This time around I am eschewing my usual list of the nine most overrated films of the year, mainly because - with the notable exceptions of The Hours and Frida - 2002 didn't really have many titles that fit that description. So I'm trying something different. I'll be frank: This is a sexist list. I am only listing girls. If you want to send in a list of the nine cutest boys who have emerged in 2002 cinema, go ahead, though it seems Orlando Bloom and the lads from Y Tu Mamá También have that all wrapped up. Anyway, throughout 2002 I saw some fresh new faces emerge in cinema, all talented young ladies who had remarkable on-screen appeal. Here they are.
- Rosamund Pike. This is the starlet who inspired me to make this list. Maybe it's because she reminded me of a woman I used to date (albeit an idealized version), but she was the only thing that stood out in the otherwise forgettable Die Another Day. Will her Bond Girl status kill this English knockout's burgeoning career? I'll bet not.
- Cara Seymour. Another charmer from the British Isles, her role as Nicolas Cage's sort-of love interest in Adaptation seems as though it was written for Emily Watson, but the deceptively plain-Jane Ms. Seymour makes the part her own.
- Paula Garces. Ms. Garces already has leagues of fans, though Clockstoppers seems to be her only major role thus far. She plays a teen in that movie, even though she's apparently pushing thirty and is already a mother. Good on her.
- Maggie Gyllenhaal. She's the one woman on this list with a good publicist: it seems you can't walk five steps without seeing Ms. Gyllenhaal's face or hearing her name. Being born into Hollywood semi-royalty doesn't hurt (brother Jake is a hit with the ladies; father is director Stephen; mother is writer/producer Naomi Foner), but considering that only a few hipsters saw her breakthrough role as a sweet-natured masochist in Secretary, her career has already become something other actresses would kill to have.
- Mia Maestro. The Argentinian actress was only slightly known for the art film Tango before her friend Salma Hayek cast her as Frida Kahlo's sister Cristina in Frida. I must admit that, out of character, Maestro is cute but no stunner; it must be her 1920s bob haircut in Frida that tickled my fancy. But I think any woman in a bob looks great, so there you go.
- Neha Dubey. Just as Maestro upstaged her Frida costar (in my opinion), so too did little-known Indian actress Dubey outshine pop star Vasundhara Das in the foreign hit Monsoon Wedding, playing the blah bride's outgoing cousin.
- Leonor Watling. Already an established actress in her native Spain, Watling didn't do much in Pedro Almodovar's Talk to Her besides lie in bed in a coma. Still, she's awfully cute. Hopefully more of her films will be shown stateside one day.
- Amy Adams. Making braces beautiful, Ms. Adams played Leonardo DiCaprio's poor duped fiancee in Catch Me if You Can. She has a lot going for her, and hopefully she will win a few roles that give her a bit more to do.
- Julie-Marie Parmentier. As the young costar of the little-seen, highly disturbing French drama Murderous Maids, freckle-faced Parmentier has undeniable charm – though like Mia Maestro, she's not as striking without her period hairdo. Jeez, maybe I should just travel back in time and live in the 1920s.