the camera in his childhood for that movie. But who will the other nominees be? Who should they be?

As a BFCA member I'm often frustrated by the choices made in this category since they don't feel carefully considered but "which big ticket movies have prominent teenage or child roles?" or, barring that, which movies did famous teen actors make? Fame ≠ Best so each year moving forward I will try to help my fellow critics by reminding them who is actually eligible... and not just from the Oscar seeking pictures. 

I hope you'll FYC your favorites in the comments and give voters some options to truly consider:

(if we've missed any key players - make sure to shout them out in the comments)

Chloë Grace Moretz (17) in Equalizer, If I Stay, Muppets Most Wanted or Laggies
Elle Fanning (16) as "Aurora" in Maleficent
Hailee Steinfeld (18) in Begin Again or The Homesman
Joey King (15) as "Grace" in Wish You Were Here Gotham Nominee
Kaitlyn Dever (17) in Men Women and Children or Laggies
Lilla Crawford
 (13) as "Red Riding Hood" in Into the Woods
Lorelei Linklater (20) as "Samantha in Boyhood 
Mackenzie Foy (14) as "Murph" in Interstellar WAFCA Nominee
Odeya Rush (17) as "Fiona" in The Giver
Saoirse Ronan (20) as "Agatha" in Grand Budapest Hotel 
Quvenzhané Wallis (11) is Annie 

John D'Leo, Jordan Scott, and Mackenzie Foy are among several eligible candidates who play "younger" versions of key characters

Alex Lawther (19) as "Young Alan Turing" in The Imitation Game
Ansel Elgort (20) in Divergent, The Fault in Our Stars or Men Women and Children
Antoine-Olivier Pilon (17) as "Steve" in Mommy
Blake Cooper (13) as "Chuck" in The Maze Runner
Charlie Tahan (?) as "Joey" in Love is Strange
CJ Adams (14) as "Young Ford" in Godzilla
C.J. Valleroy (?) as "Young Louis" in Unbroken
Connor Corum (7) as "Colton" in Heaven is For Real
Daniel Huttlestone (15) as "Jack" in Into the Woods 
Ellar Coltrane (20) as "Mason" in Boyhood  Gotham Nominee, WAFCA "Youth" Winner
Emjay Anthony (11) as "Percy" in Chef
Ghilherme Lobo (19) as "Leonardo" in The Way He Looks 
Jacob Latimore (18) as "Jeff" in The Maze Runner
Jaeden Lieberher (11) as "Oliver" in St. Vincent WAFCA Nominee
Jamarion Scott and Jordan Scott (?) as "Little James Brown" in Get On Up
John D'Leo (19) as "Young Pete" in Unbroken 
Kodi Smit-McPhee (18) as "Alexander" in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
Noah Wiseman (7) "Samuel" in The Babadook WAFCA Nominee
Pierce Gagnon (9) as "Tucker" in Wish I Was Here 
Samuel Lange Zambrano (?) as "Junior" in Bad Hair 
Tony Revolori (18) as "Zero" in Grand Budapest Hotel  WAFCA Nominee

Noah Wiseman, Tony Revolori, and the Boyhood kids have huge roles. Will they make it?

I hope you'll FYC your favorites in the comments and give the Broadcast Film Critic voters some options to truly consider rather than making this the annual Chloe Moretz Shortlist. Which younger actors do you think have big things in their futures as they grow into young adult roles?

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Reader Comments (50)

Such a tough thing to determine here. I do think Noah Wiseman is excellent in 'The Babadook' but can understand the thought of it being too one-note for such a reward, even if it's perfect for the film itself.

I'd go with Tony Revolori for "Grand Budapest Hotel" in the end. He's way more than just a sounding board, which is a silly critique of this enthusiastic performance.

December 7, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterBrianZ

Hi Nathan,

Mackenzie Foy and Ellar Coltrane. That's my words.

December 7, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterNagehan R

Jaeden Lieberher from St. Vincent.

