Vulture’s 100 Most Valuable Stars of 2013

In the second edition of Most Valuable Stars, Vulture once again ranks which actors bring the most financial clout to movies. Can anyone still open a movie in a world in which celebrity box-office appeal is increasingly trumped by CGI spectacle and familiar franchises? Who’s biggest in the ever more important global market? Using data from the last five years, Vulture’s exclusive formula weighs such factors as the stars’ grosses, average Metacritic rating, tabloid popularity, chatter on Twitter, and a special Hollywood value as decided by a group of top studio execs. (Remember: This list ranks stars according to the only metric that really matters in Hollywood – effect on the bottom line – not who’s the best actor.) If you think our priorities are askew (perhaps you believe that awards and reviews matter most?), just use the sliders at left to reprioritize the stats and reveal your own rankings.

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1

Robert Downey Jr.

The King

He leads the Most Valuable Stars list for the second time, and who can argue?

Can there be any doubt that Robert Downey Jr. should be sitting pretty at the top of this list for two years in a row? He’s the star of two of the top five highest-grossing movies of all time — The Avengers, which brought in $1.5 billion worldwide, and Iron Man 3, which took in $1.2 billion — and unlike other comic-book heroes who could be recast at the drop of a hat (and often are), Downey Jr. is so synonymous with Tony Stark that when he decided not to make any more Iron Man movies for the time being, Marvel basically put the megafranchise on pause in the hopes that he’ll change his mind. (Whereas Warner Bros. promptly installed Ben Affleck as Batman just as soon as Christian Bale hung up his cowl.) Don’t worry, though: Downey Jr. did decide to sign on for two more Avengers sequels, so he’s hardly done with his most iconic character.

But Downey Jr. is more than just Iron Man — in fact, he’s got another lucrative franchise, Sherlock Holmes, and has starred in two hit comedies since his career resurgence, Tropic Thunder and Due Date. His appeal is off the charts, and he has a studio rating third only to Brad Pitt and Leonardo DiCaprio’s. And he’s managed his stardom with grace and good humor, a remarkable turnaround from the drug-fueled days when he was an uninsurable lost boy. Next up for Downey Jr. is The Judge, a dramedy where he plays a lawyer representing his town judge father (Robert Duvall) in a murder case; the movie is a gratifying change of pace for Downey Jr. and a savvy acknowledgment that audiences will now expect more from him than just quippy action movies. And beyond that, there’s The Avengers: Age of Ultron, which will surely bring in a box-office take that rivals the GDP of most nations. That’s why Robert Downey Jr. is No. 1 on our list, and it will take a superhuman effort for anyone to top him.

  • Rank Compared to 2012 No Change
  • Domestic Box Office $231,199,855
  • Overseas Box Office $366,288,889
  • Studio Value (1-10) 9
  • Likability 69%
  • Oscars 2 noms
  • Critics' Score (1-100) 58
  • Twitter Mentions 2,329
  • Tabloid Value (1-10) 6
  • Read about our scientific rankings »

Photo: Jason Merritt/Getty Images

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2

Leonardo DiCaprio

The Star Who Started Smiling Again

The fun he had in Django Unchained and Great Gatsby was contagious.

For years, Leonardo DiCaprio was out to prove himself as more than just a teen heartthrob. He was a serious man. An actor. The plan worked, as DiCaprio became a favorite of A-list auteurs like Martin Scorsese, Christopher Nolan, and Steven Spielberg, and their collaborations scored dozens of Oscar nominations (and a Best Picture win for The Departed) and a lot of money (Inception earned $825.5 million total worldwide, while The Great Gatsby pulled in $348.8 million around the globe). There was just one thing missing: a smile.

The formerly impish star hit a brick wall with the dour, roundly ignored J. Edgar, and it seemed to spur him to once again show off his more lighthearted side. As Django Unchained’s Calvin Candie, he was both giddily wicked and brutally cruel, and he mounted a full-on, I’m-a-movie-star-dammit charm offensive in Gatsby. Both films scored at the box office, and early glimpses of his next movie, Martin Scorsese’s Wolf of Wall Street, were highly GIF-able, suggesting DiCaprio at his most hedonistic and appealing. His studio value is second only to Brad Pitt’s, because while DiCaprio is still popcorn-blockbuster-averse, he’s the best way to get audiences into Hollywood’s most expensive adult fare. That’s why in our rankings he lands in second place: He doesn’t have anything lined up past Wall Street, but can do whatever he wants next

  • Rank Compared to 2012 +11
  • Domestic Box Office $130,416,860
  • Overseas Box Office $169,563,938
  • Studio Value (1-10) 10
  • Likability 65%
  • Oscars 3 noms
  • Critics' Score (1-100) 62
  • Twitter Mentions 3,708
  • Tabloid Value (1-10) 8
  • Read about our scientific rankings »

Photo: Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images

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3

Jennifer Lawrence

The Breakthrough BFF

Nobody has navigated instant fame better than her.

At only 23 years old, Jennifer Lawrence has an Oscar, two major franchises (The Hunger Games and X-Men) with sure-thing sequels mapped out, and a handful of prestigious dramas to come, including American Hustle, the next film from her Silver Linings Playbook director David O. Russell. This is usually the point at which a young actress starts buying into her own celebrity and the Internet turns on her. But Jennifer Lawrence has somehow circumvented that backlash: Several months after that Oscar win, she remains as beloved as ever. It’s no wonder that Lawrence has taken a turbo-charged leap into the Most Valuable Stars top three.

All through Oscar season, Lawrence was a walking, joking counterpoint to Anne Hathaway’s glahmorous campaigning, receiving just as much fan love as Hathaway seemed to earn disdain. (Google Lawrence’s name and "best friend" and you’ll find countless people applying for the position.) She did everything right, expressing disbelief and gratitude for her accolades (but not at a Taylor Swift–ian level), all while acting like a starstruck stand-in, gawping at Jeff Bridges and Jack Nicholson and making awkward jokes about Meryl Streep. Fame can be a hard needle to thread for famous women — bloggers, fans, and the media can relentlessly scrutinize every move for inauthenticity — but Lawrence has pulled it off expertly by remaining herself.

Now Lawrence is confidently marching forward, and her Hunger Games sequel, Catching Fire, is poised to match or better the first entry’s $408 million domestic take. She’ll follow that up with the hedonistic Hustle on Christmas Day, followed by X-Men: Days of Future Past next summer. (The only wrench in the works: Lawrence long ago teamed with her Silver Linings and Hustle co-star Bradley Cooper for the Depression-era drama Serena, but the movie has been MIA for over a year.) Her former co-stars and directors can’t get enough of her, which only cements her Best Friend Ever vibe. Simply put, Jennifer Lawrence is the biggest and most versatile young star we’ve got.

  • Rank Compared to 2012 +13
  • Domestic Box Office $84,981,914
  • Overseas Box Office $103,750,227
  • Studio Value (1-10) 9
  • Likability 76%
  • Oscars 1 win, 1 nom
  • Critics' Score (1-100) 70
  • Twitter Mentions 5,531
  • Tabloid Value (1-10) 9
  • Read about our scientific rankings »

Photo: Samir Hussein/Getty Images

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4

Sandra Bullock

The Never-Been-Better Superstar

After a few years of lying low, she came back with a hit comedy and the best-reviewed movie of the year.

It would be tough to top the year that Sandra Bullock had in 2009 — she had two giant hits in The Proposal and The Blind Side, and won an Oscar for the latter — but 2013 might just give 2009 a run for its money. Bullock’s summer pairing with Melissa McCarthy in The Heat took in $159.1 million (nearly the same gross as her 2009 comeback The Proposal), and it served as a reminder that Bullock can still draw huge crowds in her wheelhouse. And then came Gravity, which recently premiered to the best reviews she’s ever had, and may well end up becoming her biggest hit (and bring her another Oscar nod).

Gravity could also be a possible solution to Bullock’s most vulnerable spot: her international appeal. She’s beloved by studios, by audiences (only three stars ranked higher in the likability poll), and by the tabloids, but her name means much more at home than abroad, with The Blind Side and The Heat both struggling to top $50 million internationally, a mere fraction of their U.S. take. But it seems safe to assume that Gravity, a 3-D effects extravaganza, won’t have the same problem (it’s off to a strong start abroad, with most major territories still to open), so studios hope that audiences abroad recognize what we already know in the U.S.: The nearly 50-year-old superstar has never been bigger.

  • Rank Compared to 2012 +7
  • Domestic Box Office $163,473,346
  • Overseas Box Office $53,202,067
  • Studio Value (1-10) 9
  • Likability 79%
  • Oscars 1 win
  • Critics' Score (1-100) 58
  • Twitter Mentions 756
  • Tabloid Value (1-10) 7
  • Read about our scientific rankings »

Photo: Ian Gavan/Getty Images

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5

Brad Pitt

The Golden Boy

With World War Z, people thought the screen idol had overstepped. Wrong.

Brad Pitt has always seemed a bit like his Troy character Achilles, an infallible half-god with a weakness no one could discern. This summer, some thought his soft spot had finally been found: There was terrible advance buzz on the Pitt-produced World War Z, and the rewrites, reshoots, and director freeze-out had everyone expecting a big-budget bomb that would prove Pitt was human. But no: All those tweaks to the zombie disaster flick actually paid off, and it took in $202 million domestically, his biggest hit ever.

It’s hard to find a negative with Pitt. He scores in dramas (Moneyball), and even the smaller films that don’t work get points for creative difficulty, like Killing Them Softly, which confounded those who expected a traditional hit-man thriller, not a vehicle for social commentary. (This could explain its CinemaScore grade of "F.") Tabloid editors still revere him (readers will always be fascinated by his marriage, his family, and his hair length), and he has a very high likability score. And, like his Ocean’s cohorts Clooney and Damon, Pitt has established himself as a star you can trust, someone great to stare at but who also seems invested in doing something interesting onscreen. He’s content in supporting roles (Burn After Reading, Ridley Scott’s upcoming The Counselor) and uses his celebrity impressively, taking a small part in 12 Years a Slave (a film he also produced) to make sure it gets attention. Next up: He returns to WWII in David Ayer’s tank movie Fury. It’s a safe bet it’ll work.

  • Rank Compared to 2012 No Change
  • Domestic Box Office $90,416,754
  • Overseas Box Office $101,457,576
  • Studio Value (1-10) 10
  • Likability 55%
  • Oscars 1 nom
  • Critics' Score (1-100) 66
  • Twitter Mentions 5,513
  • Tabloid Value (1-10) 9
  • Read about our scientific rankings »

Photo: Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images

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6

Will Smith

The Staggering Giant

After Earth proved he’s not invincible.

Before Will Smith went on something of a hiatus from acting in 2008 — which he spent mostly launching the show-business careers of children Jaden and Willow, as well as getting mired in an endless Men in Black 3 shoot — he was at the very top of the A-list pack. But his return has probably been a little rockier than he might have hoped. Smith’s sure thing sequel Men in Black 3 grossed a can’t-complain $600 million worldwide, but it was the lowest grossing of the trilogy at home. While it made nearly $200 million more than 2002’s MiB2 abroad, it was also released in twenty more territories (including now-blockbuster-hungry China, where it grossed $77 million). This summer’s After Earth, co-starring Jaden, fared far worse: It made a meager $60.5 million domestically, and the father-son media push came on too strong, inciting a general backlash.

Smith’s studio value has dropped accordingly, down one point from last year, but he’s still a strong 8 and remains a huge draw internationally (After Earth made three times as much abroad). Still, between the very public script issues that pushed MIB3 way over budget, his decision not to star in Django Unchained, his new stage-parent image, and the public suspicions over his alleged links to Scientology, Smith is facing major image problems for the first time in his career. It’s as if his pal Tom Cruise’s troubles were contagious, because they have the same feel — there are even breakup rumors plaguing his union with Jada Pinkett. Still, Smith undoubtedly remains a big star, and hopefully between con-man rom-com Focus and a possible Independence Day sequel, we will see the return of the fun star we first fell for. (Best to leave the kids at home, though.)

  • Rank Compared to 2012 -4
  • Domestic Box Office $108,495,279
  • Overseas Box Office $263,096,355
  • Studio Value (1-10) 8
  • Likability 76%
  • Oscars 2 noms
  • Critics' Score (1-100) 40
  • Twitter Mentions 8,583
  • Tabloid Value (1-10) 8
  • Read about our scientific rankings »

Photo: Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images

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7

Christian Bale

The Man Who Left the Cape Behind

He doesn’t need Batman anymore.

Christian Bale is the rare actor who’s able to step away from a superhero franchise with nothing more to prove. While many other supersuited thespians suffer from typecasting, Bale used his breaks between Batman movies for projects that earned him critical raves and, with 2010’s The Fighter, an Oscar. He has definitively declared that The Dark Knight Rises, which grossed over a billion dollars worldwide, would be his final outing as the DC character, and there’s no reason to think he’ll fade away.

Bale has got two films with solid pedigrees coming out this winter: the brother-against-brother thriller Out of the Furnace, directed by Crazy Heart’s Scott Cooper, and a reunion with his Fighter director, David O. Russell, American Hustle. He’s also doing two films with Terrence Malick (who directed him in 2005’ s The New World), but lest you think Bale is pivoting away from Batman-size epics, he’ s currently shooting Ridley Scott’s story of Moses, Exodus, playing the big M himself. Bale’s tabloid score is relatively low, which jibes with his quiet life and disinterest in the press, but his studio value is a solid 7.5. He’s got plenty of options, and there’s also this: If Ben Affleck whiffs his turn as Batman in the Man of Steel sequel, Bale’s legacy and mystique will only grow.

  • Rank Compared to 2012 +10
  • Domestic Box Office $167,367,804
  • Overseas Box Office $257,312,722
  • Studio Value (1-10) 8
  • Likability 64%
  • Oscars 1 win
  • Critics' Score (1-100) 75
  • Twitter Mentions 1,072
  • Tabloid Value (1-10) 5
  • Read about our scientific rankings »

Photo: Christopher Polk/Getty Images

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8

Denzel Washington

The Consistent Veteran

He hasn’t had a movie open to less than $20 million in a decade.

Reliable is the word that best sums up Denzel Washington: Excluding his directorial effort The Great Debaters, Washington hasn’t opened a movie to less than $20 million (or a total gross of less than $60 million) in the last ten years. When he’s in his wheelhouse — mid-budget, muscular thrillers aimed at adults — studios know exactly what they’re getting, and he’s rated very highly by them as a result. The last year saw him tiptoe a little out of his comfort zone, and his gunplay-free drama Flight actually exceeded box-office expectations and won the star his fourth Oscar nomination; meanwhile, his recent action-comedy 2 Guns performed more middlingly, despite teaming Washington with the equally well-liked Mark Wahlberg.

It’s also worth noting that Washington remains less of an international draw than some of his contemporaries, in part owing to his aversion to CGI and sequels. (Maybe accepting the part he was offered in Fast & Furious 7 would have helped the brand, especially among younger fans.) Still, Washington’s star at home shows little sign of waning and should continue into next year’s The Equalizer, which reteams him with Training Day director Antoine Fuqua. Over the past year, there has been talk of him teaming with Will Smith for a remake of the Sidney Poitier–Bill Cosby comedy Uptown Saturday Night, which would be a formidable twin bill; just as enticing is the idea that Washington hopes to direct himself and Viola Davis in a big-screen reprise of their Tony-winning Fences revival.

  • Rank Compared to 2012 -5
  • Domestic Box Office $85,312,438
  • Overseas Box Office $67,252,540
  • Studio Value (1-10) 9
  • Likability 78%
  • Oscars 2 wins, 4 noms
  • Critics' Score (1-100) 55
  • Twitter Mentions 1,339
  • Tabloid Value (1-10) 4
  • Read about our scientific rankings »

Photo: Larry Busacca/Getty Images

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9

Tom Hanks

Mr. Nice Guy

A well-loved Hollywood veteran who’s coming back into his own after a few box-office misses.

Tom Hanks has been famous and successful for so long that he can weather a few creative, low-grossing endeavors — like his last three movies, Larry Crowne, Cloud Atlas, and Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close — without taking too much of a hit to his image. He’s still blessed with the highest likability score on this list, as well as a studio value that’s second only to Brad Pitt’s. He’s also on an upswing: His latest film, Oscar contender Captain Phillips, opened to $26 million, the highest live-action opening Hanks has had in four years. (It also got his highest Metacritic score for a live-action film since Saving Private Ryan.) This winter’s Mary Poppins origin story Saving Mr. Banks will likely add yet another crowd-pleasing winner to his slate.

That’s how Hanks can get away with a domestic box-office score that’s the lowest of any actor in our top 25: The days of his giant grossers like Forrest Gump, Saving Private Ryan, and The Da Vinci Code are mostly behind him, and the animated Toy Story 3 was the only credit of recent vintage that brought him anything close to his box-office heyday. We’re in a weird era in which the lack of significant young movie stars means that we have to rely even more on veterans like Denzel Washington, Meryl Streep, and Sandra Bullock, and frankly, it’s weird to have watched Hanks flounder at the box office in a period during which those peers are scoring the biggest hits of their careers. Let’s hope that Phillips and Banks are signs that he’s gotten back on track.

  • Rank Compared to 2012 +25
  • Domestic Box Office $33,908,250
  • Overseas Box Office $103,374,596
  • Studio Value (1-10) 10
  • Likability 82%
  • Oscars 2 wins, 3 noms
  • Critics' Score (1-100) 48
  • Twitter Mentions 1,453
  • Tabloid Value (1-10) 5
  • Read about our scientific rankings »

Photo: Brad Barket/Getty Images

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10

Johnny Depp

The Wounded Wonder

Still a big name, but his tentpole appeal has taken a hit in recent years.

For most of the last decade, Johnny Depp was one of the biggest movie stars in the world, thanks to the monumental success of the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise. But the last few years have been rockier for the star: Since 2010’s monumental hit Alice in Wonderland, Depp’s four live-action forays outside the Pirates franchise have all bombed, including The Tourist, The Rum Diary, Dark Shadows, and The Lone Ranger. The latter two were particularly disappointing given that they paired him with Tim Burton and Gore Verbinski, the filmmakers with whom he’s had his biggest successes.

Depp is far from done — he remains well-liked by fans, he’s still one of the most talked about actors on Twitter, and after his marriage split, he is newly attractive to the tabloids. He’s still a big draw abroad, and as long as there are sequels to be made to Alice in Wonderland and Pirates, he’ll be in demand, even if the fifth film in the latter franchise was recently delayed. But he’s shown signs of risk aversion that would have been unthinkable when he came of age as a quirky character actor in the nineties, bailing on a role in Wes Anderson’s next film and ditching the Whitey Bulger biopic Black Mass after producers refused to meet his $20 million asking price. His upcoming slate looks a little more promising — he’s got the Christopher Nolan–produced sci-fier Transcendence and the Stephen Sondheim musical Into the Woods up next — but can you blame Hollywood for feeling a little wary?

  • Rank Compared to 2012 -7
  • Domestic Box Office $80,783,816
  • Overseas Box Office $143,877,778
  • Studio Value (1-10) 8
  • Likability 72%
  • Oscars 3 noms
  • Critics' Score (1-100) 51
  • Twitter Mentions 7,498
  • Tabloid Value (1-10) 7
  • Read about our scientific rankings »

Photo: Atsushi Tomura/Getty Image

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11

Hugh Jackman

The Entertainer

He rises on this list by mixing genres and making blockbusters that are especially powerful overseas.

Hugh Jackman has surged over the past year: On our 2013 Most Valuable Stars list, he was ranked a genial No. 31, but this year, he nearly threatened to storm the top ten. It’d be hard to think of someone more deserving, since Jackman has had a pretty phenomenal twelve months. Last winter, he won his first Oscar nomination for Les Misérables, which took in $441 million worldwide, his second biggest hit ever. This summer, U.S. audiences were just so-so on his X flick The Wolverine, which made a disappointing $131 million here ... but overseas, it was the biggest X-Men film ever, taking in $242.8 million. Even Prisoners, a relentlessly bleak kidnapped-kids drama, has thus far taken in $76 million worldwide.

But there’s more to draw from Jackman’s last year than box-office receipts. Few actors can prove so convincing in action, drama, and musicals, and Jackman pulled it all off within nine months, promoting each film with grinning brio. In an era during which new stars are hard to come by, he puts in the sort of globe-trotting promotional time that used to be the sole provenance of Will Smith and Tom Cruise. That’s won him high awareness and likability scores; it’s also prompted studio executives to assign the same points to Jackman that they do Sandra Bullock and Angelina Jolie. Jackman always looked the part of an A-list superstar; now, it seems, his career has finally caught up with him.

  • Rank Compared to 2012 +20
  • Domestic Box Office $60,000,000
  • Overseas Box Office $183,498,468
  • Studio Value (1-10) 9
  • Likability 73%
  • Oscars 1 nom
  • Critics' Score (1-100) 55
  • Twitter Mentions 1,186
  • Tabloid Value (1-10) 7
  • Read about our scientific rankings »

Photo: Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images

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12

Angelina Jolie

The Ultimate

Though she hasn’t been onscreen since 2010, we can assume she’s still huge.

It might simply be an act of faith — or a testament to her charisma — to still consider Angelina Jolie one of our biggest movie stars, since she works so infrequently. Not counting her Kung Fu Panda voice work, she’s only starred in four films within the post-2008 eligibility period for this year’s Most Valuable Stars. She has a top-range studio value, as execs consider her a sure thing in powerful-heroine roles, and yet she’s only really made three in her wheelhouse recently: 2008’s Wanted ($341.4 million worldwide); 2010’s Salt ($293.5 million worldwide); and The Tourist, which stumbled domestically in 2010 ($67.6 million), but made up for it outside of the U.S., where it pulled in another $210.7 million. (2008’s Changeling was more in line with the sensibility of her activist work — serious and heartfelt — and, predictably, grossed far, far less.) Other actors with this sparse a filmography would have their bankability in doubt, but the Angelina mystique is too powerful to discount.

She remains a perennial object of fascination; her tabloid score is a 9.3, topping her husband Brad Pitt’s 8.3. And yet, unlike the old days when people were fascinated by her scandals, now they’re click-happy to catch glimpses of her in a formal gown and anywhere she’s casually traveling with her giant, photogenic brood. Plus, she climbed one rung closer to sainthood when she became a strong voice for breast cancer awareness after disclosing that she’d had a preventative double mastectomy. (Oddly, she has a low Likability score of 50; this is likely the result of many clinging to her old tabloid reputation as the "other woman." But even if you dislike Jolie, it’s hard not to be fascinated by her.) In many ways, she is the distaff George Clooney, a glamorous red carpet fixture, an activist, and a director: While her 2011 debut behind the camera, In the Land of Blood and Honey, barely made a blip in the U.S. ($303,877), she’s now directing Unbroken, a biopic of Olympian and WWII POW Lou Zamperini, from a Coen brothers script, and Universal has it marked for a Christmas-season release in 2014. And oh, turns out she hasn’t quit acting after all: Next summer she’ll star as Sleeping Beauty’s antagonist in Maleficent. It’s hard to imagine a giant spindle fight, but even without action, it seems like just the kind of vampy role (one her kids can see) that will reassure studio execs that they were right to believe in her star power all this time.

