If you're a filmmaker looking for a young, blonde Hollywood darling to star in your next project, the first place you look is usually the Fanning household. So it makes sense that when Charlize Theron optioned the rights to Susannah Calahan's memoir Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness, she picked Dakota to star in it. According to Deadline, the actress will play Calahan in a story that follows her year-long battle with an autoimmune disease that resulted in brain inflammation, paranoia and seizures. As of right now, there are no writers or directors attached to the project yet, but with two big names already on board, the film shouldn't have any trouble attracting interest.
Brain on Fire is just the latest high-profile project on Dakota's slate, and her upcoming releases include the eco-terrorism thriller Night Moves, the Errol Flynn biopic The Last of Robin Hood and the Richard Gere vehicle Franny. However, she's not the only Fanning with plenty of attention-grabbing films hitting theaters soon, as Elle is bookending the summer with Maleficent and The Boxtrolls. It's clear that in the battle of the blonde Hollywood starlets, the Fanning sisters reign supreme, but what about the sisters themselves? When it comes to a sibling showdown, which Fanning ends up on top? We’ve decided to put them to the test, and put Dakota and Elle head to head in five key categories in order to determine which Fanning would win this sibling showdown.
Breakthrough Role: Though both Dakota and Elle have been working since they were small children, they started gaining attention at different points in their careers. Dakota's big breakthrough role came at age seven, when she starred opposite Sean Penn in I Am Sam, a role that quickly lead to her becoming Hollywood's go-to child actress. Elle played a younger version of Dakota's character in that film, but she didn't manage to break out herself until she starred in Super 8 at 12. While it did help her gain the industry's attention, it didn't manage to catapult her to the same heights that Dakota's turn in I Am Sam did. Winner: Dakota
Career Highlight: Though she's since starred in many attention-grabbing films, Dakota's biggest project to date still remains her breakthrough film, I Am Sam, for which she became the youngest actress to ever be nominated for a Screen Actors Guild Award, as well as the youngest member of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences, which admitted her in 2006. Elle, however, seems to be hitting her stride now, with her buzziest film yet, Maleficent, arriving in theaters later this month. Since it's a summer blockbuster, it seems unlikely to get the kind of awards coverage that I Am Sam did, but it has established her as one of the hottest actresses currently working, which means plenty of big opportunities are headed her way. Winner: Elle
Career Lowlight: Every actor has one or two terrible films under his or her belt, and the Fanning sisters are no exception. For Elle, it was Daddy Day Care, one in a long line of Eddie Murphy-fronted flops, and one of her first movies. For Dakota, it was The Cat in the Hat, the strange adaptation of the classic Dr. Seuss book. And while neither film will be remembered for its quality, at least Daddy Day Care didn't give the world the terrifying image of Mike Myers dressed as a giant anthropomorphic cat. If he didn't haunt your nightmares for years afterwards, you have a sturdier constitution than we do. Slightly Less of a Loser: Elle
Famous Directors: Both Dakota and Elle have worked with some major Hollywood players, and despite their young age, they've each got several films with prestigious directors under their belts. One of Elle's breakout roles was in Sophia Coppola's 2010 film Somewhere, where she played the daughter of Stephen Dorff's washed-up Hollywood actor. Incidentally, Elle was also in Twixt, one of Francis Ford Coppola's least revered pictures. Dakota's most famous director was Stephen Spielberg, who helmed the 2005 remake of War of the Worlds, in which Dakota played Tom Cruise's daughter. Though the Coppola family's films are often held in high esteem, the combination of Somewhere and Twist doesn't quite manage to outrank Spielberg, who is regarded as one of the biggest, most influential directors in cinematic history. Winner: Dakota
Fashion Contracts:The Fanning sisters have established themselves as major fashion players in recent years, and have become fixtures at fashion week and have appeared in ads for several big fashion houses. Elle's first major campaign was for Marc Jacobs when she was 13, and she has since gone on to be the face of Miu Miu and appear in ads for J.Estina alongside her sister. Dakota has appeared in 2 campaigns for Marc Jacobs, including her infamous ads for his Oh, Lola! perfume, which were banned in the UK, as well as playing muse to houses like Uniqlo, Rodarte and Prada. Winner: Dakota
Overall Winner: Dakota, with three wins to two. Of course, with Elle gaining more and more attention and both sisters lining up big projects for the future, the Battle of the Fanning Sisters is still anyone's game. Dakota did have a head start, after all. Let us know your thoughts below!
