The new, new wave of young actresses

Carey Mulligan as Jenny in a scene from Carey Mulligan as Jenny in a scene from the movie "An Education." Photo Credit: Sony Pictures Classics

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First it was Ellen Page, whose role in 2007's "Juno" stoked a craving for young, hip, mostly dark-haired actresses with outsider appeal and an indie-rock sensibility. In rapid succession came Kat Dennings in "Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist," Kristen Stewart in "Twilight" and "Adventureland," and Emma Roberts in "Lymelife."

Next up: Carey Mulligan, the all-butunknown British star of "An Education," released last weekend. Already, the 24-year-old is the subject of Oscar talk for her nuanced performance as a naive schoolgirl who falls for an older man (Peter Sarsgaard). And there's a wave of young actresses coming up alongside her.

These women are difficult to categorize, which is what's interesting about them. The upcoming teen drama "Dare" stars Emmy Rossum as a wannabe actress exploring a pansexual love triangle. "Tanner Hall" stars Rooney Mara (a descendant of the sports moguls Art Rooney and Tim Mara) as a schoolgirl who crosses the line with a married man. Anna Kendrick more than holds her own opposite George Clooney in the comedy-drama "Up in the Air," due for release Dec. 4. And in the indie film "Paper Man," Emma Stone (already starring in the major-studio hit "Zombieland") appears as a guarded but vulnerable girl who befriends a troubled author, played by Jeff Daniels.

Last week, The Hamptons International Film Festival had these actresses in attendance, save for Stone and Mulligan, though both were officially honored. So far, the common thread between them seems to be their desire to tackle complex roles in character-driven films. That, of course, may change, once success comes calling.

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