  • Rank Compared to 2012 -4
  • Domestic Box Office $90,580,954
  • Overseas Box Office $208,069,041
  • Studio Value (1-10) 9
  • Likability 50%
  • Oscars 1 win, 1 nom
  • Critics' Score (1-100) 48
  • Twitter Mentions 3,751
  • Tabloid Value (1-10) 9
  • Read about our scientific rankings »

Photo: Tim P. Whitby/Getty Images

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13

Meryl Streep

The Grand Dame

A living legend who gets bigger every year.

Which actress was blessed with the highest studio score on this list? It wasn’t Jennifer Lawrence, Sandra Bullock, or Angelina Jolie whom our studio executives gave their highest marks to; instead, it was 64-year-old Meryl Streep. And can you blame them? Simply put, Streep is the closest thing to a guarantee you can get in this business: If she’s the star of a movie, it’s smart, important, and bound to be a quality production. (Or it’s Mamma Mia ... but hey, that was a mammoth hit, at least!) But though Streep is often referred to as the world’s greatest actress, she cleverly plays against her reputation with charming acceptance speeches in which she fumbles for her glasses and drops self-deprecating bons mots. It’s no wonder that her likability score is the same as Most Valuable Stars king Robert Downey Jr.

And she’ll need every ounce of that likability for her next role as Violet Weston, the cruel and cancerous matriarch at the center of August: Osage County. The family drama, adapted from the Pulitzer-winning play by Tracy Letts, has Streep tearing into Julia Roberts and her kin with a ferocious meanness; Streep also tears into the scenery, delivering a performance so big that some critics were moved to pan it at the film’s Toronto Film Festival debut. But even so, those same pundits took it as fact that Streep would earn an Oscar nod for the role, so beloved is she by the Academy. And Streep is pretty fun even when she’s being bad, a quality she’ll continue to mine as the Witch in the currently filming Into the Woods, where she’ll get to sing onscreen for the first time since Mamma Mia.

  • Rank Compared to 2012 -4
  • Domestic Box Office $63,536,011
  • Overseas Box Office $50,745,040
  • Studio Value (1-10) 9
  • Likability 69%
  • Oscars 3 wins, 14 noms
  • Critics' Score (1-100) 58
  • Twitter Mentions 817
  • Tabloid Value (1-10) 5
  • Read about our scientific rankings »

Photo: Jason Merritt/Getty Images

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14

Tom Cruise

The Star Abroad

Americans may be wary of him, but Cruise’s movies still clean up overseas.

It’s always hard to figure out whether Tom Cruise is in the middle of a comeback or not. In 2011, it seemed like he’d returned to moviegoers’ good graces after Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol grossed nearly $700 million worldwide. All the couch jumping and Scientology proselytizing was forgotten, and our biggest movie star was back! He even emerged from the abysmal Rock of Ages only slightly scathed: Though the movie bombed, many critics cited his Axl Rose–like rocker as the high point, and the very fact that he did it proved he had a sense of humor. But then, shortly after Rock of Ages opened, wife Katie Holmes "escaped" with their daughter, resurrecting the tabloid troubles that Cruise had recently kept at bay. His next two films, Jack Reacher and Oblivion, both underperformed, his likability plummeted again (he’s got one of the lowest scores on this list), and so, the conversational pendulum swung back to "That weirdo is over!"

But here’s the thing about Tom Cruise: Americans can sneer all they want, but the rest of the world still loves him. Jack Reacher seemed like a domestic dud by Cruise standards, with its $80 million gross, but overseas it made another $138.3 million. And Oblivion took in $89 million in the U.S., but $197.1 million everywhere else. Hence his high studio value of 8.5: Doesn’t matter where the money comes from, it’s still money.

  • Rank Compared to 2012 +1
  • Domestic Box Office $82,829,776
  • Overseas Box Office $167,012,277
  • Studio Value (1-10) 9
  • Likability 38%
  • Oscars 3 noms
  • Critics' Score (1-100) 52
  • Twitter Mentions 4,108
  • Tabloid Value (1-10) 8
  • Read about our scientific rankings »

Photo: Adam Pretty/Getty Images

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15

Daniel Radcliffe

The Boy Wizard Grown Up

Forget Harry Potter: Daniel Radcliffe is now a daring adult.

Given the subsequent careers of megafranchise leads Mark Hamill and Elijah Wood, you could be forgiven for assuming that Harry Potter star Daniel Radcliffe would never be heard from after the most successful film series in history wrapped up in 2011. But the 24-year-old actor has spent the last couple of years making careful, considered choices that could pay off for him in the near future. After initially focusing on Broadway and TV roles, Radcliffe’s taken tentative steps back into movie stardom, and his one post-Potter outing, The Woman in Black, proved to be a solid sleeper hit.

Radcliffe is popular enough with the tabloids to have remained highly visible since Potter wrapped, and he’s wonderfully charming and likable in his public appearances. Next up, he’ll begin to assert himself as a real actor in a series of well-received indie films — Kill Your Darlings, Horns and particularly the rom-com The F Word — that are just starting to roll out in theaters. The studios remain a touch wary of his star value away from Potter, but a return to tentpoles next year with Fox’s Frankenstein could help to boost their confidence.

  • Rank Compared to 2012 -1
  • Domestic Box Office $237,811,761
  • Overseas Box Office $504,633,345
  • Studio Value (1-10) 7
  • Likability 56%
  • Oscars 0
  • Critics' Score (1-100) 69
  • Twitter Mentions 1,511
  • Tabloid Value (1-10) 7
  • Read about our scientific rankings »

Photo: Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images

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16

Jennifer Aniston

The Potential Comeback

After the success of We’re the Millers, Hollywood hopes her box-office value can finally match her tabloid appeal.

For a long time, the take on Jennifer Aniston was that she was more of a celebrity than a movie star, and that view was furthered last year when her comedy Wanderlust was DOA at the box office. Her gossip value has not abated, especially after her recent engagement: Her score is still a perfect 10, right up there with Brad Pitt, Justin Timberlake, and Jennifer Lawrence. But people may have spoken too soon about her movie prospects after the critically dismissed We’re the Millers became the surprise comedy hit of the summer, earning $250 million worldwide. (Like Horrible Bosses, Millers — in which Aniston played a stripper — also played up her sexiest and most skin-baring scenes.)

Hollywood really wants Aniston to succeed (it would be a shame not to put all that press to good use), and her studio value has grown from a 6 to an 8.25, though she will need more than this hit to keep that up. She popped up in Toronto in the ensemble of the Elmore Leonard adaptation Life of Crime (reviews were mixed to positive), and her next two projects aren’t sure things: the female-friendship weeper Miss You Already is directed by Brit Paul Andrew Williams, and Squirrels to the Nuts is Peter Bogdanovich’s first movie in twelve years. Yes, you might prefer her to work on smaller fare with great directors to show off her range, but she tried that with The Good Girl and Friends With Money and it didn’t do much for her career. So perhaps the answer is more comedies that allow her to wear revealing outfits: It’s sad to see that her crack comic timing is best served by bikini scenes, but it’s better than people only talking about her possible baby bump.

  • Rank Compared to 2012 +28
  • Domestic Box Office $64,522,385
  • Overseas Box Office $57,243,513
  • Studio Value (1-10) 8
  • Likability 66%
  • Oscars 0
  • Critics' Score (1-100) 47
  • Twitter Mentions 2,060
  • Tabloid Value (1-10) 9
  • Read about our scientific rankings »

Photo: Jason Merritt/Getty Images

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17

Daniel Craig

The Serious Secret Agent

He’s the biggest Bond ever, but without his license to kill, it’s another story.

How long will Daniel Craig stay enlisted as famed superspy James Bond? Craig is proving to be the 007 series’ most lucrative star, propelling 2012’s Skyfall to box-office records: The 23rd Bond installment earned over $1.1 billion worldwide and took home the 2013 BAFTA award for Outstanding British Film, a first for the long-running series. That success keeps him in the studios’ crosshairs, though his non-Bond work has never quite broken through. 2011’s bleak The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo should have been huge, but a high price tag meant that its $232 million worldwide box office fell in the "good-but-not-great" category. Other non-Bond features like Cowboys & Aliens, Defiance, and Dream House flopped hard.

Is it a personality problem? Unlike previous Bonds like Roger Moore and Pierce Brosnan, Craig appears to be a very serious man trapped in a very popular franchise. He is not the sort of star who smiles easily, and compared to his peer Hugh Jackman, with whom he recently shared the Broadway stage, Craig comes off as a bit of a grump. His stab at comedy hosting last fall fell flat, and his staunch refusal to indulge interest in his private life (especially his secret marriage to Rachel Weisz in 2011) gives moviegoers little to warm to; studios know that he’s not going to be an eager help in selling his movie. Then again, you could say the same of Daniel Day-Lewis, and like him, Craig seems to be far more interested in acting challenges than celebrity. His next performance is in this month’s Broadway revival of Harold Pinter’s Betrayal, which co-stars Weisz and Rafe Spall and sold out in July. After that, Craig is reportedly signed on for two more Bond blockbusters and (thus far) nothing else; will he decide to try his hand at more Hollywood blockbusters, or will Betrayal inspire him to pursue more serious fare, leaving Bond to serve as his only nod to frivolity?

  • Rank Compared to 2012 +22
  • Domestic Box Office $129,400,512
  • Overseas Box Office $226,401,508
  • Studio Value (1-10) 8
  • Likability 70%
  • Oscars 0
  • Critics' Score (1-100) 61
  • Twitter Mentions 1,087
  • Tabloid Value (1-10) 5
  • Read about our scientific rankings »

Photo: Stephen Lovekin/Getty Images

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18

George Clooney

The Patron Saint of Hollywood

He’s Mr. Hollywood, a smooth and sophisticated star and creative talent.

George Clooney is to Hollywood as Uncle Sam is to America. "We want you" is Clooney’s unspoken cry to filmmakers, actors, writers, and backers with deep pockets, a soldier for the artistic possibilities of working inside the studio system. He’s an old-school mind with a contemporary sheen. And he gets away with it because he’s so damn charming. He’s witty and dapper while also seeming like the best friend a middle-aged guy could ever have: He’s the generation X male’s Jennifer Lawrence, except you want to share a beer, not brunch.

That doesn’t make Clooney a tentpole powerhouse at the box office, but that’s also because those aren’t the kinds of movies he usually makes. Outside of the Ocean’s franchise, he hasn’t had a $100 million hit since 2000’s The Perfect Storm. (Though that drought is now finally ending with Gravity.) Clooney is much more interested in modest-budgeted vehicles for grown-ups, a niche today that only he and a few choice others are allowed to play in. And he can deliver returns: 2008’s Burn After Reading, 2009’s Up in the Air, and 2011’s The Descendants made $60.3, $83.8, and $82.5 million respectively, and they replicated those totals overseas. He has one of the highest studio values for this reason: It’s hard for an exec to rationalize making a mid-range, serious movie in today’s blockbuster-centric mind-set, but Clooney can earn a studio green light without breaking a sweat; basically, he makes them look good. (Even when he’s just behind the scenes as a producer: You’re welcome for Best Picture winner Argo, Warner Bros.!) This winter will see his next directorial and starring effort, The Monuments Men, with fellow lovable activist and good-movie hero Matt Damon; that’ll be followed by Brad Bird’s mysterious Tomorrowland. And then a beer? Please?

  • Rank Compared to 2012 -8
  • Domestic Box Office $41,650,112
  • Overseas Box Office $43,144,699
  • Studio Value (1-10) 9
  • Likability 64%
  • Oscars 2 wins, 6 noms
  • Critics' Score (1-100) 54
  • Twitter Mentions 1,160
  • Tabloid Value (1-10) 7
  • Read about our scientific rankings »

Photo: Gabriel Bouys/AFP/Getty Images

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19

Matt Damon

The Star Who Slipped

Studios still love him, but Damon struggled at the box office last year.

Last year, Matt Damon was ranked sixth on our list, but this year, he tumbled to nineteen. What happened? Some of it simply couldn’t have been helped — in part, he was supplanted by stars in the prime of their franchises, like Jennifer Lawrence — but Damon also hit a rough patch last winter with his fracking movie Promised Land, the lowest-grossing wide-release movie of his career. At an anemic $7 million, this reteam with his Good Will Hunting director Gus Van Sant, which Damon co-scripted, went nowhere at the box office. Sadly, Damon’s hoped-for summer smash Elysium didn’t quite restore him: The expensive sci-fi vehicle was unable to crack $100 million at the box office and opened to a lower number than director Neill Blomkamp’s last movie, District 9 ... despite the fact that District 9 had no stars and Elysium had Damon.

It’s no wonder that rumors recently flew that Damon might be willing to come back to the Bourne franchise; he could use a pick-me-up. Still, Damon is a solid, hard-working star with a high studio rating, and he also has a high likability score, made all the more impressive owing to his potentially polarizing activist work for liberal causes. (Just compare him to Sean Penn, who’s got one of the lowest likability ratings on this list.) As a celebrity, Damon is an unshowy presence who’s hardly blowing up Twitter, but that’s part of what people appreciate about him: Unlike his occasionally polarizing cohort Ben Affleck, Damon really does seem unconcerned with his celebrity status. Let’s just hope that when it comes to the box office, he can right his ship and move up a few places.

  • Rank Compared to 2012 -13
  • Domestic Box Office $42,759,471
  • Overseas Box Office $61,328,781
  • Studio Value (1-10) 8
  • Likability 69%
  • Oscars 1 win, 2 noms
  • Critics' Score (1-100) 59
  • Twitter Mentions 1,155
  • Tabloid Value (1-10) 8
  • Read about our scientific rankings »

Photo: Kevin Winter/Getty Images

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20

Mila Kunis

The Game-for-Anything Gamine

She’s appealing onscreen and even more likable off.

Mila Kunis is a strong runner-up to Jennifer Lawrence as "Hollywood’s coolest gal," losing points only for being famous longer (you can’t really feign "I can’t believe I’m among stars!" after you’ve spent fifteen years on TV and in films). Gorgeous, funny, and relatable, Kunis scored big viral video points this year with her adorable response to that incredibly awkward British first-time junket journalist: She blithely dispensed with her list of Oz the Great and Powerful talking points so she could quickly get to what she preferred, shooting the shit with her nervous interviewer, thereby puncturing the notion of her own celebrity in an appealingly self-deprecating way. Kunis can also boast equal appeal to both sexes: Her Seth MacFarlane–stamped comedy bona fides make her an appealing dream date for dudes, while women are curious about her romance with Ashton Kutcher, earning her a remarkably high tabloid score of 9.

Kunis starred in two of the past year’s biggest hits, Ted and Oz the Great and Powerful, but her most recent string of indies seems to be stalled without domestic distribution (The Angriest Man in Brooklyn, a comedy with Robin Williams; the period cop drama Blood Ties, with Clive Owen; and Paul Haggis’s Third Person, which debuted at the Toronto International Film Festival to divided reviews). Perhaps that’s why studio executives give her a wait-and-see value of 6.5, though she’s got a high profile would-be-blockbuster on the way next July, the Wachowskis’ next sci-fi epic Jupiter Ascending. Whether that becomes her Matrix or her Speed Racer remains to be seen, but at least she’ll be able to use its major PR push to remind people why she’s so damn likable.

  • Rank Compared to 2012 +46
  • Domestic Box Office $98,492,269
  • Overseas Box Office $100,555,332
  • Studio Value (1-10) 7
  • Likability 72%
  • Oscars 0
  • Critics' Score (1-100) 56
  • Twitter Mentions 6,326
  • Tabloid Value (1-10) 9
  • Read about our scientific rankings »

Photo: Ian Gavan/Getty Images

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21

Daniel Day Lewis

The Actor’s Actor

A brilliant thespian coming off a bona fide blockbuster.

Daniel Day-Lewis is often referred to as our greatest living actor, and this year he helped bolster that case when he became the first person in the history of the Academy Awards to win three Best Actor trophies. That, plus a worldwide box-office total for Lincoln approaching $300 million, help to explain how Day-Lewis scored some of the highest numbers from our panel of studio executives, despite the fact that the 56-year-old actor is perhaps the pickiest around (he accepts roles about as often as Bruce Willis turns down a paycheck).

There have been misfires, certainly: The musical Nine did few of its creatives any favors, least of all a curiously muted Day-Lewis. Though general audiences had never quite warmed to the actor, his likability score jumped a little this year, perhaps because of his role as the Great Anticipator and a series of charming, self-deprecating appearances on the awards circuit. But when Day-Lewis does take a role, it can’t help but feel like an event, especially when he’s paired with a top-tier director like Paul Thomas Anderson or Steven Spielberg. And he could be back onscreen sooner rather than later: A possible reteam with Spielberg on the PTSD drama Thank You for Your Service is in development.

  • Rank Compared to 2012 +30
  • Domestic Box Office $141,575,221
  • Overseas Box Office $78,394,568
  • Studio Value (1-10) 9
  • Likability 65%
  • Oscars 3 wins, 2 noms
  • Critics' Score (1-100) 62
  • Twitter Mentions 381
  • Tabloid Value (1-10) 3
  • Read about our scientific rankings »

Photo: Stephen Lovekin/Getty Images

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22

Ryan Gosling

The Enigma

He’s got the right stuff to be a studio leading man, but he’s not that interested.

Ryan Gosling is that rare sort of creature in Hollywood: a leading man with good looks, great charm, and a big name … who’s still never starred in a $100 million movie. And maybe that’s exactly how he wants it. Gosling seems most comfortable in indies, including this year’s The Place Beyond the Pines, which grossed a tidy $21.4 million. But that was the actor’s only success this year: His Cannes entry Only God Forgives was met with boos and bombed in theaters, while studio entry Gangster Squad — one of Gosling’s few stabs at a mainstream popcorn movie — stalled at $46 million.

Now that Gosling is taking an extended break from acting to work on his first directorial effort, How to Catch a Monster, it raises the question of what he should do when he comes back. Could he use another star vehicle like Crazy Stupid Love, the first and only movie he’s made to truly capitalize on the romantic appeal he showed in The Notebook? Or would he be better off as an independent leading man with intermittent, smaller-scaled hits like Drive and Blue Valentine? One thing is for sure: Superheroes are off the table for Gosling, who’s turned down offers to star as Green Lantern and Batman in the past. Our guess is that Gosling stays his course, leading indies while taking the occasional juicy supporting role in a studio vehicle that he feels like he can trust. It’s possible that one of his frequent collaborators like Derek Cianfrance or Nicolas Winding Refn will eventually be handed a megabudget studio movie and come calling for the Gos, but that backdoor approach is just about the only way we can see Ryan Gosling starring in a summer tentpole. And that’s fine: In the era of Twitter and TMZ, what’s wrong with at least one leading man who stays elusive?

  • Rank Compared to 2012 -15
  • Domestic Box Office $24,800,490
  • Overseas Box Office $22,681,544
  • Studio Value (1-10) 8
  • Likability 58%
  • Oscars 1 nom
  • Critics' Score (1-100) 64
  • Twitter Mentions 6,464
  • Tabloid Value (1-10) 9
  • Read about our scientific rankings »

Photo: Stephen Lovekin/Getty Images

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23

Bradley Cooper

The New Brad

This heartthrob can now be taken seriously.

After breaking out in 2009’s first Hangover film, it seemed like Cooper was off to a profitable, high-profile career as a cocky dreamboat, leaping from Valentine’s Day to The A-Team to The Hangover Part II. But then came last year’s Silver Linings Playbook and a Brad Pitt–style reevaluation occurred: Hey, this handsome blonde can act! The acclaimed and accessible Playbook earned Cooper his first Oscar nomination, and on a budget of $21 million, the movie scored $234 million worldwide — half of that overseas.

Blessed with a face that sells magazines (and a Sexiest Man Alive honor), Cooper seems determined to use his growing appeal and respect to reach for the highest tier of Hollywood projects. (And he finally seems free of the devolving Hangover franchise; the third installment made $238.8 million abroad, rare numbers for a comedy, but wildly underperformed Stateside.) He’s carefully sticking close to his Playbook cohorts: This winter’s American Hustle reteams him with director David O. Russell and co-star Jennifer Lawrence, and then there’s an untitled romantic comedy from Cameron Crowe and a surprising voice role as a gun-toting raccoon in Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy. It's hard to believe some never thought he'd go farther than that Wedding Crashers weasel.

  • Rank Compared to 2012 +24
  • Domestic Box Office $70,063,097
  • Overseas Box Office $82,050,000
  • Studio Value (1-10) 8
  • Likability 73%
  • Oscars 3 noms
  • Critics' Score (1-100) 33
  • Twitter Mentions 2,188
  • Tabloid Value (1-10) 8
  • Read about our scientific rankings »

Photo: Jason Merritt/Getty Images

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24

Anne Hathaway

The Scapegoat

She’s talented and heralded by Hollywood, but the Internet will not cut her a break.

People on the Internet claim to loathe Anne Hathaway, but do they speak for everyone? The "Hatha-hate" may be getting under her skin; days after Hathaway picked up the 2013 Best Supporting Actress Academy Award for her role in Les Misérables and delivered a teary-eyed acceptance speech (one that was quickly negatively compared to Jennifer Lawrence’s), she told the Daily Mail, "It does get to me. But you have to remember in life that there’s a positive to every negative and a negative to every positive." The positive here could be her likability score of 66, just ten percentage points less than Lawrence’s: E-Score is a national poll, and her relatively positive numbers are a reminder that the Internet is loud, but it hardly speaks for all moviegoers. As such, studios rate her a 7.25, recognizing that to many, her talent speaks louder than any blogged words.

Just look at what Hathaway accomplished in 2012: Even Les Miz doubters had to grudgingly applaud her turn as Fantine, and fanboys approved her Catwoman in the year’s biggest hit, The Dark Knight Rises. ("Fanboys approved" is no faint praise.) Christopher Nolan is sticking with Hathaway, casting her in his Matthew McConaughey–led space epic Interstellar, and she’ll delve back into the romantic drama genre for Song One, which she also produced (and will reportedly sing in). Haters gonna hate, but they don’t seem to be damaging her career any.

  • Rank Compared to 2012 +37
  • Domestic Box Office $66,905,897
  • Overseas Box Office $90,684,548
  • Studio Value (1-10) 7
  • Likability 66%
  • Oscars 1 win, 1 nom
  • Critics' Score (1-100) 49
  • Twitter Mentions 2,289
  • Tabloid Value (1-10) 8
  • Read about our scientific rankings »

Photo: Jason Merritt/Getty Images

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25

Vin Diesel

The Endless Franchise

Fast & Furious only gets more and more popular, and this time he’s sticking around.