The Last Of Robin Hood will focus on the controversial relationship between Flynn, played by Kevin Klein, and teenage actress Beverly Aadland, who was with him when he died in 1959 at the age of 50.
Flynn, who was cleared of statutory rape charges in 1942, was married to actress Patrice Wymore until his death, but romanced Aadland after casting her in his final film, Cuban Rebel Girls.
Susan Sarandon will play Beverly's mum Florence Aadland, who wrote 1961 book The Big Love about Flynn's relationship with her daughter.
The film is due for release later this year (13).
In a post-Harry Potter Avatar and Lord of the Rings world the descriptors "sci-fi" and "fantasy" conjure up particular imagery and ideas. The Hunger Games abolishes those expectations rooting its alternate universe in a familiar reality filled with human characters tangible environments and terrifying consequences. Computer graphics are a rarity in writer/director Gary Ross' slow-burn thriller wisely setting aside effects and big action to focus on star Jennifer Lawrence's character's emotional struggle as she embarks on the unthinkable: a 24-person death match on display for the entire nation's viewing pleasure. The final product is a gut-wrenching mature young adult fiction adaptation diffused by occasional meandering but with enough unexpected choices to keep audiences on their toes.
Panem a reconfigured post-apocalyptic America is sectioned off into 12 unique districts and ruled under an iron thumb by the oppressive leaders of The Capitol. To keep the districts producing their specific resources and prevent them from rebelling The Capitol created The Hunger Games an annual competition pitting two 18-or-under "tributes" from each district in a battle to the death. During the ritual tribute "Reaping " teenage Katniss (Lawrence) watches as her 12-year-old sister Primrose is chosen for battle—and quickly jumps to her aid becoming the first District 12 citizen to volunteer for the games. Joined by Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) a meek baker's son and the second tribute Effie the resident designer and Haymitch a former Hunger Games winner-turned-alcoholic-turned-mentor Katniss rides off to The Capitol to train and compete in the 74th Annual Hunger Games.
The greatest triumph of The Hunger Games is Ross' rich realization of the book's many worlds: District 12 is painted as a reminiscent Southern mining town haunting and vibrant; The Capitol is a utopian metropolis obsessed with design and flair; and The Hunger Games battleground is a sprawling forest peppered with Truman Show-esque additions that remind you it's all being controlled by overseers. The small-scale production value adds to the character-first approach and even when the story segues to larger arenas like a tickertape parade in The Capitol's grand Avenue of Tributes hall it's all about Katniss.
For fans the script hits every beat a nearly note-for-note interpretation of author Suzanne Collins' original novel—but those unfamiliar shouldn't worry about missing anything. Ross knows his way around a sharp screenplay (he's the writer of Big Pleasantville and Seabiscuit) and he's comfortable dropping us right into the action. His characters are equally as colorful as Panem Harrelson sticking out as the former tribute enlivened by the chance to coach winners. He's funny he's discreet he's shaded—a quality all the cast members share. As a director Ross employs a distinct often-grating perspective. His shaky cam style emphasizes the reality of the story but in fight scenarios—and even simple establishing shots of District 12's goings-on—the details are lost in motion blur.
But the dread of the scenario is enough to make Hunger Games an engrossing blockbuster. The lead-up to the actual competition is an uncomfortable and biting satire of reality television sports and everything that commands an audience in modern society. Katniss' brooding friend Gale tells her before she departs "What if nobody watched?" speculating that carnage might end if people could turn away. Unfortunately they can't—forcing Katniss and Peeta to become "stars" of the Hunger Games. The duo are pushed to gussy themselves up put on a show and play up their romance for better ratings. Lawrence channels her reserved Academy Award-nominated Winter's Bone character to inhabit Katniss' frustration with the system. She's great at hunting but she doesn't want to kill. She's compassionate and considerate but has no interest in bowing down to the system. She's a leader but she knows full well she's playing The Capitol's game. Even with 23 other contestants vying for the top spot—like American Idol with machetes complete with Ryan Seacrest stand-in Caesar Flickerman (the dazzling Stanley Tucci)—Katniss' greatest hurdle is internal. A brave move for a movie aimed at a young audience.
