Vulture's 100 Most Valuable Stars

It used to be easy to rank movie stars: Just find out who has the highest salaries and biggest grosses and work your way backwards. But we're living in a different world now, with superheroes trumping actors as box-office sure things, paydays being cut in favor of profit points, and moviegoers needing more than a familiar face to lure them away from the Internet and Netflix. So who are 2012's biggest stars today, and why? Vulture came up with an exclusive formula that weighs such factors as box office, media coverage, reviews, and a Hollywood value dictated by a tribunal of studio execs to create the following ranking of the top 100. And, since stardom today has many definitions – is it box office or public fascination? – you can make your own list, too, by adjusting the importance of the star stats.

1

Robert Downey Jr

The Comeback Kid

The critically lauded talent finds sobriety, followed by superheroic success.

"I think every movie I ever do is going to be one of the three biggest movies ever, and it finally happened," Robert Downey Jr. bragged this summer during his Comic-Con victory lap. Just goes to show you, there’s power in positive thinking: Nearly unhireable a decade ago, this year Downey helped power The Avengers to that record-busting billion-and-a-half worldwide gross and ended up in the very top spot on our Most Valuable Stars list. Since his breakout performance in 2008’s Iron Man, Downey has made only one misstep (2009’s underperforming The Soloist) and has managed to deliver seven huge hits. Three of them put him in the Iron Man armor, sure, but Downey’s got another franchise, Sherlock Holmes, which grosses more than half a billion worldwide with each installment, and his comic turns in Tropic Thunder and Due Date both crossed the $100 million mark domestically.

It helps that Downey is so like his most famous character that Iron Man 3 director Shane Black says, "He IS Tony Stark"; audiences clearly can’t get enough of either. Sober, savvy, and versatile (so much so that only Downey could pull off the part of an Aussie actor donning blackface in Tropic Thunder and snag an Oscar nomination for it), Downey’s engineered the biggest comeback that modern Hollywood’s ever seen, going from drug-addict joke to blockbuster king. Let that be a lesson to some of this list’s more scandal-ridden subjects: There’s always a second (or third, or fourth) act to be had, if you’ve got the talent to pull it off.

  • Domestic Box Office $187,000,000
  • Overseas Box Office $267,000,000
  • Studio Value (1-10) 9
  • Likability 63%
  • Oscars 2 noms
  • Critics' Score (1-100) 61
  • Magazine Covers 12
  • Tabloid Value (1-10) 6
  • Read about our scientific rankings »

Photo: Slaven Vlasic/Getty Images

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2

Will Smith

The Returning Box-Office King

The most reliable worldwide moneymaker of the last twenty years proves himself after a long absence.

Will Smith has never won an Oscar, but he’s the definitive Hollywood omni-star — an international box-office love object whose attachment to any project all but guarantees that it’ll get made and be a hit. There’s no mystery about this: Smith’s twenty years’ worth of films, including such galactic smashes as Bad Boys, Independence Day, and Men in Black, have grossed more than $6 billion worldwide. He’s got a safe cushion from which to tweak his formula, whether mixing action with melancholy in I Am Legend; slurring a drunken, misanthropic superhero in Hancock; or playing a give-until-it-hurts organ donor in the quizzical 2008 drama Seven Pounds, the ending of which earned snickers, but the film still took in $168.1 million worldwide.

He’s only made one movie in almost four years, which is the main reason he doesn’t top this list. Instead, he’s been busy building up the next generation of super-Smiths, setting up son Jaden in the hit Karate Kid remake and foisting his adorable daughter, Willow, on audiences with "Whip My Hair" and Annie. But when he decided to return with MiB3, audiences welcomed him back. While the $174.9 million U.S. gross was the lowest of the trilogy, internationally it has taken in $436.6 million, his highest take ever. If any doubts linger — did MiB3 drop because the franchise is too old or because he stayed away too long? — his next test is the sci-fi opus After Earth. But if anybody can turn an M. Night Shyamalan movie into a hit, it’s Will Smith.

  • Domestic Box Office $201,000,000
  • Overseas Box Office $329,000,000
  • Studio Value (1-10) 9
  • Likability 77%
  • Oscars 2 noms
  • Critics' Score (1-100) 54
  • Magazine Covers 4
  • Tabloid Value (1-10) 6
  • Read about our scientific rankings »

Photo: Kevin Winter/Getty Images

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3

Johnny Depp

The Quirky Tentpole Perennial

Once an outsider, his scene-stealing characters made him an international phenomenon.

Johnny Depp rose to fame as an almost reluctant leading man, surfing the outer edges of Hollywood and testing his versatility with a range of roles from the bizarre (Edward Scissorhands, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas) to the romantic (Don Juan DeMarco, Chocolat), with a couple of crime dramas thrown in for variety (Donnie Brasco, Blow). These days, though, those early outings seem like the liner notes of a stellar career, trumped by his Keith Richards-inspired turn as Captain Jack Sparrow in Disney’s mammoth Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, which has earned more than $4 billion for Disney and a reported $300 million for Depp, enough for the actor to acquire an island. (He’s flirting with a fifth installment, of course.)

There’s also his fruitful eight-film collaboration with director Tim Burton: Their highest-grossing flick, Alice in Wonderland, topped the billion-dollar mark, though the pair’s latest outing, Dark Shadows, failed to gross $100 million, suggesting audiences may be tiring of their fantastical shtick, and the disappointing domestic grosses for The Rum Diary and The Tourist suggest that he’s not invulnerable. Still, the studios awarded Depp top marks for value, just one of a handful of A-list actors to reach that number (Tom Cruise, Robert Downey Jr., Denzel Washington, and Will Smith are the others). After a recent high-profile split from longtime partner Vanessa Paradis, the normally private Depp returned to the tabloids, and he should also expect increased media scrutiny after he was controversially cast as Tonto in Gore Verbinski’s The Lone Ranger.

  • Domestic Box Office $76,900,000
  • Overseas Box Office $157,000,000
  • Studio Value (1-10) 9
  • Likability 71%
  • Oscars 3 noms
  • Critics' Score (1-100) 53
  • Magazine Covers 18
  • Tabloid Value (1-10) 7
  • Read about our scientific rankings »

Photo: Kevin Winter/Getty Images

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4

Denzel Washington

The Solid Star

Consistency, thy name is Denzel.

Denzel Washington may not get the hype of flashy stars like Robert Downey Jr. and Johnny Depp, but there’s a reason that he scored so high on this list: As Moneyball taught us last year, the most important thing is to get on base, and Washington is the master of hitting solid doubles and triples at every at bat.

All but one of his last ten movies (2007’s smaller, Oscar-baity The Great Debaters) has grossed more than $50 million, branding him one of the most dependable choices a studio can make. If "opening" a movie on its first weekend is still the surest sign of star power, Washington can guarantee you something more than $20 million every time, and his most recent action vehicle, Safe House, opened to $40 million. (And though Washington’s often paired with a younger up-and-comer like Ryan Reynolds or Chris Pine, box-office pundits give him the lion’s share of credit when his movies open well.) Not bad for a 57-year-old leading man!

The two-time Oscar winner has the promising Robert Zemeckis drama Flight on tap for awards season this year; let’s hope that after winning the Tony for Fences in 2010, Washington’s ready to set aside those lucrative explosions for a while in order to show off some dramatic firepower.

  • Domestic Box Office $88,200,000
  • Overseas Box Office $84,700,000
  • Studio Value (1-10) 9
  • Likability 78%
  • Oscars 2 wins, 3 noms
  • Critics' Score (1-100) 60
  • Magazine Covers 2
  • Tabloid Value (1-10) 2
  • Read about our scientific rankings »

Photo: Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images

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5

Brad Pitt

The Not-Just-a-Pretty-Face

The respected actor-producer saturates the tabloids, to little consequence.

One of the most recognizable names — and most photographed faces — in the entertainment industry, Brad Pitt spent his mid-40s largely eschewing his "worldwide sex symbol" status with a series of less-predictable leading roles in films like The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (in which he ages backwards), the Coen Brothers’ Burn After Reading (in which he plays a vapid gym-head), and Terrence Malick’s The Tree of Life (we’re still trying to figure out what that one was about). And since being really, really good-looking (eighteen magazine covers in five years!), starring in international blockbusters (Pitt’s films have earned a cumulative $1 billion internationally in the last five years alone), and dating some of the most coveted women in the world doesn’t seem to be enough for the underachiever, Brad Pitt also runs Plan B Entertainment, whose recent productions include the Oscar-nominated The Departed and Moneyball (in which Pitt also starred).

Though he hasn’t taken home a gold statue himself, Pitt just came off a recent staggering run of back-to-back-to-back-to-back Best Picture nominees. Not bad for a man responsible for virtually half of all tabloid coverage alongside partner Angelina Jolie. Now with six kids in tow, the soon-to-be Mr. Jolie recently premiered his new crime drama Killing Them Softly at Cannes and will then be seen in the troubled 2013 postapocalyptic zombie flick World War Z.

  • Domestic Box Office $75,600,000
  • Overseas Box Office $164,000,000
  • Studio Value (1-10) 8
  • Likability 66%
  • Oscars 3 noms
  • Critics' Score (1-100) 68
  • Magazine Covers 18
  • Tabloid Value (1-10) 10
  • Read about our scientific rankings »

Photo: Alberto Pizzoli/AFP/Getty Images

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6

Matt Damon

The Sign of Quality

When he’s in a film, people know there’s something interesting going on.

Much like the other sides of the Oceans 11 triangle, George Clooney and Brad Pitt, Matt Damon resists all temptations to sell out and invariably makes the interesting choice: When you see his face in an ad, you know that the project isn’t going to be an average example of that genre, just as the Bourne movies weren’t mere actioners and True Grit wasn’t just a western. Next year’s Elysium, directed by District 9’s allegory-prone Neill Blomkamp, promises to be anything but generic sci-fi, and then there’s the slated HBO Liberace biopic Behind the Candelabra (in which he plays the young lover of Michael Douglas’s pianist).

With Damon’s presence as its own meaningful imprimatur, he’s managed to bring some increasingly rare adult films to a surprisingly high gross, hence his high studio rating: "surprising" because his targeted grown-up, discerning audience doesn’t rush out to an opening weekend. As a result, his mid-price films are often dismissed as underperformers when they don’t debut strong — then a year later, you look up to see that We Bought a Zoo, roundly considered one of last Christmas’s duds, grossed $75.6 million in the U.S. Nobody paid much attention to the relatively low-tech Adjustment Bureau at the time (That’s the hat movie, right?), but it wound up with $62.5 million.

An ardent activist, he’s cognizant that his serious films and causes threaten to paint him as a dour personality, so he’s quick to preempt that by popping up in Jimmy Kimmel skits and SNL digital shorts. Say his name and while some people will think of his work with Haiti, many more will start humming, "I’m fucking Matt Damon."

  • Domestic Box Office $60,600,000
  • Overseas Box Office $62,600,000
  • Studio Value (1-10) 8
  • Likability 72%
  • Oscars 1 win, 2 noms
  • Critics' Score (1-100) 63
  • Magazine Covers 11
  • Tabloid Value (1-10) 6
  • Read about our scientific rankings »

Photo: Jason Kempin/Getty Images

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7

Clint Eastwood

The Beloved Icon

At 82, he’s the rare star who fans still want to see.

Eastwood comes in at number eight on Vulture’s list, to which some of you may be shouting, "What is this, 1977’s Most Valuable Stars?" To those doubters, let us point you to the one movie that Eastwood starred in during our five-year window: 2008’s Gran Torino. At age 78, he was the only recognizable star in the film, playing an aged version of his iconic squinting vigilante, and it grossed $270 million worldwide.

Eastwood’s on-camera appearances have slowed down, even as he continues to direct a movie a year and be recognized as one of America’s great auteurs, but Gran Torino showed just how much more powerful his face is than just his name in the credits: Only one of his eight films since 2003’s Mystic River has made more than $40 million, and it was 2004’s Million Dollar Baby, the only other movie he starred in.

Studios rate him near the top of their scale, and his likability score is second only to Sandra Bullock. In September, at 82, he’ll star as Amy Adams’s nearly-blind baseball-scout father (presumably a gruff one) in Trouble With the Curve, directed by his Malpaso Productions partner and long-time first assistant director Robert Lorenz. Unlike past icons like John Wayne, Eastwood has never shied away from showing how age has changed the man his longtime fans remember from the spaghetti westerns. By not trying to be stuck in an era, he’s made his audience want to stick with him.

  • Domestic Box Office $148,000,000
  • Overseas Box Office $122,000,000
  • Studio Value (1-10) 8
  • Likability 79%
  • Oscars 4 wins, 6 noms
  • Critics' Score (1-100) 72
  • Magazine Covers 1
  • Tabloid Value (1-10) 2
  • Read about our scientific rankings »

Photo: Riccardo S. Savi/Getty Images

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8

Angelina Jolie

Mrs. Hollywood

A former wild child spreads her grown-up talents around to acting, directing, and activism.

In addition to her duties as the world’s most famous celebrity, Angelina Jolie is also occasionally called upon to open a movie — which she’s perfectly capable of. She’s the daughter of Jon Voight, the former wife of Billy Bob Thornton, a world-saving humanitarian, a perennial Most Beautiful Person, the fastest-growing private adoption agency in North America, and the live-in mother of Brad Pitt’s children, which means that few of her moves go unnoticed by gossip magazines.

But her box-office history will show that she’s also pretty good at choosing her work: Jolie stands alone among actresses whose name guarantees a solid first weekend for a large-budget action movie. And her one-for-them (2005’s Mr. & Mrs. Smith, 2008’s Wanted, 2010’s Salt), one-for-me (2007’s A Mighty Heart, 2008’s Changeling) approach has helped her weather the occasional one-for-nobody (2010’s The Tourist, which was the butt of Ricky Gervais jokes domestically, even if it eventually earned a nice foreign tally). That Oscar she won for 1999’s Girl, Interrupted means she can dabble in prestige (like last year’s In the Land of Blood and Honey, her directorial debut) without it seeming like a desperate bid for take-me-seriously awards attention. Next on her schedule is Disney’s Maleficent, a $170 million live-action version of the Sleeping Beauty story told from the villain’s perspective, and if there’s anyone who can enliven the already-crowded big-budget fairy-tale genre, it’s Angelina in horns.

  • Domestic Box Office $67,600,000
  • Overseas Box Office $175,000,000
  • Studio Value (1-10) 8
  • Likability 50%
  • Oscars 1 win, 1 nom
  • Critics' Score (1-100) 64
  • Magazine Covers 13
  • Tabloid Value (1-10) 10
  • Read about our scientific rankings »

Photo: Jason Kempin/Getty Images

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9

Meryl Streep

The Queen

Entering her fourth decade of being America’s greatest living actress.

It’s a common complaint that there are no roles for actresses of a certain age. This is because a) there are not many written, and b) those that are all seem to go to Meryl Streep. Yet, who could begrudge her? Now entering her fourth decade of being dubbed "the greatest living actress," she is the beloved grand dame of Hollywood, with everyone still rooting for her at the Oscars even though we all know that, with three, she has plenty, but it’s so entertaining to watch her gasp and fumble her glasses and act like it all still affects her after all the years of plaudits. And that’s part of her charm: always looking like she’s having fun.

In the eighties, she dove into the most wrenching material, but now she seems driven by what she will enjoy (one pictures her choosing movies like Julia Child would go grocery shopping: a little of this, oh my, that would be good today...). What bigger fuck-you is there to anyone who might think of her as a precious actor than clearly having a ball doing Mamma Mia!? Or giggling and flirting her way through Nancy Meyers’s It’s Complicated? She was better than them both, but she didn’t act like it, and audiences flocked to them, with Mamma Mia! grossing an astounding $609.8 million worldwide. She has not given up on serious drama, winning an Oscar for last year’s The Iron Lady, but before taking on the Pulitzer Prize-winning August: Osage County, she’ll appear in the August marriage comedy Hope Springs. It probably won’t get her an Oscar, but she’ll make it more fun than sex therapy with Tommy Lee Jones should be.

  • Domestic Box Office $31,700,000
  • Overseas Box Office $41,800,000
  • Studio Value (1-10) 8
  • Likability 69%
  • Oscars 3 wins, 14 noms
  • Critics' Score (1-100) 55
  • Magazine Covers 4
  • Tabloid Value (1-10) 3
  • Read about our scientific rankings »

Photo: Will Ragozzino/PatrickMcMullan.com

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10

George Clooney

The King of Hollywood

A media darling who’s too rich to care about blockbusters.

George Clooney is a movie star. And not just any movie star: He’s one of the biggest the town has to offer, despite a dearth of blockbuster breakouts on his resume. Still, that doesn’t seem to bother him too much, nor does it bother studios. He’s the sort of actor who recalls Hollywood’s golden age, and he prefers to be picky with material, mixing up his resume with unique choices like Syriana and Coen Brothers films rather than always reaching for the sure thing. And though he had a run of weaker films a few years back (we’re looking at you, Leatherheads and The Men Who Stare at Goats), he’s the rare star who can power dramas like The Descendants, Up in the Air, and The Ides of March to success at home and abroad.

Yes, his biggest hits remain the Ocean’s franchise and a turn as Bruce Wayne in Batman & Robin that he’d rather disavow, but Clooney has got a lot of Academy cred as an actor-producer-director: seven Oscar nominations and one win for his supporting work in Syriana. He somehow manages to keep himself unsullied by the tabloids despite his swinging-door relationship status and instead draws press attention where he wants it, spotlighting top-tier causes like Haiti and the Sudan. Up next, he teams with Sandra Bullock for Alfonso Cuaron’s Gravity, and he’ll also produce the film adaptation of the Tony- and Pulitzer-winning August: Osage County, starring Meryl Streep and Julia Roberts.

  • Domestic Box Office $49,000,000
  • Overseas Box Office $44,000,000
  • Studio Value (1-10) 7
  • Likability 69%
  • Oscars 1 win, 6 noms
  • Critics' Score (1-100) 63
  • Magazine Covers 13
  • Tabloid Value (1-10) 7
  • Read about our scientific rankings »

Photo: Stephen Lovekin/Getty Images

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11

Sandra Bullock

America’s Oscar-Winning Sweetheart

A comedy queen with broad appeal and business savvy.

It feels like Sandra Bullock has turned a corner in her career, even if she’s yet to fully make good on it. The comedy queen surprised in 2009 when she powered The Proposal to a then-career-best $163 million... and trumped that just a few months later when The Blind Side grossed a staggering $255 million and earned her an Oscar for Best Actress. Yes, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close came along last year to give Bullock two back-to-back films nominated for Best Picture — something no one could have foreseen back in her Two Weeks Notice/Miss Congeniality 2 days — but it hardly felt like Bullock cashing in her new capital.

Instead, it feels like 2013 will be the year that she truly tests her newfound mettle: In addition to starring almost single-handedly in Alfonso Cuaron’s innovative sci-fi film Gravity, she’ll be seen in a big ol’ comedy with Melissa McCarthy, this one manned by Bridesmaids helmer Paul Feig instead of Bullock’s usual list of anonymous rom-com directors. Will she still have that shine four years after the biggest year of her life? We think audiences will cut her some slack for taking time off to deal with personal matters (including a messy divorce and a newly adopted son), and the general public seems to agree, since they handed Bullock the highest likeability score on this entire list.

  • Domestic Box Office $47,900,000
  • Overseas Box Office $36,300,000
  • Studio Value (1-10) 8
  • Likability 84%
  • Oscars 1 win
  • Critics' Score (1-100) 46
  • Magazine Covers 14
  • Tabloid Value (1-10) 8
  • Read about our scientific rankings »

Photo: Kevin Winter/Getty Images

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12

Mark Wahlberg

Smarter Than He Looks

He’s never showy, but always dependable, whether in an edgy drama or trading bong hits with a teddy bear.

Mark Wahlberg is the kind of actor who you think is underrated until you realize that everyone in Hollywood rates him just fine. Martin Scorsese, Peter Jackson, David O. Russell, and more all want to work with him; he always brings unexpected intelligence to his cops, mooks, thieves, and thugs; and he’s been nominated for two Oscars. He just seems underrated because even as he’s so dependably great, he’s always happy to let someone else get a little more glory in a showier part, stepping back to let Christian Bale loudly self-destruct in The Fighter and be the straight(er) man to Will Ferrell in The Other Guys or a giant teddy bear in Ted.

Because he’s not a showboat, audiences trust him (our studio panel rate him a high eight), and he never gets blamed for his grimace-y failures, like The Lovely Bones and The Happening. (Hell, nobody even held him responsible when Entourage turned into a punch line, and that was his life story.) He deftly trades off comedies and dramas and has high likability for being able to laugh at himself — embracing Andy Samberg’s SNL impression — and in real life, coming off as a family man who is still a Southie goofball at haht. But this image as a slightly dopey townie belies his career savvy; he’s a strong producer (Boardwalk Empire) and single-mindedly makes great projects happen for himself, whether The Fighter or next year’s promising Russell Crowe partnership Broken City.