While he famously bailed on the Fast and the Furious franchise, his return (after his career sputtered) has been the best thing for it and him. This summer’s F&F 6 hit a series peak box office, knocking out comic-book juggernauts like Man of Steel with its $788 total worldwide gross. Diesel’s self-identified ethnic ambiguity reflects the Fast cast’s diversity, making him a huge draw for both U.S. and global markets. He’s an answer to Hollywood’s “white people problems” and Universal plans to keep him in the Fast business for as long as they can, making it an annual summer staple.

Keeping Diesel lower than other big box-office stars is his lack of non-Fast hits. He is determined to make Riddick a franchise people care about, but despite 47 million devout followers on Facebook, the third installment of the Riddick chronicles limped toward only fair domestic numbers (around $42 million — though part three was far cheaper than part two). But unlike after his first wave of success in the early aughts, this time Diesel is embracing his core franchise: He’s currently filming Fast & Furious 7 and has been talking up plot details and leaking locations for his return to his xXx character, Xander Cage. (A sequel that he’s been discussing for years, though it still has no director attached.) During his Riddick press rounds, Diesel also leaked details of how he was courted to voice supertree Groot in Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy, though Marvel hasn’t confirmed his participation. Diesel is famous for his hyperbole and imagination when it comes to hyping himself, so who knows if we’ll actually hear his voice when Guardians hits theaters next summer. But we do know that we’ll see him behind the wheel of a Fast car … and that he’ll be grossing tons of money doing it.

  • Rank Compared to 2012 +7
  • Domestic Box Office $132,451,412
  • Overseas Box Office $276,100,000
  • Studio Value (1-10) 8
  • Likability 59%
  • Oscars 0
  • Critics' Score (1-100) 48
  • Twitter Mentions 1,633
  • Tabloid Value (1-10) 6
  • Read about our scientific rankings »

Photo: Frazer Harrison/Getty Images

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26

Mark Wahlberg

The Triple Threat

Action, comedy, and drama: He’s got a lock on them all.

You would never expect the star of tough-guy thrillers like Contraband and Max Payne to be so willing to play the straight man; it would seem like all that gun-waving indicated the kind of type-A actor who always wants to take charge. But whether Mark Wahlberg is playing against a manic Will Ferrell in The Other Guys, a jittery Christian Bale in The Fighter, or a foul-mouthed bear in Ted, he has shown a surprising lack of ego in the way he cedes the more high-profile moments. He’s even stepping into the Transformers series for its fourth installment, taking over from Shia LaBeouf; few actors would take an aging franchise from a young punk, but hey, Marky Mark don’ t care.

Wahlberg doesn’t need to have an ego, because he doesn’t have anything left to prove. Considering his ignominious beginnings as a cheesy rapper, it’s amazing that he has come of age as a popular movie star who can do action, comedy, and drama, and is a successful producer to boot (Boardwalk Empire, Entourage). His studio value is a solid 7.5, and the good thing about his preference for mid-budget fare is that it often doesn’t draw much attention when he whiffs, like last January’s Broken City. Pain & Gain was a disappointment, too, and 2 Guns wasn’t as big a hit as it deserved to be, but the wild success of Ted last summer ($549 million worldwide) gives him a big cushion, especially as a Ted 2 is in the works. This winter, Wahlberg will take on another macho action role in Peter Berg’s ensemble war film Lone Survivor, then he may do a possible mercenary comedy with Jonah Hill. Hill will likely get most of the laughs, but that won’t matter to Wahlberg at all.

  • Rank Compared to 2012 -14
  • Domestic Box Office $65,327,734
  • Overseas Box Office $35,659,847
  • Studio Value (1-10) 8
  • Likability 72%
  • Oscars 2 noms
  • Critics' Score (1-100) 50
  • Twitter Mentions 1,043
  • Tabloid Value (1-10) 5
  • Read about our scientific rankings »

Photo: Neilson Barnard/Getty Images

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27

Melissa McCarthy

The Sure Thing

She could be the biggest, most reliable comedy star we have right now.

In last year’s Most Valuable Stars, Melissa McCarthy landed at No. 85 in Vulture’s ranking based on sheer potential; she was the breakout in 2010’s Bridesmaids, but that’s really all she had done. This year, she’s proven herself a sure thing, shooting up to No. 27 on the backs of two high-grossing comedies, Identity Thief and The Heat (which earned $134.5 million and $159.2 million, respectively). Sure, The Heat had massive star Sandra Bullock as a co-lead, but when you consider that Identity Thief had appalling reviews and still hit big thanks to McCarthy’s broad, anything-for-a-laugh antics, you have to give her major credit for both films. That’s why comedies The Hangover Part III and This Is 40 highlighted the actress in their trailers even though she had what amounted to little more than cameos. (Her movies haven't quite caught on internationally, but that's a common problem for most comedy stars.)

Unlike Kristen Wiig, who backed away from Bridesmaids’ success into smaller films, McCarthy has spent new capital on high-profile future projects that are right in her wheelhouse. She started a production company with her husband and writing partner, Ben Falcone, with whom she’s developing several projects, including Tammy, a raunchy comedy the two co-wrote and co-directed that is set for a big July 4, 2014 release. There’s also her third film with director Paul Feig, Susan Cooper, where she’ll play a female James Bond. Yes, she’s also working to expand her range, beating out many other top actresses to get a role in St. Vincent De Van Nuys, a Bill Murray–starring dramedy. But she’s not neglecting her core appeal. Hampering her from appearing in all the movies is the fact that she’s still starring on CBS’s Mike & Molly, the CBS sitcom that’s commercially but not critically popular, and will return in November. But these are good problems to have, and assuming she keeps on proving herself a box-office good luck charm, expect to see her climb even higher on this list next year.

  • Rank Compared to 2012 +58
  • Domestic Box Office $121,276,754
  • Overseas Box Office $50,414,933
  • Studio Value (1-10) 9
  • Likability 68%
  • Oscars 1 nom
  • Critics' Score (1-100) 42
  • Twitter Mentions 167
  • Tabloid Value (1-10) 7
  • Read about our scientific rankings »

Photo: Jason Merritt/Getty Images

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28

Ben Affleck

The Comeback Kid

Hollywood applauded his Oscar; fanboys went bananas over his Batman casting.

It’s hard to think of another comeback that has brought someone so high from such toxic depths: Ten years after Gigli, Ben Affleck received the Best Picture Oscar for Argo. The main impetus for his turnaround has been his directing career, but after the last few years of acting only in his own films or in tiny dramas like To the Wonder and Company Men, Affleck capitalized on his new heat to snag the lead in David Fincher’s adaptation of the literary phenomenon Gone Girl, after which he’ll famously don the Batman cowl in Batman vs. Superman (to the apoplexy of fanboys everywhere). This superhero face-off comes from Affleck’s eager patron, Warner Bros., which released Argo and will make Affleck’s next directorial effort, Live by Night.

These films could make Affleck the new Clooney, albeit one who proves even more dependable behind the camera. Fanboy outrage over his Batman casting should not be read as stormclouds over his acting career, since the angry Internet crowd would have been enraged if the actual Bruce Wayne were cast. The fact is, Affleck has everything going for him: Not only is he well-respected as an artist, but supermarket magazines love to highlight what adorable parents he and Jennifer Garner make, a complete turnaround from the days when Affleck’s relationship with Jennifer Lopez made him a tabloid target. The only speedbump he’s hit lately is the poorly reviewed Runner Runner; though he himself got good notices, audiences and critics seemed impatient with it, as if they were ready to move on to Affleck’s major next offerings. One can imagine Affleck himself is just as eager to get started.

  • Rank Compared to 2012 +20
  • Domestic Box Office $26,320,355
  • Overseas Box Office $36,699,041
  • Studio Value (1-10) 8
  • Likability 66%
  • Oscars 2 wins
  • Critics' Score (1-100) 58
  • Twitter Mentions 1,250
  • Tabloid Value (1-10) 8
  • Read about our scientific rankings »

Photo: Mark Davis/Getty Images

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29

Liam Neeson

The Man With a Gun

It’s been five years since Taken reinvented him as the new Charles Bronson, and he’s only picking up speed.

Liam Neeson seems to leap between two genres: supporting roles in big-budget cheesy blockbusters (Battleship, Clash of the Titans) and the lower-budgeted man-with-a-gun action thrillers that have been his stock-in-trade since Taken, five years ago. These down and dirty B-movies are generally efficient little buggers, made for $30-odd million, so even when they only do meh business, they still make a nice profit: 2011’s Unknown, on the lower end of the spectrum, made $130.8 million worldwide, while last year’s Taken 2 took in $376 million (!) across the globe. Hence Neeson’s high studio value of 8.5.

Film lovers would probably like to see him dig into a more meaty, nuanced dramatic role again; Kinsey, after all, was nine years ago. But from a mercenary "value" perspective, that biopic only made $16.9 million worldwide, so why should he stop being the new Charles Bronson for that? Moving forward, Neeson seems to only be working more. He’s got two more collaborations with his Unknown director Jaume Collet-Serra: Non-Stop, where he plays an air marshal trapped in a plane with terrorists, and Run All Night, playing a hit man who has to — all together now! — protect his family. (And in a switch, in A Walk Among the Tombstones, he’ll play a private detective trying to find who kidnapped a drug kingpin’s family.) He has a few projects that veer from the formula: Paul Haggis’s interlocking-love-stories project Third Person got mixed reviews at the Toronto film festival, and he’ll also co-star in Seth MacFarlane’s comedy Western A Million Ways to Die in the West. And if you’re still pining for him to do another Michael Collins–esque prestige project, consider this: It was reported that he will be paid $20 million for a Taken 3. When it comes to value, that’s what really matters.

  • Rank Compared to 2012 -11
  • Domestic Box Office $54,469,859
  • Overseas Box Office $87,949,975
  • Studio Value (1-10) 8
  • Likability 79%
  • Oscars 1 nom
  • Critics' Score (1-100) 41
  • Twitter Mentions 1,700
  • Tabloid Value (1-10) 3
  • Read about our scientific rankings »

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30

Cate Blanchett

The Gold Standard

Every great director wants to work with her, and she always dazzles.

Elegance, glamour, and raw talent still have a place in Hollywood, as evidenced by the sterling career of Cate Blanchett. With five acting Oscar nominations and one win (a Supporting Actress trophy for Martin Scorsese’s The Aviator), Blanchett is conducting her business with Meryl Streep–style discipline. The best directors want to work with her (so far, she’s collaborated with Scorsese, Peter Jackson, Todd Haynes, David Fincher, Wes Anderson, Steven Soderbergh, and Steven Spielberg), and she always delivers a performance everyone is talking about at the end of the year. She barely makes a blip on Twitter and the tabloids, but she doesn’t need them to keep her career racing forward. Instead, Blanchett simply shows up in a movie and dazzles: Her role in Woody Allen’s Blue Jasmine is already touted as 2013’s Best Actress front-runner.

Unlike Naomi Watts, another actress who gravitates toward serious material with impressive imprimaturs, Blanchett avoids seeming too precious and impenetrable because she also likes to have fun, whether it’s with her one-mustache-short-of-a-mustache-twirler villain in the last Indiana Jones movie, or her upcoming dive into the George Clooney boys’-club WWII art heist piece Monuments Men. From there, she’ll bounce back and forth between moods: a no doubt ethereal piece from Terrence Malick (Knight of Cups); two more Hobbit films; the HBO adaptation of the memoir Cancer Vixen; a reteam with Todd Haynes for the fifties period piece Carol; a David Mamet thriller, Blackbird; and then a new version of Cinderella, in which she’ll play the wicked stepmother. (One can only assume that this will be the kind of delightfully hammy portrayal that would make Angelina Jolie’s Maleficent back away slowly.) Oh, and somewhere in all that, she’ll make her directing debut adapting the dark international best seller The Dinner. The only way she’ll ever be idle is if she chooses to, because everyone wants a piece of the great Cate.

  • Rank Compared to 2012 +35
  • Domestic Box Office $102,001,939
  • Overseas Box Office $180,409,825
  • Studio Value (1-10) 8
  • Likability 60%
  • Oscars 1 win, 3 noms
  • Critics' Score (1-100) 48
  • Twitter Mentions 99
  • Tabloid Value (1-10) 4
  • Read about our scientific rankings »

Photo: Francois Durand/Getty Images

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31

Channing Tatum

The Great, Hunky Hope

Can he be the next big male movie star we all want him to be?

It was this summer’s greatest mystery: Last year America decided to start loving Channing Tatum, so why didn’t they go see White House Down, his would-be movie-star coronation? Tatum scholars will ponder this question for years, but let’s hope it was a fluke, since his box-office record is otherwise solid, his tabloid exposure is growing (thanks, People’s Sexiest Man Alive), and he’s one of a precious few young male stars we actually grew here in the States instead of importing. It’s no wonder that his Twitter score is off the charts: He’s appealing to both genders and he’s willing to go the extra mile — or doff an extra bit of clothing — if that’s what the movie calls for.

Fortunately, Tatum has an incredible 2014 that seems designed to restore whatever luster he may have lost: There’s Foxcatcher, a prestige biopic with Steve Carell and Mark Ruffalo, the Wachowskis’ Jupiter Ascending, and, of course, 22 Jump Street 2: A Guaranteed Moneymaker. (That’s our working title.) Let’s hope that some or all of those work so that we can keep Tatum where we want him and try to forget the summer that his White House action movie came in second to Gerard Butler’s. Really, audiences?

  • Rank Compared to 2012 -6
  • Domestic Box Office $26,885,986
  • Overseas Box Office $19,203,713
  • Studio Value (1-10) 9
  • Likability 64%
  • Oscars 0
  • Critics' Score (1-100) 44
  • Twitter Mentions 10,570
  • Tabloid Value (1-10) 9
  • Read about our scientific rankings »

Photo: Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images

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32

Emma Stone

The Glamorous Girl Next Door

She had a slow 2013, but the likable star has a 2014 packed with blockbusters and prestige flicks.

The streak had to end somewhere for Emma Stone. After a killer run in teen comedies like Superbad, Zombieland, and Easy A, a lead in the Oscar-nominated smash The Help, and a well-reviewed love interest role in the superhero reboot The Amazing Spider-Man, it was inevitable that Emma Stone would hit something of a speed bump. It arrived at the start of this year with a miscast turn in badly reviewed flop Gangster Squad, which landed at the same time as her heavily advertised cameo in the all-star sketch comedy flop Movie 43.

But it’s a measure of the esteem in which Stone is held (as well as the minimal size of her roles in both) that she hasn’t taken too much of a hit as a result. It helps that her high-profile romance with co-star Andrew Garfield keeps her all over the tabloids, with the pair proving endearing and funny in the face of paparazzi lenses. (Though she seems to be the main draw: Her gossip value is 8.3, while Garfield’s is 6.) The news that she’s good friends with Jennifer Lawrence was like a BFF nuke dropped on the Internet, even if Lawrence seems to have risen to a career level that Stone hasn’t yet reached. But mainly, it really helps that everyone seems to want to work with her: In 2014, Stone will be starring in comedies for Woody Allen, Alejandro González Iñárritu, and Cameron Crowe, along with a return appearance in the Spider-Man series. Next year could see Stone giving her pal J-Law a run for her money as America’s top-GIFed actress, the ultimate sign of fan love.

  • Rank Compared to 2012 -13
  • Domestic Box Office $64,371,504
  • Overseas Box Office $33,146,875
  • Studio Value (1-10) 8
  • Likability 65%
  • Oscars 0
  • Critics' Score (1-100) 47
  • Twitter Mentions 2,574
  • Tabloid Value (1-10) 8
  • Read about our scientific rankings »

Photo: Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images

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33

Dwayne Johnson

The Franchise Steroid-Boost

Add his muscles to a strong brand and watch it grow.

It took a few false starts, but Dwayne Johnson has finally found his place in Hollywood’s constellation of stars: He’s become a kind of franchise Viagra, who can turn up in the likes of Fast Five, Journey 2, and G.I. Joe: Retaliation and help reinvigorate the property. As a result, he’s more in demand than ever and opened four movies in the space of four months earlier this year.

That said, he’s more effective while added to an existing series (Retaliation topped the original by $100 million worldwide, while Fast & Furious 6 was even bigger than Fast Five) than as a solo draw, with this year’s Snitch the latest in a series of underwhelming action vehicles relying only on his name. Pain & Gain, an atypically dark comedy that Johnson shouldered with Mark Wahlberg, did only marginally better.

As such, next summer’s swords-and-sandals tentpole Hercules will prove the biggest stand-alone test of Johnson’s power so far (though it’s now slated to follow the safe bet Fast & Furious 7 by only two weeks), but the ambitious star — who keeps fans close with his colorful Twitter account — has a Plan B, signing on for a Mark Wahlberg–produced HBO dramedy that could do for retired athletes what Entourage did for movie stars. If it works, it might see Johnson respected for his acting chops as well as his brawn.

  • Rank Compared to 2012 -5
  • Domestic Box Office $83,405,647
  • Overseas Box Office $100,990,519
  • Studio Value (1-10) 8
  • Likability 66%
  • Oscars 0
  • Critics' Score (1-100) 41
  • Twitter Mentions 750
  • Tabloid Value (1-10) 6
  • Read about our scientific rankings »

Photo: Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images

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34

Clint Eastwood

The Cantankerous Classic

Still a cinema icon, even if his star has taken a slight hit.

2013 marks 50 years since Clint Eastwood broke through as a movie star with A Fistful of Dollars, but the last twelve months or so haven’t been the star’s finest. His planned remake of A Star Is Born seemed to fall apart after Beyoncé dropped out. His first onscreen role in four years, Trouble With the Curve, proved a damp box-office squib, taking only $45 million worldwide, with audiences seemingly less willing to see him in a sports-flavored weepie than as a cantankerous ass-kicker. His separation from second wife Dina Ruiz has found him in the tabloids for the first time in decades. And don’t even get us started on his chair stunt at last year’s Republican Convention ...

But none of these troubles change the fact that the 83-year-old Eastwood is a full-blown movie legend, with fans spanning generations (he’s mentioned more on Twitter than you might imagine). He’s still an active director who moved on from A Star Is Born to another musical, Jersey Boys, though he’s a reluctant actor who was lured to Curve by his longtime assistant director, Robert Lorenz, who’d picked that film as his directorial debut. While Curve disappointed at the box office, Eastwood’s studio value (8.25) remains very high, and if he wants to come back to acting, longtime home Warner Bros. would be happy to have him, especially if he picks a project in his Gran Torino wheelhouse. Calling out punks knows no age limits.

  • Rank Compared to 2012 -27
  • Domestic Box Office $63,846,178
  • Overseas Box Office $40,365,732
  • Studio Value (1-10) 8
  • Likability 69%
  • Oscars 4 wins, 6 noms
  • Critics' Score (1-100) 62
  • Twitter Mentions 1,323
  • Tabloid Value (1-10) 2
  • Read about our scientific rankings »

Photo: Slaven Vlasic/Getty Images

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35

Natalie Portman

The Returning Conqueror

After making 2011 her biggest professional year ever, she returns from maternity leave.

That thing where you’re a famous, beautiful, critically acclaimed young actress who wins an Oscar the same year you’ve got a giant franchise blockbuster coming out? Yeah, Jennifer Lawrence just pulled all that off, but Natalie Portman did it first. Admittedly, Portman’s been on pause since her giant 2011, where she took home an Academy Award for Black Swan and scored her biggest box-office bounty since the Star Wars prequels with Thor, but you can’t blame the 32-year-old for taking some time off to raise her first child. She’ll return to Hollywood in earnest next month with the sequel to Thor, followed by some very intriguing projects: a pair of Terrence Malick films, the troubled but well-scripted Jane’ s Got a Gun, and her first directorial effort, A Tale of Love and Darkness.

Portman is one of our most well-liked actresses — in fact, she even scores more highly on that front than some of the big-name actors who rule our list, including Robert Downey Jr. and Leonardo DiCaprio. And she gets talked about just enough on the gossip pages, who coo about her marriage to hunky choreographer Benjamin Millipied and her baby Aleph without taking potshots. All in all, she’s in a pretty good position ... let’s just see if she can maintain the momentum she had before her brief break.

  • Rank Compared to 2012 No Change
  • Domestic Box Office $43,950,031
  • Overseas Box Office $42,943,281
  • Studio Value (1-10) 8
  • Likability 70%
  • Oscars 1 win, 1 nom
  • Critics' Score (1-100) 51
  • Twitter Mentions 1,119
  • Tabloid Value (1-10) 7
  • Read about our scientific rankings »

Photo: Michael Buckner/Getty Images

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36

Kristen Stewart

The Image Problem

A major tabloid scandal was the worst thing that could happen to an actress so uncomfortable in the spotlight.

The Twilight phenomenon has now been over for nearly a year, and Kristen Stewart finds herself the best positioned of the three main leads. (Though doing better than Taylor Lautner and Robert Pattinson right now is not exactly the highest bar to clear.) That said, she’s safely entrenched in a second successful franchise, after Snow White and the Huntsman made nearly $400 million worldwide last year, and a sequel is in the works for 2015.

Which is not to say life is easy for Stewart. There was that whole "making out with her married director" gossip explosion from last year, a scandal ill-suited for a star already so awkward in the spotlight. Because of this blowup, it is not surprising that her gossip value is a perfect ten, while her likability bottoms out at 30, ten percentage points lower than it was last year. (The most common E-Score adjectives used to describe her: "overexposed, cold.") Her studio value is a middling 5.75, and it’s not an encouraging sign that at one point, Universal was just going to make the Snow White sequel about the Huntsman, ditching the female lead of the franchise. (If Melissa McCarthy cheated with her Identity Thief director, there’s no way anyone would consider making Identity Thief 2 without her.) Whether Stewart is the main draw for Snow White or not, she’s still using it as a strong paycheck to give her the freedom to do more nuanced projects: Coming up, she has the Gitmo drama Camp X-Ray and Sils Maria, the English-language directing debut of Oliver Assayas. Her previous small-scale dramas have mostly fizzled out (On the Road, The Runaways), but her continued casting by these directors says a lot.

  • Rank Compared to 2012 +2
  • Domestic Box Office $141,276,785
  • Overseas Box Office $182,409,794
  • Studio Value (1-10) 6
  • Likability 30%
  • Oscars 0
  • Critics' Score (1-100) 56
  • Twitter Mentions 9,237
  • Tabloid Value (1-10) 9
  • Read about our scientific rankings »

Photo: Jason Merritt/Getty Images

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37

Michael Fassbender

The Stealth Star

He’s one of our most promising actors, but middle America hasn’t gotten the memo.