Noah Wiseman gets my vote for most annoying. And the kid from Boyhood would get my vote if the movie ended before he was a teenager and he lost all his charisma.

December 7, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterSad man

Ellar Coltrane, yes, but not Lorelei Linklater, I'm afraid. I sensed from her performance (and not from Coltrane's) that, as time went on, she didn't really want to be in the movie and that a family dynamic--of feeling obligated to work for Dad--may have been at play. 12 years of knowing that you have to do something for Dad each summer: I'd have rebelled, too. Her early scenes, like the Britney Spears song, were adorable, but as she became a self-conscious sullen teenager, I don't think her father capitalized on (or was aware of) what was happening in the same way he did with Coltrane's changes. By the end of "Boyhood," her presence was muted and uninspired.

December 7, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterOwen Walter

Ghilherme Lobo in The Way He Looks -- such delightful and emotive performance

December 7, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterSunset

They should be campaigning Jaeden Lieberher for a Supporting Actor nod. He's very good.

December 7, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterSuzanne

So wait, are international films eligible or not? Because where are the "We are the Best!" girls?

December 7, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterDave S

Also, I haven't seen it but I have to assume Wallis is in the running for "Annie". Maika Monroe from "The Guest" (and "it Follows", which technically is 2015) would have just turned 21 this year, now sure how they measure the cut-off dates...

December 7, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterDave S

Whoa, Samantha in Boyhood is played by Richard Linklater's real-life daughter? How did I not know this?!

Anyway, I thought she did well partly because of what rubbed Owen the wrong way. Teenagers are teenagers: morose, sullen, precious, thorny, dull. That she and Coltrane ebbed and flowed with charisma and "interest" throughout the film, growing up during filming, actually worked for me since it felt so on-point with the adolescent/young adult experience of losing yourself while coming into your own. A marvel.

Revolori would be my pick for young actor because, my God, it can't have been easy to play that character and pull off what he did well in Grand Budapest Hotel. Marvelous and memorable without being pitched or showboat-y.

December 7, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMareko

I would like to FYC Ed Oxenbould for "Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day". Lightweight film to be sure but he managed to create likable, non-annoying but interesting kid character without being too cloying, too loud or too precocious. Added bonus points: He's Australian in real life but you wouldn't know it.

December 7, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterIrvin

I second Sunset; definitely Ghilherme Lobo (who I believe is 19 years old) in The Way He Looks - what a gloriously realized character he drew for us, and with such subtlety. Magnificent!

December 7, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterSilverberry Thief

Guilherme Lobo is 19.

December 7, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterLucas

I would assume that, considering her celebrity and the major release of the film that Quvenzhane will be cited for Annie.

December 7, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJohn T

Elle Fanning should have been mentioned because of "Low Down", instead of "Maleficent". Her performance in that independent movie was much more impressive.

December 7, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterPedro

Jaeden Lieberher for the win! He works so well with everyone in St. Vincent and really holds his own. A very relaxed yet intense performance.

December 7, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterPaul Outlaw

I second the 'We Are the Best!' girls!! They were sooooo good, especially Mira Grosin!! Any Young Actor category without her would be a joke this year.

December 7, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterConrado

Even the BFCA cutoff age was revised downward to 17, you could argue Coltrane should be eligibile for consideration, since the bulk of the film is a performance he gave whilst under the age of 17.

Mackenzie Foy would be my choice. She was incredible in Interstellar (and an uncannily good casting choice to play a young Jessica Chastain).

December 7, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterSean C.

Definitely Antoine-Olivier Pilon (sp?) and Ghilherme Lobo too!

December 7, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJoseph

WHAT ABOUT MAPS TO THE STARS? Nathaniel here are my suggestions ;)

1. Evan Bird, 'Maps to the Stars'
2. Tony Revolori,'The Grand Budapest Hotel'
3. Noah Wiseman, 'The Babadook'
4. Alex Lawther, 'The Imitation Game'

1. Joey King, 'Wish I Was Here'
2. Hailee Steinfeld, 'Begin Again'
3. Alyvia Alyn Lind, 'Blended'
4. Saoirse Ronan, 'The Grand Budapest Hotel'

December 7, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterSean D

Sean D -- who hte hell knows if MAPS TO THE STARS opened. the distributor has done a totally shitty job of workign with that film in the US.