  • Domestic Box Office $64,500,000
  • Overseas Box Office $44,700,000
  • Studio Value (1-10) 8
  • Likability 71%
  • Oscars 2 noms
  • Critics' Score (1-100) 53
  • Magazine Covers 5
  • Tabloid Value (1-10) 4
  • Read about our scientific rankings »

Photo: Kevin Winter/Getty Images

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13

Leonardo DiCaprio

The Auteur’s Muse

The former teen heartthrob matured into an actor who finds a director and sticks with him.

It’s been fifteen years since Leonardo DiCaprio stowed away on Titanic, but audiences refuse to let go. That blockbuster made him a heartthrob and superstar at 22, but DiCaprio seemed allergic to the status even back then, zeroing in on filmmakers who would help give his career some critical credibility. After making films with Woody Allen (Celebrity) and Danny Boyle (The Beach), DiCaprio forged a crucial partnership with Martin Scorsese that earned him an Oscar nomination (for The Aviator), his second Best Picture winner (The Departed), and a big fat spring hit (Shutter Island).

DiCaprio is still capable of Titanic-style monster grosses — Christopher Nolan’s mind-bending Inception earned the actor a worldwide gross of $825 million — and his work in Hollywood’s first major international hit won him lasting international appeal, as his five most recent films grossed more outside the U.S. than at home. Coming up, the loyal DiCaprio once again teams with with Baz Luhrmann on a retelling of The Great Gatsby and later with Scorsese on The Wolf of Wall Street, but he’s still willing to take chances for the right director, and will test his audience by playing a villain for the first time, a rotten-toothed racist in Quentin Tarantino's Django Unchained.

  • Domestic Box Office $39,400,000
  • Overseas Box Office $75,700,000
  • Studio Value (1-10) 8
  • Likability 63%
  • Oscars 3 noms
  • Critics' Score (1-100) 63
  • Magazine Covers 6
  • Tabloid Value (1-10) 7
  • Read about our scientific rankings »

Photo: Toru Yamanaka/AFP/Getty Images

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14

Daniel Radcliffe

The Boy Wizard

He’ll always be Harry Potter, but this former child actor isn’t a kid anymore.

Daniel Radcliffe will forever be best-known as the titular wizard in the Harry Potter film franchise, which to date has netted more than $7.7 billion worldwide. Now the kid with the thunderbolt scar has entered a new, more mature phase of his life and career: Beyond a starring role in well-reviewed horror flick The Woman in Black, Radcliffe used the Broadway stage to exhibit his versatility and craft. He stripped naked in Equus and more recently appeared in the revival of the musical How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, alongside John Larroquette. (Both roles earned him Drama Desk Award nominations.)

Still, it’s difficult to overstate the impact of Harry Potter on Radcliffe’s career. The rabid fandom associated with the book series and film franchise transferred into continued interest in Radcliffe’s professional and personal life. Even his non-Potter roles have considerable success; The Woman in Black made about $74 million overseas, outperforming its U.S. box office by $20 million. Still, even though the eight Harry Potter films made him an extremely wealthy young man, Radcliffe manages to come off as affable, relatable, and down-to-earth, a hardworking actor who’s more than just a former child Muggle. He’ll next try playing poet Allen Ginsberg in the beatnik murder drama Kill Your Darlings.

  • Domestic Box Office $294,000,000
  • Overseas Box Office $640,000,000
  • Studio Value (1-10) 5
  • Likability 60%
  • Oscars 0
  • Critics' Score (1-100) 68
  • Magazine Covers 12
  • Tabloid Value (1-10) 5
  • Read about our scientific rankings »

Photo: Amy Sussman/Getty Images

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15

Tom Cruise

The Star With Baggage

He’s one of Hollywood’s biggest actors... if you choose to accept him.

Tom Cruise was so close to a real, honest-to-goodness comeback: After his audience appeal dipped precipitously in recent years with films like Knight and Day and Valkyrie, he steered Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol to mega grosses last winter, earning a career-best (and franchise-best) total of $694 million worldwide. Finally, it seemed like Cruise had put his tabloid troubles behind him and could resume his superstardom.

And then came summer: Not only did Rock of Ages (sold mostly on Cruise’s supporting role) bomb at the box office, but Katie Holmes sprung divorce papers on Cruise and launched a stunning, successful PR offensive against her former husband while Cruise was tied up working on Joseph Kosinski’s Oblivion. And now, once again, Cruise has to fend off stories about his overweening commitment to Scientology, alleged mistreatment of Holmes, and the safety of daughter Suri, which won’t help restore his already once-depleted appeal with female audiences. Cruise will always be a big star and an overseas draw, but will the newly renewed gossip mill weaken Cruise’s winter starring vehicle Jack Reacher? Too soon to say, though he’ll always have a Mission: Impossible 5 if he wants it — or needs it.

  • Domestic Box Office $76,400,000
  • Overseas Box Office $117,000,000
  • Studio Value (1-10) 9
  • Likability 38%
  • Oscars 3 noms
  • Critics' Score (1-100) 47
  • Magazine Covers 3
  • Tabloid Value (1-10) 9
  • Read about our scientific rankings »

Photo: Kevin Winter/Getty Images

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16

Jennifer Lawrence

The Relatable Bombshell

She can anchor a franchise, elevate a modest indie, and turn every head on the street.

Jennifer Lawrence introduced herself to critics and indie audiences when she won an Oscar nomination for her role in the acclaimed 2010 drama Winter’s Bone, but it took the rest of America a little longer to learn her name: That red Calvin Klein dress she wore to the Oscars helped a little, and then getting cast as Katniss Everdeen in the massively popular Hunger Games franchise did the rest. The first movie in the series grossed half a billion worldwide and cemented Lawrence’s ability to anchor both popcorn flicks and art house fare (and to imbue each with her strengths in the other), a dual talent that results in a high overall studio value.

Equally at home with the understated drama of Winter’s Bone as she is inhabiting an electric blue, semi-nude mutant Mystique in X-Men: First Class, she’s got significant audience recognition from winning visits to late-night talk shows and frequent appearances in mass-appeal glossy magazines. She’s also got a great likeability score, thanks to both her sex appeal and her chilled-out custodial duties as the head of the Hunger Games franchise. With a slew of high-profile roles, including sequels to both the X-Men and Hunger Games franchises in Lawrence’s near future, the odds will almost certainly be forever in her favor.

  • Domestic Box Office $73,200,000
  • Overseas Box Office $104,000,000
  • Studio Value (1-10) 7
  • Likability 72%
  • Oscars 1 nom
  • Critics' Score (1-100) 67
  • Magazine Covers 6
  • Tabloid Value (1-10) 7
  • Read about our scientific rankings »

Photo: Gabriel Bouys/AFP/Getty Images

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17

Liam Neeson

The Late Bloomer

The middle-aged star finds unexpected success in rough-and-tumble action roles.

Liam Neeson has played roles as varied as Zeus (Clash of the Titans), a Jedi knight (The Phantom Menace), and a real-life historical figure (his portrayal of Oskar Schindler earned him an Academy Award nomination) during his nearly 40-year film career. But a recent series of successful thrillers like Taken, The Grey, and Unknown brought the Irish-born actor new acclaim in the unexpected new role of "action star," which has bumped up his studio value tremendously. He’s no longer just good casting: Now, at age 60, Liam Neeson is his own brand.

The Irish actor used to vary his filmography with a more diverse mix of popcorn fare (Batman Begins, K-19: The Widowmaker) and Oscar bait (Schindler's List, Michael Collins), but when his wife Natasha Richardson tragically died in a ski accident in 2009, he set out to keep perpetually working in order to buffer his grief. Since his loss occurred in the wake of the surprise success of Taken, the scripts coming to (and being snapped up by) him were all similarly violent fare, and so his new pulpy niche might be one of personal necessity as much as it is one of profit. But whatever the reason, he's sticking with it: He’ll reprise his role as a CIA operative in Taken 2 this year and play an aggravated air marshal in 2013's Non-Stop. Still, he'll also get to show off a softer side in the upcoming Paul Haggis-directed romantic drama, Third Person.

  • Domestic Box Office $37,000,000
  • Overseas Box Office $46,400,000
  • Studio Value (1-10) 8
  • Likability 78%
  • Oscars 1 nom
  • Critics' Score (1-100) 48
  • Magazine Covers 1
  • Tabloid Value (1-10) 1
  • Read about our scientific rankings »

Photo: Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images

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18

Emma Stone

The Spunky Girl Next Door

She’s smart, funny, and relatable, but don’t limit her to best-friend roles.

Ever since Superbad, Emma Stone’s big eyes, raspy chortle, and lovable, quirky spunk made her the girl you wanted to see in as many scenes as possible. (And on as many magazine covers as possible. She’s graced nine of the major titles in five years, from New York to Vogue.) Recall her kooked-out road warrior in Zombieland, her good-girl-going-bad in Easy A (in which she also sang, revealing a pretty impressive set of pipes).

On one hand, she’s a hoot, a casual master of comic gesture and timing; on the other... well, you entirely understand why horndog Ryan Gosling fell hard after just talking to her all night in Crazy, Stupid, Love. And she may well have more to show us: Although caught in the prop wash of powerful performances by Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer in The Help, she anchored the film.

While all The Amazing Spider-Man requires of her is to play the love interest, her stalwart Gwen Stacy warms the picture and almost makes you forget about the silly lizard. Her subsequent romance with co-star Andrew Garfield appears cute and normal by Hollywood standards. (Look for them together again in the next Spider-Man installment, out in 2014.) Next up for our gal is a reteam with Gosling in Gangster Squad, a period piece that’ll give her a chance to deploy something new: straight-up sex appeal.

  • Domestic Box Office $106,000,000
  • Overseas Box Office $41,900,000
  • Studio Value (1-10) 7
  • Likability 67%
  • Oscars 0
  • Critics' Score (1-100) 64
  • Magazine Covers 9
  • Tabloid Value (1-10) 7
  • Read about our scientific rankings »

Photo: John MacDougall/AFP/Getty Images

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19

Christian Bale

The Tortured Superhero

Far from just Batman, he’s consistent at the box office and the art house.

He’s a talented, unselfish masochist happy to do whatever it takes for a performance, whether it involves dropping weight, losing hair, or shouting at a Terminator: Salvation crew member loud enough to give Mel Gibson an earache. For the $1.5 billion (and counting, as of The Dark Knight Rises release) success of Christopher Nolan’s Batman movies, many credit the franchise’s villains. But without Bale’s portrayal of Bruce Wayne as an unsympathetic, psychologically wrecked antihero, The Dark Knight might not seem half as dark (or interesting). And Bale is a box-office draw even outside of his primary franchise: He takes plenty of chances in low-stakes acting showcases (Rescue Dawn, I’m Not There, The Flowers of War) but seldom tanks in anything even remotely commercial (3:10 to Yuma, Public Enemies, Salvation).

He’s so convincing playing crabby Americans that when he accepted his Best Supporting Actor Oscar for 2010’s The Fighter (which grossed $129.2 million worldwide on a budget of $25 million) many were still surprised to learn that he’s actually been Welsh this whole time. With Nolan’s Batman trilogy now complete and nothing more commercial than a pair of Terrence Malick movies on his immediate slate, Bale could plausibly take a break, or retire altogether, from blockbuster-movie-making. But if he feels like coming back, there’s probably a place (and a few franchises) for him.

  • Domestic Box Office $97,100,000
  • Overseas Box Office $117,000,000
  • Studio Value (1-10) 6
  • Likability 57%
  • Oscars 1 win
  • Critics' Score (1-100) 76
  • Magazine Covers 4
  • Tabloid Value (1-10) 5
  • Read about our scientific rankings »

Photo: Jason Merritt/Getty Images

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20

Shia LaBeouf

The Transformed Child Star

One of the industry’s few bankable young men.

Some might say that the tricky transition from Disney child actor to blockbuster leading man is more difficult than a semitrailer morphing into Optimus Prime, but, somehow, Shia LaBeouf has managed it. LaBeouf was barely of bar mitzvah age when he starred in Disney Channel’s Even Stevens, a part that won him a young audience and led to his breakthrough role in Disney’s Holes. But it was 2007 that proved a pivotal year for LaBeouf’s career, since he starred in the hit thriller Disturbia and got to fight CGI baddies (and ogle Megan Fox) in Michael Bay’s Transformers.

The mega-successful Transformers spawned a mega-mega-successful franchise — the three films in the series have grossed more than $2.6 billion combined worldwide — that swiftly catapulted the young star into international "It" boy status, but he’s proven himself outside that series, too, single-handedly delivering Eagle Eye to a $101 million gross. Critics (and LaBeouf himself) were hard on Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, but it was a phenomenal blockbuster, too; less so Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps, though that’s hardly his fault.

But as the 25-year-old LaBeouf’s popularity has risen, so has his notoriety. Tabloids love his highly publicized run-ins with the paparazzi, various legal troubles, and questionable off-set behavior, like that bizarre car accident that resulted in a hand injury. Most recently, LaBeouf made headlines by appearing nude in an artsy music video for Icelandic band Sigur Ros. (Hey, it’s LaBeouf in the buff!) Still, his drawing power shouldn’t be underestimated in a Hollywood climate that’s proved inhospitable to young male stars his age. If he can make the coming Lawless a hit, his future is secured.

  • Domestic Box Office $317,000,000
  • Overseas Box Office $390,000,000
  • Studio Value (1-10) 5
  • Likability 54%
  • Oscars 0
  • Critics' Score (1-100) 59
  • Magazine Covers 6
  • Tabloid Value (1-10) 6
  • Read about our scientific rankings »

Photo: Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images

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21

Chris Hemsworth

The Imported Muscle

Snow White and the Huntsman showed that Thor’s alter ego can do damage outside of the Marvel universe.

Like the Norse god he played in last year’s $450 million-earning Thor and again in this summer’s $1.5 billion-grossing The Avengers, Chris Hemsworth seems to have fallen from the sky. Unknown to Americans prior to his short appearance in J.J. Abrams’ 2009’s Star Trek reboot (as Captain Kirk’s dad, who dies in the first ten minutes), this handsome Australian lug owes his high placement on our list mostly to his lucky, out-of-nowhere casting in one of the biggest blockbuster franchises in history (he narrowly outranks Chris Evans as the least famous Avenger).

But when he’s not fenced in by lame Asgardian dialogue, Hemsworth does radiate a subtle charm that makes his fast rise seem not quite so inexplicable. In Drew Goddard’s Cabin in the Woods (produced by Avengers director Joss Whedon, who suggested that Hemsworth play Thor), Hemsworth gave a sly, winking performance in a role that asked him to play not much more than a bland, unknowing horror-movie redshirt. And same goes for his part as Kristen Stewart’s grunting, meat-headed escort in Snow White and the Huntsman, which would have been thankless if Hemsworth hadn’t been so fully committed. A role that takes better advantage of his talents could really put him on the map. Maybe it’ll be next year’s Ron Howard-directed, Peter Morgan-scripted Rush, in which Hemsworth plays Formula 1 racer Niki Lauda, who nearly burned alive in a 1978 crash.

  • Domestic Box Office $181,000,000
  • Overseas Box Office $268,000,000
  • Studio Value (1-10) 6
  • Likability 57%
  • Oscars 0
  • Critics' Score (1-100) 57
  • Magazine Covers 4
  • Tabloid Value (1-10) 6
  • Read about our scientific rankings »

Photo: Nicholas Hunt/Patrick McMullan.com

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22

Steve Carell

The Funny Man

From TV, a big-screen comedian with heart.

Leaving The Office in May 2011 was a big risk for Steve Carell. He was a bona fide TV star with a whopping $300,000-per-episode salary plus profits and a hiatus schedule that allowed him to test the movie-star mettle made possible by a breakout turn in 2005’s The 40 Year Old Virgin, which topped $109 million on a $26 million budget. Quickly, though, Carell has found himself filling an important niche on the big screen: He’s a comedian up for the sort of roles that Ben Stiller or Jim Carrey might go after, but he’s got an advantage with audiences thanks to his recognizable humanity.

That funny-but-not-mean demeanor has brought Carell good grosses in comedies like Crazy, Stupid, Love, Date Night, and Dinner for Schmucks, even if he stumbled a little bit by playing his sad-sack hand too hard in the recent underperformer Seeking a Friend for the End of the World. Fortunately, Carell will be varying his routine from here on out and continuing to collaborate with Hollywood’s best: He’s got the third lead opposite Meryl Streep and Tommy Lee Jones in Hope Springs, will film a co-starring role in The Way, Way Back from Oscar-winning Descendants scribes Nat Faxon and Jim Rash, and goes up against Carrey himself as a jaded Vegas magician in The Incredible Burt Wonderstone. And though he’s smart enough to leave things be on The Office, he won’t miss out on the irresistible opportunity to return to Anchorman 2.

  • Domestic Box Office $84,400,000
  • Overseas Box Office $56,050,000
  • Studio Value (1-10) 7
  • Likability 66%
  • Oscars 0
  • Critics' Score (1-100) 56
  • Magazine Covers 3
  • Tabloid Value (1-10) 3
  • Read about our scientific rankings »

Photo: Amy Sussman/Getty Images

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23

Channing Tatum

The Hunk With Heart

Does it all: action, comedy, romance — and boy, can he dance.

At six-foot-one, Channing Tatum is a tall order of strong-and-silent, which is why casting directors clamor for his services in action films (Fighting, G.I. Joe, The Eagle). But Tatum has a surprising number of other moves in his repertoire, too. In 21 Jump Street, he showed off his comedic chops, and in Dear John and The Vow, he got all sensitive with Amanda Seyfried and Rachel McAdams. But it’s only now, in Magic Mike, that the 32-year-old demonstrates his full range, infusing his default hunkiness with subtle intelligence, offhand humor, and killer dance moves. Tatum suggested the semiautobiographical story to Steven Soderbergh while they were shooting Haywire, convincing the director to cram one more film onto his narrowing pre-hiatus slate (and to cast him in other project Bitter Pill, as well).

Recently, Tatum’s taken to producing, claiming the title on four films to date, including Magic Mike, and as executive producer, 21 Jump Street. Tatum’s only remaining challenge, it would seem, is to stir up more interest in the tabloid press, where his happy marriage to dancer/actress Jenna Dewan-Tatum offers little to gossip about. Tatum’s future projects remain eclectic: He’ll tackle sci-fi for the first time in the Wachowskis’ Jupiter Rising, add his support to prestige drama Foxcatcher (directed by Bennett Miller), and topline another action film with White House Down. He’s so hot right now, in fact, that the next G.I. Joe installment, Retaliation, was allegedly delayed until next year so that the studio could cram in more scenes of the formerly cameoing Tatum.

  • Domestic Box Office $77,900,000
  • Overseas Box Office $35,000,000
  • Studio Value (1-10) 7
  • Likability 60%
  • Oscars 0
  • Critics' Score (1-100) 55
  • Magazine Covers 6
  • Tabloid Value (1-10) 5
  • Read about our scientific rankings »

Photo: Frazer Harrison/Getty Images

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24

Adam Sandler

The Aging Man-Child.

Everything was going so well until Jack and Jill.

Since 1995, Adam Sandler, 45, has made infantile comedies engineered to make movie critics weep, and with few exceptions, his fan base has shown up to spite those naysayers, their dedication reaching its peak with 2010’s Grown Ups ($162 million). But then, last year, he finally made a movie so lazy and unfunny that it made even his most ardent followers question their allegiance: Jack and Jill. The painful twin comedy made $74.2 million, the first time one of Sandler’s Happy Madison comedies made less than $100 million since 2000’s Little Nicky. (His international grosses have always been on par with his domestic, and they both dipped equally with Jack and Jill.) His fans seemed unable to shake off the bad memories, as this summer’s raunchier That’s My Boy is unlikely to pass $40 million.

This could just be his first major career blip, and next summer’s Grown Ups 2 may well bring him back to consistent returns; his high studio value says that Hollywood still thinks he’s dependable. But it’s also possible that Sandler’s original fans may find it increasingly disconcerting to watch a man their age or older still act like an immature brat, while a new generation of moviegoers won’t see anything funny about a guy their dad’s age acting like a tool: Such is the predicament of the aging man-boy. Sandler’s proved surprisingly deft in more ambitious, if far lower-grossing, projects (Funny People, Reign Over Me), but he always retreats to his undemanding, comfortable Happy Madison clique. If his comedies do start to fade, it’s easier to imagine him hanging out at his pool all day with his old SNL and NYU pals than kick-starting a more daring full-time career path.

  • Domestic Box Office $100,000,000
  • Overseas Box Office $75,500,000
  • Studio Value (1-10) 8
  • Likability 70%
  • Oscars 0
  • Critics' Score (1-100) 33
  • Magazine Covers 0
  • Tabloid Value (1-10) 3
  • Read about our scientific rankings »

Photo: Andreas Branch/PatrickMcMullan.com

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25

Bruce Willis

The Action Veteran

Good with a gun... and sometimes, even better without.

Some movie stars go a year or two without putting out a movie, burnishing their star power with simple scarcity. Bruce Willis has six movies coming out in 2012 alone. (He would have had a seventh, but G.I. Joe: Retaliation got bumped to next year.) When you work that often, they can’t all be winners, and Willis has done his share of on-screen sleepwalking: Action movies like Setup and Catch .44 have gotten a negligible release in the United States (Is this the first that you’re hearing of either film?), and Cop Out director Kevin Smith famously said that Willis was an absolute nightmare on set. Despite that bad buzz, audiences still think well of him, according to his high likability scores.