Has there ever been more of a disparity between Hollywood and the rest of the country than when it comes to Michael Fassbender? Inside Hollywood, actors and directors are clamoring to work with the talented Irish-German star, and he’s got a sky-high studio score on par with Ryan Gosling and Matt Damon. And yet, if you try to explain who Fassbender is to your uncle, you’re going to have some trouble. Despite memorable co-leads in Prometheus and X-Men: First Class, and a 2011 awards season where George Clooney and friends made constant jokes about Fassbender’s full-frontal nudity in the buzzed-about indie drama Shame, Fassbender has the lowest awareness level of anyone on this Most Valuable Stars list. According to E-Score, only nine out of every hundred people surveyed about celebrities could name Fassbender. (Though there’s one silver lining: Of the people who knew him, he scored very favorably on likability.)

Can that awareness gap change in an era during which it’s gotten harder and harder for new stars to break through? Fassbender will probably get a bump from this fall’s awards juggernaut 12 Years a Slave, for which he’s tipped to earn his first Oscar nomination as a ruthless slave owner (a role akin to the Ralph Fiennes part in Schindler’s List, which also earned Fiennes an Oscar nod). But will that help people learn his name after three of Fassbender’s giant blockbusters — Prometheus, X-Men, and Inglourious Basterds — already failed to do the job? Fassy’s also bolstered by an ensemble full of A-listers in this fall’s The Counselor, and he’ll get an assist from every X-Men star who ever lived in next summer’s megabudget X-Men: Days of Future Past, but if those don’t coax people to finally learn his name, more’s the pity: He’ll simply have to remain Hollywood’s best-kept secret.

  • Rank Compared to 2012 +58
  • Domestic Box Office $29,710,288
  • Overseas Box Office $64,990,105
  • Studio Value (1-10) 8
  • Likability 71%
  • Oscars 0
  • Critics' Score (1-100) 68
  • Twitter Mentions 276
  • Tabloid Value (1-10) 5
  • Read about our scientific rankings »

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38

Chris Hemsworth

The Hammer

Life is good when you have one hit franchise for men (Thor) and one for women (Snow White and the Huntsman).

In some ways, Chris Hemsworth is reminiscent of a young, pre-rant Mel Gibson: He’s a versatile Aussie transplant who blew up in an action franchise, but is more drawn to quality dramas forged by the directing elite. Yes, Hemsworth will be forever known as "Thor" to 90 percent of audiences, and with Thor: The Dark World and Avengers 2: Age of Ultron on the horizon, it might be another decade before he shakes the moniker. As a backup, he has the Huntsman: The Snow White retelling made nearly $400 million worldwide last year, and a sequel is likely. But his franchise involvement appears less an issue than a gateway — Ron Howard tapped Hemsworth’s good looks and plentiful charisma for his racing biopic Rush, which got approving reviews even if its Oscar chatter and grosses stalled out early. (Though the question of whether this was a referendum on Hemsworth or Formula One — at least in the U.S. — is still unclear.) The collaboration with Howard was so successful that the director found more material for Hemsworth; they’re currently filming the whaling epic In the Heart of the Sea. And to prove he’s not all brawn, Hemsworth is teaming with Michael Mann for the brainy hacker picture Cyber.

Hemsworth’s profile raised quickly: After Thor came out in 2011, last year he had four movies in major release, thanks to the long-delayed freeing of Red Dawn and The Cabin in the Woods, thrust out into the marketplace along with Avengers and Snow White. (That said, neither of the smaller MGM projects did much damage at the box office.) He has also surged as a person of interest: His tabloid score is a mighty 9, owing to his status as a constant source of paparazzi beefcake: It’s even more impressive when you realize that he has a higher score than brother Liam, and he was engaged to Miley Cyrus. (Chris is married to Fast and Furious cop Elsa Pataky.) Likability scores are usually low for handsome actors drooled over by younger women (resentful men disproportionately declare how much they hate these guys), but thanks to his position in the Marvel universe, Hemsworth has a more positive score of 69. As long as he keeps swinging his sword as the female-wooing Huntsman and his hammer as the dude-friendly Thor, he should keep getting a lot of chances in dramatic projects, too.

  • Rank Compared to 2012 -17
  • Domestic Box Office $87,557,985
  • Overseas Box Office $116,122,437
  • Studio Value (1-10) 7
  • Likability 69%
  • Oscars 0
  • Critics' Score (1-100) 52
  • Twitter Mentions 926
  • Tabloid Value (1-10) 7
  • Read about our scientific rankings »

Photo: Andrew H. Walker/Getty Images

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39

Chris Pine

The Young Captain

He needs something besides Star Trek to raise his profile. Will Jack Ryan do the trick?

Right now, Chris Pine’s stardom is still tied tightly to the franchise that launched him: For better or worse, he’s associated with Captain Kirk in the public’s consciousness. This year’s Star Trek sequel took in $228.7 million in the U.S., which is $29 million less than the 2009 reboot, though it still ended up with a significantly bigger worldwide total than the first. Pine will have this role for as long as he wants (or needs) it, but away from the Enterprise, things have been shaky: His only hit has been 2010’s Unstoppable, which had more to do with his ever-reliable co-star, Denzel Washington. One thing thwarting Pine’s stardom is his simple lack of vehicles, since he typically goes more than a year between films and keeps a low profile when he’s not publicizing a project. As such, E-Score finds that only 23 percent of Americans recognize his name, which is awfully low considering how many know the name of his most famous character.

Fortunately, Pine looks like he’s picking up the pace. Most notably, he’s inherited yet another well-known character, playing the title role in Paramount’s upcoming Tom Clancy reboot Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit. (If one franchise is good, two is better!) In the works are Joe Carnahan’s comic thriller Stretch, the postapocalyptic drama Z for Zachariah (from Compliance’s Craig Zobel), and comedic supporting turns as one of the new evil employers in Horrible Bosses 2 and a self-absorbed prince in all-star musical Into The Woods. The latter two, in particular, will give him a chance to show sides to him that are centered around neither alien-rassling nor guns. And if neither work, it’s only a matter of time before J.J. Abrams (or whoever inherits the Trek franchise) beams him back up.

  • Rank Compared to 2012 +31
  • Domestic Box Office $75,141,490
  • Overseas Box Office $110,796,729
  • Studio Value (1-10) 7
  • Likability 60%
  • Oscars 0
  • Critics' Score (1-100) 58
  • Twitter Mentions 362
  • Tabloid Value (1-10) 6
  • Read about our scientific rankings »

Photo: Keith Tsuji/Getty Images

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40

Andrew Garfield

The Second-Wave Superhero

A solid actor who’s still selling geeks on his Spider-Man.

Andrew Garfield is like Daniel Craig Jr., a talented British actor who’s best-known as the face of a billion-dollar action franchise, though he takes the time in between sequels to dive into theater and more serious side projects. To wit: In the time between 2012’s Amazing Spider-Man reboot and next summer’s sequel, Garfield earned a Tony nomination on Broadway for the revival of Death of a Salesman and made exactly zero movies. However, don’t take him for the sort of movie star who likes to shun Hollywood; in fact, the major difference between him and Craig is that Garfield cordially and charmingly accepts the demands required of him as a celebrity. He’s appropriately modest in press situations, and at this year’s San Diego Comic-Con, the actor gave an impassioned speech on diversity that touched the hearts of geeks and social activists alike. The Internet is charmed by his relationship with Spider-Man co-star Emma Stone; they earned extra cred when, faced with a flock of paparazzi at a lunch date, they held up signs advocating for the World Orphans Foundation. Cute photos and social action: That’s a hard needle to thread.

Garfield’s tabloid-friendly life helps, considering that his profile as an actor is still being formulated. He won acclaim for his promising turn in The Social Network, but the Spider-Man reboot was a blandly reviewed underperformer domestically, grossing $262 million, far less than the Spidey movies in Sam Raimi’s original trilogy. Yes, it took in over $750 million worldwide, making its sequels a no-brainer, but it’s still hard to find people who were enamored of the quick-turnaround restart. However, if The Amazing Spider-Man 2 can more strongly justify its existence, and Garfield can distinguish himself as more than the temporary custodian of the Spider-Man suit (his plans to star in Martin Scorsese’s next movie will help), he could emerge as the next Matt Damon, mixing drama, action, and charity.

  • Rank Compared to 2012 +44
  • Domestic Box Office $151,985,350
  • Overseas Box Office $248,700,379
  • Studio Value (1-10) 6
  • Likability 48%
  • Oscars 0
  • Critics' Score (1-100) 68
  • Twitter Mentions 1,072
  • Tabloid Value (1-10) 6
  • Read about our scientific rankings »

Photo: Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images

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41

Henry Cavill

The Man in Tights

Will he have a career like Christian Bale or Brandon Routh?

Henry Cavill could have been on a list like this long before 2013. The 30-year-old Brit was one of the runner-ups for James Bond, he was nearly Edward Cullen in Twilight, and he was even tipped to play Superman a decade ago (for a McG-directed take that was ultimately scrapped). But the latter role finally came back around again, and Cavill, who’d previously led period battler Immortals and the little-seen spy flick The Cold Light of Day but was still best known for a TV role on The Tudors, finally donned the tights and cape for Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel this summer.

The reboot grossed a healthy $662.9 million worldwide, and despite mixed notices, interest should only increase for its 2015 sequel, which will see Cavill square off against Ben Affleck’s Batman. But the question at this point is whether Cavill’s heading for a career like Christian Bale’s, mixing other blockbusters with high-profile indies, or whether he’ll suffer the same fate of the previous Superman, Brandon Routh. He hasn’t quite become a household name yet (though his Steel-y shirtless physique did inspire a lot of Tumblr drool), so a lot will be riding on Guy Ritchie’s The Man From U.N.C.L.E., which teams Cavill with struggling star Armie Hammer, and will land sometime next year.

  • Rank Compared to 2012 New to List
  • Domestic Box Office $152,294,670
  • Overseas Box Office $215,433,333
  • Studio Value (1-10) 6
  • Likability 67%
  • Oscars 0
  • Critics' Score (1-100) 49
  • Twitter Mentions 334
  • Tabloid Value (1-10) 6
  • Read about our scientific rankings »

Photo: Brendon Thorne/Getty Images

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42

Jeremy Renner

The Fighter

He’s got what Hollywood wants, but how many movies make good use of it?

Hollywood isn’t content with Jeremy Renner to simply remain a good actor: They want to make him a star, too. After several years of steady work, Renner had a capital-M moment with 2009’s The Hurt Locker, which earned him an Oscar nod for Best Actor. A second Oscar nomination the next year for The Town seemed to confirm his marquee destiny. And so it is that this tightly coiled homegrown hero was cast as an action star in Mission Impossible - Ghost Protocol and The Avengers, though the former didn’t rely on Renner as much as had once been rumored, and the latter barely gave him much to do at all. Though both were enormous hits, they didn’t do much to grow his star power, and so when Renner got to topline The Bourne Supremacy all by himself, its so-so gross of $113 million indicated that there was still some more work to be done. It’s not for nothing that Renner’s awareness score is a low 16 out of 100: Hollywood loves him, but general audiences still have to get to know the guy.

Renner will next pop up in David O. Russell’s American Hustle, which honestly seems like a better fit for him than all those muscle-bound action movies: He’s a dramatic actor, people! Let him do his thing! After that, he’ll be seen in James Gray’s The Immigrant (provided the Weinsteins give it a proper release), and then there’s The Avengers: Age of Ultron, which director Joss Whedon has promised will include more of Renner. That’s great, but let’s get some more films like The Hurt Locker, where we get to spend time with Renner instead of cutting away to another actor — or a stuntman.

  • Rank Compared to 2012 +15
  • Domestic Box Office $76,118,257
  • Overseas Box Office $167,058,700
  • Studio Value (1-10) 7
  • Likability 63%
  • Oscars 2 noms
  • Critics' Score (1-100) 34
  • Twitter Mentions 560
  • Tabloid Value (1-10) 5
  • Read about our scientific rankings »

Photo: Andreas Rentz/Getty Images

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43

Adam Sandler

The Aging Man-child

He bounced back from That’s My Boy with Grown Ups 2, but is his brand on the wane?

Adam Sandler was once the most consistent comedic force in Hollywood, releasing an incredible twelve movies that earned over $100 million between 1998 and 2011 ... until the unfortunate one-two punch of Jack and Jill and That’s My Boy raised serious questions about his ongoing bankability. He has steadied the ship somewhat with his first sequel, Grown Ups 2, which grossed $131 million domestically, down about $30 million from the 2010 original, which was Sandler’s biggest hit ever. Sure, a diminished sequel isn’t necessarily terrible news — the second Hangover made $23 million less than its precursor — but it doesn’t refute the fact that Sandler is slipping.

Next up he has The Familymoon, which will reunite Sandler with his most reliable love interest, Drew Barrymore. There’s a classic Sandler farce, Hello Ghost, that’s about a guy who fails to commit suicide and gets haunted by a family of ghosts. And maybe most heartening is that he’s talking with reputable directors like Jason Reitman and Tom McCarthy to make the sort of smaller, more understated movies that he’s historically been quite good in. Sandler is now 47, so there’s a certain inevitability to his core audience slowly growing out of his stunted-man-in-a-mansion shtick, as younger audiences find their own comedic idols. In Vulture’s ranking, he’s down 21 spots from his position last year, and his studio value has dropped from an 8 to a 7.5. But that’s still a good score, and his movies are still profitable, so this man-child still has some life in him.

  • Rank Compared to 2012 -20
  • Domestic Box Office $103,257,228
  • Overseas Box Office $94,640,327
  • Studio Value (1-10) 7
  • Likability 67%
  • Oscars 0
  • Critics' Score (1-100) 30
  • Twitter Mentions 1,880
  • Tabloid Value (1-10) 3
  • Read about our scientific rankings »

Photo: Michael Buckner/Getty Images

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44

Tina Fey

The Comedy Role Model

Everything she does is smart, funny, and venerated; her lack of a hit seems incidental.

This year Tina Fey signed off from 30 Rock, finally leaving her open to pursue films full time — and she does so with meter-busting levels of goodwill. After years of "get Tina and Amy to host!" pre-and-post-award-show clamor, she and her friend Poehler took over the Golden Globes to rapturous praise. (And now they"re locked in for the next two.) Her book Bossypants remains a perpetual best seller and bible for many women. And she has an almost radical consistency: Everything she does is so on-brand — sharp, self-deprecating, and often connected to a joke about food. She"s the human embodiment of smart and funny, and maybe the sanest celebrity in the world, and she has a surprisingly high E-Score awareness number considering how low-rated her sitcom was.

Her post–30 Rock transition to movies had a rocky start: She and Paul Rudd in a romantic comedy seemed like it was computer-programmed to appeal to women, but Admission tanked with a puny $18 million domestic take. But Hollywood isn"t taking that as a definitive referendum on her, since her studio value is a powerful, surprising 8. Is it because they"re anxious for the next project Fey will write, after Mean Girls proved to be a generational benchmark? Or are they encouraged by her high likability and gossip values (not owing to anything scandalous, but because Internet people will click on anything related to her)? Coming up is next year"s new Muppet film, as well as the adaptation of This Is Where I Leave You, all while working on a stage musical version of Mean Girls — a move that is like reading her fans" dream journals.

  • Rank Compared to 2012 -8
  • Domestic Box Office $55,015,131
  • Overseas Box Office $21,615,688
  • Studio Value (1-10) 8
  • Likability 65%
  • Oscars 0
  • Critics' Score (1-100) 51
  • Twitter Mentions 606
  • Tabloid Value (1-10) 7
  • Read about our scientific rankings »

Photo: Mike Coppola/Getty Images

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45

Reese Witherspoon

The Gossiped-About Good Girl

Don’t you know who she is?

Back in 2011, Reese Witherspoon made a clever speech at the MTV Movie Awards, doling out advice to a new generation of starlets in which she praised the notion of being a “good girl” and cracked, “When I came up in this business, if you made a sex tape, you were embarrassed and hid it under your bed.” Suffice it to say, Witherspoon had her own embarrassing video leak this past year when a cop stop for a suspected DUI led Witherspoon to go ballistic, memorably pulling out the “do you know who I am” card and defiantly protesting (for some reason) that she was “on American soil.” It was a remarkably off-brand moment for one of our most tightly disciplined stars, and it dramatically boosted her gossip score (one of the highest on our lists), though it didn’t make a dent in Witherspoon’s sky-high likability rating, which she can breathe easy about.

Here’s the other thing about that DUI video ... it’s kind of the first time we were all really talking about Witherspoon in a while, and in a weird way, it made us realize that we missed her. Since the rom-com genre hit a rough patch, Witherspoon’s star power has been on the wane, and recent vehicles like How Do You Know and This Means War have done little to bolster her. She’s been experimenting with indie films to mixed results: Mud leaned more heavily on Matthew McConaughey but did well, while her recent Toronto entry Devil’s Knot was a misbegotten mess. Still, there are two films she’s got coming up that we’re genuinely curious about: She’s part of the top-tier cast of Paul Thomas Anderson’s Inherent Vice, and she’s the lead in an adaptation of the popular book Strayed that will be directed by Dallas Buyers Club helmer Jean-Marc Vallee. (Behind the scenes, she's also producing David Fincher's adaptation of Gone Girl, after snapping up the film rights early.) We know that Witherspoon has got the goods; let’s hope that the next time she surprises us, it comes on the movie screen and not on a police camera.

  • Rank Compared to 2012 -4
  • Domestic Box Office $49,077,869
  • Overseas Box Office $43,129,694
  • Studio Value (1-10) 7
  • Likability 65%
  • Oscars 1 win
  • Critics' Score (1-100) 39
  • Twitter Mentions 531
  • Tabloid Value (1-10) 9
  • Read about our scientific rankings »

Photo: Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images

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46

Tom Hardy

The Unmasked Man

Unrecognizable in his biggest role, can audiences spark to this sensitive man?

Blessed with the talent, looks, and charisma of a major movie star, Tom Hardy’s biggest problem at this point is that audiences still struggle to get a handle on him. Yes, he was in The Dark Knight Returns, the second-highest grossing movie of 2012, but wearing a face mask for two and a half hours does little to raise a guy’s profile. This explains why his general awareness in the E-Score poll is surprisingly low: Viewers may be surprised that the same actor who played Batman’s back-snapper also starred as the dapper secret agent in This Means War or the vulnerable bruiser in Warrior.

Still, his sensitive man’s-man persona is exactly what Hollywood’s been looking for, so Hardy’s become a much-sought-after leading man, with four major roles coming up in 2014: gritty crime dramas Animal Rescue and Child 44; franchise reboot Mad Max: Fury Road; and festival favorite Locke, in which he’s the only person onscreen through the whole movie. His tabloid appeal, too, is showing signs of growing: This spring, paparazzi photos of Hardy cuddling a puppy quickly made the blog rounds, giving him Gosling-like appeal. When Bane snuggling a little dog can make the Internet stop, then it’s a good sign that the studios’ gamble on him may yet pay off.

  • Rank Compared to 2012 +31
  • Domestic Box Office $80,048,497
  • Overseas Box Office $115,106,235
  • Studio Value (1-10) 7
  • Likability 63%
  • Oscars 0
  • Critics' Score (1-100) 45
  • Twitter Mentions 1,300
  • Tabloid Value (1-10) 6
  • Read about our scientific rankings »

Photo: Andreas Rentz/Getty Images

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47

Steve Carell

The Dialed-Back Funnyman

Burt Wonderstone seems like the last human cartoon we’ll get from Carell for a while.

Because Steve Carell was so funny as the proudly unaware Michael Scott on The Office and the dazed Brick in Anchorman, it was assumed that his future lie in cartoonish, Will Ferrell–esque buffoons. And yet, that has never quite worked for him on the big screen: Dinner for Schmucks underperformed and this year’s The Incredible Burt Wonderstone completely disappeared after taking in only $22.5 million (and neither were smiled upon by critics). Instead, Carell’s been best received when he dials back his antic sensibilities, whether as the dumped husband in Crazy Stupid Love, the sex therapist in Hope Springs, or the dismissive stepfather in The Way Way Back, this summer’s indie hit.

His Despicable Me animated franchise is still going strong: The sequel made $884.7 million worldwide last summer, an astonishing $340 million more than the original. Like Mike Myers and Shrek, Carell is strongly associated with Gru. (A third Despicable is in the works, and Carell will likely pop up in the Minions prequel.) But his next live-action film is more straitlaced: In Foxcatcher, directed by Oscar-nominated helmer Bennett Miller, Carell plays real-life paranoid schizophrenic millionaire John du Pont. Suffice it to say that it’s the coming Carell credit we’re most excited about, though he’s also playing the dad in the adaptation of the kids classic Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day (directed by Miguel Arteta), plus reprising Brick for Anchorman 2 this winter. An Anchorman without Brick is like a gang war without a trident, so that’s one more cartoonish buffoon we’ll allow him.

  • Rank Compared to 2012 -25
  • Domestic Box Office $72,289,552
  • Overseas Box Office $49,125,121
  • Studio Value (1-10) 7
  • Likability 69%
  • Oscars 0
  • Critics' Score (1-100) 44
  • Twitter Mentions 378
  • Tabloid Value (1-10) 6
  • Read about our scientific rankings »

Photo: Jason Merritt/Getty Images

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48

Zoe Saldana

The Franchise Magnet

She’s the lead in three big sci-fi series, even though two of them totally disguise her.

Is there any film actress right now who can boast the job security of Zoe Saldana? Already the female lead of two huge sci-fi franchises, Avatar and Star Trek, Saldana picked up yet another would-be sequel machine this year: She’ll co-lead Guardians of the Galaxy, Marvel’s eccentric new comic-book adaptation. If Guardians is the hit that Marvel hopes, Saldana’s biggest problem will be scheduling the sequels for her three big gigs. She may not be Hollywood’s most famous star, but she has every reason to be its most content.

That said, a word about Saldana’s fame: It’s a tricky thing to get noticed when two of those three franchise leads render you all but unrecognizable. Avatar transforms Saldana into a blue CG creature, while she goes green in Guardians as the alien assassin Gamora. It’s no wonder that her E-Poll awareness scores are much lower than those of fellow distaff ass-kickers Kate Beckinsale and Scarlett Johansson, though those that know who Saldana appreciatively describe her as "sexy" and "glamorous." Studio executives give her a score of 7 out of 10, thanks to her willingness to make big-budget vehicles, but her smaller films like The Words and Blood Ties have earned dismal notices. Maybe the upcoming Nina can turn things around: A biopic that controversially transforms the lithe actress into Nina Simone, it could thrust Saldana into awards contention (albeit for another role that slathers her in makeup).

  • Rank Compared to 2012 +51
  • Domestic Box Office $69,866,729
  • Overseas Box Office $44,829,802
  • Studio Value (1-10) 7
  • Likability 66%
  • Oscars 0
  • Critics' Score (1-100) 48
  • Twitter Mentions 494
  • Tabloid Value (1-10) 7
  • Read about our scientific rankings »

Photo: Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images

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49

Robert De Niro

The Renewed Veteran

Silver Linings Playbook reminded us, Hey, this guy can really act!

