Sex and the City (2000)
After appearing in a number of TV commercials, Dennings' acting career got a respectable launch with an appearance on Sex and the City . In the episode 'Hot Child in the City', the gals were revisiting their youths in a number of thematically-linked ways.
Samantha (Kim Cattrall) was hired to handle the PR for the Bat Mitzvah party of spoilt, precocious 13-year-old brat Jenny Brier (Dennings), whose foul mouth was a filthy as her attitude.
Cool credentials? The abysmal second movie still hasn't dented the affection lavished on the HBO series.
Raising Dad (2001-2002)
Next up, Dennings landed a longer-running TV role in Raising Dad , playing one of the lead daughters ( Scott Pilgrim 's Brie Larson played her sibling).
The show, which only lasted the one season, peeked in on the lives of Sarah (Dennings) and Emily (Larson), and their widower father Matt (Bob Saget). Unsurprisingly, Sarah wasn't best pleased about the fact her dad teaches at her school.
Cool credentials? Her snarky sass undercut the inherent sitcom cheese.
The Scream Team (2002)
Dennings continued to stand out playing teen brats, starring as Claire Carlyle in this Disney Channel TV movie. Claire and brother Ian move to Steeple Falls, where their grandfather has recently died.
They later run into the Soul Patrol, a group of ghosts on the hunt for lost souls, including their recently departed grand-paps. Eric Idle turns up as a ghost, but thankfully there's a family reunion before things get too terrifying.
Cool credentials? Growly teen or not, the Disney Channel never looks cool on the CV.
Without a Trace (2003)
Dennings continued to score notable work with a role in the ongoing missing-persons drama. She appeared as Jennifer Norton in Season 2 episode 'Sons and Daughters'.
When a high school student goes missing, the team uncover a grottily-raunchy world of teen orgies and drug abuse. Tsk, tsk…
Cool credentials? The high-profile show would have been good for her career, and the role proves that she's pretty fearless when it comes to playing the bad girl.
Less Than Perfect (2003)
More TV for Dennings, with a guest appearance on US sitcom Less than Perfect . Sarah Rue starred as TV production assistant Claude, with Andy Dick, future-Stooge Will Sasso and Zachary Levi playing her co-workers.
Again, Dennings only appeared in one episode, entitled 'The Girl Next Door'. She played intern Kaitlin, the niece of Eric Roberts' Will, and she quickly proves herself to be quite the nuisance.
Cool credentials? She's certainly got the 'angsty teen' down pat by this point, nose piercing and all.
Dennings' gothic stylings were put to good use in this TV pilot, which was a spin-off from Practical Magic . It starred Kim Delaney and Jeri Ryan in the Sandra Bullock and Nicole Kidman roles.
Dennings played the younger daughter of Sally (the Delaney/Bullock character), but she never got to develop in the role as the pilot wasn't picked up.
Cool credentials? Who knows what would have happened if the show had a longer run?
CSI: Crime Scene Investigation (2004)
After appearing in Without a Trace , Dennings continued to score roles in top telly dramas. In her first CSI appearance, she played Missy Wilson, a fast-food clerk who could provide crucial information in the hunt for an on-the-lam killer.
It turns out she was sleazed on by the elusive crim, who told her he'd like to 'bend her over the counter'. She takes revenge not by hawking into his burger but by pointing the authorities in the direction of incriminating CCTV footage.
Cool credentials? If anyone was born to wear thick black eyeliner and shocking red lipstick, it's Dennings.
Raise Your Voice (2007)
Dennings' first big-screen role came in this Hilary Duff vehicle (that term alone should be enough to strike terror into your heart). Duff stars as an aspiring singer who overcomes adversity (in the form of her brother's untimely death), to attend an LA performing arts school.
If Duff's irritatingly nasal vocals don't destroy you, the schools unconventional approach to lessons (musical and life-based) will. Dennings provides a sparky counterpoint to the sugary goings-on in her sparse scenes.
Cool credentials? None, obviously.