For all his action-hero bravado, though, Willis is best when he’s engaged by an off-center role or movie, as in this year’s Moonrise Kingdom, where the 57-year-old star exhibited uncharacteristic gentle grace, or the upcoming sci-fi film Looper, which recalls his 12 Monkeys salad days in its brainy plot twists and compassionate performances. But like a squinty shark, Willis must keep moving, and so it is that he’s already got two sequels slated for 2013: Red 2 and the fifth Die Hard film. Whether they’re successes or not, Willis will surely have moved on to a dozen more by the time they come out.

  • Domestic Box Office $44,900,000
  • Overseas Box Office $83,900,000
  • Studio Value (1-10) 7
  • Likability 74%
  • Oscars 0
  • Critics' Score (1-100) 42
  • Magazine Covers 6
  • Tabloid Value (1-10) 4
  • Read about our scientific rankings »

Photo: Andrew H. Walker/Getty Images

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26

Ben Stiller

Leader of the Pack

The bankable comedian looks to expand his talent portfolio.

Born into low-level show biz, Ben Stiller now bestrides his own vast comedy kingdom. He’s the only funnyman with three separate billion-dollar franchises to his credit: the Night at the Museum movies, the Meet the Parents series, and the animated Madagascar films (the current installment of which pulled in more than $400 million dollars worldwide in its first month). Huddling with such Frat Pack associates as Owen Wilson, Jack Black, and Vince Vaughn, Stiller could probably keep spinning out this sort of mainstream box-office gold on autopilot (and he does — clowning around in The Heartbreak Kid, Tower Heist, and The Watch is too easy for him).

But Stiller has other, more serious ambitions. He wants to direct, for one thing (the glorious Tropic Thunder was his third effort, and he’s currently helming The Secret Life of Walter Mitty). He also wants to branch out as an actor. The 2010 film Greenberg, in which he starred with indie icon Greta Gerwig, was an impressive step in a new direction — the touching story of a guy pushing 40 who can’t figure out what he wants his life to be. This is not Stiller’s problem, of course. He’s always known what he wants. But now, at 46, with the youth-comedy window beginning to close, it’s a matter of what the studios want from him (more of the same) and how much more of that he’s willing to give... and whether the recent deal he signed to topline an HBO series means that Stiller has in mind a new medium to conquer.

  • Domestic Box Office $94,500,000
  • Overseas Box Office $84,300,000
  • Studio Value (1-10) 7
  • Likability 60%
  • Oscars 0
  • Critics' Score (1-100) 53
  • Magazine Covers 3
  • Tabloid Value (1-10) 3
  • Read about our scientific rankings »

Photo: Anne-Christine Poujoulat/AFP/Getty Images

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27

Rachel McAdams

The Love Interest

Her own romantic life is well chronicled, but can she carry a movie when single?

Though most audiences first met Rachel McAdams in the tartly comic Mean Girls, she’s since built a career out of being the love interest perpetually stuck in a complicated or unsatisfying relationship (see: The Notebook, The Time Traveler’s Wife, and Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris, which reunited the actress with her Wedding Crashers co-star Owen Wilson). Studios believed in her drawing power enough to put her out front for the first time in the 2010 comedy Morning Glory, but it was met with mixed critical reaction and a less-than-stellar box office. Fortunately, her return to that sweet spot of star-crossed romantic pairings in The Vow (opposite an ascendant Channing Tatum) took in a major $125 million at the box office, restoring her rom-dram luster.

In real life, too, the gossip rags have linked McAdams to actors Josh Lucas and Michael Sheen (whom she’s now dating), but it was her on-again, off-again relationship with Notebook co-star Ryan Gosling that made for the juiciest tabloid headlines; she’s also a red-carpet fixture at home on the covers of Elle, Glamour, and Marie Claire. Her big Vow success ought to carry her through a tricky pair of next films: she stars opposite Ben Affleck in Terrence Malick’s follow-up to The Tree of Life (the romantic drama To the Wonder), and she’ll get Sapphic with Noomi Rapace in Brian DePalma’s psychological suspense thriller Passion.

  • Domestic Box Office $31,000,000
  • Overseas Box Office $37,900,000
  • Studio Value (1-10) 7
  • Likability 74%
  • Oscars 0
  • Critics' Score (1-100) 47
  • Magazine Covers 8
  • Tabloid Value (1-10) 6
  • Read about our scientific rankings »

Photo: Ian Gavan/Getty Images

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28

Dwayne Johnson

The Rock

In-the-ring charisma led to big-screen breakouts in worldwide hits.

When Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson left his career as one of the most popular figures in WWE history, he sought similar success in Hollywood action movies. At first, he didn’t quite find it, instead appearing in a series of disappointments culminating in 2010’s Faster. But when Disney made him a family-film star, installing him in movies like The Game Plan, Race to Witch Mountain, and this year’s Journey 2: The Mysterious Island (which has grossed more than $325 million worldwide), Johnson found more success. Buffing up his audience appeal in that genre helped, and his co-starring role in Fast Five gave him a huge action hit from an already-established series: $600 million worldwide and $86 million in its opening weekend, the best ever for Johnson, the franchise, and any April release. Worldwide audiences respond to Johnson’s brawn, and they’ll see him a lot: Fast Six, G.I. Joe: Retaliation, Snitch, Pain and Gain (with Mark Wahlberg), and Empire State are all scheduled for 2013 release, but Johnson isn’t afraid to remind everyone that he was once a professional wrestler: He returned to the ring to pin John Cena at WrestleMania 28 last April, the sort of move that keeps his likeability score high.

  • Domestic Box Office $67,200,000
  • Overseas Box Office $52,400,000
  • Studio Value (1-10) 7
  • Likability 71%
  • Oscars 0
  • Critics' Score (1-100) 44
  • Magazine Covers 3
  • Tabloid Value (1-10) 2
  • Read about our scientific rankings »

Photo: Kevin Winter/Getty Images

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29

Cameron Diaz

The Gorgeous Goofball

A gifted comedienne whose good looks and varied career moves keep us guessing.

You can’t tell the Cameron Diaz story without starting at the beginning: Diaz was a SoCal model with no acting experience when she landed her first on-camera gig (after a dozen auditions) in 1994’s The Mask, in which she matched wits and comic timing with Jim Carrey to the tune of $119 million. It was a smash hit and so was she, thanks in large part to her great looks and effortless charisma, but she made a string of smallish movies until superstardom rang twice with My Best Friend’s Wedding and There’s Something About Mary. Though the latter film is still her biggest live-action success, Diaz was also a key ingredient in Charlie’s Angels, its sequel, and the Shrek franchise. Comedy is definitely Diaz’s game, but she got the best reviews of her career for getting ugly and weird in Spike Jonze’s Being John Malkovich and getting wounded and real in Curtis Hanson’s In Her Shoes.

After her career hit the skids thanks to a few forgettable films — My Sister’s Keeper, Knight and Day, and a disaster titled The Box — Diaz passed on her usual paycheck, which had reached $20 million, and carried the comedy Bad Teacher (budgeted at $20 million) to a $216 million worldwide gross. What happens next will be the real test: Diaz turns 40 in August and has another round of big projects on her plate with Michael Hoffman’s Gambit and two very different drug trafficking pics: a scorching, sexy role in Ridley Scott’s The Counselor and the comparative-ly lighter Agent: Century 21 opposite Benicio Del Toro.

  • Domestic Box Office $49,400,000
  • Overseas Box Office $64,500,000
  • Studio Value (1-10) 7
  • Likability 61%
  • Oscars 0
  • Critics' Score (1-100) 46
  • Magazine Covers 8
  • Tabloid Value (1-10) 8
  • Read about our scientific rankings »

Photo: Jason Merritt/Getty Images

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30

Zach Galifianakis

The Bearded Wonder

The alt-comic has settled into the mainstream without dulling his edge.

When Zach Galifanakis burst into the mainstream with 2009’s The Hangover, which grossed $467.5 million worldwide, longtime fans of his absurdist stand-up got nervous: Would his specific comic voice — which slyly skips between feigned ignorance, wicked cruelty, and moments of red-faced rage — be sanded down for the movies? But so far, Galifianakis has not been tempted to change; he kept his edge (and beard) in his second collaboration with Todd Phillips, Due Date, and it reached $211.8 worldwide. He made his Hangover character Alan even more annoying and blithely offensive in Part II, and though critics thought the movie had lost the first’s originality, the sequel more than doubled its predecessor’s gross. It’s Kind of a Funny Story (2010) was a sweeter tale, and Galifianakis, playing a mental patient in a psychiatric hospital, got good notices, even as the limited release (devoid of out-there, Hangover-esque moments to tout) was largely ignored; a mellowed Zach doesn’t have the same draw.

Even as his star rose, the comedian continued to honor his roots, appearing in such comedy-nerd manna as Comedy Bang Bang and Bored to Death, as well as his recurring Funny or Die series, Between Two Ferns. He’ll next appear with comedy soulmate Will Ferrell in The Campaign, which — other than the lack of a beard — looks to be in Galifianakis’s wheelhouse, and then he moves to You Are Here, the directorial film debut of Mad Men’s Matthew Weiner. Comedy hipsters who feared the family-friendly trajectory of other alt-comic-gone-big Jack Black (one minute you’re in Tenacious D, the next you’re in Gulliver’s Travels) can relax for now: Audiences seem to like it when he’s doing what he does best.

  • Domestic Box Office $101,000,000
  • Overseas Box Office $111,000,000
  • Studio Value (1-10) 6
  • Likability 67%
  • Oscars 0
  • Critics' Score (1-100) 51
  • Magazine Covers 2
  • Tabloid Value (1-10) 3
  • Read about our scientific rankings »

Photo: Michael Loccisano/Getty Images

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31

Hugh Jackman

The Entertainer

The Aussie chases EGOT status while pleasing action-hungry audiences worldwide.

He can sing, he can dance, he can impale enemies to death with two-foot-long adamantium bone claws that shoot out of his forearms. Somehow, Tony-winning, Oscar-hosting, repeat Sexiest Man Alive Hugh Jackman is as credible as the star of expensive action movies as he is the tap-dancing lead in Broadway musicals. He’s made a few big-screen misfires (Deception, The Fountain), but if you put him front and center in an action vehicle (the X-Men films, 2011’s Real Steel), he’ll deliver every time. (And more so abroad: Real Steel took in $210 million overseas compared to $85 million here. Even the $130 million epic Australia, a dud here with $49.6 million, took in more than three times that in the rest of the world.)

And onstage, he never misses: Jackman-starring Broadway productions of Carousel, The Boy From Oz, A Steady Rain, and one-man show Hugh Jackman, Back on Broadway have all been big hits. He also presided over the best-reviewed Academy Awards in recent memory. What remains to be seen is whether anyone will want to hear him sing in a multiplex. In December, Jackman will star as Jean Valjean in Tom Hooper’s film adaptation of Les Miserables. But with James Mangold’s sure-thing sequel to Wolverine scheduled for next summer, it probably doesn’t matter.

  • Domestic Box Office $67,600,000
  • Overseas Box Office $177,500,000
  • Studio Value (1-10) 6
  • Likability 70%
  • Oscars 0
  • Critics' Score (1-100) 53
  • Magazine Covers 5
  • Tabloid Value (1-10) 5
  • Read about our scientific rankings »

Photo: Jason Merritt/Getty Image

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32

Jason Statham

The Polished Thug

The British actor can’t break out of action roles, but does he need to?

Jason Statham started out in the Guy Ritchie rep company (Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels and Snatch) and was, for a long time, bigger abroad than in America, but the Crank and Transporter series of films changed that. He’s now a world-class action star, a stubble-headed havoc machine with a disarming sweet side (he doesn’t want to take you apart, but you’re forcing him to), hence his surprisingly high likability score for a movie tough guy. Statham’s real martial arts skills play well in even the most far-flung markets, an asset that won him a role among grizzled action vets in Sly Stallone’s The Expendables. Despite his international genre cred, though, Statham’s acting skills remain in some doubt, even if he wasn’t to blame for the mess that was Revolver. He took a credible stab at soulful depth in last year’s Killer Elite, which also wilted at the box office. (Robert De Niro and Clive Owen couldn’t save it, either).

The key to Statham’s success, and what holds him back, is the repetition of his roles: More often than not, he’s playing the same terse British bloke in a suit. Whether he’ll be given another chance to broaden his range is hard to predict. But does he even need to? He’s back onboard for The Expendables 2, and next year, he stars in Taylor Hackford’s Parker, playing the stone-cold bad guy created by novelist Donald E. Westlake. Even if Statham has ambitions beyond the action ghetto, it’s probably his true home.

  • Domestic Box Office $25,100,000
  • Overseas Box Office $21,900,000
  • Studio Value (1-10) 7
  • Likability 79%
  • Oscars 0
  • Critics' Score (1-100) 43
  • Magazine Covers 4
  • Tabloid Value (1-10) 4
  • Read about our scientific rankings »

Photo: Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images

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33

Vin Diesel

The Reborn Action Star

The rumble-voiced actor is re-embracing the franchises that first made him famous.

Vin Diesel had some pretty good days at the beginning of the last decade, when he became a near-overnight action star thanks to the breakout success of The Fast and the Furious in 2001 and xXx in 2002, both high-octane films and would-be franchises. However, his ego inflated, and, deciding that he was America’s new Stallone, he declined to do a Fast sequel in favor of 2004’s The Chronicles of Riddick, a follow-up to his breakout lean-and-mean sci-fi sleeper Pitch Black. In his mind, this would be his defining solo franchise, a sci-fi Rambo. The result, however, was a critically panned money-loser, and Hollywood reveled in the schadenfreude.

Though he had success with the family-friendly action movie The Pacifier, it took three more years for him to accept his destiny, calm his ego, and return to the Fast franchise in 2009’s Fast and Furious. It and its 2011 follow-up, Fast Five, proved to be international hits with respective worldwide takes of $363 million and $626 million. Studios are once again behind him (as long as he stays in his niche), and his middling likability scores reflect his young, male audience. And now he seems more careful to play it safe, signing on for a sixth Fast and a third xXx (another franchise he abandoned), and yes, he’s bringing back Riddick; he’s also doing another family action comedy, The Machine. As long as he keeps sticking to proven formulas, Diesel should be okay.

  • Domestic Box Office $155,000,000
  • Overseas Box Office $208,000,000
  • Studio Value (1-10) 7
  • Likability 52%
  • Oscars 0
  • Critics' Score (1-100) 45
  • Magazine Covers 1
  • Tabloid Value (1-10) 3
  • Read about our scientific rankings »

Photo: Charley Gallay/Getty Images

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34

Natalie Portman

The Swan Princess

The Oscar winner carries heavy dramas and fantasy epics with ease.

Natalie Portman was only 13 years old when she made her film debut in Luc Besson’s hit-man thriller The Professional, yet, in that role, she exhibited qualities that would come to define her: an innocent beauty, a fragile temperament hidden behind a tough exterior, and an intelligence beyond her years. (She later earned a psychology degree — between film roles! — from Harvard.) Still, it took a while for Portman to grow into her screen presence after a wooden three-film stint in the Star Wars franchise. An Oscar nomination for Closer helped, but in 2010, Portman hit a career high with ballet psycho-thriller Black Swan, opposite BFF Mila Kunis, for which she won an Academy Award (she also took home a husband in Black Swan choreographer Benjamin Millepied, with whom she has since had her first child, Aleph Portman-Millepied).

Portman’s high gossip value can be attributed to her early success, as well as her trendsetting red-carpet looks and seemingly effortless beauty. Though Stars Wars and Your Highness did her no critical favors, Portman’s got the useful ability of grounding on-screen fantasy, a talent she used best in the 2011 comic-book film hit Thor. She has proven herself just as comfortable in over-the-top fantasy epics (V for Vendetta) as she is in indie sleeper hits (Garden State) and middle-of-the-road date-night rom-coms (No Strings Attached). She’ll next test her acting abilities in two upcoming Terrence Malick projects and return to franchisedom in Thor 2.

  • Domestic Box Office $26,800,000
  • Overseas Box Office $21,100,000
  • Studio Value (1-10) 6
  • Likability 69%
  • Oscars 1 win, 1 nom
  • Critics' Score (1-100) 50
  • Magazine Covers 9
  • Tabloid Value (1-10) 8
  • Read about our scientific rankings »

Photo: Jason Merritt/Getty Images

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35

Tom Hanks

Mr. Nice Guy

He’s got much more interesting plans ahead than Larry Crowne.

Tom Hanks took a hard hit with last year’s Larry Crowne, which seemed engineered for maximum lovability: He co-wrote and directed it, starred with full Hanksian geniality, and cast Julia Roberts as his love interest. While this would have been a blockbuster package in 1998, in 2011, it fell flat, grossing just $72 million worldwide. However, the fact that the whole project seemed like a slightly unseemly throwback for both actors underscored what an anomaly it was to the way that Hanks, at age 56, steers his career.

A busy producer, he usually seems intent on challenging himself with provocative roles that (Da Vinci Code franchise aside) don’t feel like he’s repeating himself. He’s embracing late middle age with such varied fare as Paul Greengrass’s Somali-pirate true story Captain Phillips and the Mary Poppins creation tale Saving Mr. Banks, in which he’ll play Walt Disney. And then there’s the Wachowskis’ top-secret Cloud Atlas. Yes, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close fizzled, but the project had ambition and was a more interesting choice than Larry Crowne. He may never be the box-office sure thing he was in his You’ve Got Mail/Green Mile/Cast Away years, but it’s worth noting that picking unconventional projects was what got him his career’s biggest hit, Forrest Gump, and roles like that have nothing to do with age.

  • Domestic Box Office $51,200,000
  • Overseas Box Office $44,350,000
  • Studio Value (1-10) 6
  • Likability 77%
  • Oscars 2 wins, 3 noms
  • Critics' Score (1-100) 47
  • Magazine Covers 1
  • Tabloid Value (1-10) 2
  • Read about our scientific rankings »

Photo: Jemal Countess/Getty Images

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36

Ryan Gosling

The Charmer

The child star turned serious actor marches to his own drumbeat.

In that recent YouTube clip of Ryan Gosling breaking up a street fight, the two chatty girls manning the camera know that he’s famous, but they struggle to place him, until one remembers that he was in The Notebook. For all of Gosling’s cult and critical appeal these days, it’s important to realize that he’s still "The guy in The Notebook" to mass audiences, though he’s beginning to break through in a big way.

2011 was a particularly important year for Gosling, who had taken several years off from acting and studio movies in general: He channeled Steve McQueen cool in Nicolas Winding Refn’s stuntman actioner Drive; gave a solid performance in George Clooney’s political drama The Ides of March; and co-starred along with Steve Carell, Emma Stone, and his own abs in the rom-com Crazy, Stupid, Love, the first movie he’s made that actually outgrossed The Notebook. But does Gosling have any intention on becoming the studio star he could be? It’s true that he’s a part of the upcoming crime drama Gangster Squad (with Sean Penn, Josh Brolin, and Emma Stone again), but after that Oscar nod for 2006’s Half Nelson, it’s clear that his tastes run towards indie and will most likely continue to: Gosling’s next few projects include small-budget reunions with the directors of Drive and Blue Valentine, plus a Terrence Malick film. Sure, he’ll always inspire Internet lust and court the tabloids thanks to relationships with Sandra Bullock, Rachel McAdams, and Eva Mendes, but the only big tentpole he’s still remained attached to — a remake of Logan’s Run — has no foreseeable start date.

  • Domestic Box Office $35,100,000
  • Overseas Box Office $38,050,000
  • Studio Value (1-10) 6
  • Likability 55%
  • Oscars 1 nom
  • Critics' Score (1-100) 68
  • Magazine Covers 6
  • Tabloid Value (1-10) 9
  • Read about our scientific rankings »

Photo: Jason Merritt/Getty Images

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37

Tina Fey

America’s Favorite Funny Lady

Can the author, actress, writer, and producer move out of Liz Lemon’s shadow?

Why is Tina Fey number 37 on Vulture’s list after only having starred in two movies? Because her fan base is inversely proportional to the relatively small size of her 30 Rock audience; even those who don’t watch the show adore her smart, self-deprecating wit, whether she’s puncturing show-business pomp on red carpets and award shows or delivering sensible, hilarious guest editorials on Saturday Night Live. She’s a fanboy dream, a jeans-only nerd amused and confused by fashion but funnier than all the men in the room, and women love her sensible confidence and hilarious honesty, which is why her book Bossypants sold more than a million copies.

Date Night made a healthy $98.7 million, which is why our studio panel grade her as a seven; there’s a sense that once she’s free to concentrate on the big screen post-30 Rock (which ends after this season), she will be a force. Much like Democrats looked at Fey as their god for her damning Sarah Palin impression, she could muster an army of Bossypants-clutching women hoping to be saved from the sameness of romantic comedies. In next year’s Admission, with Paul Rudd, she’ll play a Princeton admissions officer who discovers that an applicant may be the child she gave up for adoption. But this, like Date Night, is a work for hire; the truer test of her connection with her audience will come after 30 Rock, when she will have more time to develop and write her own scripts to see how her own voice translates. It certainly worked for 2004’s Mean Girls.