December 7, 2014 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

Tony Revolori (18) as "Zero" in Grand Budapest Hotel. His performance almost perfectly mirrors the work of Ralph Fiennes. No small feat, that.

December 7, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterPatryk

I'll echo the praise for Jaeden Lieberher. He was amazing. Emjay Anthony would be my runner up. I'm afraid I thought that Lorelei Linklater was the worst thing about Boyhood with Ellar Coltrane not that much better.

On the female side of things (how sad is it that even in the young categories there are an uneven number of performances to choose from?!), I'd suggest two ladies from last year's Foreign Language Oscar submissions, Loungnam Kaosainam from The Rocket or Mariam Bokeria from In Bloom.

December 7, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterEvan

Emjay Anthony for sure. Just terrific in "Chef"! And Elle Fanning is surely the one with a golden future in films. She proved that in "Ginger and Rosa" - and just keeps on proving it with each new performance.

December 7, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterKen

Here would be my bets/votes...

Young Actress:
Mira Barkhammar, Mira Grosin and/or Liv LeMoyne, WE ARE THE BEST!

Young Actor:
Antoine-Olivier Polon, MOMMY (do MOMMY and MAPS TO THE STARS count for 2014 or 2015?)
Noah Wiseman, THE BABADOOK
Ellar Coltrane, BOYHOOD

December 7, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterDiana

So few girls. what a shame.

I think the best two of the year were Lorelei Linklater and Guilherme Lobo!!

December 7, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterNew

Logan Lerman - FURY (he was 21 when film was made)
Tye Sheridan - JOE
Will Poulter - THE MAZE RUNNER (he's 21)
Josh Wiggins - HELLION

Elle Fanning and Kodi Smit-McPhee should be nominated for YOUNG ONES.

December 7, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterAMY

Totally blanked on JOE. Seconding Amy for Tye Sheridan.

December 7, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterDiana

Yes, I third Tye Sheridan in Joe! A gorgeous performance. That kid is going places. I was blown away by him in Mud too.

December 7, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterSad man

I really really liked Hailee Steinfeld in Begin Again.

December 7, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterPeggy Sue

Moretz and Dever in Laggies!

December 7, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJake D

Antoine-Olivier Polon. The crazy, unpredictable, breating at a thousand miles a minute heart of the magnificent Mommy.

December 7, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJoFo

Owen: You're not wrong re: Linklater's daughter. She actually asked her dad after a couple years if her character could be killed of!

December 7, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterArkaan

Wow, Arkaan, thanks for that information. I didn't know that.

December 7, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterOwen Walter

Definitely Josh Wiggins for Hellion. I really liked Kaitlyn Dever in Laggies, the definition of a scene stealer and completely different from her performance last year in Short Term 12. Looking forward to seeing her in Men, Women and Children despite the reviews.

December 7, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterTom

I still believe Selma will win Best Picture.

Boyhood will be nominated but the best chances or an Oscar will be Director, Original Screenplay and Supporting Actress.

Remember LA Confidential and Social Network all won heaps of critics awards but lost out to 'crowd pleasing' Titanic and Kings Speech respectively.

I also believe Julianne Moore will win Best Actress for Still Alice - but it will also be a 'It's time' award too.

Swank, Witherspoon and Cotillard will be nominated leaving one slot for either Pike, Jones or Adams.

Best Actor is anyones guess. The 5 nominees will all be 1st time nominees from this bunch;- Keaton, Redmayne, Odeloyo, Spall, Cumberbatch, Carrell or even Locke.

December 7, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterBette Streep

Mackenzie Foy and Tony Revolori, thats what I always thought!!

