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21 Child Actors Who Were Legitimately More Talented Than The Adults In Their TV Shows And Films

Besides Leo, of course.

Recently we asked the BuzzFeed Community which child actor was *perfectly* cast. There were a ton of great submissions, but a handful of actors appeared again and again in the comments. Here are some of the most mentioned!

Some submissions have been edited for length and/or clarity.

1. Noah Schnapp in Stranger Things


"Most people praise Millie Bobby Brown or Finn Wolfhard as the best child actors on Stranger Things, but Noah Schnapp is criminally underrated. I didn't know what to expect from him in Season 2 since he was absent for most of the first season, but he stole every scene he was in, even from veteran actors like Winona Ryder. Here's hoping he gets more material than he did in Season 3 because he really is amazing!"


2. River Phoenix in Stand By Me

Columbia Pictures

"It was such a mature and emotional performance. That film gets me every time, especially the scene where he talks about his teacher being the one who stole the milk money. His acting in the scene is phenomenal."


3. Quvenzhané Wallis in Beasts of the Southern Wild

Fox Searchlight Pictures

"She's just incredible! She carries the entire film with nuance and raw emotion, it's honestly so amazing. She's the definition of Black girl magic!"


4. Jacob Tremblay in Room and Wonder

A24, Lionsgate

"Jacob Tremblay is amazing. I’ve only seen him in Room and Wonder, and his acting had me bawling my eyes out. That kid is going places!"


"I'm still surprised that he wasn't nominated for an Oscar for his amazing performance in Room. He was only 7 when filming the role and he was amazing!"


5. Roman Griffin Davis in Jojo Rabbit

Fox Searchlight Pictures

"He was in almost every single shot of the movie and led it with incredible humor, grace, and emotion at only 11 years old IN HIS FIRST ROLE. His performance was 100% what helped make the movie’s risky concept work and he matched actors like Sam Rockwell and Scarlett Johansson so well in every scene. I literally cannot imagine anyone else playing him."


6. Macaulay Culkin in Home Alone

20th Century Fox

"The later sequels where a different kid played Kevin were never quite the same!"


7. Kiernan Shipka in Mad Men


"She started off as more of a supporting role, but in the later seasons she was so good. Watching her character develop and grow was so powerful. She really portrayed both the period and the universal feelings of being a teenager so well."


8. Saoirse Ronan in Atonement

Focus Features

"She was one of the youngest Best Supporting Actress nominees at age 13 for Atonement. She’s obviously continued to shine and rack up more well-deserved Oscar nominations, but honestly I thought that her Atonement performance was chilling and defied her young age."


9. Dakota Fanning in I Am Sam (and everything else)

New Line Cinema

"If she didn’t break your heart in that movie with her performance, you’re lying to yourself. I have followed her career ever since because, in my opinion, she’s probably one of the best actors of her generation. I wish she would do more."


10. Caleb McLaughlin in Stranger Things


"Caleb McLaughlin has TONS of talent that is way too often overlooked in favor of his castmates. He's turned Lucas into a complex character even though the Stranger Things writers rarely shed light on him as an individual, and he often flies under the radar even though he plays one of the kindest and funniest characters on the show. He'll be starring in Concrete Cowboys with Idris Elba later this year, which will hopefully allow for more people to appreciate his talent!"


11. Brooklynn Prince in The Florida Project


"It was such an intense role for such a young person to absorb, and I believed every minute of her performance."


12. Aidan Gallagher in The Umbrella Academy


"I don't think any other 16-year-old could play a 58-year-old time traveler stuck in a 13-year-old's body who is married to a mannequin, period. Simply incredible!"


"He's so convincing as an old man trapped in the body of his kid self. Plus he's funny, threatening, and heartbreaking throughout the series. He is super talented and I'm psyched to see him in Season 2."


13. Jahi Di'Allo Winston in The New Edition Story


"The other kids were also well cast too!"


14. Millie Bobby Brown in Stranger Things


"No one else could play Eleven the way she does...the emotions conveyed with a simple look, the personality shift over seasons, the chemistry with Mike (Finn Wolfhard)...She is just incredibly well cast!"


15. Mckenna Grace in Gifted (and basically everything)

Fox Searchlight Pictures

"Mckenna Grace does an amazing job! She was in Gifted on her own, but usually I see her playing the younger version of another actress. Her most impressive quality, I think, is her ability to match her acting style to whoever she is sharing a character with."


"She's perfect at playing every blonde misunderstood child. She gets cast to play so many roles and she seems perfect for every single one of them."


16. Haley Joel Osment in The Sixth Sense

Buena Vista Pictures Distribution

"His performance was perfect. He’s one of the reasons why The Sixth Sense remains one of my favorite movies even 21 years later."


17. Anna Chlumsky in My Girl

Columbia Pictures

"She was just so good and pulled off such an emotional and layered performance. There’s a whole generation of people who still tear up whenever someone says, 'He can’t see without his glasses!'”


18. Kirsten Dunst in Interview with the Vampire

Warner Bros.

"The subject matter and dialogue in that movie were quite mature, and she balanced between childlike innocence and murderous bloodlust with ease. Not many award shows nominate actors playing vampires, but she deserved her Golden Globe nomination."


19. Finn Wolfhard in It and It Chapter Two

Warner Bros. Pictures

"Finn as Richie was one of the greatest performances ever, although all of the kids in It were incredible."


20. Mara Wilson in Matilda

TriStar Pictures

"She was amazing and it’s one of my favorite childhood movies. I don’t think I could see anyone else play Matilda like her!"


21. And finally, Jaeden Martell in It and Defending Jacob

Warner Bros. Pictures, Apple TV

"He was in It and was absolutely compelling to watch. And then he played a boy accused of murder in Defending Jacob, a role that required so much emotion, and managed to stand out even next to two very seasoned actors (Chris Evans and Michelle Dockery). He was perfect — his emotions were just so believable."