  • Domestic Box Office $79,600,000
  • Overseas Box Office $28,634,718
  • Studio Value (1-10) 7
  • Likability 67%
  • Oscars 0
  • Critics' Score (1-100) 56
  • Magazine Covers 11
  • Tabloid Value (1-10) 4
  • Read about our scientific rankings »

Photo: Thos Robinson/Getty Images

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38

Kristen Stewart

The Princess

How long will she reign?

Playing Bella Swan in the Twilight movies has brought Kristen Stewart worldwide celebrity, and according to Forbes, it has also made her the highest-paid actress in Hollywood. Why, then, is her likability score so low? Is there something off-puttingly remote about her? Does she not seem enough of a People’s Princess? Could be. Stewart is less sound-bite-ready than many of her peers, and she continues to play coy about her relationship with co-star Rob Pattinson (giving the gossip outlets an evergreen issue to probe).

But while she’s not called upon to do an awful lot of it in her money-minting franchise, Stewart really can act. In between Twilight installments, she’s knocked out some interesting indie films: Adventureland, in which she had strong chemistry with both Jesse Eisenberg and Ryan Reynolds; the little-seen Yellow Handkerchief, a road-trip flick with William Hurt and Eddie Redmayne; and The Runaways, in which she played Joan Jett and also proved she could sing. So at 22, she definitely has a future beyond Bella. Snow White and the Huntsman gave her a box-office success outside her franchise, even if it didn’t do too much for her critical bona fides, but On the Road, Walter Salles’s adaptation of the Jack Kerouac novel, should prove more compelling fare. It’s due out in December, one month after the Twilight wrap-up rocks the box office and sets Stewart free at last.

  • Domestic Box Office $75,100,000
  • Overseas Box Office $200,000,000
  • Studio Value (1-10) 5
  • Likability 40%
  • Oscars 0
  • Critics' Score (1-100) 56
  • Magazine Covers 32
  • Tabloid Value (1-10) 9
  • Read about our scientific rankings »

Photo: Christopher Polk/Getty Images

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39

Matthew McConaughey

The Reformed Cheeseball

Did he become more interesting after being visited by a Ghost of Bad Rom-Coms Past?

Just three years ago, if Matthew McConaughey wasn’t a punch line, he certainly seemed intent on getting there. Churning out rom-coms with diminishing returns (even by Kate Hudson standards) and keeping hordes of beach-based paparazzi employed with his incessant shirtless exercise, he went right to the brink of irrelevance and self-parody and then seemed to have an epiphany: Hey, what if I started doing interesting work? It was the good-ol-boy-actor equivalent to Dylan going electric, as McConaughey started taking roles in smaller movies or flashier supporting roles that had little in common with his recent run of disposable charmathons.

Critics first shook their heads in confusion last year when The Lincoln Lawyer came out and it was a thoughtful thriller. He was the surprise of this year’s Cannes (and without ever being spotted on the beach!) with his roles as a closeted, slouchy journalist in The Paperboy and as a fugitive in Mud; he got great notices reuniting with Richard Linklater for Bernie, and advanced word has been strong for his vicious turn as a cop/assassin in Killer Joe. And then there’s his turn as stripper team captain Dallas in Magic Mike, an over-the-top, slithery performance that winks knowingly at the self-parody McConaughey nearly became. His studio value is a middling six, but the glory of late-career McConaughey is that he doesn’t care: He would have probably scored higher circa Fool’s Gold, but he and movie lovers (if not Hollywood moneymen) are better people for him having left that behind.

  • Domestic Box Office $58,000,000
  • Overseas Box Office $41,000,000
  • Studio Value (1-10) 6
  • Likability 63%
  • Oscars 0
  • Critics' Score (1-100) 63
  • Magazine Covers 8
  • Tabloid Value (1-10) 6
  • Read about our scientific rankings »

Photo: Andreas Rentz/Getty Images

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40

Daniel Craig

The Secret Agent

An experienced star brings fresh depth and dark masculinity to a tired franchise.

Daniel Craig has a long list of film credits as a character actor — in twenty years, he’s played everyone from artists to terrorists — but none can top the leading-man role he’s only been seen in twice: James Bond. And while Bond watchers initially criticized his casting (he’s too short and too blonde!), Craig crushed any doubts when Casino Royale debuted in 2005. His gruff take on 007 was praised for its complexity and depth and the box-office results were equally inspired, netting $586 million worldwide. The 2008 Bond entry, Quantum of Solace, wasn’t as well reviewed, but you couldn’t tell by the $594 million take; expect better returns in every department from the Sam Mendes-directed installment Skyfall, coming this winter.

As for Craig’s appeal outside the franchise, it’s hard to say: The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo and Cowboys and Aliens barely topped $100 million domestically, falling under studio expectations, while Dream House, Defiance, and The Invasion outright bombed. Craig may be the best Bond we’ve had since Connery, but the chilly cool he projects there isn’t necessarily the sort of thing that audiences can warm to in other roles.

  • Domestic Box Office $35,100,000
  • Overseas Box Office $74,600,000
  • Studio Value (1-10) 6
  • Likability 67%
  • Oscars 0
  • Critics' Score (1-100) 51
  • Magazine Covers 11
  • Tabloid Value (1-10) 6
  • Read about our scientific rankings »

Photo: Carlos Alvarez/Getty Images

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41

Reese Witherspoon

The Ambitious Girl Next Door

She conquered comedy and won an Oscar for drama. Now what?

The characters in Legally Blonde were surprised that a bubbly blond like Reese Witherspoon could be so secretly sharp, but it was no shock to moviegoers: Her best role in Election made excellent use of the innate drive and ambition that seemed to power Witherspoon herself for much of her career. That canny strategizing paid off for a long time as Witherspoon pushed small comedies like Legally Blonde and Sweet Home Alabama to blockbuster heights, and then she switched gears and took home the Best Actress Oscar for Walk the Line.

After realizing all those career goals so early, Witherspoon has struggled. No one saw Rendition, and a downturn in the romantic-comedy genre took away the actress’s bread-and-butter niche. She hasn’t had a live-action success since 2008’s Four Christmases, where she co-starred with Vince Vaughn. She’s trying to project herself as a serious actress again by working with smart auteurs; she appeared in the Jeff Nichols drama Mud (which went to Cannes) and is currently shooting Atom Egoyan’s West Memphis Three film Devil’s Knot. But what she could really use is a starring role that leans on her actressy bona fides instead of simply letting her coast on her movie-star charisma. Which is to say, no more movies along the lines of This Means War or Water for Elephants — she needs a role as smart as she is. Maybe Big Eyes, the biopic of painter Margaret Keane, is it.

  • Domestic Box Office $54,800,000
  • Overseas Box Office $43,600,000
  • Studio Value (1-10) 5
  • Likability 76%
  • Oscars 1 win
  • Critics' Score (1-100) 46
  • Magazine Covers 20
  • Tabloid Value (1-10) 9
  • Read about our scientific rankings »

Photo: Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images

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42

Julia Roberts

The Retired ’It’ Girl

Happy to work less often and leave the superstar duties to someone else.

She’d been a tabloid staple and superstar for so long that it seemed improbable that Julia Roberts would ever voluntarily step out of the spotlight. But so she did in 2004 after giving birth to her twins, and she has never fully committed to coming back. Her first postpartum starring role (after a supporting toe-dip in Charlie Wilson’s War) was the double-crossing farce Duplicity, a hugely hyped comeback that grossed only $40.6 million. Eat Pray Love seemed a more appropriate test case, based on a bestseller with the kind of women who once flocked to her romantic comedies; it managed $80.6 million, as compared to the $116.1 million that Notting Hill made in 1999 dollars. Larry Crowne reunited her with other nineties superstar Tom Hanks, and together they eked out just $35.6 million, a sign that batons had been passed. (Hollywood execs agree, giving her a midrange six for Studio Value.)

Roberts does not seem to have the same hunger for success that she used to; the woman whose every marriage and divorce spurred countless magazine covers is now fully domesticated, and as such gets a rock-bottom three grade from our gossip editors. Even her campy turn in Mirror Mirror seemed less geared toward box-office strategy and more towards entertaining her children. However, there are signs that she’s ready to take on more challenging parts in the next stage of her career, doing Ryan Murphy’s adaptation of The Normal Heart and joining Meryl Streep in August: Osage County.

  • Domestic Box Office $40,600,000
  • Overseas Box Office $37,600,000
  • Studio Value (1-10) 6
  • Likability 65%
  • Oscars 1 win, 2 noms
  • Critics' Score (1-100) 46
  • Magazine Covers 5
  • Tabloid Value (1-10) 6
  • Read about our scientific rankings »

Photo: Andreas Branch/PatrickMcMullan.com

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43

Jonah Hill

The Goofball, Grown Up

In the span of a few years, he’s gone from teen jokester to Oscar-nominated character actor.

This year, Jonah Hill had a big hit as a cop hiding out in high school in 21 Jump Street, but it wasn’t that long ago that he was playing an actual teenager in Superbad, the 2007 Judd Apatow-produced comedy that made him a star. Hill owes a lot to his Apatow affiliation, which found him in supporting roles in The 40-Year-Old Virgin, Knocked Up, Forgetting Sarah Marshall, and Funny People and headlining Get Him to the Greek.

Away from the Apatow mill, his starring roles were more uneven: He was terrific in the under-seen Cyrus, but The Sitter was widely panned, and Allen Gregory, the 2011 Fox animated sitcom he co-created and voiced, was cancelled after the first season. But no need to feel sorry for Hill, who received a 2011 Best Supporting Actor nomination for more than holding his own opposite Brad Pitt in Moneyball, a transformative project that Hill says has encouraged him to take on more serious roles. He’ll fulfill his summer comedy quota in the Ben Stiller vehicle The Watch, but he’s lined up more unlikely roles in Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained and an upcoming film called True Story, where he’ll play a real-life journalist in a strange tale of stolen identity.

  • Domestic Box Office $37,800,000
  • Overseas Box Office $21,000,000
  • Studio Value (1-10) 6
  • Likability 60%
  • Oscars 1 nom
  • Critics' Score (1-100) 65
  • Magazine Covers 2
  • Tabloid Value (1-10) 3
  • Read about our scientific rankings »

Photo: Ben Gabbe/Getty Images

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44

Jennifer Aniston

The Actress Whose Best Role is ’Celebrity’

Sells a movie like nobody’s business, but can’t keep the tabloids out of hers.

When Friends ended its storied ten-season run in 2004, box-office handicappers laid odds that Jennifer Aniston would have the biggest post-sitcom movie career of her famous cast mates. After all, she had comedic chops, an iconic haircut (The Rachel), a superstar significant other (Brad Pitt), and better-than-decent showings as a capable No. 2 when paired with star No. 1s like Jim Carrey (2003’s Bruce Almighty) and Ben Stiller (2004’s Along Came Polly). Aniston did her best to mess up her hair and disappear into the indie role of a dowdy discount-store cashier in The Good Girl, an effort that delivered perhaps the best reviews of her career. But she hasn’t received such high marks for any other movie since her 2005 divorce from Pitt.

That’s not to say she hasn’t been successful in her big-screen outings: A pairing with then-boyfriend Vince Vaughn in The Break-Up topped $118 million, and the tearjerker Marley & Me was a blockbuster with a $244 million worldwide take. She still gives Good Girl-style efforts against type in films like Derailed or Horrible Bosses, but none of these roles can compare to how much the audience is interested in Aniston’s own personal life: She’s one of only three stars on our list to tally a ten in gossip value (joined by Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, natch). Still, she never starves for work, even at the old-by-Hollywood standards age of 43. Up next: Rawson Marshall Thurber’s pot comedy We’re the Millers and Paul Andrew Williams’s tearjerker Miss You Already.

  • Domestic Box Office $47,000,000
  • Overseas Box Office $32,250,000
  • Studio Value (1-10) 6
  • Likability 66%
  • Oscars 0
  • Critics' Score (1-100) 42
  • Magazine Covers 21
  • Tabloid Value (1-10) 10
  • Read about our scientific rankings »

Photo: Will Ragozzino/PatrickMcMullan.com

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45

Amy Adams

The Homecoming Queen With a Dark Side

Pulls off wide-eyed naivete and narrow-eyed toughness with equal skill.

Amy Adams first broke out as a wide-eyed, fast-talking optimist in the 2005 indie breakout Junebug, for which she scored her first of three supporting actress Oscar nominations, and her next big studio role, as a Disney princess come to life in Enchanted, made it seem like she planned to stick to Pollyannish roles with maximum aw-shuckery. And while she has built up a healthy canon of roles willed with naive wonderment (Doubt, The Muppets), she proved in The Fighter that she also has the range to mix it up with a mob of tough townies. Sure, she was the forgettable half of Julie & Julia (who can compete with Meryl Streep?), and Leap Year was a misfire, but the 37-year-old keeps getting good parts.

Her perception as a cheerful, winsome woman helps boost her likability score, but tabloid editors consider the mother of one with the behind-the-scenes boyfriend too dull for much coverage. Expect a return to plucky mode as Lois Lane in Zack Snyder’s Superman reboot, Man of Steel. But she’ll show off her range with two auteurs in Paul Thomas Anderson’s scientology drama The Master and alongside Rooney Mara in Spike Jonze’s upcoming untitled project.

  • Domestic Box Office $88,600,000
  • Overseas Box Office $35,400,000
  • Studio Value (1-10) 3
  • Likability 75%
  • Oscars 3 noms
  • Critics' Score (1-100) 67
  • Magazine Covers 8
  • Tabloid Value (1-10) 5
  • Read about our scientific rankings »

Photo: Kevin Winter/Getty Images

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46

Will Ferrell

The Goof

He may occasionally detour into drama, but he always comes running back to delightful dopiness.

Will Ferrell is widely considered one of the funniest actors of his generation, and his box office is inconsistent because, a lot of times, he just does what he wants and doesn’t care if it fits the formula, like the melancholy drama Everything Must Go, which was based on a Raymond Carver story and grossed only $2.7 million. This year, he released his Spanish-language western Casa de mi Padre, which had little hope of being a hit — and it wasn’t — but Ferrell did it just because the idea tickled him.

But as long as these are just occasional diversions, his studio value remains a strong seven because the absurdist goofs that are right in his zone are a pretty safe bet (although he has had his stumbles, like Semi-Pro and Land of the Lost, neither of which was directed by his Funny or Die partner Adam McKay). His last straight-up comedy, The Other Guys, took in $119.2 million, and this year’s The Campaign, with Zach Galifianakis looks to be a winner, as it has Ferrell in Ron Burgundy arrogant-boob mode. (Note: Like many comedians, his value isn’t as strong overseas, with his international grosses usually ending up around half of what they are in the U.S.)

As for his occasional dramatic diversions, there seems to be little risk that Ferrell would ever decide to abandon comedy to be serious full time. Not only does owning a company called "Funny or Die" indicate a serious dedication to laughter, but he revels too much in freelancing grotesque, SNL-like characters like Eastbound & Down’s Ashley Schaeffer to ever want to give it up.

  • Domestic Box Office $49,400,000
  • Overseas Box Office $23,200,000
  • Studio Value (1-10) 7
  • Likability 61%
  • Oscars 0
  • Critics' Score (1-100) 52
  • Magazine Covers 2
  • Tabloid Value (1-10) 3
  • Read about our scientific rankings »

Photo: Andreas Branch/PatrickMcMullan.com

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47

Bradley Cooper

The Eyes

After perfecting supporting roles and character parts, the handsome actor finally graduated to leading-man status.

French-speaking, classically trained thespian Bradley Cooper played a douche bag so well in 2005’s Wedding Crashers that it took us years to recognize him as the sensitive, bankable Sexiest Man Alive that he is deep inside. His starring role in 2009’s $467 million-grossing The Hangover was followed with big parts in All About Steve, Case 39, Valentine’s Day, and The A-Team — all of which were bad, but none of which derailed his ascendant stardom. It was the surprise $161 million success of 2011’s Limitless, though, that seemed to prove he could make a hit on his own. The Hangover Part II’s $581 million gross and Cooper’s (controversial) selection over Ryan Gosling for People magazine’s highest honor later in the year were just icing.

His upcoming slate of quiet, well-pedigreed dramas should boost his acting cred (if not his asking price): He’ll star with Zoe Saldana in The Words, with Gosling in Derek Cianfrance’s The Place Beyond the Pines, and opposite Jennifer Lawrence in both David O. Russell’s Silver Linings Playbook and Susanne Bier’s Serena. Should fans of his more profitable, less sophisticated work feel neglected, though, be advised: a third Hangover movie is inevitable.

  • Domestic Box Office $77,200,000
  • Overseas Box Office $82,600,000
  • Studio Value (1-10) 6
  • Likability 52%
  • Oscars 0
  • Critics' Score (1-100) 44
  • Magazine Covers 6
  • Tabloid Value (1-10) 6
  • Read about our scientific rankings »

Photo: Jason Kempin/Getty Images

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48

Ben Affleck

The Burned-Out Movie Star Turned Auteur

Reenergized as a movie star by his new day job as a top director.

Consider Ben Affleck’s Hollywood career healthy, a far cry from where he was just six years ago, when a disastrous Gigli-Paycheck-Jersey Girl-Surviving Christmas run and the Bennifer sideshow had made him a joke. But then he retreated from the tabloids, charged into auteur mode, and moved back to his hometown of Boston (setting of his breakout Oscar-winning Good Will Hunting) to direct 2007’s Gone Baby Gone; this "back to his roots" move proved metaphorically and critically successful. That film and 2010’s The Town, both of which he wrote and directed, showed off an unexpected skill that appealed to studios and made turned-off fans reconsider him. (And by being more choosy about on-screen roles — whether in his own Town or the small downsizing drama The Company Men — he was re-acclaimed as an actor, too.)

Having seen where going for the money got him, he passed on showy follow-ups Man of Steel and Gangster Squad and instead is testing his abilities outside of Boston-based material by directing and starring in this fall’s almost impossible true-life hostage-rescue tale Argo. His likability and studio rankings are just okay, but that’s a public-relations success story. Affleck has erased memories of Bennifer and crafted a new narrative as a devoted family man and A-list multitasker. Audiences may warm to him even more when he returns his focus solely to acting in Terrence Malick’s anticipated romance To the Wonder and Brad Furman’s crime drama Runner, Runner.

  • Domestic Box Office $18,500,000
  • Overseas Box Office $33,900,000
  • Studio Value (1-10) 6
  • Likability 57%
  • Oscars 1 win
  • Critics' Score (1-100) 69
  • Magazine Covers 2
  • Tabloid Value (1-10) 7
  • Read about our scientific rankings »

Photo: Andreas Rentz/Getty Images

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49

Daniel Day Lewis

The Dark Horse

The moody method actor avoids attention but can’t help winning awards.

It doesn’t matter if Daniel Day-Lewis has never had a $100 million hit or if he’s only made four movies in the last decade: No matter how little attention he gives to Hollywood stardom, A-list directors will always clamor to work with him. In 2007, the famously method Day-Lewis picked up his second Academy Award (and an Internet meme for "I drink your milkshake") for his instantly iconic work in Paul Thomas Anderson’s There Will Be Blood; he followed that up with Rob Marshall’s musical bomb Nine, where he seemed ill at ease. (As did critics: A movie where Day-Lewis isn’t immediately the most arresting character doesn’t really feel like a Day-Lewis movie at all.) If audiences ignored that film, he, in turn, mostly ignores his audience and the press and any hint of celebrity. He lives in Ireland, woodworking and making shoes, practicing what the actor calls "a lifelong study of evasion." Good luck with that: He returns to screens in December as Abraham Lincoln in Steven Spielberg’s eagerly awaited biopic Lincoln, which could be his highest-profile role to date. He’s also agreed to team with Martin Scorsese again in an adaptation of Shusaku Endo’s novel Silence about two Jesuit priests in seventeenth-century Japan.

  • Domestic Box Office $30,000,000
  • Overseas Box Office $35,150,000
  • Studio Value (1-10) 6
  • Likability 60%
  • Oscars 2 wins, 2 noms
  • Critics' Score (1-100) 71
  • Magazine Covers 1
  • Tabloid Value (1-10) 2
  • Read about our scientific rankings »

Photo: Frederick Brown/Getty Images

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50

Taylor Lautner

The Tween Wolf

Abduction weakened the Twilight star’s action-hero potential.

Taylor Lautner’s abs are beloved by Twilight fans, but the actor doesn’t have as much success delighting a new demographic. When the Team Jacob/Edward frenzy first hit, Hollywood decided that he would definitely be a huge action star, a prediction seemingly based solely on his six-pack. He was wooed for everything, including a big-budget take on the Stretch Armstrong toy. Then came his first non-Twilight role, 2011’s critically savaged Abduction; its $28.1 million domestic gross was one-tenth that of Breaking Dawn - Part 1, and suddenly he wasn’t looking like the next Schwarzenegger anymore.

