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Movie Night: There Are No Small Parts...

...only small actors. My heart always melts a little when a child actor gets nominated for an Oscar — most recently, Abigail Breslin for Little Miss Sunshine. In some ways, it seems easy to get kids to "act," since they are already impressionable and connected with their emotions. In 1944's Meet Me In St. Louis, the director told young Margaret O'Brien that her dog had died to make her cry so Judy Garland could comfort her by singing "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas."

Surely directors have all sorts of tricks to get child stars to cooperate, but when a kid's got it, she's got it — no trickery necessary. Thus, the inspiration for this week's Movie Night: Oscar nominees in miniature.

Paper Moon
As a tiny scam artist in training, Tatum O'Neal steals this movie right out from under her real-life dad, Ryan O'Neal. For her trouble, she took home the Oscar for Best Actress in a Supporting Role. The expertly crafted Peter Bogdanovich dramedy, set in the 1930s, follows a con-man who enlists O'Neal the younger in a Bible-selling scheme. The scenes between the cigarette-smoking 10-year-old and Madeline Kahn as Ryan O'Neal's lady friend are nothing short of brilliant.

To see the other two,

The Piano
Anna Paquin followed in O'Neal's footsteps by earning the Oscar for Best Actress in a Supporting Role for her performance as young Flora McGrath. Set in 1851, Holly Hunter plays Flora's mother Ada, a mute Scottish expatriate who arrives in New Zealand in an arranged marriage to a wealthy landowner. When her husband sells her beloved piano to a neighbor, Ada reluctantly strikes a deal with the neighbor (Harvey Keitel) in order to continue playing it. Their relationship soon progresses beyond piano lessons, however, and Ada finds herself in a dangerous situation.

Whale Rider
When Keisha Castle-Hughes was nominated for Best Actress in a Leading Role, someone at the ceremony asked her which actor she would most like to meet. She said shyly, in her adorable New Zealand accent, "Johnny Depp." So the sweet, sexy man actually went and sat next to Keisha and chatted her up a bit. I think I cried watching that as much as I did during Whale Rider! In the movie, Castle-Hughes plays Pai, a member of a New Zealand tribe whose chiefs are considered direct descendants of Paikea, an ancestor whose life was spared when he rode to shore on the back of a whale. Pai's twin brother, who died at birth, would have been the chief, and Pai believes she is destined to inherit the position instead. Her grandfather Koro, whom she adores, is bound by tradition to choose a male chief, so Pai sets out to prove her worth.

Jinx Jinx 10 years
I saw Little Miss Sunshine this weekend. I don't know why, but I don't know that Breslin's performance was an Oscar contender. She has one stellar scene with her Grandfather, and her talent was hilarious, but I don't know. Loved the movie tho. ------------------------------------------------------ Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. — Albert Einstein
sanD13 sanD13 10 years
dakota fanning in i am sam was awesome too.
uptowngirl1999 uptowngirl1999 10 years
i would like to commend you for mentioning paper moon! as that is one of my favorite movies, and a majority of people have never ever heard of it. i love how tatum has such sass. i also love whale rider as well. have yet to see little miss sunshine but hear it is excellent.
UrbanBohemian UrbanBohemian 10 years
Even for Jackie Earle Haley to come out of The Bad News Bears as a child to deliver a knockout performance as an adult actor is wonderful. But for child actors in action, I loved Anna Paquin in The Piano. She made the movie for me. And Keisha Castle-Hughes was such a natural even when she was so young. What a horrid story about Margaret O'Brien's dog. If I were a little girl that would have made me cry for sure! I don't think I would have been able to stop on cue even after Judy Garland's song!
Jinx Jinx 10 years
OMG, I love Paper Moon and Whale Rider. I have yet to see the Piano, but I love Anna. I think that's a horrible story about Meet Me in St. Louis. The poor child, traumatized and then Judy singing was supposed to comfort her?! Awwww, How awful. I would have been like Could you stop singing, don't you know my dog just died! ------------------------------------------------------ Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. — Albert Einstein
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