Top 10: The Best Performances From the Children of Oscar Winners

Blackkklansman John David Washington

There aren’t many actors, actresses, directors, or really people at all who ever win an Oscar. It’s also rare that those children go on to deliver great performances themselves. While there are many acting dynasties in Hollywood, such as the Clooneys, the Barrymores, and others, it is tough to grow out of your parent’s shadow. However, some actors and actresses have, to go on and give their own great performances. With John David Washington getting off to a fast start with his own career, especially with the release of “BlackKklansman” this weekend, let’s celebrate some of these performances!

Natasha Richardson

10. Natasha Richardson (Daughter of Vanessa Redgrave) – “The Parent Trap”

One of the underrated films of the 1990s is “The Parent Trap” by Disney. The film is continually referenced in movies and tv shows and left a mark on pop culture. However, Natasha Richardson‘s performance is rarely the one cited. Yet Richardson’s performance is arguably more difficult. She’s funny and loving, tries to keep fair to Dennis Quaid, and does her best not to tip her hand. There’s some very subtle work that Richardson delivers here as she gives arguably the best performance in the whole movie. Sadly Richardson passed away in 2009, but she deserves her due as an excellent performer.

Bryce Dallas Howard The Help e1533841491307

9. Bryce Dallas Howard (Daughter of Ron Howard) – “The Help”

Another performance that is often passed over in favor of the dozen or so other great performances in the film, Bryce Dallas Howard was an excellent antagonist in “The Help.” Let’s be honest; she ate shit pie. That sealed it. Yet there are other moments throughout the film that allow her to shine. If the cast wasn’t so stacked, she might have picked up more recognition for the work she did. She did win a SAG award as part of the ensemble, but in any other year, she could have contended for an Oscar nomination.

rules dont apply 1

8. Lily Collins (Daughter of Phil Collins) – “Rules Don’t Apply”

A surprise Globe nomination for the young actress proved she had arrived in 2017. While “Rule Don’t Apply” has mainly been forgotten by the internet film community, Collins performance should not. Despite being torn between two actors who were chewing scenery, Collins showed a restrained and balanced performance. Had the film been better in pretty much any way, she might have found her way into the supporting actress lineup at the Oscars. It was a solid showing from Collins, who is likely to get roles in the future that bring her back to the show in the future.

Fargo Colin Hanks

7. Colin Hanks (Son of Tom Hanks) – “Fargo” Season 1

There were a lot of moving pieces in the first season of “Fargo” that put a spotlight on some excellent performers. From Billy Bob Thornton to Martin Freeman, to Alison Tolman, the show had some very strong moments. Towards the end of the show, Colin Hanks sets up in a showdown for the ages. The scene with Thornton is intense, but Hanks rises to the occasion. The entire season required Hanks to go toe-to-toe with Thornton, and he pulls it off in spades. It remains one of the great performances of a show that is full of them. Hanks picked up Globe, Emmy, and Critics Choice nominations for his performance.

Peter Fonda Easy Rider

6. Peter Fonda (Son of Henry Fonda) – “Easy Rider

An iconic role that has stood the test of time, Peter Fonda is masterful in “Easy Rider.” Fonda shines movie star charisma throughout the film and looks the part as well. Fonda’s turn was excellent, and along with Dennis Hopper, helped to move forward the film industry toward a new age. He received a writing nomination for the film but went unrewarded for the performance. Fonda would have another great performance later in his career for “Ulee’s Gold,” but for this author’s money, “Easy Rider” will be the first movie people bring up when talking about Fonda. It’s such an iconic role; he showed up in “Wild Hogs” as a biker over 30 years later.

Blackkklansman John David Washington 2

5. John David Washington (Son of Denzel Washington) – “BlacKkKlansman”

It is already clear that John David Washington is one of the breakout performers of the year. Yes, this list is constructed because of Washington, but it should also celebrate him. He is that good, and if campaigned correctly, could make headway in the Oscar race. This is a subtle performance, yet it speaks volumes to anyone who has ever felt trapped in the midpoint of their life. He carries this film emotionally, comedically, and dramatically. So yes, while it is a recent film, it’s a coming out that is worthy of attention.

Angelina Jolie Girl Interrupted

4. Angelina Jolie (Daughter of Jon Voight) – “Girl, Interrupted”

Angelina Jolie had been working her way up the ranks quickly in Hollywood when she received “Girl, Interrupted” in 1999. She had won Golden Globes in back-to-back years and was a favorite among the voting body. However, playing a sociopath in “Girl, Interrupted” showed Jolie could be Teflon, even in a movie that struggles to be good. Despite “Girl, Interrupted” receiving a 51 on Metacritic and a 54% on Rotten Tomatoes, Jolie swept the season. She took home the Globe, the SAG, BFCA, and eventually Oscar. It is an extremely intense performance that held up well enough to win the 1999 ACCA.

Kate Hudson Penny Lane

3. Kate Hudson (Daughter of Goldie Hawn) – “Almost Famous”

One of the most endearing performances on the list, Kate Hudson in “Almost Famous” is one of the saddest Oscar misses this century. Hudson carries herself with grace as Penny Lane, winning the hearts of millions of cinephiles in the process. There’s a complexity that Hudson pulls off that remains subtextual throughout the film, but makes the film that much stronger as a result. She’s dynamite and is the first person you think of in one of the great ensemble films of the century so far. She hasn’t made another run at Oscar since which makes this one stand out that much more. Hudson picked up a win at the Globes, and nominations from BAFTA, SAG, BFCA, and Oscar.

Klute Jane Fonda

2. Jane Fonda (Daughter of Henry Fonda) – “Klute”

Jane Fonda often gets discredited for her Oscar wins. It’s a sad affair really, as Fonda wholly deserves both of her wins. While her personal politics may have helped in some fashion, she puts on a dominant display as an actress, especially in “Klute” from 1971. In “Klute,” Fonda is forced into a prostitution ring when her career as an actress and model does not live up to what she expects. It was a physical transformation from Fonda and remains her best performance. Her final scene is an all-time breakdown.

Anjelica Huston The Grifters

1. Anjelica Huston (Daughter of John Huston) – “The Grifters”

One of the most difficult decisions about Anjelica Huston being placed at the top of this list was choosing which performance should represent her. There was no doubt she would take the top spot, and “The Grifters” just stands out. This might be Huston at her apex, fresh off of “The Witches” and a few short years after winning her Oscar for “Prizzi‘s Honor.” Yet in “The Grifters,” Huston gives her most complete performance. She hits comedic and dramatic highs that few others on this list get to. She also dominates a movie that was likely 6th in the Oscar voting. It showcases the best of Huston, and were not for an all-time performance from Kathy Bates in “Misery,” Huston might have two Gold Men on her mantle.

What do you think of the list? What other performances would you consider? Let us hear your thoughts in the comments below!

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Written by Alan French

Alan French is a movie buff, a TV lover, and a sports fanatic. His favorite TV shows are 'Parks and Recreation,' 'Rick and Morty' and 'Game of Thrones.' He's also a Spielberg fanatic. You can find him on Twitter and Medium @TheAlanFrench.


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Liza Minelli, Cabaret


You also missed John Huston in Chinatown.


I loved these choices, especially Rules Don’t Apply’s Lily Collins. I fondly remember watching The Grifters many years ago and should take a second look.


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