Now, with the Twilight franchise poised to end this November, most of those major blockbuster projects have gone away. He’ll appear in Grown Ups 2, but his next action role is the parkour thriller Tracers. (The use of "parkour" as a hook six years after Casino Royale is worrisome.) He ranks midway through Vulture’s Most Valuable Stars ranking because of his hulking Twilight grosses, and who knows, if he somehow proves revelatory in Breaking Dawn – Part 2 (never say never!), it could lead to a resurgence of interest. But considering how in demand he was just a few years ago, the fact that he rated a studio value of four is not a good sign. His relatively low likability score reflects his polarizing appeal as a favorite of a younger, female audience, which also explains why the 20-year-old actor so easily claims heartthrob status. (He ranks on Glamour’s "50 Sexiest Men" and People’s "Most Amazing Bodies" list, among others.) Well, his abs have gotten him this far...

  • Domestic Box Office $281,000,000
  • Overseas Box Office $398,000,000
  • Studio Value (1-10) 4
  • Likability 44%
  • Oscars 0
  • Critics' Score (1-100) 45
  • Magazine Covers 8
  • Tabloid Value (1-10) 5
  • Read about our scientific rankings »

Photo: Francois Durand/Getty Images

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51

Jim Carrey

The Returning Clown

He’s back to making manic comedies, but did he wait too long?

Jim Carrey was the biggest name in slapstick, and then he seemed to lose interest, engaging more in serious fare like Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. He received good notices for many of these turns, but his fan base seemed to be patiently waiting off to the side for him to get it all out of his system. His rebellious no-laugh phase seemed to finally grind to a halt with 2007’s dour thriller The Number 23, and ever since then, he’s been back in manic mode, though not to the same level of success. Yes Man took in a healthy $223 million worldwide in 2008, which is great, though not as great when compared to Bruce Almighty’s $485 million take in 2003. But these are still healthy grosses for a 50-year-old clown, especially with audiences abroad staying more loyal than his hometown crowd. In his heyday, his domestic and international grosses moved in tandem, but while Mr. Popper’s Penguins took in $68 million here, it brought in $119 million overseas. The motion-capture A Christmas Carol: $50 million more overseas. (The Jerry Lewis parallels continue throughout Carrey’s career.)

Next year, he partners with Steve Carell as dueling magicians in The Incredible Burt Wonderstone, directed by 30 Rock’s Don Scardino. Carrey plays a goth-y Criss Angel type, and the premise and talent attached indicates that he might not be set on riding out his career with syrupy "selfish guy learns what’s really important" comedies like Poppers, a genre that he himself parodied in 30 Rock’s "Leap Dave Williams" movie. If he can re-embrace the dangerous weirdness of his early Living Color characters and his now-appreciated Cable Guy, the old fans who had wandered off might take notice.

  • Domestic Box Office $68,200,000
  • Overseas Box Office $119,000,000
  • Studio Value (1-10) 6
  • Likability 62%
  • Oscars 0
  • Critics' Score (1-100) 54
  • Magazine Covers 0
  • Tabloid Value (1-10) 4
  • Read about our scientific rankings »

Photo: Jonathon Ziegler/PatrickMcMullan.com

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52

Robert De Niro

The Reputation

Once a dependable great, he’s now done more forgettable junk than masterpieces.

Looking at some of Robert De Niro’s most recent choices — Red Lights, New Year’s Eve, Killer Elite — you could cluck about how sad it is that at 68, one of our greatest actors has been forced to slum it in today’s Hollywood. But considering that De Niro has apparently been slumming it since 2001’s 15 Minutes, the onus must fall on him. In 1999’s Analyze This, it was fun to see this acting great play with his reputation, but it has become an increasingly rare moment that he reminds us how he got this rep. Much was made of his 2008 reunion with Al Pacino, Righteous Kill, but it only served to remind fans of seventies cinema how long it had been since either of them seemed to be trying, and it only pulled in $40.1 million, with a reported budget of $60 million. Even his popular Fockers franchise burned out after an unfunny third installment in 2010 that did just more than half of what the second pulled in.

He still scores high on likability (perhaps still drafting off of Fockers goodwill), and directors want to work with him since he gives off the sense memory of quality. He works tirelessly, but even when he seems inspired, most of his material has not been good enough for it to matter — and his vast on-deck roster doesn’t give much hope that he’s getting more discerning. While there are promising collaborations with David O. Russell (Silver Linings Playbook) and Sean Penn (The Comedian), there are also a wealth of productions with directors hardly known for pushing an actor, such as The Longest Yard’s Peter Segal, Ghost Rider’s Mark Steven Johnson, and The Sorcerer’s Apprentice’s Jon Turteltaub.

  • Domestic Box Office $16,300,000
  • Overseas Box Office $31,300,000
  • Studio Value (1-10) 5
  • Likability 78%
  • Oscars 2 wins, 4 noms
  • Critics' Score (1-100) 44
  • Magazine Covers 3
  • Tabloid Value (1-10) 2
  • Read about our scientific rankings »

Photo: Guillaume Baptiste/AFP/Getty Images

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53

Jason Segel

The Everydude

Can he find his way out of the man-cave?

Jason Segel is a master of the beta-male bro-com, both as an actor and a writer: His grown men stuck in perpetual adolescence may seem like losers, but they usually win over audiences. Remember him in Forgetting Sarah Marshall, sandbagged by a sudden breakup (while naked) and restored in the end by a Dracula puppet musical? His Sidney in I Love You, Man had a little more backbone but still needed work, and in Bad Teacher, his slacker gym coach got rejected by a slutty teacher (Cameron Diaz), who was an even bigger slacker... oh, the indignity!

As he’s aged, Segel’s tried to mature his work as well. In The Five-Year Engagement, he was a super-supportive boyfriend who put his successful career on hold to help further the professional dreams of his loving girlfriend — very adult. And even in Jeff, Who Lives at Home — one of his best films — he took his ultra-slacker into unexpected narrative territory. The only problem? Both sputtered out at the box office. Perhaps that’s reason enough for Segel to stick with the hit sitcom How I Met Your Mother until the series finale. He’ll also play himself, along with many, many Hollywood pals, in Seth Rogen’s apocalyptic party at James Franco’s house, The End of the World.

  • Domestic Box Office $56,700,000
  • Overseas Box Office $31,100,000
  • Studio Value (1-10) 5
  • Likability 69%
  • Oscars 0
  • Critics' Score (1-100) 65
  • Magazine Covers 1
  • Tabloid Value (1-10) 5
  • Read about our scientific rankings »

Photo: Andreas Branch/PatrickMcMullan.com

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54

Jeff Bridges

The Dude

The laid-back Oscar winner lives a quiet life dotted with beloved performances.

Everybody likes Jeff Bridges. He’s a good actor, he’s been around forever, he seems like a decent guy, he releases albums (because why not?), and he takes terrific on-set photographs that always make for lovely spreads in magazines. The long, beloved shadow cast by The Big Lebowski has made Bridges a go-to for larger-than-life older-guy characters, and he does villains and would-be heroes with equal charisma: He’s preeningly evil in Iron Man, crusty and jovial in True Grit, and sad and sage in his Oscar-winning role in Crazy Heart. The less we say about his grotesquely CGIed face in Tron: Legacy, the better, but $171 million is nothing to sneeze at. (The box-office returns for The Men Who Stare at Goats and The Open Road, however, are worthy of many, many sneezes.)

Bridges’s lousy movies are too small to be called flops, though, and his good movies are good enough perpetuate his Teflon image. Before the Oscar for Crazy Heart and those True Grit grosses, he was more of a character actor — more "casting" than "movie star" — and he well may be again someday, but at least he’s taking advantage of his hotter career by toplining the zombie police comedy R.I.P.D. and the family fantasy The Seventh Son in 2013.

  • Domestic Box Office $39,500,000
  • Overseas Box Office $36,500,000
  • Studio Value (1-10) 5
  • Likability 68%
  • Oscars 1 win, five noms
  • Critics' Score (1-100) 49
  • Magazine Covers 2
  • Tabloid Value (1-10) 2
  • Read about our scientific rankings »

Photo: Mike Coppola/Getty Images

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55

Vince Vaughn

The Motormouth

He’s finally settled into his role as a fast-talking comic headliner.

Vince Vaughn always seemed destined to be one of Hollywood’s top comedy stars, but for a long time, he tried to fight it: After breaking through with his sexy, loose performance in Swingers, he frittered away his momentum in ill-suited dramas like The Locusts and Return to Paradise. Eventually, after a mild comic comeback streak consisting of Old School, Starsky and Hutch, and Dodgeball, Vaughn hit the big time again with Wedding Crashers, and he’s stayed mostly in that mold ever since, making him a sure casting bet with a studio value akin to Will Ferrell and Steve Carell. Are the movies as good? Well, Four Christmases and Couples Retreat were no one’s idea of classics, but both were big hits; less so The Dilemma, an ill-advised marital comedy with Kevin James that grossed less than $50 million domestically. (The GLAAD flap didn’t help.)

He’s keeping better company in this summer’s The Watch, where he’ll try to recreate the box-office success of Dodgeball with co-star Ben Stiller, and since his relationship with Jennifer Aniston ended in 2006, Vaughn’s been mostly out of the tabloids and is now married with a child. One leg he has up on other comic stars is that Vaughn takes a serious interest in creating his own material, and in addition to co-writing Couples Retreat, he also penned next project The Internship, a movie about older guys (Vaughn, reunited with his Wedding Crashers co-star Owen Wilson) who intern at an Internet company, scheduled for release next year.

  • Domestic Box Office $72,000,000
  • Overseas Box Office $43,600,000
  • Studio Value (1-10) 7
  • Likability 56%
  • Oscars 0
  • Critics' Score (1-100) 42
  • Magazine Covers 1
  • Tabloid Value (1-10) 3
  • Read about our scientific rankings »

Photo: Andreas Branch/PatrickMcMullan.com

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56

Jeremy Renner

The Ascendant Action Hero

The actor’s fast rise could stall if audiences prefer Matt Damon.

Jeremy Renner went from "Who’s that guy?" obscurity (2009’s The Hurt Locker) to badass sleeveless superhero in the film with the biggest opening-weekend box office of all time (2012’s The Avengers), and it only took three short years. (Oh, and did we mention he picked up a couple of Academy Award nominations within those three years as well? Because he totally did.) Of course, Renner had appeared in well over a dozen feature films before landing his career-changing lead in The Hurt Locker, but it was that Oscar-nominated performance which coaxed studios to see the 41-year-old actor as their potential Next Big Action Star. Since his breakthrough in 2009, Renner’s maintained a phenomenal track record in both critically and commercially successful films, from the over-the-top spy sequel Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol to the Ben Affleck-directed crime drama The Town. The press-averse Renner tends to keep a low profile and, as a result, has garnered relatively little interest from the tabloids or glossies save for the occasional Renner-in-a-tux-on-the-red-carpet pictorial or Q&A.

This summer, all eyes will be on Renner's takeover of the franchise made famous by Matt Damon in The Bourne Legacy. Can he carry a beloved franchise instead of simply excelling in an ensemble? While he waits to find out, Renner’s trying out other genres. He’ll play a magician with Marion Cotillard in an untitled James Grey film and then a grown-up Hansel in the delayed action-fantasy Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters.

  • Domestic Box Office $46,100,000
  • Overseas Box Office $32,200,000
  • Studio Value (1-10) 5
  • Likability 62%
  • Oscars 2 noms
  • Critics' Score (1-100) 69
  • Magazine Covers 2
  • Tabloid Value (1-10) 5
  • Read about our scientific rankings »

Photo: Jason Merritt/Getty Images

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57

Seth Rogen

The Bankable Stoner

The round, scruffy anchor of the Apatow comedy empire.

Would there be a Judd Apatow comedy empire without Seth Rogen, his frequent star and possible lucky charm? As a young man leaving his teens, the former stand-up was discovered by Apatow and placed on his short-lived TV shows, cult hit Freaks and Geeks and Undeclared (where he also held down a writing job), but when Apatow cast Rogen in 2007’s Knocked Up, Hollywood discovered that the chubby everyman was comedic lead material.

The affable, married Vancouver native keeps a low media profile, and his decidedly schlubby looks and personality skew heavily male, but a string of successful comedies (Knocked Up, Pineapple Express, 50/50) have proven that Rogen can carry a film. There have been a couple box-office misses, like Zack and Miri Make a Porno or Observe and Report, but nothing that’s severely dented his image, which seems to be maturing: Earlier in his career, the 30-year-old actor became synonymous with self-effacing, pot-tinged humor, but more recent projects, including 50/50, The Green Hornet, and Take This Waltz, pushed Rogen into increasingly more challenging territory. Next up, Rogen will make his directorial debut in 2013’s apocalyptic ensemble comedy The End of the World.

  • Domestic Box Office $43,500,000
  • Overseas Box Office $17,000,000
  • Studio Value (1-10) 6
  • Likability 55%
  • Oscars 0
  • Critics' Score (1-100) 60
  • Magazine Covers 2
  • Tabloid Value (1-10) 3
  • Read about our scientific rankings »

Photo: Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images

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58

Russell Crowe

The Sensitive Brawler

A brawny brooder who may be on the eve of an A-list comeback.

Five years after his breakout acting performance as a racist skinhead in 1992’s Australian action drama Romper Stomper, Crowe became a bona fide star by starring as a violent cop in Curtis Hanson’s L.A. Confidential. He looked well on his way to a career of playing agitated heavies, then turned left, making a diverse array of choices best displayed in the trio of films for which he was nominated for Oscar gold: as a tobacco-industry whistleblower in The Insider; as a brilliant yet schizophrenic mathematician in A Beautiful Mind; and as a revenge-seeking Roman general in Gladiator, which garnered him a statuette in 2000. But all of that was a long time ago, and Crowe’s career has been inconsistent ever since.

He found recent critical success in American Gangster, and Robin Hood earned $320 million worldwide. Other efforts, like State of Play or The Next Three Days, never found an audience. His middling likability score results from Crowe’s penchant for bad press at the hands of his short fuse (tossing phones, temper tantrums) and a short-lived romance with Meg Ryan. He’s married now, with two kids and a lower profile, but his reps have signaled a renewed interest from Crowe in big projects, and Hollywood has responded accordingly: He snagged the part of Javert in Les Miserables, Superman’s father in Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel, and the title role in the anticipated Noah from Darren Aronofsky.

  • Domestic Box Office $46,500,000
  • Overseas Box Office $63,250,000
  • Studio Value (1-10) 5
  • Likability 50%
  • Oscars 1 win, 2 noms
  • Critics' Score (1-100) 61
  • Magazine Covers 2
  • Tabloid Value (1-10) 4
  • Read about our scientific rankings »

Photo: Dario Cantatore/Getty Images

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59

Mila Kunis

The TV Girl Made Good

Graceful enough for Black Swan; raunchy enough for Family Guy.

It took a breakout supporting role in the 2008 hit Forgetting Sarah Marshall to help Ukranian-born starlet Mila Kunis make the precarious transition from small-screen Girl Next Door (That ‘70s Show) to silver-screen Girl Atop Natalie Portman (Black Swan). Kunis’s exotic-yet-approachable good looks (GQ once dubbed her "the sexiest woman alive") and comfort level with gross-out humor make the 28-year-old actress a solid box-office draw for male audiences, and she’s also familiar to men as the longtime voice of Family Guy’s Meg, but few Hollywood stars can find success with the support of only one gender. Kunis sought approval from other demographics in rom-coms like Date Night and Friends With Benefits, becoming a women’s magazine staple, while critics warmed to Kunis after she played Natalie Portman’s rival in Black Swan.

The tabloids had little interest in Kunis after her eight-year relationship with child star Macaulay Culkin ended in 2010, but now that she’s rumored to have taken up with Ashton Kutcher, she’s earning new gossip buzz. Expect her studio value to go up after blockbuster comedy Ted finishes its run, after which she’ll be starring in Oz the Great and Powerful, the mob movie Blood Ties, and the Wachowskis’ next sci-fi flick, Jupiter Ascending.

  • Domestic Box Office $53,500,000
  • Overseas Box Office $62,400,000
  • Studio Value (1-10) 5
  • Likability 75%
  • Oscars 0
  • Critics' Score (1-100) 40
  • Magazine Covers 7
  • Tabloid Value (1-10) 8
  • Read about our scientific rankings »

Photo: Andreas Branch/PatrickMcMullan.com

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60

Robert Pattinson

The Vamp With Much at Stake

Terrifically famous, he contemplates an uncertain future outside of Twilight.

Robert Pattinson’s career is based almost entirely on book adaptations: American audiences first met him in 2005, when he played the doomed Cedric Diggory in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, but he became a major Hollywood player by landing the role of Edward Cullen in the virtually inescapable Twilight series. Even his non-fantasy outing Water for Elephants was based on a best-selling novel. Thanks in part to these adaptations — and his good looks — the 26-year-old actor’s fan base skews largely female. But these women go to the movies, giving Pattinson a considerable foreign and domestic box-office record.)

The incredible success of the Twilight franchise ranked Pattinson on power lists put out by Time and Forbes, an impressive feat for such a young actor. But when he tries to loose himself from the Twilight albatross, Pattinson struggles a bit. The romance Remember Me, panned for its 9/11 plot, earned only $19 million in the U.S. (The movie made more than $36 million internationally, so executive producer Pattinson made out okay.) This year’s Bel Ami with Uma Thurman was released on demand, and Pattinson’s role in David Cronenberg’s adaptation of Don DeLillo’s Cosmopolis next month will earn him critical plaudits, though box office isn’t assured. Pattinson will have one last go at Twilight in November with the release of the concluding film, Breaking Dawn - Part 2, but after that, he’ll spend some time in the wild making indies like Rover and Mission: Blacklist. And maybe that’s just what he needs.

  • Domestic Box Office $126,000,000
  • Overseas Box Office $129,200,000
  • Studio Value (1-10) 5
  • Likability 31%
  • Oscars 0
  • Critics' Score (1-100) 45
  • Magazine Covers 19
  • Tabloid Value (1-10) 8
  • Read about our scientific rankings »

Photo: Valery Hache/AFP/Getty Images

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61

Kevin James

The Always Underestimated Clown

Adam Sandler’s student has become the teacher.

It’s no wonder that Kevin James fell in with Adam Sandler: Both can empathize about what it’s like to get no critical respect while making unholy sums of money. As a sitcom star, James watched CBS-mate Everybody Loves Raymond get all the critical love; he had to make due with nine seasons’ worth of syndication cash for King of Queens. And so it was with his first solo star turn in Paul Blart: Mall Cop. The very title welcomed rolled eyes, but he aggressively promoted the slapstick comedy and walked away with a $146 million hit. About a mall cop. Now, much like Sandler, he stays safely ensconced in the low-bar Happy Madison fraternity, whether starring with the boss man (Grown Ups) or on his own (Zookeeper), irritating critics but pleasing audiences. (And, like Sandler, he occasionally steps out to work with more acclaimed directors to lesser returns, as in Ron Howard’s The Dilemma, and then darts back to pratfall safety.)

Some point to him as the new Chris Farley, but James has a genuine sweetness to him that results in high likeability and gives his films a slightly less manic, cartoony edge: Unlike Sandler, you root for him from the beginning of a movie, rather than having to wait until his immature character grows up. But with James’ next film, the MMA comedy Here Comes the Boom, another Happy Madison production directed by Happy lifer Frank Coraci, it’s clear that James has no intention of growing up and leaving the fold. Frankly, it wouldn’t pay.

  • Domestic Box Office $120,000,000
  • Overseas Box Office $66,000,000
  • Studio Value (1-10) 6
  • Likability 69%
  • Oscars 0
  • Critics' Score (1-100) 37
  • Magazine Covers 0
  • Tabloid Value (1-10) 1
  • Read about our scientific rankings »

Photo: Michael Buckner/Getty Images

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62

Katherine Heigl

The Would-Be Sweetheart

The funny woman falls on her own bad press.

On the eve of her comedy One for the Money, Vulture revisited Katherine Heigl’s Star Market, predicting her once-loyal middle-aged female fan base wouldn’t make the film a blockbuster, despite it being based on the wildly successful Janet Evanovich book series. It was worse than we’d expected: One for the Money failed to earn back its $40 million budget and appeared to be Heigl’s final kick from the A list.

It took only five years to fall: In 2007, Heigl won the Best Supporting Actress Emmy for Grey’s Anatomy and starred in Judd Apatow’s megahit Knocked Up, which grossed $219 million worldwide, Heigl’s biggest earner to date. Next came successful, if not beloved, rom-coms 27 Dresses in 2008 and The Ugly Truth in 2009, but Heigl floundered later in Killers and Life As We Know It, which brought her $12 million paydays, but made an unimpressive $47 and $53 million domestically.

A massive PR problem could have been to blame: Heigl famously trashed Grey’s Anatomy and Knocked Up; appeared ungrateful in public; and demanded $3 million for six minutes of screen time in Gary Marshall’s Valentine’s Day, ensuring that the role went to Julia Roberts instead. (Heigl did appear in Marshall’s New Year’s Eve in 2011, which wasn’t nearly as successful.) Heigl has since admitted her image problem, and whether it’s based on her reputation as a difficult co-worker or simply an unfortunate public perception, the statuesque blonde is smartly taking a backseat, and presumably a pay cut, for the 2012 ensemble comedy The Big Wedding.

