Both films were critically and commercially successful, respectively earning 3,889,700 and 2,806,292.
She also starred in Pups, a "Bonnie and Clyde for the MTV generation", alongside Burt Reynolds; along with her co-star Cameron Van Hoy, film critic Roger Ebert called their work in the film "two of the most natural and freed performances I have seen by actors of any age." Barton first appeared on television in 1994, playing a young Corvina Lang in flashbacks in the soap opera All My Children.
She also starred in Julie Johnson (2001) alongside Lili Taylor and Courtney Love, playing the daughter of a woman in a lesbian relationship.
Barton also had a supporting role in the independent teen drama Tart (2001) with Brad Renfro and Dominique Swain.
In 1996, she returned to the show, replacing Michelle Trachtenberg in the role of Lily Benton Montgomery.
She guest-starred in eight episodes of the television series Once and Again as Jessie Sammler's (Evan Rachel Wood) girlfriend, Katie Singer.
C., about affluent teenagers with stormy personal lives who reside in scenic Orange County, California.
The show became an overnight success due to its large fanbase, and resulted in Barton's fame being increased through her role as Marissa Cooper.
In 2012, she returned to the stage, performing in the Irish production of Steel Magnolias.
Barton graduated from the Professional Children's School in Manhattan in 2004, and took a summer short course called Acting Shakespeare at The Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London, in June and July 2006, after he directed her in Closing the Ring.
Barton began acting at the age of eight, co-starring in the Off-Broadway premiere of the 1994 play, Slavs! Vincent Canby of The New York Times praised Barton's "so fine" and "chillingly authoritative" performance.
She appeared in several other Off-Broadway productions, taking a lead role in James Lapine's Twelve Dreams alongside Marisa Tomei at Lincoln Center.
Canby again praised Barton, noting that she "has a sweet gravity as the doomed Emma".