Once unanimously acclaimed as one of our greatest actors, Robert De Niro has taken so many paycheck gigs in mediocre films this millennium that even the biggest Raging Bull devotees have stopped expecting quality. Which is what made it so surprising when De Niro’s sneakily moving turn in Silver Linings Playbook pushed the actor back into the awards conversation last year. The Oscar-nominated role reignited Hollywood’s interest: Last year, his Studio Value was literally middle of the road (at a 5) but this year, he’s shot up to an 8.5.

Which is great for him, even if it hasn’t changed his approach to taking roles, in that he’ll seemingly take anything. He has seven movies coming out this year: So far, there’s been the execrable The Big Wedding, the quickly dispatched mob comedy The Family, the unintentionally hilarious John Travolta team-up Killing Season, and a 50 Cent movie. Still left is the old-folks-party comedy Last Vegas and the old-folks-punch-each-other comedy Grudge Match, with Sylvester Stallone. Yes, he’s reteamed with his Silver Linings director David O. Russell for American Hustle, but the role is apparently so small that he’s appeared in none of the marketing materials. We’re a bit heartened that De Niro agreed to topline a new HBO series, Criminal Justice, taking over for departed star James Gandolfini; that’s a move that reminds us of Matthew McConaughey, who also snuck an upcoming HBO series into the middle of his current critical renaissance. It’s clear that De Niro will never lack for work, but if he hasn’t learned anything from that Silver Linings bump, his reputation will be back where he dropped it, somewhere on the set of Righteous Kill.

  • Rank Compared to 2012 +3
  • Domestic Box Office $24,138,493
  • Overseas Box Office $14,610,220
  • Studio Value (1-10) 9
  • Likability 76%
  • Oscars 2 wins, 5 noms
  • Critics' Score (1-100) 31
  • Twitter Mentions 1,438
  • Tabloid Value (1-10) 3
  • Read about our scientific rankings »

Photo: Ethan Miller/Getty Images

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50

Julia Roberts

The Mile-Wide Smile

The happier Julia seems, the bigger her movies are.

Once the biggest female star in the world, Julia Roberts has taken things easier over the last few years, with only a handful of true leading roles alongside an occasional glorified cameo, like the one in Valentine’s Day. Of these major studio projects, there’s been a mixed hit rate, with Duplicity and Larry Crowne disappointing. Both films were very nearly in her romantic wheelhouse, but when she’s solidly in her comfort zone with a watch-Julia-smile vehicle like Eat Pray Love, the results are more respectable: The film took in $80 million domestically and another $124 million abroad.

That’s a sign of her international drawing power, backed up by the performance of her most recent film, fairy tale Mirror Mirror, which underwhelmed in the U.S but topped $100 million in foreign grosses. As a result, despite the occasional flops, her long-standing stardom is still prized by the studios and mostly adored by audiences. Next up is August: Osage County, which pairs her with Meryl Streep and could give her another run at the Oscars; it’s the best she’s been in a while, but it might be time for her to team up with another quality filmmaker who could reinvent her, like Steven Soderbergh did in Erin Brockovich.

  • Rank Compared to 2012 -8
  • Domestic Box Office $10,194,353
  • Overseas Box Office $54,611,720
  • Studio Value (1-10) 8
  • Likability 74%
  • Oscars 4 noms
  • Critics' Score (1-100) 44
  • Twitter Mentions 679
  • Tabloid Value (1-10) 6
  • Read about our scientific rankings »

Photo: Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images

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51

Emma Watson

The Graduate

She’s done a smart job distancing herself from Hermione.

There was a point at which Emma Watson was going to give up acting. As the Harry Potter series wrapped, the starlet began to talk of retiring from her lifelong profession after she finished at Brown University, but clearly, something changed: Watson’s on indefinite hiatus from college, passionately pursuing new roles that can help her gain distance from the megafranchise that made her name.

So far, she’s stuck mostly to indies, with a mixed degree of success; she helped The Perks of Being a Wallflower earn decent numbers in limited release, though she couldn’t quite bring life to Sofia Coppola’s The Bling Ring, despite the tabloid-friendly subject matter and "Watch Hermione pole-dance!’ headlines. Still, both films — along with a likable cameo in raunchy comedy hit This Is the End — have helped her establish a new, game persona that is a long, long way from Hermione Granger.

Her studio score is on the low side, perhaps in part because she’s been playing in the indies for a while. (Daniel Radcliffe has also been gravitating toward anti-Potter material, but he’s already proven that he can draw a decent crowd outside of Hogwarts with The Woman in Black.) Next year’s Noah should bridge the gap nicely: It’s Watson’s return to megabudget studio filmmaking, but with an indie auteur, Black Swan’s Darren Aronofsky, at the helm.

  • Rank Compared to 2012 New to List
  • Domestic Box Office $42,372,878
  • Overseas Box Office $13,609,368
  • Studio Value (1-10) 6
  • Likability 70%
  • Oscars 0
  • Critics' Score (1-100) 65
  • Twitter Mentions 5,685
  • Tabloid Value (1-10) 8
  • Read about our scientific rankings »

Photo: Dave Kotinsky/Getty Images)

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52

Robert Pattinson

The Recovering Vampire

He’s gonna need more time to get past Twilight — assuming he ever can.

Nearly a year after the end of the Twilight franchise, Robert Pattinson could still use a little distance between himself and Edward Cullen. His close association with the vampire franchise is the most obvious answer to his very low likeability score; many men actively and disproportionately resent anyone associated with the franchise. He was a phenomenon with teenage girls and their mothers, but there were early signs that they wouldn’t follow him outside the vampire tale: Water for Elephants should have been in his love-affair-threatened-by-outside-forces wheelhouse, but it ground to a halt at a mediocre $58.7 million.

The lesson Pattinson seemed to have taken away from this was that he had to get as far away from Twilight as possible by only doing small, counterintuitive films. It’s similar to the post-Potter path taken by Daniel Radcliffe, but the problem is that Pattison’s critic-bait movies haven’t appealed to critics: Neither Bel Ami nor David Cronenberg’s Cosmopolis got much better Metacritic scores than the Twilight movies, which is a low watermark indeed. (Neither film cracked seven-digit domestic grosses, either.)

His fans are still mesmerized by him outside of movie theaters: Pattinson’s gossip value is at the top of the list, thanks to stubborn fascination with his relationship with Kristen Stewart. Studios give him a very middle-of-the-road 5.5, but his profile helps his small films get financing, and there are more on the way that aim to show him in new lights, including the Mad Max-like thriller The Rover from Animal Kingdom director David Michod. He’s also playing a limo driver/wannabe actor in Maps to the Stars, and Col. T.E. Lawrence in Werner Herzog’s Queen of the Desert. Enough of these quality projects could help wash away all talk of Team Edward, but it’s going to take something special, and a whole lot of time.

  • Rank Compared to 2012 +7
  • Domestic Box Office $142,398,281
  • Overseas Box Office $169,940,444
  • Studio Value (1-10) 6
  • Likability 36%
  • Oscars 0
  • Critics' Score (1-100) 49
  • Twitter Mentions 6,155
  • Tabloid Value (1-10) 9
  • Read about our scientific rankings »

Photo: David Livingston/Getty Images

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53

Cameron Diaz

The Comic Bombshell

She’ll soon start capitalizing on the R-rated success of Bad Teacher.

There’s Something About Mary made Cameron Diaz’s career, and another raunchy, R-rated comedy gave it renewed life in 2011. Two years ago, Diaz toplined Bad Teacher, which Sony was only willing to make if Diaz took very little money upfront — the irony is that the $100 million hit ended up the most lucrative of Diaz’s entire career, thanks to her profit participation. It also allowed Diaz to disappear for the better part of two years (aside from a forgettable ensemble role in What to Expect When You’re Expecting) and still retain her above-average studio value and awareness scores. Her critical value isn’t the highest, but then, if the movie makes money, who cares? The studios sure don’t.

Diaz followed up Bad Teacher with a misstep — the Colin Firth–co-starring comedy Gambit, which still hasn’t come out in the U.S. — but most of her 2014 slate seems designed to capitalize on her R-rated success. She’ll reunite with her Bad Teacher director Jake Kasdan for Sex Tape and seek romantic revenge on a cheating paramour in the Nick Cassavetes comedy The Other Woman ... and then there’s the role of Miss Hannigan in the Annie remake, which Diaz snagged after Sandra Bullock turned it down. From R-rated to G-rated, Diaz is A-OK.

  • Rank Compared to 2012 -24
  • Domestic Box Office $57,615,225
  • Overseas Box Office $81,637,155
  • Studio Value (1-10) 7
  • Likability 65%
  • Oscars 0
  • Critics' Score (1-100) 38
  • Twitter Mentions 973
  • Tabloid Value (1-10) 7
  • Read about our scientific rankings »

Photo: Didier Baverel/Getty Images

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54

Kate Winslet

The Drama Queen

This Oscar perennial is taking a dip in YA waters next year.

Despite being the star of the second biggest film in history, Kate Winslet hasn’t been one to chase commercial success; in the fifteen years since, she’s principally appeared in indie or awards-friendly fare like Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Little Children, or her Oscar-winning turn in The Reader, with only the occasional atypical studio digression like The Holiday. But despite mostly low grosses and long absences from the screen, Winslet remains a solid property thanks to her critical favor, Oscar win, and evergreen popularity with the tabloids (to be fair, they’re unlikely to lose interest when you marry someone with the last name Rocknroll ... )

It’s two years since Winslet was last onscreen with Contagion and Carnage, but her lead role in Jason Reitman’s Labor Day might yet have her in the award conversation this year. And perhaps more crucial, 2014 will see her in a key role in the potential young-adult blockbuster Divergent; with sequels already in development, that should keep her visible for some time to come. After that, there’s some more traditional period fare to follow (Louis XIV–era gardening drama A Little Chaos, directed by Alan Rickman, and Jocelyn Moorhouse’s Australia-set The Dressmaker), so don’t expect Winslet to dip out of view again anytime soon.

  • Rank Compared to 2012 +19
  • Domestic Box Office $19,213,229
  • Overseas Box Office $28,137,187
  • Studio Value (1-10) 7
  • Likability 67%
  • Oscars 1 win, 5 noms
  • Critics' Score (1-100) 48
  • Twitter Mentions 432
  • Tabloid Value (1-10) 8
  • Read about our scientific rankings »

Photo: Carl Court/AFP/Getty Images

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55

Jake Gyllenhaal

The Modest Movie Star

He’s found his niche in affordable, gritty thrillers.

Over the short decade-plus that he’s been a recognizable name, Jake Gyllenhaal’s career has gone through several incarnations: from the young star of coming-of-agers like October Sky and Donnie Darko, to the critics’ darling of The Good Girl and Brokeback Mountain, to the would-be action hero of Prince Of Persia: The Sands Of Time. But it’s really only in the last few years that Gyllenhaal really seems to have found his place as the lead of modestly budgeted, well-reviewed films like Source Code, End Of Watch and Prisoners.

None blew up the box office, but the films were all made at a price and likely turned healthy profits, and it seems that Gyllenhaal can still draw enough of an audience, especially abroad: End Of Watch aside, his films generally perform better internationally, with Prince Of Persia quietly making a quarter of a billion dollars away from American jeering. Gossip editors are more interested in him than studios seem to be (thank you, Taylor Swift!), but within his lower-budget wheelhouse, he has significant value. His mind-bending doppelganger film Enemy (directed by Prisoners’ Denis Villeneuve) recently had a mixed reception at Toronto, but he also has Nightcrawler coming (a crime thriller that he’s producing and which forced him to bow out of Into the Woods) and Everest, with Josh Brolin.

  • Rank Compared to 2012 +34
  • Domestic Box Office $49,881,499
  • Overseas Box Office $57,787,005
  • Studio Value (1-10) 6
  • Likability 60%
  • Oscars 1 nom
  • Critics' Score (1-100) 64
  • Twitter Mentions 546
  • Tabloid Value (1-10) 7
  • Read about our scientific rankings »

Photo: Neilson Barnard/Getty Images

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56

Javier Bardem

The Delicious Fiend

His villainous turn in Skyfall helped push its gross past a billion dollars.

Aside from a cameo in Collateral and a more romantic role in Eat Pray Love, Javier Bardem has largely resisted taking the studio dollar, instead preferring to work with auteurs like Alejandro González Iñárritu, Woody Allen, and Julian Schnabel. But when the No Country for Old Men star was finally lured into a franchise role, he didn’t disappoint: His uniquely machinating villain in the 007 film Skyfall was a key part of its appeal, and helped to make it the biggest Bond entry so far by a long shot, grossing over a billion dollars worldwide.

Bardem obviously can’t take all the credit, but it helps explain why the star is rated so highly by studio bosses: Despite his relatively low awareness numbers and picky nature, executives know that if they can get him, he’ll deliver something very special and memorable. (It’s hard to think of another handsome Oscar winner who so revels in looking unpleasant.) He’s showing signs of a willingness to play more within the studio tent, too; he’s got Ridley Scott’s The Counselor coming out this month, to be followed by The Gunman (a spy film with Sean Penn and Idris Elba) and A Most Violent Year, from Margin Call director J.C. Chandor.

  • Rank Compared to 2012 New to List
  • Domestic Box Office $70,158,739
  • Overseas Box Office $190,117,184
  • Studio Value (1-10) 8
  • Likability 60%
  • Oscars 1 win, 2 noms
  • Critics' Score (1-100) 44
  • Twitter Mentions 232
  • Tabloid Value (1-10) 6
  • Read about our scientific rankings »

Photo: Carlos Alvarez/Getty Images

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57

Matthew McConaughey

The Good Ol’ Boy Made Good

Hollywood has taken notice of his mid-career comeback.

Matthew McConaughey landed firmly in the middle of this year’s Most Valuable Stars list, but just wait until 2014: The 43-year-old actor is in the middle of a remarkable career resurgence that is in the process of paying dividends. Last year marked a real turnaround for the former king of junky rom-coms, as he proved his thespian bona fides in acclaimed indies like Killer Joe and Bernie, and rode a lascivious role in Magic Mike to the biggest hit of his career, a $113 million gross that surpassed How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days, Contact, and A Time to Kill. This year continued to restore McConaughey’s luster, as Mud took home a very good $21 million in limited release, and he’s almost certain to be nominated for his first Oscar for the affecting Dallas Buyers Club.

Now that McConaughey has impressed in indies, Hollywood is ready to give him the top-tier projects that eluded him during his cash-grab days: McConaughey just filmed his lead role in Interstellar, Christopher Nolan’s 2014 sci-fier, which will surely be the actor’s biggest film ever. It’s a well-deserved comeback that sees the actor adding ever-increasing Metacritic numbers to his very high likability and tabloid scores. Finally, McConaughey has proved that he’s more than just a pretty set of pecs.

  • Rank Compared to 2012 -17
  • Domestic Box Office $36,311,697
  • Overseas Box Office $11,764,318
  • Studio Value (1-10) 8
  • Likability 64%
  • Oscars 0
  • Critics' Score (1-100) 42
  • Twitter Mentions 459
  • Tabloid Value (1-10) 8
  • Read about our scientific rankings »

Photo: Jason Merritt/Getty Images

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58

Chris Evans

The Reluctant Hero

He’s hoping that Captain America will help earn him the edgier roles he wants.

Most actors would be champing at the bit to become a Marvel superhero. The fame! The job security! Chris Evans, on the other hand, readily admits that the notion of playing the lead in Captain America basically drove him into therapy. It isn’t just the fact that Marvel makes you sign a nine-film contract in order to play ball, it’s that Evans had already done the superhero thing once before with Fantastic Four and found it wanting in comparison to the flashier supporting parts he seemed more and more drawn to. Did he really want to commit to a hero that, in the wrong hands, could be Marvel’s blandest?

Well, you know how this one turned out: Evans did sign on to play Captain America, and the first installment earned a healthy $176 million domestically, by far his biggest hit until the gargantuan $623 million U.S. gross of The Avengers the next year. Not that it’s helped increase his awareness much: Unless you’re counting the barely there Jeremy Renner, Chris Evans still has the lowest awareness rating of any of the Avengers. His studio value is a little higher than Chris Hemsworth’s — owing to the fact that he’s been around longer — but is the studio space where his heart lies? We’d wager that Evans is far more committed to more eccentric films like the recent The Iceman and Bong Joon-Ho’s upcoming Snowpiercer, and now has the superhero-aided leverage to land in them.

  • Rank Compared to 2012 -32
  • Domestic Box Office $47,085,292
  • Overseas Box Office $63,946,677
  • Studio Value (1-10) 7
  • Likability 69%
  • Oscars 0
  • Critics' Score (1-100) 35
  • Twitter Mentions 895
  • Tabloid Value (1-10) 7
  • Read about our scientific rankings »

Photo: Ethan Miller/Getty Images

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59

James Franco

The Prolific One

He had two giant hits and a new cult favorite in 2013, but that’s hardly enough for Franco.

It’s almost unfair to judge James Franco against other people: He’s staggeringly prolific, and not just as a performer, but as a writer and a filmmaker (and a blogger), too. When he isn’t busy creating art projects or going to yet another college, Franco straddles the movie worlds of mainstream and art house: A week after the release of family-friendly smash hit Oz the Great and Powerful, he popped up as a sleazy drug dealer in Harmony Korine’s canny trash classic Spring Breakers. The rest of the year saw him reuniting with his fellow Apatow alums in the comedy hit This Is the End; cameoing as Hef in Lovelace; and, most recently, adapting, directing, and starring in As I Lay Dying. Next up: the comically evil villain in Homefront, a pulpy Jason Statham movie written by Sylvester Stallone that answers the question, "What is the exact opposite of As I Lay Dying?" The Internet’s fascination with his rapid-fire multitasking has died a bit; now we just take this kind of overdrive as a fact of life.

Franco has jumped nearly twenty spots from the last Most Valuable Stars thanks to this year’s hits, but because of his wildly varied choices, studios execs remain a little wary of the actor, giving him a 6.5 studio value. Is he diluting his movie star mystique by constantly churning out new content? (When most actors decide to direct, they have to take at least two years off to make their movie; Franco, on the other hand, has had a different directorial effort at every major film festival this year, the sign of either a dilettante or a man who doesn’t sleep.)

Their concern is borne out by Franco’s E-Score numbers: For someone who was in a giant family hit and seems to be everywhere all at once, he only has an awareness of 39, and his likability within that group is 59. Giving him advice as to how he could raise those scores would be futile, though, because that seems antithetical to his do-what-I-want plan.

  • Rank Compared to 2012 +19
  • Domestic Box Office $45,421,922
  • Overseas Box Office $17,587,814
  • Studio Value (1-10) 7
  • Likability 59%
  • Oscars 1 nom
  • Critics' Score (1-100) 63
  • Twitter Mentions 2,584
  • Tabloid Value (1-10) 7
  • Read about our scientific rankings »

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60

Russell Crowe

The Brawler Biding His Time

A supporting player as of late, he’s poised for a big-time moment next year.

Can Russell Crowe reopen his window as an A-list leading man? Aside from 2010’s Robin Hood, which scored an okay $105 million, Crowe’s had better luck lately as a co-lead or supporting player in movies like Man of Steel and Les Misérables. (His gravitas came in handy for the former, but his singing voice was critically drubbed for the latter.) Perhaps it’s wise for him to share the star power with someone else — after his notorious phone-throwing incident in 2005, Crowe’s likability took a hit that he’s still recovering from. But even his supporting strategy isn’t infallible, to judge from the meager grosses of Broken City and The Man With the Iron Fists.

That said, there is a movie coming that could turn everything around. Next spring, Crowe has the title role in Darren Aronofsky’s big-budget Bible blockbuster Noah, and it’s the most notable movie he’s been first-billed for in many a moon. If that earns the out-of-this-world box office that Paramount is hoping for, Crowe’s fortunes will no doubt rise, and his special brand of veteran masculinity is always at a premium in Hollywood. Let’s just hope that this time, he doesn’t get in his own way.

  • Rank Compared to 2012 No Change
  • Domestic Box Office $51,547,770
  • Overseas Box Office $77,811,203
  • Studio Value (1-10) 7
  • Likability 51%
  • Oscars 1 win, 2 noms
  • Critics' Score (1-100) 49
  • Twitter Mentions 589
  • Tabloid Value (1-10) 5
  • Read about our scientific rankings »

Photo: Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images

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61

Zach Galifianakis

The Off-Kilter Comic

The Hangover series sputtered to a halt, and he needs something else to showcase his talents.

Like more than a few other stars on this list, Zach Galifianakis has reached something of a crossroads after the end of a franchise that made him a star. Before the first Hangover film, he’d been a beloved, cultish comedian best recognized by the mainstream from an appearance in a Kanye West video. But then he stole Todd Phillips’s 2009 smash hit, and suddenly he was the comedy genre’s next great hope.

The Hangover sequels were big hits, even if their quality and grosses each declined from the one before. Assuming the filmmakers hold to their promise that Part III will be the last, it’ll be interesting to see how Galifianakis moves forward from here. Both Due Date and The Campaign performed decently, but neither had the fond-memory afterlife of the first Hangover. We can all hope and pray for the unlikely Bored to Death movie, but until then he has Matthew Weiner’s directorial debut You Are Here (though it was negatively received at Toronto) and Birdman, a dark comedy from the heretofore unrelentingly bleak Alejandro González Iñárritu. He proved refreshingly effective in a more sensitive role in 2010’s It’s Kind of a Funny Story, so he could always dabble in more serious parts, but his unique timing and borderline hysterical edge makes him a natural for broad comedy; here’s hoping he finds more material that lets him shine.

  • Rank Compared to 2012 -31
  • Domestic Box Office $89,718,004
  • Overseas Box Office $103,591,587
  • Studio Value (1-10) 7
  • Likability 66%
  • Oscars 0
  • Critics' Score (1-100) 31
  • Twitter Mentions 249
  • Tabloid Value (1-10) 6
  • Read about our scientific rankings »

Photo: Neil P. Mockford/Getty Images

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62

Christoph Waltz

The Mischief-Maker

He’s our go-to euro villain, but at least he’s having fun with it.

It seems clear at this point that there are two Christoph Waltzs: the one who plays villains in middling performers like The Green Hornet, Water For Elephants and The Three Musketeers, and the Christoph Waltz who stars in Quentin Tarantino movies. When he’s working with his favorite auteur, Waltz is at his most visible, his most profitable (their two collaborations, Inglourious Basterds and Django Unchained, grossed $700 million worldwide between them), and his most lauded, having won Best Supporting Actor for both films.

