Who are the current A-List actresses?
Several times during the WTHH series often emerge complaints about the difficult for actresses to emerge as box-office draws. Hollywood tends to be a place with little space for pardon and second chances for women as many WTHH subject, like Demi Moore, Meg Ryan and Winona Ryder experienced. It is much harder for women to become A-List and is much harder for women to stay on top or forget scandals and bad career moves.
But who are current female A-List in Hollywood? Weeks ago Forbes revealed its yearly list of highest paid actresses. Here is the top 10 of Hollywood’s highest grossing actresses:
But do the high paychecks really make an A-List? I don’t think so. P.S. Kristen Stewart sits at number 3, but really I can’t see any future for her now that “Twilight” is over. Yes she made money with “Snow White and the Huntsmen” but without the “Twilight” coattalis will that movie be so successful? No way. Julia Roberts is still in the top 10 despite the fact that her last efforts, “Mirror Mirror” and “Larry Crowne” both disappointed at the box-office. Same for Natalie Portman who, after her Oscar victory for “Black Swan” made an impressive series of missteps in 2011, and was only rescued by “Thor”. And what about Mila Kunis? She was sucessful with “Ted” and “Oz” but probabily both movies would have been successful even if they cast my grandma instead of her. So, who are currently female A-List in Hollywood if paychecks don’t matter that much? Who are actresses for whom people really pay to see?
Here I’ll try to write about actresses who I think are currently A-List, but I’m also curious to see your opinion on it
Three Oscars won out of seventeen nominations; eight Golden Globes won out of 27 nominations, 35 years in the industry and she’s still on top. She played every role possible, she starred alongside all top male actors, she played for every leading director and she seems not yet tired. In 2012 she lead to success the rom-com “Hope Springs”, and received her 27th Golden Globe nomination, a record. Will movies like “Hope Springs”;”It’s Complicated”; “Doubt”; “The Devil Wears Prada”; “Julie & Julia” or “Mamma Mia!” had the same success without her? Probabily not. Expectations for her next movie, “August: Osage County” are extremely high, and high are the buzz for an eighteenth Oscar nomination.
Well, I’m not a fond of Angelina Jolie, but I have to admit, she’s probabily the lone woman able to open a big budget action movie. Without her, no way movies like “Salt” or “Wanted” would have been successful. However it’s been three years since her last starring movie, the critical failure but commercially successful (at least overseas)”The Tourist”. So the Hollywood highest paid actress with the upcoming “Maleficent” will have to show if she still deserves her onerous cachet.
When both “Friends” and her marriage with Brad Pitt ended many doubt Jennifer Aniston would have been able to survive, but she surprised almost anyone. I’m not a fond of her, and as “America’s Sweethearts” I prefered much more Meg Ryan and Julia Roberts, but yes Jen has those “cute look” that make her a perfect suit for rom-com. Her string of hits is pretty impressive “Along Came Polly”; “The Break-Up”; “The Bounty Hunter”; “Horrible Bosses”; “Just Go With It”; “Marley & Me”; Bruce Almighty”. She also used her star power to turn profitable low budget indipendent comedies like “The Good Girl” and “Friends with Money”. There’s a big question mark on her future since she has not been able to go beyond comedy. She’s in theatres right now with the comedy “We’re the Millers” where she plays a stripper, seems the R-rated comedy had a promising start.
She came out from nowhere in 2011 and then suddenly she became a critical darling and a box-office draw. She scored a hit and an Oscar nomination for “The Help”, then she scored another hit and a second Oscar nomination (and, in my opinion, she should have won) for “Zero Dark Thirty”. She scored another hit, though this time not well-reviwed, with the horror “Mama”. Both “Zero Dark Thirty” and “Mama” clearly rely on Chastain performance, she was the lone “big name” in both movies, no doubt that without her bot movies would have not been so successful. Her next movie, “The Disapperence of Eleanor Rigby: Her” is rumored to give her the third Oscar nomination in a row.
She break into mainastream Hollywood in 1998 winning a Golden Globe and earning an Oscar nomination for her portrayal of Queen Elizabeth I, and since then she has never stopped. Cate Blanchett has become the most critical acclaimed actress of her generation, and has worked with almost all the most successful directors in Hollyowood. She often alternates big budget mainstream movies (“The Lord of the Rings”; “The Aviator”; “Benjamin Button”…) and critical acclaimed indie (“Notes on a Scandal”; “Veronica Guerin”; “I’m not There”…). Her latest effort, Woody Allen’s “Blue Jasmine” has attracted universal critical praise and has generated high Oscar rumors. She will also star in the next George Clooney’s work, “Monuments Men”, set to release in December. Cate Blanchett is an actress who gives a movie an air of prestige, personally anytime I see a trailer of a movie starring Cate Blanchett my comment is “There’s Cate Blanchett, probabily is good”.