December 7, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterPaskalis Damar

Elle Fanning
McKenzie Foy
Hailee stanfield
Willow shileds
Ellar Coltrane
Jaeden Lieberher
Will poulter
Blake cooper.
Ellar Coltrane
And as much as I hate Christian movies the boy from heaven is real is very good.

December 8, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterRyan

I call dibs on Annalise Basso from Oculus (not sure if it was released early this year or late last year)!

I really think that this child is preternaturally gifted, and I am prepared to troll and troll the interwebs until people take note of her.

December 8, 2014 | Unregistered Commentervegeta's concubine

And Will Poulter, of course. Because I already list to (legit stalk him on) his Twitter, and it would be inconsistent of me if I did not recommended him here.

December 8, 2014 | Unregistered Commentervegeta's concubine

Also, as of this post, there are 40 Chatty Moviegoers with paedo-tendencies... Aren't we a charmed bunch.

December 8, 2014 | Unregistered Commentervegeta's concubine

I so wish Young Actor were to become a regular Oscar category. Even if it's one category only populated by boys and girls. TFE has analyzed this topic before, but, hell, I don't lose hope.

December 8, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMarcos

I really hope BFCA members can rally around Ghilerme Lobo in this category.

Other than that, I also liked Ellar Coltrane, Mackenzie Foy and Jaeden Lieberher.

December 8, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterSquasher88

vegeta -good grief. there's a whole category hundreds of critics have to vote on. you don't need to go *there* -i'm doing my civic duty as a conscientous voter.

squasher88 -- my fear is exactly that voters NEVER think of this category until they see teh ballot (that was true of me too until last year when i thought... wait. there's a way to actually plan to vote for this the way you would plan to vote for anything else, by weighing your options. It's a shame that it's such an opportunity to reward actors with great potential but instead it's just "who's famous?!"

tom -- Hellion was a really well acted movie but i think i'm one of only 3 people who saw it ;) weird that Aaron Paul's obsessive Breaking Bad following won't watch him do other things, you know?

December 8, 2014 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

I really liked Hailee Steinfield in Begin Again, and look forward to seeing We Are The Best!

I haven't seen Boyhood yet either, but the young kid who has impressed me is Pierce Gagnon (Looper, the Halle Berry miniseries). He has great individual presence, really listens to other actors, and seems to have a good technical grasp of how to work with the camera, etc. I don't look at anyone else when he's onscreen, and that's rare with kids. I wish him and his family the best, that they can navigate the professional world.

December 8, 2014 | Unregistered Commenteradri

My votes would go to:
Josh Wiggins, Hellion
Tony Revolori, The Grand Budapest Hotel
Noah Wiseman, The Babadook

Mia Goth, Nymphomaniac Vol. 2
Tye Sheridan, Joe

December 8, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterA Mai

Antoine-Olivier Pilon (17) as "Steve" in Mommy
Ellar Coltrane (20) as "Mason" in Boyhood
Jaeden Lieberher (11) as "Oliver" in St. Vincent
Noah Wiseman (7) "Samuel" in The Babadook
Tony Revolori (18) as "Zero" in Grand Budapest Hotel

Hailee Steinfeld (18) in Begin Again
Lorelei Linklater (20) as "Samantha in Boyhood
Mackenzie Foy (14) as "Murph" in Interstellar
Saoirse Ronan (20) as "Agatha" in Grand Budapest Hotel
Quvenzhané Wallis (11) is Annie

December 8, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterErik Anderson

My lineup

Ellar Coltraine, BOYHOOD
Antoine-Olivier Pilon, MOMMY
Ghilherme Lobo, THE WAY HE LOOKS
Hailee Steinfeld, BEGIN AGAIN
Noah Wiseman, THE BABADOOK

December 9, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterleon

John D'Leo.

December 10, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterSam F.

Sterling Jerins in 'And So It Goes'
Tye Sheridan in 'Joe'

December 28, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMaiden

Odeya rush is the worst actress I have ever seen . Elle fanning is amazing though

December 28, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterlen

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