The actor’s dilemma at this point is how to reconcile the two sides of his career. Waltz actually has one of the highest likability scores out there – impressive, given he made his name playing a Nazi – but that’s the view of fans who actually know who he is. According to E-Score, the general awareness of him is one of the lowest of all the stars on this list. The tabloids have negligible interest in his personal life, so more extracurricular fare like his acclaimed Saturday Night Live hosting gig can help. Nevertheless, he’s highly valued by the studios, and is attempting to carve out an identity away from Tarantino by working with other auteurs on non-villainous roles: He plays a depressed hacker in Terry Gilliam’s futuristic The Zero Theorem and the husband of Amy Adams in Tim Burton’s Big Eyes, and there are rumored in-the-works collaborations with John Hillcoat and (for a second time) Roman Polanski. And if those don’t pan out, a European actor who can put a clever spin on psychopathy will never be without work as long as studios need villains for action movies (next up: Warner Bros.’s Tarzan). That Oscar imprimatur makes every explosion classier!

  • Rank Compared to 2012 New to List
  • Domestic Box Office $59,944,605
  • Overseas Box Office $93,891,579
  • Studio Value (1-10) 8
  • Likability 79%
  • Oscars 2 wins
  • Critics' Score (1-100) 39
  • Twitter Mentions 188
  • Tabloid Value (1-10) 3
  • Read about our scientific rankings »

Photo: Anne Christine Poujoulat/AFP/Getty Images

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63

Will Ferrell

The Quotable One

Anchorman 2 will keep him in the vernacular, but can he keep his fans loyal beyond Ron Burgundy?

As was clear from his 2013 Emmys appearance with his kids, Will Ferrell can get people laughing by doing little more than wearing shorts to an awards show, and when he goes all-in and works with frequent collaborator and comedic soul mate Adam McKay — as in Anchorman, Talladega Nights, Step Brothers, and The Other Guys — he earns big laughs and bigger domestic box-office receipts. However, unlike Adam Sandler in his heyday, Ferrell is not a sure thing, which results in an uneven box office and drags him down eighteen spots on the MVS list from last year. Part of that is because he likes to indulge in low-grossing passion projects (Everything Must Go) and artistic experiments (Casa De Mi Padre). But also, when he does big-studio comedies without the mind-melding McKay, they often fall a little flat (ahem, Land of the Lost). Last year’s The Campaign seemed like a sure thing, pairing him with the hot Zach Galifianakis, but the movie peaked at $86.9 million domestically; while respectable, it didn’t reach the heights of his McKay comedies or attain their rewatchable cult status.

That said, his upcoming Anchorman sequel should be a massive hit. After that, he’s sticking with old comedy pals including John C. Reilly (Devil's Night), Vince Vaughn (Daddy’s Home), Jack Black (Tag), and Steve Carell (Swear to God) — though one can’t help but notice that most of those peers have had their own box-office troubles as of late. Ferrell is obviously still one of the funniest men around, and his McKay movies remain a big part of the movie-quote canon. But fickle comedy fans move on more quickly these days, and the question is whether his future films will prove as influential.

As was clear from his 2013 Emmys appearance with his kids, Will Ferrell can get people laughing by doing little more than wearing shorts to an awards show, and when he goes all-in and works with frequent collaborator and comedic soul mate Adam McKay — as in Anchorman, Talladega Nights, Step Brothers, and The Other Guys — he earns big laughs and bigger domestic box-office receipts. However, unlike Adam Sandler in his heyday, Ferrell is not a sure thing, which results in an uneven box office and drags him down eighteen spots on the MVS list from last year. Part of that is because he likes to indulge in low-grossing passion projects (Everything Must Go) and artistic experiments (Casa De Mi Padre). But also, when he does big-studio comedies without the mind-melding McKay, they often fall a little flat (ahem, Land of the Lost). Last year’s The Campaign seemed like a sure thing, pairing him with the hot Zach Galifianakis, but the movie peaked at $86.9 million domestically; while respectable, it didn’t reach the heights of his McKay comedies or attain their rewatchable cult status.

That said, his upcoming Anchorman sequel should be a massive hit. After that, he’s sticking with old comedy pals including John C. Reilly (Devil's Night), Vince Vaughn (Daddy’s Home), Jack Black (Tag), and Steve Carell (Swear to God) — though one can’t help but notice that most of those peers have had their own box-office troubles as of late. Ferrell is obviously still one of the funniest men around, and his McKay movies remain a big part of the movie-quote canon. But fickle comedy fans move on more quickly these days, and the question is whether his future films will prove as influential.

  • Rank Compared to 2012 -18
  • Domestic Box Office $64,958,723
  • Overseas Box Office $18,585,893
  • Studio Value (1-10) 6
  • Likability 62%
  • Oscars 0
  • Critics' Score (1-100) 50
  • Twitter Mentions 1,289
  • Tabloid Value (1-10) 6
  • Read about our scientific rankings »

Photo: Brendon Thorne/Getty Images

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64

Shia LaBeouf

The Blockbuster Star in Exile

The Transformers actor is now seeking artier fare.

During his heady Transformers years, Shia LaBeouf was the anointed one, a new young male movie star who appeared during a drought in his demographic to lead his franchise to nearly $3 billion worldwide and prove his appeal in non-robotic efforts as well (thanks to solid grosses for Eagle Eye and Disturbia). But his definitive proclamation last summer that he was "done" with studio films appeared to put a full stop on that momentum. For a star who made his name as the young blood brought in to help reinvent old franchises (from Indiana Jones to Wall Street), it was a hell of a sea change. LaBeouf appears to be making good on his claim — he hit Cannes last year with John Hillcoat’s moonshine-running period drama Lawless (made with independent financing) and he won’t be back for another installment of Transformers, instead pursuing a literally naked turn in Lars von Trier’s new sex epic, Nymphomaniac.

LaBeouf’s forays into independent film haven’t quite clicked yet; Nymphomaniac remains to be seen, but Robert Redford’s The Company You Keep didn’t leverage LaBeouf’s starring role for big box office (the film made just over $5 million worldwide, the lowest performance of Redford’s directorial career). Lawless stalled at $37.4 million domestic, and his upcoming film The Necessary Death of Charlie Countryman was indifferently received when it bowed at Sundance. Still, LaBeouf’s studio value is a respectable-enough 5.5, proving that executives are ready to welcome him back should he choose big-budget vehicles once more (and as long as he promises not to bash them afterwards in the press). Perhaps the currently filming Fury strikes the right balance as a comeback vehicle: It’s a studio war film, but it’s directed by the perceptive David Ayer (End of Watch), and it’s led by Brad Pitt, with LaBeouf snagging the flashy supporting role all for himself.

  • Rank Compared to 2012 -44
  • Domestic Box Office $87,682,498
  • Overseas Box Office $72,416,706
  • Studio Value (1-10) 6
  • Likability 54%
  • Oscars 0
  • Critics' Score (1-100) 57
  • Twitter Mentions 554
  • Tabloid Value (1-10) 7
  • Read about our scientific rankings »

Photo: Gabriel Bouys/AFP/Getty Images

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65

Seth Rogen

The Screw-up Turned Grown-up

Rogen stepped behind the camera and put his career back on track.

This past September, Sony took the unusual step of shoving its summer comedy This Is the End back into theaters in order to drum up that last little bit of business that would push the movie’s box-office take above $100 million. The rerelease worked, and, crucially, it gave star Seth Rogen his first live-action movie to hit that box-office benchmark since 2007’s Superbad. It’s fair to say, then, that after a few years of middling underachievers like The Guilt Trip, Funny People, and Zack and Miri Make a Porno, Rogen has finally righted his ship. Even more crucial, the multi-hyphenate actor co-directed This Is the End with his partner Evan Goldberg, and a $100 million tally for your first directorial effort is no small accomplishment, especially given their tight $32 million budget.

This Is the End has helped boost Rogen’s value with studio executives, who’ve given him a higher studio value than peers like Jonah Hill and Jason Segel; he’ll follow his hit with another sweet-spot bro-comedy, the Zac Efron–starring Neighbors, due out next spring. After that, Rogen will play director again for The Interview, where he’s corralled James Franco into playing a smooth talk-show host who accidentally becomes embroiled in a North Korean assassination plot. You can say this for Rogen as a director: The man loves a loopy logline.

  • Rank Compared to 2012 -7
  • Domestic Box Office $42,555,749
  • Overseas Box Office $14,572,780
  • Studio Value (1-10) 8
  • Likability 59%
  • Oscars 0
  • Critics' Score (1-100) 55
  • Twitter Mentions 310
  • Tabloid Value (1-10) 5
  • Read about our scientific rankings »

Photo: Valerie Macon/Getty Images

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66

Joseph Gordon-Levitt

The Renaissance Man

Creative and well-liked, but there’s room to grow.

Like a slightly more focused James Franco, Joseph Gordon-Levitt has been proving himself on multiple fronts of late. In 2012, the former child star had major roles in hits The Dark Knight Rises, Lincoln, and Looper, and online, he’s continued to grow his popular hitRECord brand of crowd-sourced creativity, with plans to add a TV series to hitRECORD’s website and live show. Perhaps most important, Gordon-Levitt also premiered his directorial debut Don Jon at Sundance, where it was snapped up for near-record sums (even if the eventual box-office tally was a bit of a disappointment).

But unlike Franco, Gordon-Levitt hasn’t quite shown that he’s a solo draw just yet. He clearly has added value as part of an ensemble, but the actor’s solo vehicles have generally disappointed; Looper was a surprise hit that also relied on Bruce Willis to draw action fans in, but films sold mostly on Gordon-Levitt like Premium Rush, 50/50, and even Don Jon have underperformed. He’s still a sought-after star — Marvel has reportedly courted for him more than one project — but with low-ish awareness and middling tabloid value, studios aren’t willing to bet the farm on him just yet. Rightly, he’s being careful about his next move, with nothing yet on his slate beyond a role in Sin City 2.

  • Rank Compared to 2012 +30
  • Domestic Box Office $34,103,811
  • Overseas Box Office $38,347,618
  • Studio Value (1-10) 7
  • Likability 67%
  • Oscars 0
  • Critics' Score (1-100) 47
  • Twitter Mentions 1,226
  • Tabloid Value (1-10) 6
  • Read about our scientific rankings »

Photo: Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images

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67

Amy Adams

The Under-the-Radar Real Deal

She’s doing everything right, even if your mom isn’t sure of her name.

It’s been a good year for Amy Adams, one that brought her a fourth Oscar nomination (for her terrifying hand job in The Master) and a $289 million hit with Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel. But we’ve got a problem here: After all those Oscar nods and all that box office, people still have no idea who Amy Adams is: Only 29 percent of people can name the actress who played Lois Lane, a very low awareness number compared to her peers. You’re searching for a silver lining, we know. Here’s one: She does have high likability and Metacritic scores. At least people enjoy her when they know her!

Is it because Adams disappears so artfully into her roles? This December, she’ll be seen as a sexy con woman in David O. Russell’s American Gangster and as a frazzled best friend in Spike Jonze’s Her — that’s some enviable range in films by two of today’s most respected auteurs. Adams has successfully wriggled out of the good-girl typecasting that once seemed inevitable ... we just wish that more people knew enough about her to appreciate it.

  • Rank Compared to 2012 -21
  • Domestic Box Office $55,877,401
  • Overseas Box Office $44,011,184
  • Studio Value (1-10) 6
  • Likability 74%
  • Oscars 4 noms
  • Critics' Score (1-100) 56
  • Twitter Mentions 259
  • Tabloid Value (1-10) 5
  • Read about our scientific rankings »

Photo: Stephen Lovekin/Getty Images

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68

Charlize Theron

The Disappearing Act

Now you see her, now you don’t.

Sometimes it feels like feast or famine with Charlize Theron: After two years away from the big screen, she began to mount a comeback with 2011’s scalding Young Adult, then followed it up with two memorably villainous turns last summer in Prometheus and Snow White and the Huntsman, which came out within a week of each other. And then ... radio silence. It’ll be another two-year gap before you see Theron in a movie again, since she’s not starring in anything until the comedy A Million Ways to Die in the West, Seth MacFarlane’s May 2014 follow-up to Ted. At least that signals another feast period, since her book adaptation Dark Places and the long-awaited Mad Max reboot then come out in short order.

Perhaps all those sabbaticals explain Theron’s low awareness score and her just-okay studio rating; she’s a terrific actress, but do general audiences notice when she’s gone? (At least those fierce Dior ads keep her on television and in movie theaters during her fallow periods.) We’re just happy that Theron can stay on the list in a year when she didn’t come out with anything ... any actress who’s got that kind of skill, beauty, and ferocity ought to have a permanent place in Hollywood.

  • Rank Compared to 2012 +12
  • Domestic Box Office $36,171,687
  • Overseas Box Office $42,830,766
  • Studio Value (1-10) 6
  • Likability 69%
  • Oscars 1 win, 1 nom
  • Critics' Score (1-100) 36
  • Twitter Mentions 445
  • Tabloid Value (1-10) 7
  • Read about our scientific rankings »

Photo: Jason Merritt/Getty Images

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69

Carey Mulligan

The Class Act

The Great Gatsby finally got her wide renown, but she still prefers smaller, smarter fare.

Although she’s an Oscar nomine and has been declared a rising star for a few years now, Carey Mulligan’s big mainstream coming-out party only came along this summer with The Great Gatsby. Sure, Wall Street 2 and Drive had provided her with some broader exposure, but only in comparison to the much smaller audiences for the indies that won her critical acclaim, An Education and Shame.

With Gatsby turning out to be a hit ($348.8 million worldwide), and Mulligan now married to the front man of one of the biggest bands in the world (Marcus Mumford of Mumford & Sons), her profile is rising, but her awareness level remains quite low at 10 percent, and within that in-the-know group, her likability is only at 54. (What’s not to like? Don’t blame her if you thought Gatsby was comically garish, blame Baz Luhrmann!) She’s probably not going supernova in the near future, either; she tends to pick classy, prestige projects like the Coen Brothers’ Inside Llewyn Davis and the currently filming Far From the Madding Crowd, which is great for her critical clout (she has one of the highest Metacritic averages here), but less so for her asking price. Still, the studios give Mulligan a positive score. With a flourishing career, she could be the next Cate Blanchett.

  • Rank Compared to 2012 New to List
  • Domestic Box Office $31,469,986
  • Overseas Box Office $38,415,434
  • Studio Value (1-10) 7
  • Likability 54%
  • Oscars 1 nom
  • Critics' Score (1-100) 67
  • Twitter Mentions 103
  • Tabloid Value (1-10) 6
  • Read about our scientific rankings »

Photo: Vittorio Zunino Celotto/Getty Images

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70

Ben Stiller

The Hands-On Funnyman

As his career wanes a bit, Stiller casts himself in a potential comeback vehicle.

Has Ben Stiller’s brand taken a bit of a hit lately? For a time, he was one of the most bankable stars in Hollywood, but last summer, The Watch crawled to a miserly $35 million, and his live-action vehicles prior to that underperformed, too: Tower Heist made a just-okay $78 million, while the most recent installments in Stiller’s two franchises — the Fockers films and Night at the Museum — each came in well below their predecessors. (2010’s critically reviled Little Fockers made a dramatic $131 million less than 2004’s Meet the Fockers, one of the steepest sequel drops ever.) And he seems increasingly interested in doing smaller, more complicated and darker indies: He's currently shooting While We’re Young with Greenberg’s Noah Baumbach.

For those reasons, Stiller’s studio score has dropped a bit, but he’ll try to right his ship this winter with The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, which he directed himself. A Forrest Gump–ian family film, the movie’s got plenty of audience appeal, and Stiller could really use a new vehicle to shore up his box-office bona fides. That said, he’s following it up with yet another Night at the Museum sequel, even though the last one came in nearly $75 million below the first installment. Hasn’t Stiller learned anything from strip-mining the Fockers franchise?

  • Rank Compared to 2012 -44
  • Domestic Box Office $91,132,157
  • Overseas Box Office $109,013,436
  • Studio Value (1-10) 7
  • Likability 60%
  • Oscars 0
  • Critics' Score (1-100) 39
  • Twitter Mentions 398
  • Tabloid Value (1-10) 3
  • Read about our scientific rankings »

Photo: Ethan Miller/Getty Images

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71

Ryan Reynolds

The Problem

Once tipped as our next great leading man, nothing has been going his way.

Hollywood is a fickle place, and just as quickly as people start rooting for you, they can turn against you. Ryan Reynolds has been through it on both ends: After 2009’s The Proposal was a breakthrough success, Reynolds vaulted to the A-list, and seemed to have both studio executives and audiences cheering his ascent. A mere four years later, though, Reynolds had his worst year ever: Both his pricey action flick R.I.P.D. bombed and his toplined cartoon Turbo severely underperformed … on the same weekend. That terrible twofer generated no end of headlines questioning Reynolds’s star quality, but truth be told, he’d been squandering it since The Proposal. Reynolds had the bad luck to star in one of the few superhero movies of late that didn’t work, Green Lantern, and his failed R-rated comedy The Change-Up really could have used someone like Melissa McCarthy to lend it some spark. The less said about his negligible indies, including Paper Man and Fireflies in the Garden — neither of which grossed more than $100,000 — the better.

His studio value has stayed largely the same, and having a couple low-grossing 2007 movies age out of MVS contention has resulted in him actually climbing four spots since last year, but his status is still troublesome. So what should Reynolds do now, besides stick pins in his Bradley Cooper voodoo doll? He’s still got a high likability rating, so audiences haven’t turned on him completely. Perhaps he should take a cue from his sole hit of recent vintage, Safe House, which teamed him up with a much more reliable star in Denzel Washington. If Reynolds is willing to take a backseat to bigger stars instead of gambling on his own vehicles, it may afford him the time to recharge his batteries. If not, there’s always HBO ...

  • Rank Compared to 2012 +4
  • Domestic Box Office $34,839,028
  • Overseas Box Office $32,489,286
  • Studio Value (1-10) 6
  • Likability 69%
  • Oscars 0
  • Critics' Score (1-100) 33
  • Twitter Mentions 1,065
  • Tabloid Value (1-10) 8
  • Read about our scientific rankings »

Photo: Neilson Barnard/Getty Images

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72

Scarlett Johansson

The Spare Superhero

She’s famous, in demand, talented, and lusted over ... but is the audience always there for her?

Scarlett Johansson was just named Esquire’s Sexiest Woman Alive for the second time, and yet not many people went to see her as Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s sexy girlfriend in Don Jon. And so goes the dilemma of ScarJo. She’s incredibly famous, to be sure: The tabloids love tracking her relationships and marriages, giving her a near-perfect nine, and her likeability is at 61, with those polled most commonly describing her as "sexy, glamorous." That all points to people liking her as a celebrity — she just needs to get them to like her as an actress. Even Marvel seems to be sitting on ScarJo: She’s a large part of why The Avengers worked, and they’ve brought her Black Widow back to kick ass alongside Chris Evans in the coming Captain America sequel, yet they won’t hand Johanssen her own movie. Marvel is making a freakin’ Ant-Man movie, but a female-led superhero flick is a bridge too far?

Next up, Johansson supplies the Siri-like voice of Joaquin Phoenix’s phone in Spike Jonze’s Her — will her acclaimed performance, divorced of her generous good looks, help people realize she’s more than just a pretty face? She then has the comedic Chef, Jon Favreau’s return to small-scale moviemaking, as well as Under the Skin, a truly unsettling art film that takes a high concept — ScarJo as a sexy alien who seduces, then kills — and makes the most anti-studio film imaginable out of it. But we’re most excited by Johansson’s titular role in Luc Besson’s sci-fi action flick Lucy, where she plays a mule who absorbs high-tech drugs into her body, garnering superhuman skills. Between the multiplying Marvel crossovers and this, perhaps she can find her true niche as a smoky-voiced action star.

  • Rank Compared to 2012 -1
  • Domestic Box Office $26,613,295
  • Overseas Box Office $40,493,251
  • Studio Value (1-10) 7
  • Likability 61%
  • Oscars 0
  • Critics' Score (1-100) 38
  • Twitter Mentions 1,192
  • Tabloid Value (1-10) 9
  • Read about our scientific rankings »

Photo: Rob Kim/Getty Images

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73

Jonah Hill

The Surprisingly Serious Comic

Moneyball opened him up to some great projects, but he’s still hedging his comedy bets with 22 Jump Street.

Last year, Jonah Hill had a huge hit in 21 Jump Street, and a big bomb in The Watch. In the first he starred with another hot up-and-comer; the second, with a more over-the-hill generation of comedy stars. So, is Jonah Hill better off sticking with his peers? Well, this summer he joined up with his Apatow cohorts for This Is the End and got another big hit: Jonah Hill is a comedy star for his generation, Q.E.D.

Like his buddy James Franco, Hill is increasingly in demand for serious fare, too, after his Oscar-nominated turn in Moneyball. He’ll soon be seen with Leonardo DiCaprio in Martin Scorsese’s The Wolf of Wall Street, and he’s also reuniting with Franco for the drama True Story, playing a real New York Times journalist whose identity was stolen by a murderer (Franco). This doesn’t mean he’s pulling a Jim Carrey and completely swearing off comedy — he and Channing Tatum just started shooting 22 Jump Street — but even Hill will tell you that he’s most excited to stretch his dramatic wings. His studio value is a solid 7.25, so as long as Hill keeps a foot in both genres, he has a good shot at longevity.

  • Rank Compared to 2012 -30
  • Domestic Box Office $41,593,975
  • Overseas Box Office $19,085,872
  • Studio Value (1-10) 7
  • Likability 58%
  • Oscars 1 nom
  • Critics' Score (1-100) 40
  • Twitter Mentions 550
  • Tabloid Value (1-10) 5
  • Read about our scientific rankings »

Photo: David Livingston/Getty Images

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74

Bruce Willis

The Bored Action Star

His disinterest in bang-bang-boom movies is plain to see. So why does he keep doing them?

In early August of this year, while indifferently promoting Red 2, Bruce Willis told Spanish magazine XLS, "I know part of my audience enjoys the explosions, but to be honest, I’m a bit bored of it now." It’s been clear for a while that Willis has lost his verve for the movies he’s making — his admission came after he showed up for one TV interview in a bathrobe — yet he still won’t take himself off the blow-’em-up assembly line: In September, he signed on for The Prince, yet another action-thriller with a middling pedigree. And though Willis claims that his audience still enjoys all those explosions, it’s a shrinking fan base, to judge from recent duds like Fire With Fire and The Cold Light of Day, which were barely released. Even his latest Die Hard entry, A Good Day to Die Hard, was scathingly reviewed and only made $67.3 million in the U.S., half as much as the previous installment. Occasionally, Willis ends up in a good action film like Looper, but considering his recent track record, this seems more like a blind-squirrel-finds-nut situation. So why do studios continue to pursue Willis? Because he’s part of a pack of veteran movie stars who still have massive international appeal: Abroad, A Good Day to Die Hard made $237.3 million, just $12 million less than its predecessor Live Free or Die Hard.