If you’re an actress and you’re not an astonishing beauty, it’s hard to be successful. But if you’re also an overweight actress your rise to the top would be extremely hard. And while many comic actor enjoy success in spit of their overweight, sadly the same has not be truth for women. But, hey, Melissa McCarthy has been able to make it! She rose to fame with “Bridesmaids” for whom she score an Oscar nomination. But then she surprises everyone scoring two big hits this year with “Identity Thief” and “The Heat”. This girl is the surprise of the year, and she has shown that even overweight women can make it in Hollywood.
She rose to promince in 2010, thanks to the indie drama “Winter’s Bone” for wich she scored her first Oscar nomination. Than last year she was arguably the big revelation. “Hunger Games” was a huge hit, both critically and commercially, “H.A.T.E.S.” was panned by critics but performed well at the box-office, and then the rom-com “Silver Linings Playbook” that earned critical praise, commercial success and gave her an Oscar. This year appears to be busy too. She will star in the second episode of “Hunger Games” and she will reteam with “Silver Lings” director David O. Russell and co-star Bradley Cooper in “American Hustle”. She will team once again with Bradley Cooper in Susanne Bier’s “Serena”. Both movies are considered potential Oscar contenders. Lawrence is certainly a rising star, but she gotta be careful. The danger of an overexposion are very high.
Emma Stone is surely one of the most interesting new talent in Hollywood. She paid her dues with supporting roles and finally break into mainstream with her leading performances in surprising hits like “Easy A” and “The Help”. She then was cast as Gwen Stacy for the Spider-Man reboot. This year she made a half-misstep with the disappointing “Gangster Squad”, however the failure of “Gangster Squad” seemed not enough to damage her reputation as a rising star. In 2014 she will reprise her role as Gwen Stacy for the second episode of the Spider-Man franchise and she will star in Inarritu’s comedy “Birdman”.
Many will probabily don’t understand why I put french star Marion Cotillard alongside Hollywood leading ladies, but I’ll try to give an explanation on why I consider her an A-List member. Cotillard rose to fame in her home country in late 90’s, but ’til 2007 she was almost unknown outside France. Then her performance as the legendary singer Edith Piaf in “La Vie en Rose” led her to Oscar victory and worldwide recognition. After her Oscar victory she starred in high profile Hollywood projects like: “Inception”; “Midnight in Paris”; “The Dark Knight Rises”; “Contagion” and “Public Enemies”. But she also kept working in her home country with the dramamedy “Little White Lies” and with the critical acclaimed “Rust and Bone” that gave her numerous awards recognition, including nominations for Golden Globe and BAFTA. Maybe in the USA her “star power” is not extremely high, but overseas Cotillard is extremely marketable. “Rust and Bone”, per example, almost totally rely on her shoulder and on her name recognition and performed respectably well in Europe and even in anglo-saxon markets like UK and Australia. Probabily without Cotillard the result would have not been the same. Both Cotillard latest Hollywood releases, “Blood Ties” and “The Immigrant” have premiered on the last Cannes film festival and will be released in the next months.
For her performance as Fantine in “Les Miserables” Anne Hathaway took all the most prestigious prizes, including Oscar. She also won critical acclaim for her performance as Catwoman in “The Dark Knight Rises”. Both movies have been huge hit at the box-office. Throughout the last decade Anne Hathaway has been able to grow up and get rid of her “Disney” label. Both her roles as Fantine and Catwoman were supporting performances, but Hathaway did a good job both times. Both roles were extremely tough challenges. With Catwoman she had the tough comparison with Michelle Pfeiffer, while in “Les Miserables” she was probabily the real star, ’cause of Susan Boyle. Despite Fantine dies soon in the book, many were probabily only waiting for her singin’ “I Dreamed a Dream”. She won both challenges, and can now be considered a legitimate A-List member, but attention, as LeBeau often says, probabily now there’s nowhere to go but down.
Some years ago I wouldn’t esitate to put Bullock on the list, but after her Oscar victory for “The Blind Side” she walked away for some time so I was undecided if putting her on the list or not. It was probabily a wise choice to avoid over-exposion after the Oscar, but now Bullock seems ready to be back in business. Bullock and McCarthy star powers combined made “The Heat” a massive success, and her upcoming movie “Gravity” seems a potential Oscar contender.