By the time the actual Games roll around (the movie clocks in at two and a half hours) there's a need to amp up the pace that never comes and The Hunger Games loses footing. Katniss' goal is to avoid the action hiding in trees and caves waiting patiently for the other tributes to off themselves—but the tactic isn't all that thrilling for those watching. Luckily Lawrence Hutcherson and the ensemble of young actors still deliver when they cross paths and particular beats pack all the punch an all-out deathwatch should. PG-13 be damned the film doesn't skimp on the bloodshed even when it comes to killing off children. The Hunger Games bites off a lot for the first film of a franchise and does so bravely and boldly. It may not make it to the end alive but it doesn't go down without a fight.
The moviemaker admits the young star metamorphosed before her very eyes on the set of the new thriller, inspired by the Little Red Riding Hood fable, and she never knew which Seyfried she'd be working with from one day to the next.
Hardwicke coos, "She's got one of the most incredible faces... Sometimes she's Angelina Jolie, sometimes she's a young Michelle Pfeiffer, sometimes she's an alien, sometimes she's a 15-year-old Dakota Fanning. She goes through every kind of transformation.
"And she is fierce and beautiful... She's a wild child. You don't know what's going to happen or come out of her mouth, and that's thrilling."
And the director admits Seyfried was a pleasure to work with when the cameras weren't rolling.
She adds, "She's not a diva... She's generous, funny, spontaneous, and she doesn't complain and isn't a pain in the a** to work with. She's kind of unreal."
Finally a movie about drugs that has a light and refreshing change of pace even if the story doens't always add up. It starts in 1971 as Elmo McElroy (Samuel L. Jackson) gets caught smoking pot in his car after graduating from pharmacy school at the top of his class. Jumping ahead to present day the master chemist (OK so is he now supposed to be in his 50s?) is now working his magic for a particularly nasty-looking drug lord known as The Lizard (Meat Loaf)--and McElroy wants out. He thinks he's found a way when he creates a new designer drug--or a "personal visit from God " as he calls it--and goes to England to make the deal of a lifetime. Of course the road to riches has a few speed bumps along the way. First he meets local Liverpool hood Felix DeSouza (Robert Carlyle) who hates all things American and who is suppose to take the kilt-wearing Elmo to his boss to make the $20 million deal. Then there's deadly assassin Dakota (Emily Mortimer) who hates all things English and who is hired by the Lizard to bring Elmo (and the drug formula in Elmo's head) to him. The fact that Felix and Dakota used to be a hot item until she dumped him to go to America is just another interesting facet of this tangled web. Elmo with the eventual help of Dakota and Felix outsmarts the increasing number of people who want to get a hold of the drug's formula--and has the last laugh.
Jackson once again commands the screen. He really is at his best when he's playing the charismatic smooth talker with more than a hint of malice in his eyes like he did so tremendously in Pulp Fiction. Although he's not really a bad guy in Formula 51 he still infuses Elmo with the same arrogant confidence. The only drawback is the fact Jackson is too much a fish-out-of-water with the colorful British characters he encounters. Elmo's reasons for going to England and eventually staying there never make much sense and Jackson's performance doesn't shed any light. Carlyle on the other hand is truly in his element playing the cocky American-hating Felix who spends most of the film trying to get tickets to a huge football match (that's soccer to us Yanks). He and Jackson play off one another fairly well but not as electrically as he and Mortimer (Lovely & Amazing) do. Not only does the actress convincingly play a ruthless assassin who can kill just about anything that moves she and Carlyle just click. Even though Dakota wants to leave the minute she steps back into England you know she's not going to without Felix this time. Meat Loaf is adequately repulsive while Rhys Ifans (Notting Hill) does a nice turn as a rival drug dealer.
This is yet another movie released more than a year after it was made. After being released in England as 51st State its U.S. release date was pushed back a number of times which usually spells trouble. But the film directed by Chinese director Ronny Yu (Bride of Chucky) has a premise that grabs you right away and little quirks that make it work. Why does Elmo wear a kilt throughout the film? Apparently just because and he also carries around golf clubs for the heck of it or in case he's attacked by a gang of skinheads. Without such oddities once you got the gist of the story the rest of the film would just be a silly romp through a drug world. There's a wacky scene between Felix and another hood (Paul Barber Carlyle's cohort in The Full Monty) where a miscommunication means a guy gets stuffed into the back of a trunk. Then there's Ifans' drug dealer who gets an occasional yoga lesson from an obese black man telling him to find his "center." Funny stuff. The rest of the plot you could give a miss but it's worth seeing for all the perks.