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In 2002, Fanning appeared in three movies. The most successful project in 2002, according to the critics, was her role in the sci-fi series Taken. Even though Dakota only lent her voice to the character, her acting earned great reviews from the critics. The role brought Fanning another Young Artist Awards and several nominations for other prizes.
In 2003, the young actress appeared in the fairy tale movie The Cat in the Hat. She had the leading role of Sally Walden. The performance brought her another Young Artist Award nomination.
Dakota earned many awards and nominations for her roles in the movies Man on Fire (2004), Nine Lives (2005), and Dreamer (2005). The leading role in the thriller Hide and Seek (2005) brought Fanning her first MTV Movie Award for "Best Frightened Performance".
In 2005, Steven Spielberg’s sci-fi thriller War of the Worlds premiered. Fanning had one of the leading roles alongside Tom Cruise. The movie earned three Academy Award nominations. Dakota received Saturn Award for "Best Performance by a Younger Actor" and Broadcast Film Critics Association for "Best Young Actress".
In 2006, the leading role in the comedy Charlotte’s Web, the young actress earned several awards and nominations. Five other prestigious awards came to her for the leading part in the drama The Secret Life of Bees (2008).
In 2009, Fanning appeared in The Twilight Saga: New Moon. She played Jane Volturi.
Other important projects in Dakota’s career included the leading parts in the movies Very Good Girls (2013), Effie Gray (2014), and Brimstone (2016).
In the 2017 drama Please Stand By, Fanning had the tough role of an autistic girl Wendy. She did an excellent job and earned approval from the critics.
In 2018, Dakota appeared in the TV series The Alienist. She played a female police officer. The role brought her a Saturn Award for "Best Supporting Actress on Television".
Even though Dakota is very busy filming new movies, she finds time to attend private events.