I started this post contesting the real “star power” of the 10 highest paid actresses in Hollywood. One of my arguments is been that Julia Roberts, who sits exactly at number 10, has had many flops in last years. In the 90’s she was by far the biggest female draw on the planet, but in the last ten years her star power has cooled off. And while “Mona Lisa Smile” and “Mirror Mirror” were saved by overseas markets, “Duplicity” and “Larry Crowne” disappointed also at the global box-office. In the last ten years her lone true hits has been “Closer” and “Eat Pray Love”, though in “Closer” she’s been overhadowed by Natalie Portman. However her name is still extremely big, and her upcoming collaboration with Meryl Streep in “August: Osage County” has generated high expectations and even Oscar rumors. So, while her carreer has certainly cooled off and the heights of the late 90s are only a pale memory, is not yet time to rule Roberts out as a marketable name.
Her last movie, “Gambit” has not yet been released in the USA, but has yet flopped abruptly in Europe, and last year the comedy “What to Expect When You’re Expecting” disappointed both in the USA and overseas. But she has many upcoming movies who are potentially hits. Especially her performance in George Clooney’s upcoming movie “The Counselor” has generated Oscar buzz. So it’s not yet time to rule out Cameron Diaz, though certainly her latest moves have damaged her reputation as a highly marketable leading lady. But she has still the chance to recover.
To prevent criticism I decided to put a “Borderline” list. Actress who I ponder to put in the list, but in the end I decided to put her on a “grey zone”. I think they still lack something to be alongside the actress I put on top, and they are:
Natalie Portman: Three years ago I would have no doubt about her status as an A-List, but her string of brutal flops after “Black Swan” is really impressive. She’s young and she can recover.
Charlize Theron: She long paid her dues in supporting roles. She break through in 2003 with “The Italian Job” and the Oscar-winning “Monster” and then she came back to oscurity. “North Country” and “In The Valley of Elah” were prestige indie movies who won critical acclaim, but unfortunately were little seen. After almost ten years of anonimity she suddenly came back to mainstream last year with “Prometheus” and “Snow White”. But I doubt both movies were successful because of Charlize Theron. She needs confirmations
Keira Knightley: She’s probabily the lone actress who can sell period dramas based on her name alone. She was certainly the big draw in both “Atonement” and “Pride and Prejudice”, and also “The Duchess” performed moderately well, but in the last 5 years she made a series of missteps. “Never let me Go” and “A Dangerous Method” were acclaimed by critics, but failed at the box-office. While last year “Seeking a Friend…” failed at the box-office. “Anna Karenina” performed moderately well, and was well received by critics, but box-office receipts were disappointing if compared to her previous collaborations with Joe Wright. Is her carreer cooling?
Kate Winslet: She often skip mainstream roles and prefers indie-movies who hardly becomes hits, but “The Reader” shows that Kate Winslet is able to open a movie on her own. She need more mainstream success to be judged as A-List
Emma Watson: Among the “Harry Potter” three leads she’s probabily the lone who can survive without the franchise coattails. “The Perks of Being a Wallflower”, who earn critical praise and moderate commercial success, was a good start, but needs confirmations.
Rachel McAdams: Her track record is very solid, but she still needs a hit on her own. When she tried to open a movie on her own with “Morning Glory” the result was a commercial failure. She need a breakthrough based solely on her shoulder.
Amanda Seyfried: Her track record is good, and she has even scored a hit on her own with “Letters to Juliet”, but in “Mamma Mia!” and “Les Miserables” she was cast as the lead and she was overshadowed by other members of cast both times (Meryl Streep and Anne Hathaway). Maybe the upcoming movie “Lovelace” will be the confirmation she needs.
Scarlett Johansson: Ten years ago, after the surprising success of “Lost in Translation”, she seemed unstoppable, but her track record since then has been contradictory, and she’s not yet been able to have a hit on her own. She’s still considered a big promise, ten years after her breakthrough. Maybe it’s time for her to grow up and try to bring a movie on her own shoulders.
Penelope Cruz: In 2001, after having been successful in spanish industry, Cruz started her Hollywood carreer. The beginnning was tragic, with the terrible trifecta “Blow-Vanilla Sky-Captain’s Corelli Mandolin” that gave her a triple Razzie nomination. Since then she have alternated works in Hollywood and Europe, with alternate success. Surely “Volver” success, who became Almodovar’s biggest hit to date, has been possible thanks to her Oscar-nominated performance, but her Hollywood record is still too mixed. Cotillard’s Hollywood record per example, has been much more solid. So she’s a step behind the french star, whose Hollyowood record has been impressive.