Many remember AnnaSophia Robb fondly as Samantha, their favorite American Girl doll, or as the from her role in Bridge to Terabithia. When her name comes up, so does lots of nostalgia for viewers who are the same age. Many of her best films came out during her years as a child actor.
Her craft has since evolved as she continues to grow her filmography. From chewing too much bubble gum to surviving a shark attack, AnnaSophia Robb’s characters hold a special place in viewers’ hearts.
10 Because Of Winn-Dixie (2005) – 6.4
Robb starred as a young girl in this 2005 adaptation of a book by the same name. Many early 2000s kids remember the book fondly and were excited for the film to make its debut. Although it did not win over the critics, it is a classic and timeless coming-of-age movie, great for children, especially children who love dogs.
Robb played Opal, a young preacher’s daughter living in the south after her mother died. She befriends a dog she finds at the grocery store, and with his help, she adapts to her new life and mends her relationship with her father. Robb’s acting is as cute as it gets, and the story embraces family and is full of valuable lessons about respect, patience, and friendship.
9 The Space Between (2010) – 6.5
A low-budget, independent movie, this film is one of Robb’s lesser-known. In it, she acts in a supporting role as “Sam,” but the story itself is what ranks it as one of her best movies. It is the story of an unaccompanied minor who is on a flight during 9/11. The film follows a grumpy flight attendant as she attempts to reunite a boy with his father who works at the World Trade Center.
This film was one that marked the start of Robb’s adult career and is one of the first films she acted in with more adult themes. She had the opportunity to work alongside Melissa Leo in this film, and although it did poorly at the box office, it performed well in the indie film festival circuit.
8 Freak Show (2017) – 6.6
Robb joined this star-filled cast in 2017. She worked alongside fellow child actor, Abigail Breslin, and other big names like Laverne Cox and Bette Midler. The story follows Billy Bloom, an outgoing member of the LGBTQ+ community, as he navigates life in a new high school, one that is extremely conservative.
Critics called the script weak and the story not subtle, but the well-intended film did touch on some unique aspects of the LGBTQ+ experience, like friendships with people who identify as straight. Robb’s role is as one of Billy’s first straight friends at the new high school, Mary Jane. Her performance is great and helps shed light on the complicated relationship Billy has with his few new friends.
7 Charlie And The Chocolate Factory (2005) – 6.6
In this classic Roald Dahl tale, Robb plays the famous blueberry girl, Violet Beauregard. It’s always tricky when directors attempt to re-make films that were already established as classics, but Tim Burton’s fun and unique spin as a director on the kids’ movie gave a modern twist to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and was as delicious as candy. Many critics call it a worthy remake, and Robb’s role is just one of many amazing performances.
Some of the best scenes are with the children as they make the mistakes that get them kicked out of the factory. Viewers will never forget Robb’s performance as Violet. With her iconic blonde haircut, the gap between her teeth as she constantly chews gum, and the blue jumpsuit, she takes her lines to the next level and brings a wonderfully fresh spin to the character.
6 Soul Surfer (2011) – 7.0
Bethany Hamilton was a household name for kids in surfing families, but Robb’s portrayal of the famous surfer in Soul Surfer made her a household name for everyone. Hamilton’s story began in Hawaii with her family as she was a rising star in the competitive surfing world. She loses her arm in a shark attack and with the help of her family and friends, she must learn to look at the sport from a new perspective.
The performances by this star-filled cast are wonderful and the epic shots of surfers catching barrels mixed with an awesome soundtrack made this one of Robb’s best movies. Although it didn’t go over well with critics, this story is a solid tale about faith and family. And like a lot of Robb’s films, it may elicit a tear or two.
5 Jack Of The Red Hearts (2015) – 7.1
Jack of the Red Hearts is a feel-good movie about understanding, patience, and loyalty. AnnaSophia Robb plays a delinquent who lies her way into a position carrying for an autistic child in order to prove she is capable of caring for her younger sister, who is stuck in foster care. The film does an amazing job exploring the world through Glory’s eyes, the child Robb’s character is caring for.
The movie highlights what it might be like to parent a child with neurodiversity, as well as the aftermath of absent parents. Robb’s performance shines through as she takes over the screen with her charisma and toughness. Although predictable, film critics praise the movie for its dedication to telling a real story involving autism, and how youth and economic crisis impacts it.
4 Words On The Bathroom Walls (2020) – 7.2
Many of Robb’s films deal with real-life struggles, and Words on the Bathroom Walls is no exception. In her most recent film, she plays one of the main character’s schizophrenic hallucinations, Rebecca. The film follows Adam as he learns to navigate love and a new high school while being joined by three human hallucinations after his recent schizophrenic diagnosis.
Robb’s performance is great, as is Charlie Plummer as Adam. The movie does a good job at portraying mental illness by destigmatizing schizophrenia and mental illness, in general simply by talking about it through the subtle performances of the hallucinations. The film received positive reviews from critics and is regarded as a wonderful young adult drama.
3 Bridge To Terabithia (2007) – 7.2
Bridge to Terabithia is the screen adaptation of the classic children’s story of the same name by Katherine Paterson. Many, now adults, remember fondly the imaginative world of Terabithia from the book and also remember being equally transfixed by this beautiful coming-of-age story when it came to the big screen. The story follows Jesse, played by Josh Hutcherson, as he learns how to dream with the help of the new girl, Leslie, played by Robb.
She takes him along her journey through Terabithia before she tragically dies, forcing Jesse to learn to cope with grief and never lose his ability to reach for the sky. The story quickly became a hit, with critics calling it a beloved family movie. Although darker than most children’s films of the time, it is enchanting and touches on topics helpful to kids.
2 A West Texas Children’s Story (2007) – 7.4
A West Texas Children’s Story goes by many names in the film circuit but is most known by this one. This independent film was released the same year as Terabithia and is a similar coming-of-age story. It takes place in the 1960s in West Texas and follows a young boy and a girl that his family took in as they navigate themes around bad parenting and the search for a better life.
Robb plays young Cassie Kennington alongside Cayden Boyd. The two are budding young actors here and make an impression on viewers with their sophisticated talent and presence on screen. Robb, again, navigates adult themes in a children’s movie with professionalism and grace.
1 The Way Way Back (2013) – 7.4
The Way Way Back is Robb’s most critically acclaimed work to date. The story follows the teenager, Duncan, during the summer he spends with his mother, her boyfriend, and step-sister in Cape Cod, and he gets a job at a water park to avoid his family. The story follows the classic coming-of-age formula, but what makes it stand out is the incredible cast of characters.
The writers hit the mark with the film’s characterization and casting. Sam Rockwell, a familiar drama actor, makes a more comedic debut in this film. Robb plays Duncan’s love interest, another incredible casting choice. The film has a consistent heart and it’s full of laughs, making it a must-see.
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