The best Dakota Fanning films and series on Netflix
(Credit: Larry Richman)

Editor's Choice

The best Dakota Fanning films and series on Netflix

“If you don’t love what you are doing, it could be misery.”

From playing a powerful vampire guard with destructive abilities to playing a pre-Raphaelite Muse, from playing a young girl suffering from terminal cancer to being the youngest nominee for a SAG award, Dakota Fanning has established herself in Hollywood by virtue of sheer talent. Hard-working and determined, Fanning has been a part of the cinema industry from the tender age of seven, marvelling audience and critics alike with her powerful performances. 

Fanning was born on February 23, 1994, in Georgia to a family of athletes and sportspeople. Her knack for acting was noticed at a very young age as she starred in small plays at an Arts Centre in Georgia. At the age of five, she bagged a Tide commercial and subsequently played a guest role in NBC’s ER where she played a leukaemia patient who had got into a car accident. Following this, she bagged various acting jobs before starring in I Am Sam opposite Sean Penn where she won a SAG award nomination, being the youngest actor to do so. Her performance was highly praised and she garnered public attention. Critics praised her ability to portray mature roles with immense emotional depth and maturity. 

Since then, Fanning has been a regular in various films and TV shows. Her on-screen presence is infectious and otherworldly, the amount of emotions she is able to evoke in her audience with mere facial expressions is unthinkable. Recently seen in Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon A Time In Hollywood, Fanning is known to be the youngest member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. 

Netflix has a wide selection of films and series, but it is sad to see how the streaming platform does not have much Dakota to offer. Thus, on her 25th birthday, we decided to look at the films and series starring Dakota Fanning that are streaming on Netflix while continually hoping for the platform to introduce more of her films. 

Let’s get going.   

The best Dakota Fanning films and series on Netflix 


The Alienist (Jakob Verbruggen, Cary Fukunaga, 2018-)

Based on Caleb Carr’s novel of the same name, the series is based in 1890s New York City where a series of murders of boy prostitutes leave ripples of shock and dear throughout the city. Teddy Roosevelt is a newly-appointed police commissioner who is determined to get to the bottom of this. He appoints his classmates from Harvard, the child psychologist, also known as the alienist, Dr Laszlo Kreizer, as well as newspaper illustrator, John Moore. They are assisted by Sara Howard, Roosevelt’s secretary, as well as two twin detective sergeants. Despite facing opposition from the NYPD insiders, who are bent on protecting the integrity of the New York aristocrats, as well as the working-class who are wary of the outsiders. 

Dakota Fanning’s character Sara Howard is a headstrong woman who refuses to allow her male colleagues to intimidate her, her character is loosely based on New York’s first female detective Isabella Goodwin. In the second run of the series, Howard goes on to start her private detective agency which gives an insight into the lives of women in 1890, New York. 

“The defenders of decent society and the disciples of degeneracy are often the same people.”


Effie Gray (Richard Laxton, 2014)

Based on the true story of John Ruskin and Euphemia Gray’s marriage, the film explores the concept of marriage and divorce in pre-Raphaelite Scotland. Effie feels trapped in her marriage since her in-laws, he older Ruskins, are extremely mean to her and her husband John is seemingly oblivious and refuses to consummate the marriage. Lonely and dejected, Effie trails after her husband to various places before meetingJohn Everett Millais with whom she falls in love. Urged by Millais, she decides to annul her marriage with Ruskin on grounds of his impotence and her still being a virgin. 

Fanning plays the role of Effie Gray who is stifled by her marriage, tired of being a pre-Raphaelite muse.  She is disillusioned in her marriage with Ruskin and feels pretty exhausted and lonely. The dysfunctional family adds to the overall depressing atmosphere of the film which is heightened by Fanning’s emotionally scarring performance. 

“Absurd business, isn’t it? Having to lose your own name, and then taking your husband’s Christian name into the bargain. Fortunately, I do not have that cross.”

Push (Paul McGuigan, 2009)

After witnessing his father get brutally murdered, Nick Gant vows to avenge his death by destroying the Division which is a government agency that carries on experiments on people with psychic abilities, often killing them. While hiding in hong Kong, he assembles a band of rebels who are interested in tearing the Division down. His most trusted associate is cassie, whose mother is one of the strongest clairvoyants. Together, they search for Kira Hudson, Nick’s ex who is missing, as well as a stolen suitcase containing truckloads of money, that could potentially be their escape route. 

While the film was not much of success due to the overuse of the same superhero tropes, the on-screen camaraderie of Chris Evans and Dakota Fanning. Fanning plays the young Watcher who has not come to terms with her own abilities, often getting confused. Her mother has been captured by the Division and Cassie, along with Nick, is on her pursuit of escape and freedom. 

“There are special people in this world. We don’t ask to be special. We’re just born this way. We pass you on the streets every day, unnoticed by most.” 

Man on Fire (Tony Scott, 2004)

John Creasey is an ex-CIA officer who is empanelled as a bodyguard by a wealthy automaker Samuel Ramos to look after his nine-year-old Lupita. The depressed Creasey soon forms an affectionate bond with Lupita and finds a purpose in his life. As they become good friends, Lupita suddenly gets abducted. Shaking with a vengeance, Creasey, who is determined to bring back his young friend, fights waves of corrupt cops and vicious criminals to bring Lupita back. 

Dakota Fanning received plenty of praise and accolades for her role as Lupita. She delivers a heart-winning performance by helping a depressed Creasey navigate through life and find purpose. They have a wonderful friendship which makes Creasey’s anger at her disappearance justified. Fanning said, “I never get scared making these kinds of movies because it’s all make-believe, but I did cry when I saw the finished version of Man On Fire because it is so sad.” 

“Revenge is a meal best served cold.”

Now is Good (Ol Parker, 2012) 

Tessa has terminal leukaemia and wants to fulfil wishes on her bucket list, her top priority is losing her virginity. Soon Tessa falls in love with the happy-go-lucky Adam and they embark on a romantic journey.  However, health concerns and the bleak future prevents them from having their moments of bliss and Tessa’s health starts to deteriorate fast. 

This teen romance film is somewhat cathartic where Fanning as Tessa delivers a wonderland emotional performance. Although the film abounds in cliches, it manages to be a perfect tear-jerker where you cannot help but pray for Tessa and Adam to have a happy ending. The film is not overly sentimental and presents the reality as it is; however, Fanning’s incredible performance remains the takeaway from the film. 

“You know, it doesn’t have to be right tonight, like now, but, you know, the offer’s there, for any time. You just let me know when suits.”

“Now is good.”