Kris Tapley at In Contention & Hitfix lists his picks for the top 10 film debuts of all time.
With “The Tree of Life” on DVD and Blu-ray and “Martha Marcy May Marlene” opening in limited release on Friday, it seemed a good time to take stock of the best debut performances the cinema has to offer. Hunter McCracken in the former and Elizabeth Olsen in the latter offer up award-worthy work, stunning in their capacity to inhabit their characters and seek out the truth therein.
The research on this one was taxing, and I don’t mind telling you, this list might be different on another day. It’s tough to settle on 10 when there are so many sterling debuts to choose from. And believe me, if your favorite isn’t on here, I’m sure I considered him or her.
We’ll port 6-10 over here, and link you the rest of his gallery.
10. Tatum O’Neal, “Paper Moon” (1973)
9. Edward Norton, “Primal Fear” (1996)
8. Marlee Matlin, “Children of a Lesser God” (1986)
7. Hailee Steinfeld, “True Grit” (2010)
6. Brad Dourif, “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” (1975)
Aside from Orson Welles, Kris doesn’t reach back in history earlier than 1973, so I’ll name 10 debuts, all actresses, from earlier years, after the cut.
Greer Garson, Goodbye Mr. Chips (1939)
Teresa Wright, The Little Foxes (1941)
Angela Lansbury, Gaslight (1944)
Lauren Bacall, To Have and Have Not (1944)
Mercedes McCambridge, All the King’s Men (1949)
Julie Harris, The Member of the Wedding (1952)
Shirley Booth, Come Back, Little Sheba (1952)
Eva Marie Saint, On the Waterfront (1954)
Jo Van Fleet, East of Eden (1955)
Shirley MacLaine, The Trouble With Harry (1955)
… (almost a debut!) Audrey Hepburn, Roman Holiday (1953)