There was a time in the nineties when Willis was more open to challenging material, and some of the unlikely dramas he appeared in, like Pulp Fiction and The Sixth Sense, actually became massive hits. We were reminded of that earlier, better Bruce Willis when he turned up last year as a successfully sensitive figure in Wes Anderson’s Moonrise Kingdom; when Willis subsequently dropped out of the third Expendables movie, we dared to dream that nineties Bruce had come back with a vengeance. Sadly, any hope that this was all a creative epiphany was lost after Sylvester Stallone’s infamous tweet that Willis was too "GREEDY AND LAZY" to do his sequel. If Bruce Willis is too greedy and lazy even for a cash-grab Expendables movie, is he simply too far gone?

  • Rank Compared to 2012 -50
  • Domestic Box Office $48,497,272
  • Overseas Box Office $82,154,554
  • Studio Value (1-10) 6
  • Likability 71%
  • Oscars 0
  • Critics' Score (1-100) 36
  • Twitter Mentions 1,682
  • Tabloid Value (1-10) 4
  • Read about our scientific rankings »

Photo: Kevin Winter/Getty Images

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75

Jessica Chastain

The One Everyone Wants

One of our most talented and in-demand new actresses.

If you consider Jessica Chastain to be part of a new class of potential movie stars that includes Tom Hardy, Benedict Cumberbatch, Carey Mulligan, Andrew Garfield, and Michael Fassbender — the ones, in short, who are not just beautiful but also really freakin’ talented — she’s already got a leg up on all five of those names: Of the moviegoers surveyed by E-Poll, Chastain had a higher awareness level than any of them. You can credit the one-two punch of Zero Dark Thirty and Mama for that, as the former brought in an impressive $95.7 million and earned Chastain an Oscar nod, while the latter was an early 2013 horror hit. Talented, humble, gorgeous, and a budding style icon ... it’s no wonder directors want to work with her, and she’s signed up for new projects from Christopher Nolan and Guillermo del Toro.

Though she’s modest as all get out (have you visited the charming Facebook fan page she maintains herself?), Chastain has a high gossip score, owing to her red carpet fashion moments and her mystery beau, a dashing, wealthy Italian executive. People are intrigued by her, on and off screen, and they want more. Fortunately, this always-prolific actress is intent on giving her fans just that: In addition to the Nolan and Del Toro vehicles, she’s got two-part drama The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby, a new version of Miss Julie, and J.C. Chandor’s A Most Violent Year on tap.

  • Rank Compared to 2012 New to List
  • Domestic Box Office $24,580,965
  • Overseas Box Office $19,866,667
  • Studio Value (1-10) 7
  • Likability 50%
  • Oscars 2 noms
  • Critics' Score (1-100) 57
  • Twitter Mentions 238
  • Tabloid Value (1-10) 7
  • Read about our scientific rankings »

Photo: Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images

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76

Jamie Foxx

The Smooth Operator

After a few years of supporting roles, he came back as a leading man with a hit and a miss.

He’s got an Academy Award for Best Actor, but Jamie Foxx seemed to lose his drive to carry a movie somewhere around 2009. Preferring instead to concentrate on his music career and radio show, Foxx spent a few years sporadically popping up in supporting roles (Valentine’s Day, Due Date, Horrible Bosses) and doing a little voice work (Rio), but it wasn’t until last winter when he finally reemerged to remind audiences why he’s more than just an ensemble guy in Django Unchained, which was a hit both in the U.S. and abroad. Alas, Foxx followed that up with the underperforming White House Down, which perhaps explains why his studio score isn’t higher right now.

Foxx’s tabloid and likability scores are only average, perhaps owing to his relative absence from the screen until Django. But he won’t be fading back into supporting roles anytime soon, having made some smart and diverse choices to come: He plays villain Electro in The Amazing Spider-Man 2, the Daddy Warbucks figure in Jay-Z and Will Smith’s Annie remake, and has a potential reteam with Django’s Leonardo DiCaprio on thriller Mean Business on North Ganson Street.

  • Rank Compared to 2012 -18
  • Domestic Box Office $66,181,605
  • Overseas Box Office $55,442,327
  • Studio Value (1-10) 7
  • Likability 54%
  • Oscars 1 win, 1 nom
  • Critics' Score (1-100) 35
  • Twitter Mentions 1,834
  • Tabloid Value (1-10) 4
  • Read about our scientific rankings »

Photo: Francois Durand/Getty Images

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77

Kevin James

The Big Dipper

His movie grosses haven’t lived up to the promise he once showed.

When Paul Blart: Mall Cop took in a surprisingly high $146.3 million domestically back in 2009, it looked like Kevin James was going to be the next big comedy star, as personally anointed by patron Adam Sandler. And he seemed like a good pick, a nimble physical comedian blessed with a sincere sweetness that Sandler himself could never quite put across. But there’s been a troubling downward trend in the trademark slapstick movies James makes: Zookeeper grossed $80.3 million in the U.S., and Here Comes the Boom did just $45.2 million. Yes, he also had the two smash-hit Grown Ups movies, but those are like the comedy Expendables, giving a supergroup of Sandler pals a much higher gross together than they’d ever get on their own.

Studios are mixed on James and tabloids do not care about him at all, assigning him a rock-bottom score of 2.7, but he’s on the high end of likability with a 68. A team-up with the ascending Kevin Hart, Valet Guys, is in the works, as is a dramatic turn in the WWII film Little Boy, though that film shot two years ago and hasn’t been picked up. Are Sandler’s shrinking grosses contagious, or a sign that man-boys are starting to look to a younger generation of funny movie stars for their dumb comedy? In any case, it looks like even James has started hedging his bets: Rumor has it that he’s developing a potential 10/90 syndicated sitcom to star in.

  • Rank Compared to 2012 -14
  • Domestic Box Office $108,802,085
  • Overseas Box Office $48,882,064
  • Studio Value (1-10) 6
  • Likability 68%
  • Oscars 0
  • Critics' Score (1-100) 32
  • Twitter Mentions 672
  • Tabloid Value (1-10) 3
  • Read about our scientific rankings »

Photo: Daniel Boczarski/Getty Images

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78

Paul Rudd

The Lovable Everyman

And yet, he may not be as widely known as Internet fans would have you believe.

People who love Paul Rudd really love Paul Rudd. And what’s not to love? He’s funny, handsome, seemingly vanity-free, and is a member in good standing of the hip comedy elite: He’s a staple of the Apatow circle, as well as the State alumni clique (he’s been in David Wain’s films from Wet Hot American Summer through to Wanderlust); he’s played the love interest of Tina Fey (Admission) and Amy Poehler (Wain’s upcoming They Came Together); and he’s always popping up in cameos on comedy-cred shows like Parks and Recreation, Louie, and Comedy Bang! Bang! He has a Likability score of 70 and is most often described as "funny, charming." However, as hard to believe as this may be for his admirers, Paul Rudd is not a household name.

That E-Score number is the percentage of the people who have heard of him who find him likable. But how many people had heard of him? Only 34 percent of those first polled. In fact, recent movies in which Rudd is cast as one of the main attractions have not broken out, perhaps because he is not the known quantity that studios hope he is: This Is 40 made it to $67 million with the help of Judd Apatow’s media siege, but in the last few years, neither Wanderlust, Admission, How Do You Know, nor Our Idiot Brother made it past $30 million. His Studio Value is only a 5.7; in a perfect world, that would be higher, as would his mass popularity. But until that happens, his biggest hits will always be projects like the upcoming Anchorman 2, in which he’s part of an ensemble led by a star with a much bigger reach.

  • Rank Compared to 2012 +8
  • Domestic Box Office $29,103,047
  • Overseas Box Office $12,688,572
  • Studio Value (1-10) 6
  • Likability 70%
  • Oscars 0
  • Critics' Score (1-100) 55
  • Twitter Mentions 466
  • Tabloid Value (1-10) 6
  • Read about our scientific rankings »

Photo: Dave Kotinsky/Getty Images

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79

Michelle Williams

The Indie Ingénue

She had a breakthrough with Oz the Great and Powerful, but does she want to keep making studio movies?

Last year, we tipped Michelle Williams as one of the ten actors most likely to make it into the next Most Valuable Stars tally. And hey, look who snuck in! Williams had developed a nice reputation as a quality indie actress over the past few years, but she’d never really had an honest-to-goodness blockbuster; that all changed this year with Oz the Great and Powerful, where she scored an appealing part as Glinda, the only female role that doesn’t eventually end up buried in mounds of makeup by the end of the movie (and in any subsequent sequels). More important, it signaled a willingness from Williams to play in the studio sandbox that she had long avoided.

But will she make the most of it? Her studio score is about the same as Naomi Watts, another blonde actress who mostly sticks to indie tearjerkers: Executives respect both actresses, they just don’t expect either to turn up in their tentpoles all that often. And it’s not as though Williams followed up Oz with a part in a Marvel movie: She went and shot the romance Suite Francaise, and if you couldn’t tell by the title, it’s an indie. Will Williams stay on the list next year? That one’s up to her.

  • Rank Compared to 2012 New to List
  • Domestic Box Office $26,254,306
  • Overseas Box Office $28,536,409
  • Studio Value (1-10) 6
  • Likability 58%
  • Oscars 3 noms
  • Critics' Score (1-100) 57
  • Twitter Mentions 298
  • Tabloid Value (1-10) 8
  • Read about our scientific rankings »

Photo: Jason Kempin/Getty Images

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80

Sylvester Stallone

The Still-Potent Punch

He’s not gonna end this comeback without a fight.

Sylvester Stallone made a surprise comeback in 2009 by dusting off Rocky Balboa, which he followed two years later with another Rambo hit; both cleared $100 million worldwide. His popular return inspired a new phrase, Geri-action, in which eighties action stars returned to show young punks that they could still kick ass (while also making winking jokes about bad backs). This trend hit its apotheosis with Stallone’s Expendables franchise: The cumulative power of Stallone, Statham, Lundgren, Norris, et al has pulled in over a half billion dollars so far, and there’s a third on the way.

However, the Catch-22 of Stallone’s return is that it is built on him doing exactly what he used to do, and audiences have proven indifferent to even the slightest variation. Bullet to the Head was Stallone’s first non-franchise solo vehicle in over a decade, and even though the script was right from the Cobra school, it failed to make even $10 million at home. Another debit is that he has one of the lower likability scores on this list — his fan base is fervent, but not exactly growing. As such, it’s not hugely surprising to see the 67-year-old sticking with a strictly derivative formula in the immediate future: another Expendables; a separate team-up with fellow action-nostalgia icon Arnold Schwarzenegger for Escape Plan; a Rocky-movie-in-all-but-name called Grudge Match with Robert De Niro. There is one intriguing tweak to the formula to come, though: Stallone is teaming with the director and star of Fruitvale Station for a new-school Rocky spinoff, Creed.

  • Rank Compared to 2012 -8
  • Domestic Box Office $50,290,819
  • Overseas Box Office $93,816,524
  • Studio Value (1-10) 6
  • Likability 50%
  • Oscars 2 noms
  • Critics' Score (1-100) 47
  • Twitter Mentions 465
  • Tabloid Value (1-10) 3
  • Read about our scientific rankings »

Photo: Ben Gabbe/Getty Images

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81

Penelope Cruz

The Sex Bomb With Brains

She’s more than just a love interest now, but can she find a studio movie worthy of her time?

It took a while for Penélope Cruz to find her footing in English-language movies, but Hollywood has finally realized that this Spanish star is capable of more than she was first given credit for. After eschewing love-interest roles to play more complicated characters in the indie hits Volver and Vicky Cristina Barcelona, Hollywood began offering Cruz some better parts... even if the films themselves could use a little more work. She’s now proven herself to be the best part of both Nine (for which she got an Oscar nomination) and the unnecessary Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, bringing something uniquely fierce and funny to both roles. So when will she get a studio movie that’s worthy of her talents? Let’s hope the star-studded The Counselor can deliver; we need a full-throated reminder of Cruz’s talents after her glorified cameos as of late in To Rome With Love and I’m So Excited.

  • Rank Compared to 2012 New to List
  • Domestic Box Office $10,816,680
  • Overseas Box Office $32,319,437
  • Studio Value (1-10) 7
  • Likability 54%
  • Oscars 1 win, 2 noms
  • Critics' Score (1-100) 38
  • Twitter Mentions 468
  • Tabloid Value (1-10) 8
  • Read about our scientific rankings »

Photo: Carlos Alvarez/Getty Images

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82

Jeff Bridges

The Dude, Now and Forever

The beloved actor and ageless hippie needs to make sure another R.I.P.D. doesn't harsh audience's mellow.

The thespian embodiment of a joint, Jeff Bridges takes a relaxed approach to his career that even a work-shirking layabout like the Dude from The Big Lebowski could approve of: He does what he likes, when he feels like it. After a massive 2010, during which Bridges won the Oscar and starred in True Grit and Tron: Legacy, he vanished from the screen for three years. Maybe that’s the reason Bridges has never quite had the major-draw marquee value of prolific peers like Al Pacino and Robert De Niro; a lot of that, too, has to do with his general, career-long preference for smart adult dramas over louder action fare. But there’s no denying that as Bridges has hit his sixties, he has become an avatar of cool. His cultlike Lebowski following only helps to burnish that image, but Bridges himself comes across as someone who’s appealingly bemused by Hollywood, and his "hey, man" vernacular and general hippie vibe have helped to give him a welcome, mellow glow onscreen and off.

Let’s just hope he doesn’t coast on that goodwill. He’s come out relatively unscathed from some recent flops; if anything, the movies are blamed for letting him down. Tron: Legacy? How dare they besmirch the memory of Bridges’s original! (Which, in reality, wasn’t that good either.) And even though Bridges looked like he was just doing a hyped-up retread of Rooster Cogburn in R.I.P.D., his co-star Ryan Reynolds took the hit for that one. We’re a little worried that Bridges still hasn’t learned his lesson from those two failures: January’s Seventh Son (based on a children’s fantasy series) sees him playing a grizzled, mumbly, magical mentor to a young fighter of evil in what looks like a very busy CGI assault. A couple more paycheck movies and he’ll lose his elusive cool to become one of those elder statesmen who cash in so often that their presence is devalued. Still, there is some hope on the horizon: Bridges is currently producing a longtime passion project, based on Lois Lowry’s Newbery Medal–winning YA novel The Giver, in which he’ll star opposite Meryl Streep.

  • Rank Compared to 2012 -27
  • Domestic Box Office $36,176,240
  • Overseas Box Office $30,211,983
  • Studio Value (1-10) 7
  • Likability 69%
  • Oscars 1 win, 5 noms
  • Critics' Score (1-100) 41
  • Twitter Mentions 115
  • Tabloid Value (1-10) 3
  • Read about our scientific rankings »

Photo: Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images)

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83

Julianne Moore

The Humble Veteran

You know what you’re getting with Julianne Moore, and you know it’ll be done well.

How is it possible that Julianne Moore, one of our most versatile and talented actresses, has never won an Oscar? She’s been nominated four times, to be sure, but none of those powerhouse performances (in Boogie Nights, The Hours, Far From Heaven, and The End of the Affair) took home the gold. Can you blame Moore, then, for her recent, most fervent embrace of big studio movies? Yes, her work in Carrie, the upcoming FX actioner The Seventh Son, and The Hunger Games: Mockingjay probably won’t win her many trophies, but at least they’ll provide the big paychecks that Moore doesn’t get for her usual indies.

Moore’s scores are mostly average: She’s got a decent studio ranking, owing to her easy-to-work-with reputation and excellent performances, while her Metacritic score and likability are both middle-of-the-pack. (For every few critical victories like A Single Man or The Kids Are All Right, there’s a clunker like 6 Souls.) At an age when many of her peers have transitioned to cable TV, Moore continues to make movies, aside from a few scattered episodes of 30 Rock. Basically, she’s a workhorse who’s never lacking for projects, and is often the most reliable performer in them. Can you really ask for more from Moore?

  • Rank Compared to 2012 +9
  • Domestic Box Office $42,006,522
  • Overseas Box Office $7,731,363
  • Studio Value (1-10) 7
  • Likability 62%
  • Oscars 1 win, 2 noms
  • Critics' Score (1-100) 44
  • Twitter Mentions 148
  • Tabloid Value (1-10) 6
  • Read about our scientific rankings »

Photo: Craig Barritt/Getty Images

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84

Jason Segel

The Big Goof

As How I Met Your Mother wraps up for good, he looks for his next move.

Of the current generation of comic stars who broke out in the Judd Apatow era, Jason Segel might be the most inherently likable; thanks to his role on How I Met Your Mother (now in its final season), he was familiar to audiences as a lovable, puppyish TV husband long before he embraced pot-smoking and full-frontal nudity on the big screen. As such, he’s been able to move between family friendly fare and edgier comedies with relative ease, his profile also boosted by surprisingly high interest from the tabloids, thanks to his now-ended romance with Michelle Williams.

That said, after his first solo lead Forgetting Sarah Marshall was a sleeper hit at the height of Apatowmania, Segel has proven more effective when backing up more famous co-stars, be they human (Cameron Diaz in Bad Teacher) or felt (The Muppets). His rom-com The Five-Year Engagement — which he co-wrote with Sarah Marshall (and Engagement) director Nicholas Stoller — was a big letdown, only making it to $28.8 million in the U.S. This tumble is likely why his studio rating is a bit middle-of-the-road, and as he transitions into the post-HIMYM phase of his career, it’s a smart move for him to be reteaming with Diaz for next summer’s Sex Tape.

  • Rank Compared to 2012 -31
  • Domestic Box Office $40,935,954
  • Overseas Box Office $30,627,400
  • Studio Value (1-10) 5
  • Likability 69%
  • Oscars 0
  • Critics' Score (1-100) 57
  • Twitter Mentions 216
  • Tabloid Value (1-10) 8
  • Read about our scientific rankings »

Photo: Jason Merritt/Getty Images

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85

Naomi Watts

The Seriously Sad Star

Her movies will be smart, thoughtful, and thoroughly depressing.

Naomi Watts is one of our most acclaimed and dependable actresses; she has two Best Actress Oscar nominations under her belt (for 21 Grams and last year’s The Impossible) and her presence in a film is often enough to get Oscar pundits prognosticating. Yet her preference for agonizingly serious roles keeps Watts’s profile relatively low for someone of her caliber. She’s a critical favorite, but not a mainstream name — which is likely fine with her, considering her aversion to flashy tentpoles. (She hasn’t done one since 2005’s King Kong.)

At first blush, Watts’s upcoming slate is filled with smile-free fare: Already seen in the painfully earnest mother-lover drama Adore, she’s got the poverty drama Sunlight Jr and the derided Diana biopic on deck in the coming months. But! Could Watts be ready to turn that frown upside down? She’s recently filmed the star-packed comedy St. Vincent de Van Nuys with Bill Murray, and she’ll play Ben Stiller’s wife in the new Noah Baumbach film, While We’re Young. Even her reteam with the reliably depressing Alejandro González Iñárritu for Birdman is a step in the right direction: Though Iñárritu directed the downer 21 Grams, this one is said to be a comedy. Maybe lightening up is exactly what Watts needs right now; we know she can play the hell out of sad, beleaguered, and depressed, but we kind of miss that screwball blonde who turned up in David O. Russell’s I Heart Huckabees. Perhaps a reunion with that master of comedy and drama is overdue?

  • Rank Compared to 2012 New to List
  • Domestic Box Office $12,374,387
  • Overseas Box Office $37,046,875
  • Studio Value (1-10) 6
  • Likability 59%
  • Oscars 2 noms
  • Critics' Score (1-100) 50
  • Twitter Mentions 214
  • Tabloid Value (1-10) 6
  • Read about our scientific rankings »

Photo: Stephen Lovekin/Getty Images

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86

Jennifer Garner

The Patient Partner

After standing by husband Ben Affleck through all his triumphs, she's looking for her spotlight role

Her husband Ben Affleck has engineered a remarkable career resurgence, but Jennifer Garner’s big-screen endeavors have been decidedly less red hot as of late. In the last few years, Garner popped up in Russell Brand’s bomb of an Arthur remake, got lost amid the packed cast of Valentine’s Day, produced and starred in the panned indie comedy Butter, and toplined the magical-plant-boy family flick The Odd Life of Timothy Green. Yes, she appealingly anchors the upcoming Dallas Buyers Club opposite Matthew McConaughey, but this reteam throws their career paths into great relief: Since those two actors starred in the rom-com bomb Ghosts of Girlfriends Past in 2009, McConaughey has revived his career by making respected indies, while Garner continues to plug away at mainstream comedies that don’t quite work.

Still, people love her. She’s wholesome, beautiful, charmingly upbeat, and one half of Hollywood’s Norman Rockwell–iest "It" couple, often snapped about town with their adorable brood of three kids. Her upper-tier Tabloid Value of 8.7 is even a little higher than her husband’s, but she’s now trying to be thought of more as an actress than as a family woman and supportive wife. She has three projects in the works for 2014: the dramedy Draft Day, a Black List–topping script with Kevin Costner; Imagine, with Al Pacino; and Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, with Steve Carell. Studios are still cagey about her prospects (giving her a 6.25 value), most likely because she’s never found a project that has let her shine the way she did on TV’s Alias. If this next round of big-screen fare doesn’t work, at least there’s plenty of room on cable for someone with her talents.

  • Rank Compared to 2012 +11
  • Domestic Box Office $29,311,722
  • Overseas Box Office $8,472,305
  • Studio Value (1-10) 6
  • Likability 69%
  • Oscars 0
  • Critics' Score (1-100) 38
  • Twitter Mentions 318
  • Tabloid Value (1-10) 9
  • Read about our scientific rankings »

Photo: Jason Merritt/Getty Images

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87

Colin Firth

The Solid Stuffed Shirt

The acclaimed, Oscar-awarded dramatic star is figuring out his next move.

It’s taken a little while for Colin Firth to reach the A-list, but by following the surprise megahit Mamma Mia with an Oscar nod for A Single Man and then a win for The King’ s Speech, Firth has firmly cemented his place there; he’s well-liked among the public and studios alike. That said, some of his post-Oscar choices have been questionable: Almost no one saw poorly reviewed indie Arthur Newman (it took a mere $200,000 domestically), and the Cameron Diaz team-up Gambit remains unreleased in the U.S, almost a year after it hit the rest of the world to bad box office and worse notices. Colin! We were rooting for you!

But the sheen clearly hasn’t completely worn off, as Firth’s slate is stacked in 2014. Harvey Weinstein picked up The Railway Man out of the Toronto International Film Festival for another potential awards run, and Firth will also appear in the thriller Before I Go to Sleep and family film Paddington. (Curiously, all three of those films co-star Nicole Kidman, who is not currently a great omen for box-office success.) More crucial, Firth is also starring with Emma Stone in Woody Allen’s next and is venturing into tentpole territory for the first time with Matthew Vaughn’s actioner The Secret Service. The latter, in particular, has the potential to win him a younger crowd than his currently more middle-aged fan base.

