As a young actress, Elle Fanning has worked with some big names. She co-starred with her sister Dakota in Sofia Coppola’s 2010 film Somewhere. She appeared in the 2014 Disney movie Maleficent as Aurora. The yes movies film was a sequel to Sleeping Beauty and it also featured Angelina Jolie as Maleficent.
1. Ginger and Rosa (2014)
The movie that put Dakota Fanning’s star power on display, Ginger and Rosa finds the actress taking a bold, volcanic turn as the title character. Directed by Sally Potter, the coming-of-age period piece dispenses with self-conscious stylistic flourishes to present a complex depiction of a teenage girl navigating betrayals on both sides of her family.
At one level, Ginger and Rosa (Alice Englert) are just a pair of inseparable girls — they listen to rock n’ roll, giggle conspiratorially, and dream about boys. But as the Cuban Missile Crisis looms, they become more and more involved in anti-nuclear activism, encouraged by the pacifist professor Roland (Alessandro Nivola) and their godfathers, a gay couple played by Timothy Spall and Oliver Platt with warm, understated brio. They also both deal with a broken home, as Rosa’s father walked out years earlier and Ginger’s mother Nat is drifting away from her husband.
2. Teen Spirit (2014)
A shy teen (Elle Fanning) finds her voice in this stylish, visceral spin on the Cinderella story. Violet’s mother won’t let her enter a local singing competition, so she convinces former opera singer Vlad (Zlatko Buric: Pusher) to act as her guardian and take her on the road.
Director Max Minghella – the son of Anthony Minghella, who wrote and directed The English Patient and Cold Mountain – delivers a soul-stirring film about family, identity, and the unyielding pursuit of happiness. Fanning and co-star Dakota Goyne deliver performances that transcend their cliche-ridden roles.
A young girl is training to be a pop star in this drama. Critics say the movie has a predictable plot, but Fanning makes it work with her strong performance and hazy, color-soaked cinematography that fits with its pop explosion soundtrack.
3. Galveston (2018)
There’s been a lot of talk lately about how Hollywood needs more diverse filmmakers to make better movies. It looks like one has arrived with Galveston, a dark thriller that bowed at SXSW and stars Ben Foster and Elle Fanning.
The film’s plot is a little convoluted, but it does center on two characters who have no future to look forward to. Director Melanie Laurent and her cast capture the bruised, helpless feeling that permeates this seedy world.
The movie is a modern crime thriller with noir inflections that operates in the seedy underbelly of the American South. But what really elevates the picture is a performance from Ben Foster that deftly balances his man of few words exterior with an appearance of his ultimate humanity. It’s a powerful heart-breaking drama.
4. How to Talk to Girls at Parties (2019)
Fanning starred in the sci-fi Western Young Ones and a biopic about jazz pianist Joe Albany. She also played Briar Rose in Disney’s Maleficent and Empress Catherine the Great in Nicholas Hoult’s historical drama.
This complex adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s short story features Enn, a teenage punk who tries to kiss girls who are not his sisters’ friends. He meets Zan, a girl from a yellow-clad cult that doesn’t allow its members to manifest individuality until they are older.
Mitchell blends comedy, science fiction and romance to create a layered film. The plot is convoluted but the film is a must-see for fans of indie movies. And Fanning delivers a stunning performance as the only non-human in the film. Her concert mosh pit scene is mind-blowing. Also, her hair looks amazing. She’s making a strong case for awards consideration with her work in Sofia Coppola and Yorgos Lanthimos movies.
5 Catherine the Great
The titular character of this Hulu period drama — billed as “an occasionally true story” — may not be historically accurate, but it offers a fascinating glimpse into one of history’s most intriguing rulers. Fanning’s portrayal is empathetic, compassionate, and unafraid to be ruthless when necessary.
The empress’ love of knowledge and open-mindedness was evident from her earliest years, when she would eagerly listen to adult gossip and learn genealogy. Later in life, this helped her soothe opponents and make informed decisions.
As an empress she cultivated an entourage of favorites and was deft at buying allegiance with gifts, money, treaties and expert military and legal advice. It is no wonder she was able to build up her great empire. The only thing that tripped her up was love, which she seemed to have a knack for finding and losing.