"The Host" hits theaters this week, and for many fans it's a chance to see whether the popular Stephanie Meyer novel can become a pop culture phenomenon like "The Twilight Saga" did before it.
But for other film buffs, "The Host" represents something else: The continuing development of star Saoirse Ronan, who famously earned an Oscar nomination for 2007's "Atonement" at the age of 13. Will "The Host" finally turn her into an A-lister and ensure that she avoids the child star curse ... or will she become the latest of Oscar's children to experience their biggest career highlight before being legally able to drive?
Personally, we think Ronan has the goods to become a legit superstar ... but Hollywood can be a tough town, for kids and grown-ups alike. Here's a look at some of the kids in the past who have earned Oscar nods and what ended up happening to them.
We'll start off with probably the most famous success story of all child Oscar nominees. Jodie Foster was only 13 when "Taxi Driver" hit theaters in 1976 and she earned an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress. She didn't win, but after a bit of a slow patch in the late '70s and early '80s when she paused her career to, you know, grow up, Foster rose back to the top of the industry, winning two Oscars in the process (for 1989's "The Accused" and 1992's "The Silence of the Lambs"). Growing up in the spotlight obviously posed some challenges for Foster — as her already infamous speech about privacy at this year's Golden Globes proves — but at 50, she's become a bona fide Hollywood icon. Not bad.
All of eight years old when "Kramer vs. Kramer" became a national sensation in 1979, Henry became the youngest-ever Oscar nominee when he scored a Best Supporting Actor nod. He continued to dabble in acting, even landing a minor role in the classic coming-of-age story "Sixteen Candles" before temporarily retiring to attend college. Nowadays he still occasionally appears in TV shows and indie films but reportedly spends most of his time working for the Internet content provider Veoh (at least that's what his Wiki page claims). Hey, he'll always have that Oscar nom to hang his hat on.
At the rip old age of five, Abigail Breslin had already starred in more box office blockbusters (specifically the 2002 M. Night Shyamalan hit "Signs") than many actors experience in their entire career. Four years later she topped that be earning a Best Supporting Actress nomination for the indie sensation "Little Miss Sunshine." Not bad considering most of her peers were still trying to figure out how LEGOs work. But she's hardly resting on her laurels; since 2006 she's appeared in 20 more films, including the cult classic "Zombieland" and the upcoming sci-fi epic "Ender's Game." Can another Oscar nomination be far off?
Actress Patty McCormack began her career in 1951 at the age of six with a couple of bit parts but it wasn't until she turned 11 that she received her big break: playing a child serial killer in "The Bad Seed" (1956), a performance that earned her an Oscar nom for Best Supporting Actress (as well as a Golden Globe nod). So where is McCormack now? She might not be a household name but you can still spot her in a film every now and then, most recently in last year's Best Picture nominee "The Master." Oh, and she has her own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame — it turns out that crime did pay.
Haley Joel Osment
Not only did Haley Joel Osment land an Oscar nomination for "The Sixth Sense" (1999) at the tender age of 11, he also landed his very own pop culture catchphrase with "I see dead people." So it's fair to say that at the turn of the millennium he was about the hottest child star going. However, Osment decided to turn down the easy bucks and step away from the bright lights to go to school instead; he did keep one foot in the entertainment industry by doing voice work on a number of video games, but for the most part he's kept a low profile for the last decade. Now that he's graduated (from NYU in 2010), Osment is starting to pick up big-screen acting gigs again. But will he ever be able to recapture his early career momentum? Time will tell.
The late Jackie Cooper was one of Hollywood's earliest and biggest child stars, earning an Oscar nomination at the age of nine for "Skippy" way back in 1931. He then appeared in dozens of films as a child actor, though his burgeoning career was temporarily derailed for a pretty damn good reason: he joined the Navy to fight in World War II. After serving his country he returned to Hollywood and became a respected character actor in the new medium of television, but he's best known to film fans today for a role he took on late in life: Daily Planet editor Perry White in the "Superman" series. He retired in 1990 and passed away two years ago with 130 film and TV credits to his name. Looks like he avoided the child star curse just fine, thanks.
Unlike most of the others on this list, Tatum O'Neal actually won the Oscar she was nominated for in 1973, taking home the Best Supporting Actress trophy for "Paper Moon" at the age of ten. Her next film was the classic comedy "The Bad News Bears." She continued to appear sporadically in films before going on an extended career hiatus in the mid-'80s when she married and became both a mother and a regular on the tabloid circuit. However, she came back in a big way in 2004 with a recurring role on the hit TV series "Rescue Me," sparking a new interest in her work. You go,
In Hollywood, there are two kinds of acclaim you can get: Critical and popular. Paquin experienced the former when she won the Best Supporting Actress award at the age of 11 for "The Piano" (1993). Since then, she hasn't gotten nearly as much love from the critics but has been showered with love by fans. First she starred front and center in the blockbuster "X-Men" franchise as Rogue and nowadays she can be seen headlining the wildly popular HBO vampire series "True Blood" as Sookie Stackhouse.
The bottom line? While most child stars may fall by the wayside, those that have enough talent to earn an Oscar nomination often end up defying the odds and forging long and successful careers in Hollywood. We expect Saoirse Ronan to do no less.