  • Domestic Box Office $53,400,000
  • Overseas Box Office $52,300,000
  • Studio Value (1-10) 6
  • Likability 63%
  • Oscars 0
  • Critics' Score (1-100) 28
  • Magazine Covers 17
  • Tabloid Value (1-10) 7
  • Read about our scientific rankings »

Photo: Sascha Baumann/Getty Images

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63

Owen Wilson

The Surfer Dude With Soul

A crooked-nosed straight man with an even keel on-screen.

Many of the lead actors in Woody Allen films try to channel their director’s neurotic New York sensibility, but there was no chance of that when Allen cast Owen Wilson to topline Midnight in Paris. Wilson is so uniquely his own person: attuned to his own righteous wavelength and given to a slow, stoned drawl. The frisson between those two personalities gave Midnight in Paris part of its record-breaking kick, and it also gave Wilson a nice career boost to make up for his other 2011 underperformers, Hall Pass and The Big Year.

He’s weathered worse — psychological problems in 2007 will always shadow his publicly sunny disposition, and he’s withdrawn from many of his press responsibilities since that year — but Wilson’s career seems as steady as his screen persona. He can even move from indies to big shaggy dog stories like Marley & Me and Marmaduke without losing his aura of cool. Wilson’s got two smart choices coming up: a reunion with his Wedding Crashers co-star Vince Vaughn in The Internship and a starring role in Matthew Weiner’s feature directorial debut You Are Here. He’s also got a cryogenic comedy with Paul Rudd and a thriller called The Coup on the way, but what critics and audiences really want is Wilson to reunite with former creative partner Wes Anderson. Make it happen, guys!

  • Domestic Box Office $45,100,000
  • Overseas Box Office $38,100,000
  • Studio Value (1-10) 5
  • Likability 58%
  • Oscars 1 nom
  • Critics' Score (1-100) 53
  • Magazine Covers 3
  • Tabloid Value (1-10) 4
  • Read about our scientific rankings »

Photo: Frazer Harrison/Getty Images

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64

Cate Blanchett

The Disappearing Artist

One of the few actresses with virtually unlimited range.

What can’t Cate Blanchett do? If there’s an answer to that, she (and we) haven’t found it: More than any actress since Meryl Streep, Blanchett has been able to impress and convince in a wide variety of characters and accents, whether she’s portraying the title character in Elizabeth, Katharine Hepburn in The Aviator, and Bob Dylan in I’m Not There. She’s a lure for Stateside moviegoers seeking a seal of quality (after starring in seven Best Picture nominees and receiving five nominations and one win herself), but she’s also a huge draw abroad thanks to work in The Lord of the Rings, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, all of which did bigger business outside of the states. (Button also proved Blanchett could play an alluring romantic lead.)

She’s spent a lot of time of late doing Australian theater (her Uncle Vanya was well received) and hasn’t overworked herself in the past three years, but her break is over and Blanchett has no fewer than seven movies on her schedule, among them Peter Jackson’s two-parter The Hobbit, two projects from Terrence Malick, Woody Allen’s new untitled dramedy, and Barbra Streisand’s anticipated return to the director’s chair in Skinny and Cat.

  • Domestic Box Office $72,700,000
  • Overseas Box Office $132,000,000
  • Studio Value (1-10) 3
  • Likability 64%
  • Oscars 1 win, 3 noms
  • Critics' Score (1-100) 53
  • Magazine Covers 8
  • Tabloid Value (1-10) 5
  • Read about our scientific rankings »

Photo: Gaye Gerard/Getty Images

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65

Jaden Smith

The Son

He’s trying to make his own way, but he still needs Dad to open doors.

Okay, maybe talent runs in the family. But would it have run so fast for young Jaden Smith if his megastar dad hadn’t greased the career wheel with a featured role (at the age of eight) in Will’s The Pursuit of Happyness? Or slotted him into the lead in the 2010 Karate Kid remake (which Will produced, along with Jaden’s mom, Jada Pinkett Smith)? Maybe. He’s a good-looking kid, if a bit small and slight for his age, he has presence, and perhaps he was just born for the big time. He’s certainly arrived there: the three films Jaden has made to date (the 2008 sci-fi remake The Day the Earth Stood Still is the other one) have racked up a total global gross of nearly $900 million.

There have been some bumps in his shortcut to stardom: Jaden made a super-snotty appearance on Letterman while promoting The Karate Kid, and the news that he’ll at some point be co-starring with his problematic sister, Willow, in a horror film called The Amulet landed with a thud. But it’s too early to get a definitive read on this lad, who just turned 14. Besides, his next project looks promising. The sci-fi After Earth was directed — but not written by! — by M. Night Shyamalan. And the movie’s star is... Will Smith.

  • Domestic Box Office $177,000,000
  • Overseas Box Office $183,000,000
  • Studio Value (1-10) 5
  • Likability 57%
  • Oscars 0
  • Critics' Score (1-100) 61
  • Magazine Covers 0
  • Tabloid Value (1-10) 2
  • Read about our scientific rankings »

Photo: Jason Kempin/Getty Images

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66

Tyler Perry

The Mini-Mogul

He’s about to try acting for someone other than himself for the first time.

Perry’s value as a director and producer is well known: Not for nothing do most of his films have his name right in the title — making for awkward double-possessives on the posters of his Madea movies (e.g. Tyler Perry’s Madea’s Big Happy Family). But what’s his value as an actor? He has worked so insularly on his own projects that it’s difficult to parse where his worth as the rare filmmaker serving (and always scoring with) the African-American community leaves off and his own on-screen worth begins.

Sure, his Madea movies tend to out-gross his other films, but that’s more an indication of just how beloved his wise and wisecracking calling-card character is. The big test will be October’s Alex Cross, a very un-Madea-like revenge thriller that marks Perry’s first starring role for hire, as a James Patterson detective tracking a serial killer. He has next to no international cachet, as his own films are rarely even released outside the U.S., but his studio value is a high eight; Cross will be a good marker as to whether he has appeal beyond his core. But that seems like an unnecessarily overindulgent goal to set for him: The man is already a mini-mogul juggling TV, movies, and theater — what else do we need?

  • Domestic Box Office $51,700,000
  • Overseas Box Office $618,241
  • Studio Value (1-10) 8
  • Likability 47%
  • Oscars 0
  • Critics' Score (1-100) 45
  • Magazine Covers 4
  • Tabloid Value (1-10) 2
  • Read about our scientific rankings »

Photo: Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images

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67

Anne Hathaway

The Overachiever

Having tried every genre, she’s bound to blow up as Catwoman.

It’s hard to remember that Anne Hathaway once seemed like she’d be a Disney-princess lifer, so deftly has she made the transition to grown-up films. At 29, she still has the air of a really driven theater kid, taking on publicity and Oscar duties with the same amped-up intensity that she did her Academy Award-nominated raw, recovering-addict turn in Rachel Getting Married. And she has just as eagerly skipped between genres, determined to prove she can do it all, from action comedy (Get Smart) to adult drama (Rachel) to romantic comedy (Bride Wars, Valentine’s Day) to Burton-ized fairy tale (Alice in Wonderland) to steamy romance (Love and Other Drugs) to superhero blockbuster (Dark Knight Rises) and, next, to musical (Les Misérables).

But for all her versatility and talent, she has yet to really connect with audiences as a star they are dying to see. Her biggest hits are more attributed to other people (Alice in Wonderland: Depp; Get Smart: Carell; Devil Wears Prada: Streep) while films marketed with her in the spotlight have failed to connect in the U.S., though she has proven a bigger draw abroad. Love and Other Drugs (widely buzzed about as the “Anne does sex scenes!” movie) did only $32.5 million here, but got up to $70.5 million overseas; One Day did $13.8 million in America, $42.8 internationally. Even with this foreign boost, our studio panel seemed unconvinced about her drawing power, rating her a low four, but this may all change with The Dark Knight Rises. Moviegoers (even those previously agnostic or down on her) have been raving about her turn as Catwoman, and this could give her a major boost considering just how many people will see it.

  • Domestic Box Office $32,400,000
  • Overseas Box Office $47,950,000
  • Studio Value (1-10) 4
  • Likability 70%
  • Oscars 1 nom
  • Critics' Score (1-100) 55
  • Magazine Covers 16
  • Tabloid Value (1-10) 6
  • Read about our scientific rankings »

Photo: Ian Gavan/Getty Images

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68

Gerard Butler

The Backup Plan

He tries everything from action movies to romantic comedies, but what sticks?

Gerard Butler can do it all — from musicals to rom-coms to action films — but is this jack of all trades the master of any? For a guy this famous, Butler’s image is awfully elusive, thanks in large part to fleeting films like the weepy Hillary Swank romance P.S. I Love You, Guy Ritchie’s RocknRolla, rom-com The Bounty Hunter, or the tragically hyphenless Law Abiding Citizen. Nim’s Island narrowly edges out Made of Honor for the title of 2008’s 60th-highest-grossing movie, and neither Machine Gun Preacher nor Coriolanus made $1 million.

Butler’s only real hits are 300 and Katherine Heigl rom-com The Ugly Truth — but Truth is far more hers than his. His recent substance-abuse issues make him a person of interest to tabloid editors, but now that he’s cleaned up, he needs to find a leading role he can really pop in. After 300, Butler certainly seemed like he could be the next big leading man, but six years later, it hasn’t quite happened: Jeremy Renner and Bradley Cooper stock the generic superhero-action-hunks pantry, Ryan Reynolds and Gosling command all the swoons, and there’s already a Javier Bardem and a Colin Farrell and a Matthew McConaughey. When any of them pass on roles — no matter the genre — Butler surely gets the follow-up call. But what can make him number one on the crowded short list?

  • Domestic Box Office $53,700,000
  • Overseas Box Office $53,300,000
  • Studio Value (1-10) 5
  • Likability 67%
  • Oscars 0
  • Critics' Score (1-100) 37
  • Magazine Covers 7
  • Tabloid Value (1-10) 6
  • Read about our scientific rankings »

Photo: Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images

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69

Sacha Baron Cohen

The Performance Artist

The equal-opportunity offender’s knack for never breaking character has given him a bad image.

Sacha Baron Cohen has never again reached the box-office heights of Borat, even as he has stretched to find new ways to spear sacred cows and new costumes in which to do it. While Borat pulled in $261.6 million worldwide, 2009’s Bruno and this year’s The Dictator did just a little more than half that. While The Dictator was scripted, unlike his previous films, he still did press in character — a bit of a disconnect for a fictional film and he might have overreached with his ash-dumping "accident" at the Oscars.

While there are some who delighted in seeing Ryan Seacrest thrown off his game, many moviegoers wrinkled their noses: Crapping in a bag in Borat was all good fun, but this was the Oscars. As such, Cohen has one of the lowest likability scores in Hollywood; when people were asked by E-Poll to pick an adjective that best suits Cohen, the top selection was "rude," making his one of the only negative attributes cited for any celebrity. (Adam Sandler’s was "funny.") Cohen also moonlights in more dramatic fare, usually as comic relief, as in Sweeney Todd and Hugo, and he’ll sing the role of drunken tavern keeper Thenardier in this Christmas’s Les Miserables. While this variety should take the edge off of his negative image, his resistance to appearing as himself on even the most innocuous of talk shows makes it increasingly difficult for moviegoers to connect with him as anything but his offensive alter egos.

  • Domestic Box Office $59,400,000
  • Overseas Box Office $78,800,000
  • Studio Value (1-10) 6
  • Likability 33%
  • Oscars 1 nom
  • Critics' Score (1-100) 54
  • Magazine Covers 1
  • Tabloid Value (1-10) 4
  • Read about our scientific rankings »

Photo: Jimi Celeste/PatrickMcMullan.com

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70

Chris Pine

The Franchise "Star"

He hasn’t yet proved whether he or the spaceship gets more credit for Star Trek.

Piloting a crew of non-stars in Star Trek, J.J. Abrams’s wildly successful 2009 reboot, Pine became the blockbuster’s figurehead as a non-campy Kirk and convinced Trekkies that reinventing the franchise wasn’t heresy. Paramount, which released Trek, signed him up to be the fourth Jack Ryan, hoping he could be another Harrison Ford, a draw in both sci-fi and earth-bound series. But while that project slid into development quicksand, he returned to the theater, starring in an acclaimed L.A. run of The Lieutenant of Inishmore.

This blockbuster-to-theater zigzag has one critical difference from Andrew Garfield’s: Garfield started Death of a Salesman before Amazing Spider-Man came out, allowing him to vault into another film right after his movie was a smash. A year and a half elapsed between Star Trek and Pine’s next film, Unstoppable, dampening his relevance. Unstoppable grossed a respectable $82 million, but that’s what Denzel Washington would have grossed with a large fern as a sidekick. And then came the rom-com bomb This Means War (which, granted, fared better internationally) and People Like Us, a serious family drama doomed to fail when dumped by Disney this summer. Points for trying to diversify, but they only seem to be underscoring what’s not working for him, rather than what will. Studios seem unconvinced about him now; hopefully next year’s Star Trek 2 will allow him a restart. But it won’t answer the question: Is he the star, or is it the Enterprise?

  • Domestic Box Office $54,800,000
  • Overseas Box Office $86,200,000
  • Studio Value (1-10) 5
  • Likability 60%
  • Oscars 0
  • Critics' Score (1-100) 49
  • Magazine Covers 3
  • Tabloid Value (1-10) 4
  • Read about our scientific rankings »

Photo: Frederic J. Brown/AFP/Getty Images

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71

Scarlett Johansson

The Smart Sex Symbol

More than a pretty face, the actress is equally adept at drama and action.

Yes, Scarlett Johansson aces sexy, but the 27-year-old has also displayed a lot of range, moving from child roles to indie ingenue to pistol-packing action heroine. Well-used by auteurs like Woody Allen and Sofia Coppola, Johansson made her biggest mark this year by reprising her Iron Man 2 role of Black Widow and donning a super skintight suit in The Avengers, the third-highest grossing film of all time. The box-office receipts were impressive, sure, but so was Johannson’s ability to hold her own alongside Robert Downey Jr. and the rest of the dude-heavy Marvel lineup.

Johansson demonstrates her creativity offscreen, too: She co-starred in a Justin Timberlake video, released her own album (mostly covers), and recorded a collection of duets with indie musician Pete Yorn. More importantly, she picked up a Tony in 2010 for her supporting role in the Broadway revival of Arthur Miller’s A View From the Bridge, reinforcing her acting chops. Yes, she appears regularly on various men’s magazines lists, and she took a tumble through the tabloids after she divorced fellow actor Ryan Reynolds in 2011, but she’s always owned her blowsy sexuality, and she’ll use it to maximum effect as a bombshell alien in the next film from Jonathan Glazer (Sexy Beast). Also upcoming: a role as Janet Leigh in Hitchock (alongside Anthony Hopkins as the filmmaker) and several more Marvel movies, since she signed a contract that could extend to as many as nine films for the studio.

  • Domestic Box Office $26,800,000
  • Overseas Box Office $50,900,000
  • Studio Value (1-10) 5
  • Likability 56%
  • Oscars 0
  • Critics' Score (1-100) 50
  • Magazine Covers 13
  • Tabloid Value (1-10) 8
  • Read about our scientific rankings »

Photo: Kevin Winter/Getty Images

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72

Kate Winslet

The Drama Queen

The perennially nominated star might be even better than you think.

Kate Winslet is only 36 years old, and she already has six Oscar nominations to her name. Meryl Streep, too, was 36 when she got her sixth Oscar nod, so that’s good company to keep. And while that comparison would seem awfully tough for any actress to sustain, Winslet fills a valuable niche that Streep knows very well: Both have an affinity for accents and transformative performances, and they’ve got the awards shelves to show for it. To her credit, Winslet often manages the superhuman feat of making a downbeat period drama somehow bankable, as she did when her Oscar win powered The Reader to a respectable near-$40 million in the U.S. (The halo from starring in one of the biggest blockbusters ever, Titanic, still glows, but not enough to bring audiences to her reunion with Leo in Revolutionary Road.)

Since then, she won the Emmy for HBO’s Mildred Pierce and did fine ensemble work last year in Contagion and Carnage. It seems inevitable that Winslet will someday take on Broadway, since she’s only one T away from an award-studded EGOT. (She won a Grammy for a children’s spoken-word album in 2000.) Until then, she’s scheduled for Jason Reitman’s meaty Labor Day with Josh Brolin and Tobey Maguire and could earn favor with every book-club-loving American woman when she stars in the adaptation of the best-selling The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society.

  • Domestic Box Office $22,900,000
  • Overseas Box Office $29,900,000
  • Studio Value (1-10) 4
  • Likability 65%
  • Oscars 1 win, 5 noms
  • Critics' Score (1-100) 58
  • Magazine Covers 7
  • Tabloid Value (1-10) 6
  • Read about our scientific rankings »

Photo: Chance Yeh/PatrickMcMullan.com

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73

Sam Worthington

The CGI Addict

He’s great on the green screen, but he still needs to prove himself in a live-action environment.

The one-two punch of Terminator Salvation and Avatar introduced Sam Worthington to millions of people in 2009 — but audiences were more likely to remember the CGI monsters he was battling (or making out with) than the actor himself. Facing off with a computer image has become something of a specialty for the Australian-born Worthington, who followed the $270 million James Cameron smash with the Kraken-led (and widely derided, even by Worthington himself) Clash of the Titans franchise.

A string of low-profile indie films (infidelity drama Last Night, international spy thriller The Debt, and domestic crime thriller Texas Killing Fields, which grossed a whopping $45,000 in the United States) did little to diversify his appeal; 2012’s Man on a Ledge, Worthington’s first foray into real-life action movies — and his first opportunity to woo mainstream audiences without an unrecognizable blue body double — was a box-office bust. The inability to perform in a CGI-free environment could be what’s tamping down Worthington’s studio score, or it could be the presence of Chris Hemsworth, better known as Marvel’s Thor, who is crowding in on Worthington’s affable Aussie routine in a franchise that’s successfully continuing. Unless he can ride Matthew McConaughey’s coattails to prominence in the upcoming Iraq War drama Thunder Run (and given both the subject matter and the fact that McConaughey chews up every scene he’s in these days, that seems unlikely), Worthington’s best hope is that Captain Jack Sully has some crucial, non-blue time in the far-off Avatar 2.

  • Domestic Box Office $57,400,000
  • Overseas Box Office $121,000,000
  • Studio Value (1-10) 4
  • Likability 62%
  • Oscars 0
  • Critics' Score (1-100) 50
  • Magazine Covers 5
  • Tabloid Value (1-10) 4
  • Read about our scientific rankings »

Photo: Nicholas Hunt/PatrickMcMullan.com

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74

Ryan Reynolds

The Handsome Joker

He was welcomed to the A-list, but can he stay awhile?

Hollywood is desperately seeking some new leading men, so when the handsome, affable Ryan Reynolds scored opposite Sandra Bullock in 2009’s blockbuster rom-com The Proposal, Reynolds was coronated as The New Leading Man... perhaps prematurely. The next year, indie Buried couldn’t manage to break out (much like the buried-alive protagonist played by Reynolds), and the year after that, his would-be franchise Green Lantern stalled while R-rated comedy The Change-Up grossed only $37 million, no better than the kind of money Reynolds was pulling in as a B-lister years earlier in less-promoted vehicles like Just Friends and Definitely, Maybe.

Safe House gave Reynolds his first bona fide hit in the last three years, but was that Denzel’s doing? Hollywood is now trying to figure out his star power, but at least he’s still talked-about: Reynolds’s high gossip value may be attributed to a combination of the actor’s photo-friendly physique (he was named People’s "Sexiest Man Alive" in 2010) as well as a series of high-profile relationships, including Alanis Morissette, Scarlett Johansson, and Blake Lively. Reynolds’s high likability score is a reflection of the actor’s appeal to both sexes: To women, Reynolds is the hunky, eligible bachelor; to men, he’ll always be the toga-wearing bro next door. His upcoming projects reflect both sides: He joins a team of zombie cops in the action-comedy R.I.P.D. and will play opposite Reese Witherspoon in the drama Big Eyes.

  • Domestic Box Office $17,900,000
  • Overseas Box Office $23,200,000
  • Studio Value (1-10) 5
  • Likability 71%
  • Oscars 0
  • Critics' Score (1-100) 44
  • Magazine Covers 8
  • Tabloid Value (1-10) 8
  • Read about our scientific rankings »

Photo: Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images

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75

Sylvester Stallone

The First Action Hero

The senior citizen reprises his glorious franchise days.

Sylvester Stallone’s days of box-office knockouts seemed far behind him when he brought one of his most iconic characters out of retirement in 2006 for Rocky Balboa, a movie that grossed more than $155 million worldwide. In a shrewd one-two punch, he then dusted off another vintage role for 2008’s ultraviolent Rambo, which pulled in $113 million across the globe. Seeing an appetite for movies in which the old gang gets back together to kill people, the actor/writer/director rounded up a pack of fellow aging action men (Bruce Willis, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Dolph Lundgren), stirred in some relative whippersnappers (Jason Statham, Jet Li), and unleashed The Expendables, scoring the biggest opening weekend of his 40-year career (and a global take of $274 million).