Down in the Valley (2005)
Dennings movie career shifted into a more comfortable gear with this Ed Norton-starring drama. Norton plays modern cowboy Harlan in this sweaty, San Fernando Valley-set noodle-baker.
As his unreadable drifter starts a relationship with rebellious, older-than-her-years-but-still-a-teen Tobe (Evan Rachel Wood), Kat Dennings doesn't get much room to shine in the precocious starlet stakes.
Cool credentials? This obtuse movie feels much more in keeping with Dennings' off-beat sensibilities than Raise Your Voice did.
This was another one-off TV role for Dennings. She appeared in one episode of the based-on-true-life story of a 16-year-old lad who gets a job as a batboy for a major league baseball team.
That it stars former-Superman Dean Cain should give you some measure of its quality. Dennings played Angela in 'Stealing Home', an episode that focused on 'batboy' Pete Young (Jeremy Sumpter) working as an assistant for Cain, and finding it's not all it's cracked up to be.
Cool credentials? Cain's presence immediately deflates any hint of cool.
The 40 Year Old Virgin (2005)
This comedy sleeper hit provided a major breakthrough role for Dennings, as Marla, the daughter of Catherine Keener's Trish.
When Trish starts dating Steve Carell's titular innocent Andy, Marla doesn't make things easy for them, interrupting their first attempt at coitus with a teenage rant ("It's not fair you get to have sex and I don't!"), and continuing to undermine the action-averse Andy with snarky jibes. She redeems herself when it comes to convincing her mum to salvage the relationship before the end of the movie.
Cool credentials? Starring in an Apatow hit does wonders for your comedy standing.
This drugs-and-relationships drama focuses on Chris Evan's Syd and his ex London (Jessica Biel). Syd decides to head to London's leaving party (she's moving from New York to California) with buddy Bateman (Jason Statham) in tow, in an attempt to win her back.
Statham's odd wig is more likely to stick in your memory than Dennings' character, who plays a reveller hit on by The Stath's banker.
Cool credentials? London 's not quite as cool as it thinks it is...
CSI: NY (2005)
Having already appeared in CSI , Dennings landed another role in the Big Apple-based spin-off (as a different character). She played Sarah Endecott in this crossover episode, the storyline of which began on CSI: Miami .
She faces a fair bit of questioning, with Mac Taylor (Gary Sinise) and Horatio Caine (David Caruso) on the hunt for killer who has taken out a bunch of students at a party.
Cool credentials? It's another meaty appearance in a real big-name show.
Ticking yet another huge TV series off her list, Dennings had a longer run in the hospital drama, appearing in a five-episode streak. She showed up as the girlfriend of resident Dr Ray Barnett (Shane West).
Barnett moonlighted as a rocker when he wasn't at the operating table, which must have made him damn near irresistible to an alt-chick like Dennings.
Cool credentials? Appearing in ER never harmed anyone's acting career...
Big Momma's House 2 (2006)
Yes, unfortunately you read that right, Dennings did show up in this totally unwarranted sequel to a totally unwarranted original. Martin Lawrence reprises his role as the cop who's forced to go undercover as the latex-augmented grandma.
If you care, this time round Malcolm Turner/Big Momma has to infiltrate a suspicious household as the nanny. Dennings plays the older kid, though she's in good company, with Chloe Moretz appearing as her younger sister.
Cool credentials? If you needed to ask, please leave now.
Charlie Bartlett (2007)
Anton Yelchin starred in this all-too-familiar comedy drama, which followed the exploits of a privileged high-schooler kicked out of countless private schools as a result of his get-popular-quick schemes.
Dennings plays Susan, the daughter of his new school's principal (Robert Downey Jr). There are some effective comedic moments, but the whole movie fails to live up to its intriguing premise. Dennings' natural charm manages to stand out impressively amidst some talented performers, though.
Cool credentials? If you can convince as Downey Jr's offspring you've gotta know you're doing OK.