  • Rank Compared to 2012 -8
  • Domestic Box Office $8,889,099
  • Overseas Box Office $18,417,753
  • Studio Value (1-10) 7
  • Likability 68%
  • Oscars 1 win, 1 nom
  • Critics' Score (1-100) 49
  • Twitter Mentions 260
  • Tabloid Value (1-10) 4
  • Read about our scientific rankings »

Photo: Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images

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88

Rachel McAdams

The True Love

She scores in romantic comedies and tearjerkers, but the former is a vanishing genre.

Rachel McAdams has been hard to pin down in the decade or so since she broke through with Mean Girls and The Notebook. She’ll charm in a traditional romantic drama or comedy, then take a left turn into a thriller. She was featured in the blockbuster Sherlock Holmes movies (more in the first than the second), but the full-on formula rom-com Morning Glory, which was sold on her smiling face, flopped in 2010. Then, just when it looked like her star might be permanently on the wane, she landed another profitable hit in the weeper The Vow, which made $125 million domestically off a reported $30 million budget. These highs and lows may be why, despite a high likability score, persistent interest from the gossip rags after relationships with co-stars Ryan Gosling and Michael Sheen, and several hits to her name, the studios only rate her middlingly.

Her 2011 Woody film Midnight in Paris was a surprise hit (though McAdams went against type as a shrew), but her recent collaborations with other acclaimed auteurs Terrence Malick (To the Wonder) and Brian DePalma (Passion) didn’t scare up much interest from the limited-release crowds. In the near future, she’s sticking to her preestablished tactic of combining work in her romance-themed wheelhouse (coming up: Richard Curtis’s About Time and a new Cameron Crowe ensemble comedy now shooting in Hawaii), and artier, more respectable fare like Anton Corbijn’s terrorist drama A Most Wanted Man, set for release next year. Ideally, another Sherlock Holmes–style blockbuster would help, too, but she’s still ticking along nicely, even if the studios remain cautious.

  • Rank Compared to 2012 -61
  • Domestic Box Office $25,834,310
  • Overseas Box Office $25,248,589
  • Studio Value (1-10) 5
  • Likability 77%
  • Oscars 0
  • Critics' Score (1-100) 44
  • Twitter Mentions 476
  • Tabloid Value (1-10) 7
  • Read about our scientific rankings »

Photo: Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images

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89

Benedict Cumberbatch

The Internet’s Crush

Seemingly in every other Oscar-bait movie this season, the Brit is about to explode.

He doesn’t quite look like a matinee idol, and that name doesn’t exactly drip off the tongue, but Benedict Cumberbatch has made an impression on Hollywood. Credit the BBC’s Sherlock, which gave Cumberbatch his first breakthrough starring role (and led to his legion of self-professed lovestruck "Cumberbitches"). Hollywood began to take notice, and after popping up in supporting roles in a few of 2011’s finest (War Horse, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy), Cumberbatch spent the following year ensuring that he would be everywhere in 2013. The tidal wave began with Star Trek Into Darkness, J.J. Abrams’s highly anticipated sci-fi sequel, which made $228 million at home and over double that globally. But it raised Cumberbatch’s profile long before the film even opened: Abrams’s endless coyness (and outright lies) about which villain Cumberbatch would play ensured that he was constantly on fanboys’ minds and radar.

This fall, he should prove impossible to ignore: He’ll appear as Julian Assange in The Fifth Estate, alongside Julia Roberts and Meryl Streep in August: Osage County, and in a supporting role in likely awards magnet 12 Years a Slave, making for an Oscar-bait hat trick. In addition, he’ll be voicing two roles in The Desolation of Smaug, Peter Jackson’s follow-up to the $1 billion worldwide grosser The Hobbit; considering one of those roles is the titular dragon, Smaug, expect him to be a major part of the press onslaught. With his star on the rise, Cumberbatch has now proved bankable enough to draw film projects originally eyed for gents like Michael Fassbender (Imitation Game) and Brad Pitt (The Lost City of Z). And then there’s the wildly anticipated third season of Sherlock, the sets of which are proving a paparazzi magnet in London. Tumblr is going to need more server space.

  • Rank Compared to 2012 New to List
  • Domestic Box Office $102,793,901
  • Overseas Box Office $110,566,667
  • Studio Value (1-10) 6
  • Likability 64%
  • Oscars 0
  • Critics' Score (1-100) 52
  • Twitter Mentions 1,288
  • Tabloid Value (1-10) 4
  • Read about our scientific rankings »

Photo: Andrew Cowie/AFP/Getty Images

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90

Keira Knightley

The Corset Queen

Will Jack Ryan reignite her interest in the studio blockbuster?

Keira Knightley fled from big-budget studio films after making three installments of Pirates of the Caribbean, instead seeking out intense dramas (that, admittedly, still usually put her in corsets). Last year, she seemed to be tentatively testing out less serious waters, teaming with Steve Carell in Seeking a Friend for the End of the World, though that was a disappointment at $7.1 million domestic. She’s still drawn to thoughtful fare — upcoming projects include Noah Baumbach’s adaptation of The Emperor’s Children, mumblecore matriarch Lynn Shelton’s Laggies, and the WWII drama The Imitation Game — but she will get the most attention for her reentry into studio films, as Chris Pine’s wife in Christmas Day’s Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit.

Her Metacritic average is on the high end, commensurate with the highbrow projects she chooses, but E-Score finds that only 30 percent of people know who she is, a surprising number for a star who was so prominent in three Pirates movies that cumulatively grossed over a billion dollars in the U.S. She seems to be following a Kate Winslet template with her post-blockbuster career choices, but Winslet will always be linked with Titanic (giving her an eternal box-office glow), while Johnny Depp is the main thing people remember from Pirates. It may just be that Knightley has little taste for what the studios are selling, but let’s see if Jack Ryan manages to turn her head.

  • Rank Compared to 2012 New to List
  • Domestic Box Office $7,462,497
  • Overseas Box Office $21,603,076
  • Studio Value (1-10) 6
  • Likability 64%
  • Oscars 1 nom
  • Critics' Score (1-100) 61
  • Twitter Mentions 427
  • Tabloid Value (1-10) 6
  • Read about our scientific rankings »

Photo: Jason Merritt/Getty Images

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91

Jason Statham

The Action Hero in Danger

His solo action films are fizzling, but that could all change soon.

Jason Statham’s movies have never really been break-the-bank blockbusters, but they were dependable on two fronts: His fans knew that they would get the stoic, brutal kills they paid for, and the studios knew these relatively cheap action flicks would make a nice profit once foreign grosses and home video were factored in. However, his recent films have come to diminishing returns: Neither of his last two efforts, Parker and Safe, topped $18 million in the U.S., and both were weak abroad, too. Fortunately, any doubts that Statham still had it in him to be an iconic badass were quelled after the closing credits of Fast & Furious 6: When he was revealed as the villain in next summer’s Fast & Furious 7, theater audiences lost their minds.

It’s no wonder Statham teamed with Stallone for the Expendables, movies, which have together grossed over $500 million worldwide (and a third is on the way): Like Sly, he’s now truly potent only when traveling in a giant pack of ass-kickers, so joining another franchise is a smart idea. (Just ask Dwayne Johnson.) Interestingly, for someone who so regularly plays an unsmiling killer, Statham has always had high likability ratings; he’s simply trapped in a rut. Perhaps the over-the-top action in Fast 7 will remind his fans why they love him and inspire Statham to up his game himself; we’re also intrigued by a potential team-up with Melissa McCarthy on Paul Feig’s upcoming lady-spy comedy, which will give Statham the chance to rejuvenate his image by satirizing it.

  • Rank Compared to 2012 -58
  • Domestic Box Office $24,866,037
  • Overseas Box Office $28,111,262
  • Studio Value (1-10) 6
  • Likability 72%
  • Oscars 0
  • Critics' Score (1-100) 43
  • Twitter Mentions 1,165
  • Tabloid Value (1-10) 4
  • Read about our scientific rankings »

Photo: Andreas Rentz/Getty Images

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92

Justin Timberlake

The Moonlighter

He’s determined to find screen success, but can that ever match his music career?

Inarguably, Justin Timberlake is a huge star. He’s the most tweeted-about name on this list, his awareness levels are far higher than most actors his age (even if his likability score takes a hit from male respondents who can’t get past his boy-band early years), and almost no one drives more tabloid traffic than him. He’s one of Saturday Night Live’s most popular guest hosts, and has had two No. 1 albums since the start of this year alone, with the two parts of his 20/20 Experience record.

And yet the question of whether Timberlake is a movie star remains up for debate. He’s worked with Clint Eastwood and the Coen brothers, appeared in hits both highbrow (The Social Network) and low (Yogi Bear), but when he carries a movie on his own, the results tend to disappoint, as In Time and, more recently, Runner Runner have demonstrated. All that said, he’s a much bigger draw internationally, with In Time drawing nearly three times the gross abroad than it did at home, and Runner Runner is already off to a better start in foreign lands. With projects like Inside Llewyn Davis still on the way, perhaps he’ll start to get some respect at home, too?

  • Rank Compared to 2012 -16
  • Domestic Box Office $39,875,631
  • Overseas Box Office $50,616,273
  • Studio Value (1-10) 6
  • Likability 51%
  • Oscars 0
  • Critics' Score (1-100) 34
  • Twitter Mentions 15,537
  • Tabloid Value (1-10) 9
  • Read about our scientific rankings »

Photo: Ethan Miller/Getty Images

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93

Zac Efron

The Idle Idol

Can he move beyond his romantic niche?

Zac Efron has not been in a movie since 2012’s The Paperboy, but you would not know it from his Twitter mentions, which are astoundingly high and second only to Justin Timberlake’s on this list. It doesn’t take an Internet scientist to figure out why: Ever since he rose to fame with High School Musical, Efron has been a romantic idol of intense interest to a certain female demographic, and all of his exploits (including a recent stint in rehab) earn headlines and constant tweeting.

The problem is whether he can grow that fan base. Among adults, he has a low recognition score and even lower likability, and he hasn’t had much box-office success, either, unless you’re counting The Lorax. Has Efron taken too long to branch out from the romantic roles he’s known for? He’ll finally start putting his comic timing to better use in next year’s Seth Rogen comedy Neighbors and the bro-y rom-com That Awkward Moment; we’ll see if men are willing to come around to the actor, though that’s a tough row to hoe for romantic idols. (Just ask Taylor Lautner, who couldn’t persuade male audiences to turn out for his actioner Abduction.)

  • Rank Compared to 2012 -6
  • Domestic Box Office $27,742,328
  • Overseas Box Office $34,586,555
  • Studio Value (1-10) 6
  • Likability 39%
  • Oscars 0
  • Critics' Score (1-100) 47
  • Twitter Mentions 11,637
  • Tabloid Value (1-10) 8
  • Read about our scientific rankings »

Photo: Stephen Lovekin/Getty Images

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94

Sean Penn

The Part-Time Great

The great actor has seemed more invested in activism than Hollywood, but he could be taking a Liam Neeson turn.

Sean Penn has only been a sporadic presence on screens over the last decade, popping in for films that are either political (Milk, Fair Game), director-driven (Tree of Life), or out of left field (This Must Be the Place). Mostly, his attention has been focused on his activist work for victims of natural disasters all over the planet; it’s as if he does movies just to keep his SAG insurance. He has a small role as a photographer in Ben Stiller’s upcoming Secret Life of Walter Mitty, but Penn has recently showed hints of taking his career in a tough-old-guy Liam Neeson–y direction: After his turn as Mickey Cohen in the underwhelming Gangster Squad, he’s now filming the very Neeson-y The Gunman, playing a spy who has to clear his name before being killed. (Director: Taken’s Pierre Morel.)

But unlike the workaholic Neeson, you never know when Penn will lose interest and vanish from screens for another couple of years. He’s still very highly respected as an actor, though his likability score remains unsurprisingly and habitually low (he will forever be painted by many with the "guy who swings at paparazzi" and "damn liberal!" brushes). His studio value is a 6.75, which signals that he’s a valued actor, but not someone whose presence is going to drastically boost a gross — two Oscars (and three nominations) be damned. Maybe a mainstream hit is just what he needs right now.

  • Rank Compared to 2012 -13
  • Domestic Box Office $16,832,733
  • Overseas Box Office $28,240,000
  • Studio Value (1-10) 7
  • Likability 34%
  • Oscars 2 wins, 3 noms
  • Critics' Score (1-100) 57
  • Twitter Mentions 407
  • Tabloid Value (1-10) 5
  • Read about our scientific rankings »

Photo: Imeh Akpanudosen/Getty Images

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95

Kristen Wiig

The Comedienne Who Can’t Be Pinned Down

In the wake of Bridesmaids, she’s favoring independent film over studio movies.

Last time we did Most Valuable Stars, Kristen Wiig and Melissa McCarthy were still basking in the afterglow of Bridesmaids, the former sitting at No. 83, the latter just under her at No. 85. What a difference a year makes. This time around, McCarthy has zoomed into the top 30, while Wiig nearly fell off the list altogether. What happened? McCarthy capitalized on her Bridesmaids breakout to topline studio hits like The Heat and Identity Thief, while Wiig got mired in a string of indie flops (including Girl Most Likely and Friends With Kids). The Saturday Night Live veteran will return to the studio fold this winter with two high-profile movies ... but in The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, she’s the love interest, and in the Anchorman sequel, she’s got an even smaller supporting role. If you had any fantasies that Kristen Wiig would become the studios’ next great comic star, she’s no doubt put them to rest by now.

And maybe that’s exactly how she wants it. Wiig has continued to sign on for small-budget movies; in addition to the indifferently received Toronto Film Festival entry Hateship Loveship, she’ll next be seen taking female lead roles in The Skeleton Twins (opposite Bill Hader) and Nasty Baby (from Crystal Fairy director Sebastian Silva). It’s not as if Wiig couldn’t have a bigger career; she’s got an appeal score that matches your BFF Jennifer Lawrence and is actually higher than Melissa McCarthy’s, while studio executives give her fairly decent marks. It’s just that Wiig doesn’t seem to have an affinity for the mainstream movies McCarthy is making. Maybe Bridesmaids was an aberration, and what we’ve really discovered in Kristen Wiig is our next Parker Posey.

  • Rank Compared to 2012 -12
  • Domestic Box Office $7,283,581
  • Overseas Box Office $1,667,577
  • Studio Value (1-10) 6
  • Likability 76%
  • Oscars 1 nom
  • Critics' Score (1-100) 37
  • Twitter Mentions 200
  • Tabloid Value (1-10) 8
  • Read about our scientific rankings »

Photo: Stephen Lovekin/Getty Images

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96

Jesse Eisenberg

The Savvy Savant

Somehow, the actor scored one of this summer’s sleeper smash hits.

Fine, Jesse Eisenberg is not the most well-known or even well-liked man in Hollywood. But he’s not supposed to be well-known or well-liked — Jesse Eisenberg is the neurotic nerd king, the tense guy whom you cast in movies about Facebook and hipster relationships and … magic? Frankly, the success of Now You See Me was one of 2013’s biggest surprises, but it restores some of Eisenberg’s market value (after 2011’s disappointing Social Network follow-up, the comedy 30 Minutes or Less). 2014’s Rio 2 and a potential Now You See Me sequel should keep him all set in the studio and financial departments, which will leave Eisenberg free to do as many smaller films (Night Moves, The Double) and plays as he likes.

  • Rank Compared to 2012 New to List
  • Domestic Box Office $45,947,597
  • Overseas Box Office $45,078,892
  • Studio Value (1-10) 6
  • Likability 46%
  • Oscars 1 nom
  • Critics' Score (1-100) 50
  • Twitter Mentions 98
  • Tabloid Value (1-10) 4
  • Read about our scientific rankings »

Photo: Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images

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97

Owen Wilson

The Aging Goofball

His Wedding Crashers camaraderie with Vince Vaughn aged poorly in The Internship.

Let’s not sugarcoat it: Owen Wilson has not had a wildly successful few years at the box office. He’s still managed to earn some hits thanks to occasional cameos in friends’ movies, Disney’s milking of the Cars franchise, and the surprise success of Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris, but his spotlight vehicles these days tend to end up more like Hall Pass ($45 million U.S. on a reported $36 million budget) or, worse, The Big Year ($7.2 million domestic). Underscoring the problem was this summer’s attempt to remind people of his biggest hit by reteaming with Wedding Crashers partner Vince Vaughn in The Internship; it ended up disappointing, and only made it to $44.7 million here.

There’s something inherently dangerous about making your mark playing a regression-prone goofball; as you and your audience age, they can lose patience with the persona. Wilson’s struggles aren’t new; he has the same mediocre studio value of 5 that he did last year, but by Vulture’s rankings, he has dropped 33 slots on the Most Valuable Stars list as his hits move farther away in the rear-view mirror. He still has some big upcoming studio projects: the comedy heist film Loomis Fargo with Jim Carrey, and the family-trapped-in-a-revolution thriller The Coup. But he seems to be taking a lesson from Midnight in Paris by also pursuing similar smaller, auteur-driven films, and though Matthew Weiner’s big-screen directing debut, You Are Here, received less than satisfied advance reviews at Toronto, Wilson’s also one of the leads in Paul Thomas Anderson’s adaptation of Inherent Vice and has a small role in oldest collaborator Wes Anderson’s The Grand Budapest hotel. Anything that helps him figure out his next act is a smart move.

  • Rank Compared to 2012 -33
  • Domestic Box Office $44,825,802
  • Overseas Box Office $35,805,672
  • Studio Value (1-10) 5
  • Likability 63%
  • Oscars 1 nom
  • Critics' Score (1-100) 42
  • Twitter Mentions 263
  • Tabloid Value (1-10) 7
  • Read about our scientific rankings »

Photo: Kevin Winter/Getty Images

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98

Jason Bateman

The Straight Man

He’s our generation’s Charles Grodin.

Jason Bateman is never going to be chased through the streets by screaming crowds, or have legions of Tumblrs devoted to him. But since his career was revived a decade ago by Arrested Development, Bateman’s been carving out his own successful niche as a sort of 21st century Charles Grodin, a talented straight man who can handle both broad comedy and the occasional dramatic part. Audiences seem to prefer him as part of a manic ensemble: He was surrounded by outrageous performances in the hit Horrible Bosses, but Extract and The Change-Up were mostly sold on him and the movies fizzled, which would explain his mid-range studio number. This year, Bateman had the biggest hit of his career to date when paired with the red-hot Melissa McCarthy on Identity Thief — though right now, to fail with Melissa McCarthy would really take some doing.

Apart from the wildly anticipated return of Arrested Development, Bateman doesn’t attract much Twitter buzz or tabloid inches, and according to E-Score, he only has awareness from 40 percent of those polled, which seems odd considering he’s been famous since Silver Spoons. But he does remain a trusted name in comedy and has promising projects lined up: He directed and starred in the comedy Bad Words, one of the biggest sales at the Toronto International Film Festival this year; he has a Horrible Bosses sequel on the way; and he’ll be alongside Tina Fey and Jane Fonda in the adaptation of This Is Where I Leave You. If you’re gonna be in a crowd, that’s a good crowd to be in.

  • Rank Compared to 2012 -16
  • Domestic Box Office $48,997,616
  • Overseas Box Office $35,305,818
  • Studio Value (1-10) 6
  • Likability 69%
  • Oscars 0
  • Critics' Score (1-100) 37
  • Twitter Mentions 138
  • Tabloid Value (1-10) 4
  • Read about our scientific rankings »

Photo: Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

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99

Tyler Perry

The Mogul

Gone Girl could do what Alex Cross didn’t: Make him a star outside of his own productions.

Unlike almost everyone else on this list, Tyler Perry has achieved his (immense) success with barely any help, or even approval, from the major movie studios. From his background as a stage performer, he’s become a bona fide mogul with his own studio, several hit TV shows, and countless millions of dollars (Forbes named him the highest paid man in entertainment in 2011). And most important for our purposes, he’s a consistent and solid box-office asset, at his biggest when he’s playing signature character Madea (expectations are high for this holiday season’s A Madea Christmas). None of the inexpensive movies he’s appeared in under his own brand have ever made less than $35 million.

So why does he score so low on the Most Valuable Stars list? For one, he has almost no audience outside the U.S., which makes studios uneasy at a time when foreign profits are at a premium. And there’s a ceiling to his drawing power: None of his movies have made more than the $90 million that Madea Goes to Jail grossed in 2009, and his big attempt to prove that he can act outside his own oeuvre, Alex Cross, was a bomb. But given the ever-reliable profits his own films reliably bring in, sticking with "big" rather than aspiring to "even bigger" is still valuable. And there is an intriguing proposition to come: He was selected by David Fincher to co-star in Gone Girl, a far surer thing than working with a bald, psychotic Matthew Fox on Alex Cross.

  • Rank Compared to 2012 -33
  • Domestic Box Office $34,010,527
  • Overseas Box Office $987,990
  • Studio Value (1-10) 8
  • Likability 50%
  • Oscars 0
  • Critics' Score (1-100) 42
  • Twitter Mentions 2,326
  • Tabloid Value (1-10) 4
  • Read about our scientific rankings »

Photo: Kevin Winter/Getty Images

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100

Liam Hemsworth

The On-Deck Action Star

He has a key role in the enormous Hunger Games franchise, but he hasn’t had much to do yet.

Liam Hemsworth was actually the first recognizable Hemsworth brother in the U.S.: He scored a minor hit with teen romance The Last Song (alongside future ex-fiancée Miley Cyrus) two years before Chris came along with Thor. Then Liam grabbed the key role of Gale in The Hunger Games, which instantly made him the topic of scrutiny among the books’ fans; it was a huge get to be in this mammoth franchise, but his small role in the first film didn’t raise his exposure much beyond Katniss obsessives. And all the while, he hasn’t done too much else of note: Sylvester Stallone killed him off early in The Expendables 2; his partnership with Dwayne Johnson in Empire State went straight to DVD; and his mid-August move-along-nothing-to-see-here thriller Paranoia sputtered out at $7.4 million.

But Hunger Games is about to finally pay off, as his role in the franchise only gets bigger and more crucial from here on out; the second movie, Catching Fire, opens in November, with two more installments to follow. His gossip value is high thanks to his Miley drama, but studios are taking a wait-and-see approach: There will always be demand for Hemsworth’s type — the handsome action hunk — but he needs to start evincing some personality to stand out, or else he’ll just be another Paul Walker (or worse yet, the Frank Stallone to Chris’s much-bigger Sylvester).

  • Rank Compared to 2012 New to List
  • Domestic Box Office $56,138,288
  • Overseas Box Office $107,700,000
  • Studio Value (1-10) 6
  • Likability 54%
  • Oscars 0
  • Critics' Score (1-100) 28
  • Twitter Mentions 1,326
  • Tabloid Value (1-10) 9
  • Read about our scientific rankings »

Photo: Eamonn M. McCormack/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 2008-present. Read about our scientific rankings »