Now, unexpectedly, Stallone is a bankable star again at age 66, provided that, this go-around, he resists all urges to try his hand at slapstick or serious drama and just sticks to guns and blood. (His low likability number is probably due to the people who have no taste for his love of violence and aren’t thrilled to see it coming back in vogue.) His next couple years are crowded with fast-and-furious projects. See him later this summer in The Expendables 2 and next year in Walter Hill’s Bullet to the Head. Also in 2013, Stallone will pair with Schwarzenegger in The Tomb, about a double-crossed security expert forced to escape from a prison of his own design. No rest for wearying heroes.

  • Domestic Box Office $72,900,000
  • Overseas Box Office $120,800,000
  • Studio Value (1-10) 6
  • Likability 44%
  • Oscars 2 noms
  • Critics' Score (1-100) 46
  • Magazine Covers 1
  • Tabloid Value (1-10) 2
  • Read about our scientific rankings »

Photo: Clint Spaulding/Patrick McMullan.com

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76

Justin Timberlake

The Hyphenate

The song-and-dance man may have pulled off a rare transition to acting.

You were correct to be skeptical in 2007 when Justin Timberlake turned his back on a fine music career to pursue acting full-time, especially given some of his early choices: Stinkers Alpha Dog, Black Snake Moan, Southland Tales, and The Love Guru were poor substitutes for a new album. Hope arrived, though, with his critically tolerated performance in 2010’s The Social Network as Napster co-founder Sean Parker, which earned him honest-to-goodness Oscar buzz (though not a nomination). His 2011 went even better — he became an actual movie star with above-the-title roles in romantic comedies Bad Teacher and Friends With Benefits and sci-fi actioner In Time, all of which — thanks to worldwide fandom — paid off at the box office. (In Time got an especially big boost overseas: $136.4 million as compared to the U.S.’s small $37.5 million take.)

These days, Timberlake seems to be doing everything right: In the pipeline are cred-bolstering parts in the Coen brothers’ Inside Llewyn Davis, opposite Clint Eastwood in Trouble With the Curve, and with Ben Affleck in Runner, Runner. In the (seemingly impossible) event that all three should fail, gossip magazines will continue to track his every move (he’s currently engaged to Jessica Biel), his gift-wrapped crotch will always be welcome on Saturday Night Live, and total redemption will only be as far away as Timbaland’s recording studio. Perhaps his unusually low likability score is a way of fans expressing their displeasure for him not making more music?

  • Domestic Box Office $37,500,000
  • Overseas Box Office $93,700,000
  • Studio Value (1-10) 5
  • Likability 45%
  • Oscars 0
  • Critics' Score (1-100) 47
  • Magazine Covers 9
  • Tabloid Value (1-10) 8
  • Read about our scientific rankings »

Photo: Jemal Countess/Getty Images

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77

James Franco

The Renaissance Hipster

When not doing a thousand other things, he’s proven himself a formidable, versatile actor.

What hasn’t James Franco done? Sure, he’s still best known from the original Spider-Man trilogy, his stoner role in Pineapple Express, his monkey-adjacent lead in The Rise of the Planet of the Apes, and his acclaimed turns in Milk and 127 Hours. But the restless Franco generates just as many headlines for non-acting projects like publishing fiction (Palo Alto), directing documentaries (on such disparate pop-cultural subjects as Three’s Company, Saturday Night Live, and the Gus Van Sant indie My Own Private Idaho), and his many grad school stints at NYU, Yale, and other schools. And only postmodern performance theory (or whatever was in the pineapple) could explain his recurring role as the artist "Franco" on General Hospital.

Is his eclectic resume too tiring for audiences, or does he have enough Hollywood concentration to enjoy career longevity? Audiences did find him low-energy when he co-hosted the 2011 Academy Awards with Anne Hathaway (overshadowing his Best Actor nomination that year for 127 Hours), while tabloids couldn’t shake the stoner theory. Regardless, Franco’s not slowing down. He’ll return to studio tentpoles with Oz: The Great and Powerful for his Spider-Man director Sam Raimi, and he’s reportedly adapting Cormac McCarthy and William Faulkner books for the big screen.

  • Domestic Box Office $31,000,000
  • Overseas Box Office $20,550,000
  • Studio Value (1-10) 4
  • Likability 61%
  • Oscars 1 nom
  • Critics' Score (1-100) 63
  • Magazine Covers 8
  • Tabloid Value (1-10) 5
  • Read about our scientific rankings »

Photo: Andrew Toth/PatrickMcMullan.com

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78

Colin Firth

The Regal Heartthrob

Back-to-back Best Actor Oscar campaigns have made him acting royalty.

What a difference a wet shirt makes. Had Colin Firth not taken that dip in the lake as Mr. Darcy in the phenomenally successful 1995 BBC miniseries adaptation of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, author Helen Fielding would reportedly never have written Bridget Jones’s Diary. Nor, then, would Firth have played Mark Darcy opposite Renee Zellweger in the 2001 blockbuster screen adaptation, which helped Firth break from the period pics for which he’d been primarily known and won him roles in present-day hits like Love Actually (2003) and Mamma Mia! (2008).

Still, Firth got his biggest bump yet in the last three years: His terrifically controlled performance in A Single Man won him raves and a Best Actor nomination, and then he actually took home that Oscar the next year for The King’s Speech, minting him as a bona fide movie star. That’s how Firth, a 51-year-old, married father of three found himself picked to play the romantic lead opposite loosey-goosey Cameron Diaz in the coming remake of Gambit: Finally, he was famous as himself, and not just as a Jane Austen type.

  • Domestic Box Office $10,600,000
  • Overseas Box Office $22,000,000
  • Studio Value (1-10) 5
  • Likability 72%
  • Oscars 1 win, 1 nom
  • Critics' Score (1-100) 68
  • Magazine Covers 0
  • Tabloid Value (1-10) 2
  • Read about our scientific rankings »

Photo: Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images

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79

Sean Penn

The Mellowed Brando

Having tempered his gruff antics, he’s put full focus on his acting.

Sean Penn has gone through many turbulent phases: young Brando; resistant tabloid target; paparazzi puncher; retired actor who now only wanted to direct; on-again-off-again husband; outspoken, angry liberal; actor again. Now, at age 51, he’s reached the point at which he’s always seemed to want to be: His off-camera outspokenness just bounces off people (even right-wing radio hosts find themselves yawning, He’s mad at America? Must be Wednesday!), and all anyone really wants to pay attention to is his acting.

His roles are infrequent but always interesting (even if only in theory, like 2010's Valerie Plame biopic Fair Game, a compelling true story that proved dull on screen) and are rarely moneymakers; Tree of Life took in just $13.3 million here, but $41 million overseas. But a man who picks movies like Milk (for which he won his second Oscar) and the as-yet-unreleased This Must Be the Place (in which he plays a Robert Smith-like retired rocker looking for the Nazi who humiliated his late father) is clearly not going for grosses. While he preps for his next directorial project, The Comedian, with Robert De Niro, he will next appear in this September’s Gangster Squad with his less confrontational acting heir apparent Ryan Gosling. It could be a mainstream breakthrough, something Penn has little interest in at all.

  • Domestic Box Office $13,300,000
  • Overseas Box Office $22,700,000
  • Studio Value (1-10) 5
  • Likability 38%
  • Oscars 2 wins, 3 noms
  • Critics' Score (1-100) 84
  • Magazine Covers 2
  • Tabloid Value (1-10) 2
  • Read about our scientific rankings »

Photo: Francois Durand/Getty Images

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80

Charlize Theron

The Bad Girl

After ten years in exile, a string of successes reminds us of her powers.

It’s been a decade since Charlize Theron won an Oscar for Monster. Ten years. Has any other Best Actress winner weathered a career slump that long? Instead of leveraging her win into bigger roles and better movies, Theron chose to follow up with the tacky Aeon Flux and struggled for years to recover. The movie failed because it was a bad picture, but Theron got a lot of the blame as a nascent superstar.

She kept her head down for a while, taking on smaller projects like the snoozy In the Valley of Elah, Sleepwalking, and The Burning Plain (with a young Jennifer Lawrence), which barely got a release. She finally had an unexpected hit with Hancock, but the credit for that movie’s success went to Will Smith, while her spot in The Road was little more than a cameo. Her star wattage waned accordingly, until a string of recent performances in Young Adult, Snow White and the Huntsman, and Prometheus.

Not only did Theron revel in these bad-girl roles — an immature writer who tries to steal someone’s husband, an evil queen, and a corporate suit so cold she’s accused of being an android — but they put her back on the A-list, with awards buzz for Young Adult and box-office success for the latter two. It only took ten years, but she now seems unstoppable, especially after she’s already shaved her head for her next part, in Mad Max: Fury Road. As Mae West would say, when Charlize is good, she’s very good, but when she’s bad, she’s better.

  • Domestic Box Office $6,780,000
  • Overseas Box Office $22,800,000
  • Studio Value (1-10) 5
  • Likability 70%
  • Oscars 1 win, 1 nom
  • Critics' Score (1-100) 45
  • Magazine Covers 11
  • Tabloid Value (1-10) 7
  • Read about our scientific rankings »

Photo: Andreas Branch/PatrickMcMullan.com

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81

Jason Bateman

The Straight Man

Pair him with another comic star for best results.

Arrested Development was never highly rated during its initial TV run, but it was watched by all the right people, including Hollywood casting directors who knew that Jason Bateman’s dry demeanor and non-threatening good looks would make him the perfect puzzle piece for any manner of big-screen comedies: bro-coms where he aims quizzical looks at someone more outrageous (Horrible Bosses, Couples Retreat, The Change-Up, Couples Retreat) or rom-coms like The Switch where he can pair well with other sitcom vet Jennifer Aniston.

Some of those movies were $100 million comedies and some weren’t, but the failures don’t stick to Bateman, who’s usually the beta man to a bigger star that takes the blame. He’s well-liked and low-drama, which has earned him lucrative partnerships and more challenging roles with directors like Jason Reitman and Peter Berg, and if the spotlight isn’t always on Bateman himself, at least he’ll get to exercise his exquisite straight-man sensibilities again in the Netflix revival of Arrested Development. Coming up after that: a big-studio comedy called Identity Thief, where he’ll aim his "really?" look at Melissa McCarthy, plus ensemble dramas Disconnect and The Longest Week.

  • Domestic Box Office $37,100,000
  • Overseas Box Office $38,400,000
  • Studio Value (1-10) 5
  • Likability 62%
  • Oscars 0
  • Critics' Score (1-100) 46
  • Magazine Covers 3
  • Tabloid Value (1-10) 3
  • Read about our scientific rankings »

Photo: Kevin Winter/Getty Images

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82

Kristen Wiig

The Patient Comedienne

The actress built her audience and her talents one part at a time.

Kristen Wiig was in no rush to wriggle out of Saturday Night Live: She took it slow, starting out with bit parts and stealing scenes without trying. First there was a brief turn in Knocked Up as a boss breaking the news to underling Katherine Heigl that she’s been promoted. ("I know, I was so surprised, too.") Then she was Bill Hader’s terrifically dizzy mate in the amusement-park comedy Adventureland and a hard-skating roller-derby ace in Whip It. Her momentum mounted. She had the inevitable misfortune of appearing in an SNL spinoff bomb (MacGruber) but fared better in the space-alien comedy Paul. All of which was leading to her ginormous breakthrough with Bridesmaids, as a co-star and co-writer of the Oscar-nominated script.

Unlike her Bridesmaids costar Melissa McCarthy, who immediately leapt into starring roles in studio comedies like Identity Thief and The Heat (co-starring Sandra Bullock), Wiig used her Bridesmaids leverage to make smaller passion project Imogene. Her first Bridesmaids follow-up, Friends With Kids, earned less than $10 million despite the fact that it reconstituted most of the Bridesmaids cast, but it was a limited release and Wiig only had a small supporting role in it. She’s only just now picked a studio follow-up, the currently shooting The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, where she plays Ben Stiller’s female lead; it’s not for nothing, though, that Wiig would rather turn down a Bridesmaids sequel to star in Sean Penn’s The Comedian opposite Robert De Niro. Some things are worth the wait.

  • Domestic Box Office $7,250,000
  • Overseas Box Office $1,794,836
  • Studio Value (1-10) 6
  • Likability 69%
  • Oscars 1 nom
  • Critics' Score (1-100) 55
  • Magazine Covers 3
  • Tabloid Value (1-10) 5
  • Read about our scientific rankings »

Photo: Clint Spaulding/PatrickMcMullan.com

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83

Andrew Garfield

The Import

The British-American actor finds success onstage, on-screen, and on spider webs.

Andrew Garfield is the rare young superhero-movie star whose origin story includes real acting. Before scoring the title role in this summer’s wildly premature, huge-anyway Spider-Man reboot, the half-British Garfield impressed critics and premium directors with compelling performances in small movies like Boy A (as a newly released ex-con), Lions for Lambs (as a spoiled rich kid), The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus (as a young magician), and Never Let Me Go (as a clone created for organ harvesting). In 2010, he graduated to Person You May Know status in David Fincher’s The Social Network, for which he earned BAFTA and Golden Globe nominations as a screwed-over Facebook co-founder.

In a gritty, post-Dark Knight Hollywood, where it takes pathos to properly fill out a spandex suit, Garfield’s dramatic range makes him an attractive proposition to studios looking to give their tentpoles a little weight — especially after The Amazing Spider-Man grossed $341 million internationally in its opening weekend (and his off-screen relationship with co-star Emma Stone made him a target for tabloids). But lest you worry about Garfield ditching prestige for paychecks, his next move after Spider-Man was a Tony-nominated role as Biff Loman in Mike Nichols’ Broadway revival of Death of a Salesman.

  • Domestic Box Office $101,000,000
  • Overseas Box Office $133,000,000
  • Studio Value (1-10) 4
  • Likability 48%
  • Oscars 0
  • Critics' Score (1-100) 57
  • Magazine Covers 5
  • Tabloid Value (1-10) 5
  • Read about our scientific rankings »

Photo: Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images

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84

Melissa McCarthy

The Scene-Stealer

A funny woman poised to reshape the comedy landscape.

Gilmore Girls fans first fell in love with Melissa McCarthy more than a decade ago, but it was the 41-year-old actress’s scene-stealing turn in 2010 comedy hit Bridesmaids that garnered her near-universal praise and an Oscar nomination to boot. McCarthy may have lost the Academy Award, but she did win the Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actress in 2011 for CBS sitcom Mike & Molly, in which she still stars.

McCarthy’s high likeability may be attributed to her appeal among two completely different audiences, one who appreciates her risky, over-the-top, no-holds-barred comedic talent and the other — CBS viewers — who perceive her as a relatable, hilarious best friend and confidante; this generation’s Roseanne, if Roseanne were much, much nicer.

On and off the screen, McCarthy’s been a poster woman for full-figured ladies, though this hasn’t necessarily translated to actual magazine covers (with rare, but notable, exceptions such as Entertainment Weekly and The Hollywood Reporter). She also has an exceptionally high Metacritic score, but it’s worth remembering that Bridesmaids remains McCarthy’s sole major film role to date. Expect to see plenty more of her in coming years, though: McCarthy’s co-starring in 2012’s high-profile Knocked Up spin-off, This Is 40, and she’s currently reunited with Bridesmaids helmer Paul Feig for an action comedy where she co-leads with Sandra Bullock.

  • Domestic Box Office $84,600,000
  • Overseas Box Office $59,600,000
  • Studio Value (1-10) 5
  • Likability 71%
  • Oscars 1 nom
  • Critics' Score (1-100) 38
  • Magazine Covers 2
  • Tabloid Value (1-10) 6
  • Read about our scientific rankings »

Photo: Mike Gardner/PatrickMcMullan.com

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85

Paul Rudd

The Man-Crush

An ageless adorkable who’s not quite a draw on his own.

A go-to bro in various kinds of comedies since his stepbrother/love-interest breakthrough in Clueless, Paul Rudd has been featured in cult classics (Wet Hot American Summer) and straight dramas (The Shape of Things). But the actor found his true calling — the classic bro-mance — in a series of Judd Apatow films. Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy and The 40-Year-Old Virgin established him in the Apatow repertory gang, but it was his one-on-one brilliance with Seth Rogen in Knocked Up that illuminated his niche: the charming but long-suffering guy in a committed relationship who longs to regain his masculine independence.

Rudd veered between David Wain and Judd Apatow projects (or at least films that feel like theirs), pairing up with Sean William Scott in Role Models (KISS costume LARPing!), Jason Segel in I Love You, Man (projectile vomiting!), and Steve Carell in Dinner for Schmucks (mice dioramas!). All of these pictures showcased Rudd’s trademark adorkery, and all topped out at a profitable number two at the box office. He’s a winner as a straight arrow or a clueless fool (Our Idiot Brother), but give him a romantic triangle (How Do You Know) or an open relationship (Wanderlust), and his mild romantic mettle is unduly tested. He’ll be spoofing his affable image in the rom-com parody They Came Together, which might be his smartest career move yet — apart from weighing back with Team Apatow in the Knocked Up sequel This Is 40 and the inevitable Anchorman 2.

  • Domestic Box Office $30,200,000
  • Overseas Box Office $18,500,000
  • Studio Value (1-10) 4
  • Likability 71%
  • Oscars 0
  • Critics' Score (1-100) 53
  • Magazine Covers 4
  • Tabloid Value (1-10) 2
  • Read about our scientific rankings »

Photo: Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images

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86

Zac Efron

The Poster Boy With Something to Prove

Is there life for Efron outside the romance genre?

Zac Efron has starred in two of the highest-grossing movie musicals of the last five years: Hairspray and High School Musical 3: Senior Year. (Really.) Why, then, has he steadfastly refused to sing, dance, and smile since? Instead, Efron has mostly moped in dramas like Charlie St. Cloud, Me and Orson Welles, and The Lucky One. And while the latter did better than the former, neither did many favors to Efron as a performer. He looks even more lost in the coming Cannes camp classic The Paperboy, with scene-stealers like Nicole Kidman preening and peeing on him in the movie’s most famous moment.

Let Efron be Efron! Let him have a little fun! (In the otherwise moribund New Year’s Eve, the light in his eyes came alive when he got the chance to dance with Michelle Pfeiffer.) Let him poke fun at himself the way other dancer-hunk Channing Tatum got to do in 21 Jump Street and Magic Mike! It’s promising that one of the projects on Efron’s docket is a comedy with Seth Rogen; let’s hope that it can loosen him up and expose him to a different demographic before his core audience moves on to the next swoony, Us Weekly-ready guy with great abs.

  • Domestic Box Office $59,700,000
  • Overseas Box Office $36,450,000
  • Studio Value (1-10) 5
  • Likability 38%
  • Oscars 0
  • Critics' Score (1-100) 44
  • Magazine Covers 8
  • Tabloid Value (1-10) 7
  • Read about our scientific rankings »

Photo: Andreas Rentz/Getty Images

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87

Gwyneth Paltrow

The Enviable One

The former Oscar winner seeks to improve her image with roles in well-liked franchises.

Gwyneth Paltrow would appear to have it all... and on her GOOP newsletter, she’ll tell you where to get it (as if you could!). There’s the Academy Award for her performance in 1998’s Shakespeare in Love, the famous rock-star husband in Coldplay’s Chris Martin, the famous friends in Beyonce and Jay-Z, and the rock-steady Iron Man franchise, where she plays female lead Pepper Potts. When it comes to her career, she should be especially thankful for the latter role: Years of missteps post-Oscar (plus time off to take care of her kids) devalued her studio rating until Tony Stark swept her away. An all-in, transformative guest arc on Glee also helped to chip at her haughty image, but even with a million Twitter followers, Paltrow’s likability scores are low.

Blame the public perception of her as an out-of-touch celebrity: Her "lifestyle brand," Goop — not to mention its colon cleanse — does little to contradict that notion and makes Paltrow a frequent target for snarky blogs. But Paltrow’s red-carpet looks and minted magazine appeal keep her in the headlines, and her willingness to be self-effacing from time to time (as in Contagion, where she died as unglamorously as possible) help rehab her image, too. Next up for Paltrow, who recently rode the coattails of the $1.5 billion-grossing The Avengers: a sex addict role in the upcoming Thanks for Sharing alongside Mark Ruffalo, plus more Pepper in next year’s Iron Man 3.

  • Domestic Box Office $48,000,000
  • Overseas Box Office $13,200,000
  • Studio Value (1-10) 4
  • Likability 57%
  • Oscars 1 win
  • Critics' Score (1-100) 49
  • Magazine Covers 8
  • Tabloid Value (1-10) 8
  • Read about our scientific rankings »

Photo: Jason Merritt/Getty Images

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88

Jake Gyllenhaal

The Wanderer

The sensitive hunk experiments in a number of genres, with modest success.