The House Bunny (2008)
Dennings got to exercise her comedy chops to the full in this well-intentioned Playboy comedy. It's annoyingly broadly drawn, and it ain't gonna win points as a feminist text, but it's not without its charms.
That is succeeds is largely down to the supporting cast that flanks Anna Faris' ditzy Mansion-dweller Shelley in her surrogate sorority house. Dennings is practically unrecognisable as Zeta sister Mona.
Cool credentials? With a little help from Shelley, the Zetas eventually manage to discover their inner (and outer) cool.
Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist (2008)
Perfectly tuned to Dennings' onscreen persona, this sees the actress playing it snarky, sarky and more than a little charming. The night-long romance co-stars Michael Cera in his traditional awkward geek role.
More appealing to the heart than the head, the story that links the eponymous string of hip tracks is flimsier than a CD's liner notes. Be thankful for the presence of Dennings and Cera then, who make for an endlessly appealing couple.
Cool credentials? Infinite Playlist has them in spades.
Arlen Faber (2009)
Sometimes known as The Answer Man , this quirksome dramedy casts Jeff Daniels in a similar role to his cynical academic in The Squid and the Whale . While it may lack the insight and memorability of Noah Baumbach's breakthrough there's still plenty to commend.
Daniels is the reclusive author of a world-shaking spiritual book who has to interact with the real world after an accident. Dennings energy is well-channelled into a punky bookstore worker, proving that she's more interested in focusing on smaller parts in interesting material, than chasing anything too mainstream.
Cool credentials? It's proof she ain't no sellout.
This was another of Robert Rodriguez' family-orientated projects, and it's hard to believe anyone over the age of 10 wouldn't be willing him to make Sin City 2 instead of this stuff.
The unfocused, ADHD-energy of the plot, in which dorky kid Toe Thompson discovers a wishing rock, is broken up into five 'shorts', but even in bitesize pieces this'll be testing for adults. Dennings plays Toe's older sister in a segment involving, yup, a monster bogie.
Cool credentials? Rodriguez' were fast diminishing at this point. Dennings in Sin City 2 would be an altogether different prospect though...
This 'real guy has a go at being a superhero' comedy got lost amid a glut of similarly-themed have-a-go-hero titles that arrived at the same sort of time ( Kick-Ass and Super attracted the lion's share of the attention).
Defendor didn't even get a release on UK shores, which is a shame, as it features Woody Harrelson as the unhinged vigilante of the title, and Dennings as a prostitute who guides him through the underworld.
Cool credentials? It's pretty far from the mainstream.
Daydream Nation (2010)
As the title suggests, this is another none-more-Dennings movie, in which she's at front and centre showing off her kooky, alluring presence.
She stars as Caroline Wexler, a seventeen-year-old who moves to a small town, and slips into an uncomfortable (and slightly illegal) love triangle with a classmate and her teacher. It operates on a tiny scale, and it's hardly groundbreaking, but Dennings' charm carries it.
Cool credentials? She's still targeting offbeat material.
American Dad! (2009-2010)
Dennings has further upped her culty status with a couple of guest voicing spots in American Dad! . In the episode 'G-String Circus', she lent her vocal chords to stripper Tanqueray.
Stan is trying to make money by starting a dry-cleaning business with his new stripper friend, but he soon finds that he takes in a lot more money when disrobing for tips. Dennings returned to do a voice in a later episode, 'The People vs. Martin Sugar'.
Cool credentials? If The Simpsons is an indicator of your pop-culture status, anything by Seth MacFarlane is a testimony to your cool.
Fear not, for appearing in a blockbuster doesn't mean that Dennings has sold out. Choosing to take a backseat in Kenneth Branagh's Marvel epic, she plays Darcy, an underling of Natalie Portman's astrophysicist.
Dennings gets to quip her little heart out, adding to the much-needed humorous vibe that helps sell, let's face it, one of the comic giant's oddest big screen properties. You can catch it in cinemas this week.
Cool credentials? Safely intact, as she steals the show in one of the most anticipated flicks of the summer.