There was a time, a decade ago, when Hollywood hoped Jake Gyllenhaal was the next great leading man. His family had industry pedigree (his parents are director Stephen Gyllenhaal and screenwriter Naomi Foner, his sister actress Maggie Gyllenhaal), and he’d given sensitive portrayals in October Sky, the cult hit Donnie Darko, and The Good Girl opposite Jennifer Aniston. He upgraded to blockbuster potential by appearing with Dennis Quaid in the sci-fi megahit The Day After Tomorrow, Gyllenhaal’s highest-grossing film to date, and then followed that up with the 2005 prestige pics Proof, Jarhead, and Brokeback Mountain, which earned him an Academy Award nomination for best supporting actor.

The studios have subsequently tried him in thrillers (2007’s Zodiac), dramas (2007’s Rendition), dramedies (2010’s Love and Other Drugs), and action movies (2011’s Source Code), but he’s never quite delivered on all his movie-star promise. That was made abundantly clear when Disney’s big-budget 2010 tentpole Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time became a big-time disappointment, though Gyllenhaal isn’t fully to blame for all that CGI nonsense. The paparazzi, for their part, still snap when the 31-year-old dates stars like Taylor Swift, and Gyllenhaal’s not giving up: This year he’ll star in the cops-versus-cartel thriller End of Watch and is filming An Enemy with Inglourious Basterds’ Melanie Laurent.

  • Domestic Box Office $32,800,000
  • Overseas Box Office $61,100,000
  • Studio Value (1-10) 3
  • Likability 62%
  • Oscars 1 nom
  • Critics' Score (1-100) 57
  • Magazine Covers 7
  • Tabloid Value (1-10) 7
  • Read about our scientific rankings »

Photo: Elisabetta Villa/Getty Images

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89

Chris Evans

The Reluctant All-American

He sure can wear a superhero suit, even if he doesn’t always want to.

In the months leading up to Captain America: The First Avenger’s release, the Abercrombie-model-esque Chris Evans gave a series of interviews describing his reluctance to take on the squeaky clean Marvel franchise. (When he finally accepted the role, he told the Times, he went into therapy.) He seemed gravely aware of the obligations that come with an Avenger superhero suit: multiple sequels, rigorous press schedules, extremely tight pants, and in the case of a character like Steve Rogers — the tortured, straight-edge foil to more colorful characters like Robert Downey Jr.’s Iron Man — typecasting.

Though Evans played jerks and lovable smart-asses to great effect in movies like Fantastic Four, Not Another Teen Movie, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, and the otherwise excruciating What’s Your Number, his Captain America is all sincerity and duty. (And pectorals. And, uh, glutes.) Still, it’s Earnest Evans who attracts audiences, as Captain America brought in $368 million worldwide. His non-Marvel projects, like the mob thriller Iceman and a role alongside Tilda Swinton in acclaimed Korean director Bong Joon-ho’s Snowpiercer, suggest an eagerness to return to smaller films, but he’ll be carrying the Captain America shield for at least two more movies, and who knows how many Avengers sequels. And that shield is very large and kind of hard to see past...

  • Domestic Box Office $14,900,000
  • Overseas Box Office $17,000,000
  • Studio Value (1-10) 5
  • Likability 69%
  • Oscars 0
  • Critics' Score (1-100) 36
  • Magazine Covers 5
  • Tabloid Value (1-10) 5
  • Read about our scientific rankings »

Photo: Jordan Strauss/Getty Images

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90

Kate Beckinsale

The Gunslinger

Looks good in leather (or as a love interest).

After Kate Beckinsale made two Underworld movies, Screen Gems decided to replace her with the cheaper Rhona Mitra in the hopes nobody would notice the switch of brunette British ass-kicker. They did, apparently: Mitra’s Underworld installment grossed the least of any in the series, and when the studio wooed Beckinsale back for this year’s Underworld: Awakening, she pushed it to $160 million worldwide, by far the best take of the franchise.

But how valuable is Beckinsale outside the series? She’s proved herself a solid love interest in high grossers like Pearl Harbor and Click, but struggled in other films that put her in the lead, like Whiteout and Nothing But the Truth. (The latter never even got a theatrical release.) Fortunately, she’ll have that Underworld franchise to come back to as long as she can wriggle into black leather, and husband Len Wiseman (who also helmed the first two Underworld movies) gave her a plum role in the Total Recall reboot that plays to both her strengths: She’s the love interest to Colin Farrell... until she reveals herself to be a glamorous gun-toting villain.

  • Domestic Box Office $14,900,000
  • Overseas Box Office $11,232,610
  • Studio Value (1-10) 5
  • Likability 70%
  • Oscars 0
  • Critics' Score (1-100) 47
  • Magazine Covers 4
  • Tabloid Value (1-10) 4
  • Read about our scientific rankings »

Photo: Kevin Winter/Getty Images

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91

Julianne Moore

The Redhead With Range

She found her sweet spot playing mothers, but that doesn’t make her boring.

Julianne Moore’s breakout role was the unlikely mother hen in Boogie Nights, a type the actress would portray many more times in her career. But she never plays the same take on maternal issues, instead choosing projects as diverse as the fifties-set melodrama Far From Heaven to the rom-com Crazy, Stupid, Love to the lesbian-centered family dramedy The Kids Are All Right, for which she received Golden Globe and BAFTA nominations. She was a regular guest star on 30 Rock in 2010 and was lauded for her portrayal of Sarah Palin in HBO’s Game Change.

Of course, she’s made some underperformers lately, like Chloe, and one outright bomb with Savage Grace. But, no matter: Moore maintains her reputation as a classy, deeply emotional actress, and when pop-culture sites make their lists of performers who ought to have an Oscar by now, she usually tops them. Moore’s high likability is due in large part to her serious acting chops, seemingly effortless poise, and timeless red-carpet looks. She doesn’t appear on a whole lot of magazine covers, and her married life to director Bart Freundlich is too ho-hum for the tabloids. But there’s always another intensely emotional mother to play. Look for Moore as an aging rock star in a custody dispute in What Maisie Knew before she takes on the ultimate bad mom in the remake of Carrie.

  • Domestic Box Office $6,230,000
  • Overseas Box Office $14,850,000
  • Studio Value (1-10) 4
  • Likability 74%
  • Oscars 4 noms
  • Critics' Score (1-100) 50
  • Magazine Covers 6
  • Tabloid Value (1-10) 4
  • Read about our scientific rankings »

Photo: David Gannon/AFP/Getty Images

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92

Blake Lively

The Gossiped-About Girl

A young actress with sex appeal and media power.

Blake Lively’s overwhelming media profile still outshines her underwhelming acting resume, but she’s building a portfolio of sexy, charismatic characters with an edge. The 24-year-old former model’s fresh face, sex appeal, and flirty style have landed her on numerous magazine covers including Vogue, Esquire, and Rolling Stone, and she’s played the gossip game well: Lively has been romantically linked with several A-list leading men, including Leonardo DiCaprio and Ryan Reynolds, whom she met on the set of Green Lantern.

Her most famous role is still Serena van der Woodsen in the underwatched but buzzed-about CW TV melodrama Gossip Girl, and with the exception of her part as Reynolds’s love interest in the critically panned Green Lantern, she has found a niche in higher-brow films like Ben Affleck’s The Town, Oliver Stone’s Savages, and Rebecca Miller’s The Private Lives of Pippa Lee. Her relatively low studio value is a reflection that, to date, she has not been able to translate her talents to a blockbuster franchise like fellow young starlets Jennifer Lawrence (The Hunger Games) and Kristen Stewart (the Twilight saga), but Lively's come close to snagging big roles in movies like The Great Gatsby and Gravity.

  • Domestic Box Office $44,100,000
  • Overseas Box Office $1,216,793
  • Studio Value (1-10) 4
  • Likability 60%
  • Oscars 0
  • Critics' Score (1-100) 62
  • Magazine Covers 16
  • Tabloid Value (1-10) 8
  • Read about our scientific rankings »

Photo: Jason Merritt/Getty Images

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93

Tom Hardy

The Talented Tough Guy

Hollywood sorely needed a man’s man, and it found one in this versatile Brit.

Tom Hardy has got one of the summer’s biggest roles as the villainous Bane in Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight Rises, but if you walk away from the film wondering, Who was that? , it may well be because Hardy’s face is so obscured by his character’s mask. Fortunately, when Hardy is bare-faced (and shorn of his recent beard), he’s got the sort of brutally handsome looks and bee-stung lips that both men and women respond to, and the British actor has put them to use in recent years as a suave but macho film presence, most notably in his breakout role as Eames in Nolan’s Inception in 2010. Over the last year, he co-starred with Nick Nolte and Joel Edgerton in Warrior; was the sensitive standout in the Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy ensemble; and, to less acclaim, sparred with Chris Pine for Reese Witherspoon’s affections in the widely panned rom-com This Means War.

Hardy, a former model, dropped out of drama school in 2001 to appear in projects like Band of Brothers, Black Hawk Down, and Star Trek: Nemesis, but he didn’t quite break out until Guy Richie’s 2008 RocknRolla and the 2009 biopic Bronson, for which he gained 42 pounds of muscle and Christopher Nolan’s attention. The 34-year-old isn’t quite well-known enough to become a tabloid target Stateside, but he does have a juicy past that includes struggles with alcohol and crack cocaine, as well as the pansexual exploits of his youth. He’ll appear later this year in the western Lawless with Shia LaBeouf and is set to test his solo box-office viability when he takes over the title character in Mad Max 4: Fury Road with Charlize Theron.

  • Domestic Box Office $34,250,000
  • Overseas Box Office $18,800,000
  • Studio Value (1-10) 5
  • Likability 66%
  • Oscars 0
  • Critics' Score (1-100) 71
  • Magazine Covers 0
  • Tabloid Value (1-10) 4
  • Read about our scientific rankings »

Photo: Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images

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94

Michael Fassbender

The Ascendant

The actor’s actor tries to make the leap from indie notable to box-office reliable.

Michael Fassbender was in six movies last year, but have mass audiences figured out who this chameleonic German-Irish actor is yet? Certainly, Fassbender keeps them guessing: He’s an indie-film staple in films like Fish Tank, Hunger, and A Dangerous Method, but he’s co-starred in three huge hits — Inglourious Basterds, X-Men: First Class, and Prometheus — where his characters couldn’t have been more different. If part of becoming a movie star necessitates cultivating a familiar persona, the closest Fassbender has come to a reputation is the lusty one sparked by his full-frontal character in Shame, which gave better-known stars like Charlize Theron and George Clooney material to razz him about on awards shows.

Pundits declared him a Best Actor Oscar frontrunner for that film, but the snubbed Fassbender wasn’t quite there yet. Still, Hollywood is clearly excited to have a handsome new Daniel Day-Lewis type to play with, and his good looks and risque roles appeal to magazine editors and gossipmongers alike. Now 35, Fassbender shows signs of scaling back, and he has only two movies scheduled for release next year: McQueen’s Twelve Years a Slave and Ridley Scott’s The Counselor. Then, of course, he’ll reprise his role as Magneto opposite Jennifer Lawrence in an untitled X-Men sequel slated for 2014.

  • Domestic Box Office $11,200,000
  • Overseas Box Office $21,800,000
  • Studio Value (1-10) 4
  • Likability 57%
  • Oscars 0
  • Critics' Score (1-100) 70
  • Magazine Covers 3
  • Tabloid Value (1-10) 4
  • Read about our scientific rankings »

Photo: Andreas Branch/PatrickMcMullan.com

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95

Jamie Foxx

The Distracted Oscar Winner

His career faltered after Ray, but the actor-musician has high-profile projects ahead.

2004 was a terrific breakout year for Jamie Foxx: The former sitcom star impressed in $100 million grosser Collateral and then won the Oscar for Ray. He seemed unstoppable... and then he ran smack into a string of bombs (Stealth, The Soloist) and underperformers (Jarhead, The Kingdom, Miami Vice). Fortunately, in order to rebuild his goodwill, Foxx took some well-received supporting roles in big hits like Dreamgirls and Horrible Bosses, and now Quentin Tarantino has given him a lifeline — and the potential role of a lifetime — in the coming slave western Django Unchained, while he’s signed on to play the president alongside Channing Tatum in actioner White House Down.

Those two films should do plenty to put the focus back on Jamie Foxx, actor, instead of Jamie Foxx, part-time musician (though we’ll always have a soft spot for his Grammy-winning "Blame It on the Alcohol") or Jamie Foxx, radio talk-show host (his riff on Miley Cyrus during an episode of his satellite radio show, The Jamie Foxx Show, required some PR repair, and his Terrence Howard takedown was pretty scathing, too). Will it be enough to make him into a leading man again instead of a valuable supporting player? Time will tell.

  • Domestic Box Office $50,300,000
  • Overseas Box Office $46,100,000
  • Studio Value (1-10) 4
  • Likability 55%
  • Oscars 1 win, 1 nom
  • Critics' Score (1-100) 34
  • Magazine Covers 3
  • Tabloid Value (1-10) 2
  • Read about our scientific rankings »

Photo: Matt Dames/Sony via Getty Images

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96

Joseph Gordon-Levitt

The Unpredictable One

An indie boy-king with an eye on studio success.

It takes a long time to distinguish yourself if you’re a former child actor, especially if you spent most of your formative years on TV. After leaving 3rd Rock From the Sun, Joseph Gordon-Levitt decided to remake his name with flashy parts in low-grossing but critically acclaimed indies like Mysterious Skin, Brick, and Manic, until Hollywood couldn’t ignore this talented, well-liked performer under their own noses.

The indie-minded rom-com (500) Days of Summer gave Gordon-Levitt the perfect bridge to the big time (and with its profitable $32 million gross, provided a template for summer comic counter-programming that other specialty studios continue to follow), but the fact that he followed it up with a wackadoo, masked villain role in the first G.I. Joe movie indicated that Gordon-Levitt was no cookie-cutter studio star in waiting. He’s perfectly willing to take a supporting part if the blockbuster’s special enough (as in Inception and The Dark Knight Rises), and when he picks a studio movie to star in, it’s usually a little bit smart and offbeat (like the cancer comedy 50/50 or the ambitious, brainy sci-fi film Looper, coming in the fall). Then again, so’s he.

  • Domestic Box Office $32,400,000
  • Overseas Box Office $4,173,591
  • Studio Value (1-10) 4
  • Likability 63%
  • Oscars 0
  • Critics' Score (1-100) 61
  • Magazine Covers 1
  • Tabloid Value (1-10) 5
  • Read about our scientific rankings »

Photo: Theo Wargo/Getty Images

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97

Keanu Reeves

The Blissed-Out Action Star

Reliable when he says "Woah"; less so when he stretches.

It took a little while for Keanu Reeves to shed his image as a good-looking airhead (well, mostly), but he eventually proved himself a bankable, bona fide action star in over-the-top blockbusters such as Point Break and Speed. Reeves’s career-defining role to date has been as savior-of-humanity Neo in The Matrix, which spawned two commercially megasuccessful sequels and replaced Reeves’s Bill & Ted-era "Whoa!" with the far weightier "Whoooooah." In the past decade, however, Reeves has also been involved in a number of non-action-adventure missteps (Sweet November, The Replacements), which helps shed some light on the actor’s low Metacritic average and middling studio valuation.

These lesser offerings included 2006 romantic drama The Lake House, which reunited Reeves with his Speed co-star (and rumored off-screen paramour) Sandra Bullock, though the film’s strange time paradox plot proved too convoluted for filmgoers and critics alike. Audiences haven’t seen much of Reeves since 2009, since the last film he toplined, Henry’s Crime, played on only eight screens and barely grossed $100,000. The 47-year-old actor’s absence from the screen (or maybe the "Sad Keanu" meme) could explain the average likability scores for the otherwise good-natured Reeves, but perhaps all that kung fu Neo uploaded into his brain in the original Matrix is going to come in handy once again. In the next two years, Reeves is set to star in two martial-arts-centric action-adventure epics: 47 Ronin and Man of Tai Chi, which will also serve as the actor’s directorial debut.

  • Domestic Box Office $26,400,000
  • Overseas Box Office $39,200,000
  • Studio Value (1-10) 5
  • Likability 57%
  • Oscars 0
  • Critics' Score (1-100) 49
  • Magazine Covers 0
  • Tabloid Value (1-10) 5
  • Read about our scientific rankings »

Photo: Matt Carr/Getty Images

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98

Jennifer Garner

The Soccer Mom

Bennifer’s better half appears in magazines more often than movies.

People like Jennifer Garner. They like that she’s married to Ben Affleck, with three children. And they really like to see that family photographed. But they’re not as interested in seeing the 40-year-old Garner on the big screen. She’s been in seven movies in five years, and almost half of those came out in 2007, the year after she wrapped up the starring role in J.J. Abrams’s spy series Alias.

Garner has tried out several different movie personas since, including superhero, to mixed results. She got some of the best reviews of her career as the tender adoptive mother in Juno and found reliable footing in the world of rom-coms, including Valentine’s Day and The Ghosts of Girlfriends Past. (One exception was her role of Susan Johnson in the Russell Brand remake of Arthur, but no need to blame Garner for that bomb.) She sought indie acclaim (and a producer credit) in Butter, but salty reviews from Toronto and Telluride don’t bode well for the October wide release. Next up, she plays another kindhearted mom (gasp!) in Disney’s The Odd Life of Timothy Green. But if you can’t wait until August to see Garner again, she’s as close as your supermarket checkout line: the Neutrogena pitchwoman and her family are beloved by the editors of Us, OK, and People.

  • Domestic Box Office $47,500,000
  • Overseas Box Office $39,100,000
  • Studio Value (1-10) 3
  • Likability 70%
  • Oscars 0
  • Critics' Score (1-100) 37
  • Magazine Covers 8
  • Tabloid Value (1-10) 8
  • Read about our scientific rankings »

Photo: Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images

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99

Keira Knightley

The Period-Drama Princess

Britain’s reigning young actress dominates in old-fashioned roles.

When Keira Knightley came to fame as an abs-baring, modern-day athlete in Bend It Like Beckham, one might have thought she’d successfully circumvented the genre that British actors get stereotyped in too easily: costume dramas. Not so! After she wielded a sword and donned period clothes in the Pirates of the Caribbean series, casting directors couldn’t stop putting Knightley in corsets and frilly things, but luckily, the actress has thrived there: Some of her biggest successes, from Pride and Prejudice (which made her among the youngest performers ever nominated for Best Actress) to Atonement to The Duchess, have been costume dramas, and she brings a whole lot of verve to those roles, as she did with her gutsy, polarizing period performance in A Dangerous Method.

Audiences are less likely to see her in a modern context, though, and her attempts in this arena have all fizzled out; the low grosses of Domino, The Jacket, Last Night, London Boulevard, and Seeking a Friend for the End of the World all stand as proof that Knightley’s modern-day appeal is mostly located in magazines and perfume ads, not movies. Luckily, Knightley seems to have learned that lesson, and her next at bat is the lush, promising Anna Karenina, which is the latest film in her valuable partnership with director Joe Wright.

  • Domestic Box Office $5,700,000
  • Overseas Box Office $7,644,937
  • Studio Value (1-10) 4
  • Likability 56%
  • Oscars 1 nom
  • Critics' Score (1-100) 59
  • Magazine Covers 11
  • Tabloid Value (1-10) 5
  • Read about our scientific rankings »

Photo: Alberto Pizzoli/AFP/Getty Images

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Zoe Saldana

The Eager Action Hero

She pulls no punches, but she needs another hit.

She had a major role in one of the biggest movies ever, but it came with a giant asterisk: In Avatar she was totally motion-captured, unlike Sam Worthington, with no human scenes to remind people who the actual actress was that James Cameron so avidly stumped to get an Oscar nomination. She’s been busy since then, but mostly buried in ensembles (shades of Star Trek) like Takers, The Losers, and Death at a Funeral, which she could neither take credit nor blame for. With last year’s Columbiana, the slim ex-ballerina finally had the chance to anchor her own action movie as a non-CGI’d human and try to give Angelina Jolie some serious competition in the female-hero department. As the Magic 8 Ball might say, "Try again later": Columbiana grossed $61 million worldwide — respectable, but not a huge moneymaker with its reported $40 million budget (which doesn’t include marketing).

Her on-again-off-again relationship with Bradley Cooper perks up gossip editors a bit, but she doesn’t get the big-time media attention that could lift her to a higher level. Sure, she appears in Maxim "hot women" lists and on magazine covers, but instead of Elle, she gets Women’s Health, Russian Vogue, and Cosmopolitan for Latinas. She does, however, have a busy, impressive upcoming roster that could advance her position: There’s the cautionary plagiarism tale The Words with Cooper, as well as Blood Ties with Clive Owen and Mila Kunis, and Out of the Furnace with Christian Bale. And then, of course, there are the sequels to Star Trek and Avatar, the latter of which is still probably worth hiding her face for.

  • Domestic Box Office $32,800,000
  • Overseas Box Office $15,044,146
  • Studio Value (1-10) 4
  • Likability 61%
  • Oscars 0
  • Critics' Score (1-100) 43
  • Magazine Covers 4
  • Tabloid Value (1-10) 6
  • Read about our scientific rankings »

Photo: Frederic J. Brown/AFP/Getty Images

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Domestic Box Office, Overseas Box Office, and Critics’ Score are weighted medians. Likability data provided by E-Score. All data except Oscars taken from 2007-present. Read about our scientific rankings »