News center
Articulate and proficient in their expertise.

Vulture’s Most Valuable Stars of 2015

Jul 18, 2023

Many factors determine a movie star's value — including box-office numbers, social-media buzz, increasing foreign strength, and critical respect — and fortunes can change drastically in a matter of months if a star's passion project flops or a new ingenue takes the world by storm. With all that in mind, Vulture has collected data (including domestic and foreign box-office numbers, critical love, social-media chatter, Twitter mentions, Oscar success, and likability ratings, according to E-Score Celebrity rankings by E-Poll) in every important metric that measures modern movie-stardom, inputting those numbers into a formula crafted with our guest statistician, FiveThirtyEight's Harry Enten, to determine 2015's 100 Most Valuable Stars. Who's risen since our 2014 list, and who's slipped since we first started assembling it in 2012? Read on to find out who matters most to Hollywood.

How Do the Rankings Work?

Read how Vulture calculated stars’ value in 2015 — and if you want to see how changes in the various factors can impact an entertainer's standing, have a go at the sliders on the left.

Our returning champion is doing everything right.

For the second year in a row, Jennifer Lawrence leads our Most Valuable Stars list - and does so by dominating in nearly every category. Her big-studio box-office record is unimpeachable (and only improved now that last year's second-highest-grossing movie, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1, has been factored in), her innate BFF-ability earned her sky-high likability, gossip, and Twitter scores, and every one of the studio executives we polled gave Lawrence their highest rating. Put very simply, she is the leading movie star of her generation.

Photo: Xavier Collin/Image Press/Splash

Marvel's top box-office superhero.

After this summer's super-successful Avengers: Age of Ultron, Robert Downey Jr. can now claim to have starred in three of the ten highest-grossing movies of all time. So why is he still hovering just beneath J. Law on this list? Maybe it's because he's a little too wedded to Tony Stark's suit: Downey Jr. has only toplined one non-Marvel movie over the last four years, and it was last fall's coolly received The Judge. Accordingly, his studio score took a minor hit this year. Downey Jr. is still practically peerless on this list, but if he wants to take the No. 1 spot back from Jennifer Lawrence, he'll have to earn it.

Photo: Theo Wargo/NBC

All he needs is validation from Oscar.

Leonardo DiCaprio didn't release a film in the past year, but he nevertheless remains in third place thanks to his two decades of top-tier-movie stardom. Now, as the actor enters his 40s, he's primed for Oscar contention with a reportedly grueling role in Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu's The Revenant, which would give DiCaprio the elusive prize needed to round out his A-list career. And the eternal bachelor continues to command headlines, ensuring a perpetually high gossip score.

Photo: Jim Spellman

The ever-expanding star, even if his aim has been a bit off.

Yes, Burnt was a poorly marketed flop, and Aloha a notorious misfire. Still, Bradley Cooper rose to fourth place thanks to the megahit American Sniper, which was 2014's highest-grossing film domestically and the first drama to earn that designation in more than 15 years. That last bit is important: Many of the stars on this list are tied to a global action franchise or continue to play the same role over and over, while Cooper has been stretching himself onscreen and onstage since wrapping the lucrative Hangover trilogy two years ago.

Photo: Mark Sagliocco

Our biggest action hero - literally.

2015 was the year Dwayne Johnson finally became the star Hollywood has always wanted him to be. The artist formerly known as the Rock has always had a reputation as “franchise Viagra” - add him to any preexisting series, and box-office success will surely follow - but his attempts to launch a solo vehicle have rarely sparked. That is, until San Andreas became an early summer success (and a global blockbuster); couple that with the massive Furious 7, and it's no wonder Johnson scaled this year's list.

Photo: Cao ji

People might not like him, but they'll pay to see him anyway.

Tom Cruise still has major likability issues: His score in that category is the second-lowest on our list, and the focus on his controversial religion has only intensified after the Scientology exposé Going Clear and the tell-all memoir by Leah Remini. That said, Cruise at least proved his continued box-office power in the Mission: Impossible franchise this summer, driving Rogue Nation to a $682 million worldwide gross that's the second-best result of his career. Outside that series, he can no longer guarantee a domestic take of $100 million, but if there's still gas in the Mission: Impossible tank, Cruise will remain near the top of this list.

Photo: ACE

Your mom's favorite - and maybe yours, too.

Hugh Jackman plans to hang up the claws after his next Wolverine movie, but if he keeps diversifying his portfolio with movies like Prisoners and Les Misérables, he'll be well-positioned for life after Marvel. (And when it comes to likability, he's one of the highest-rated actors on this list.) This year was a bit curious for Jackman - neither Chappie nor Pan worked, and it's hard to tell what drew him to play the baddie in either project - but he's still among Hollywood's most solid, talented leading men.

Photo: Photo Image Press

Still congenial after all these years.

Sandra Bullock has gotten very choosy with projects since her Oscar win, but she chose poorly when picking Our Brand Is Crisis, a muddled dramedy that gave her the worst box-office returns of her career. Still, she's one of the biggest names in Hollywood, and her first attempt at an animated film was this year's massive megahit Minions, which grossed over a billion dollars worldwide. As long as she bounces back in a more palatable live-action movie, her tenure on the A-list should easily continue.

Photo: Jason LaVeris

He continues to be an all-crowds pleaser.

The past year wasn't Channing Tatum's most lucrative: Jupiter Ascending flopped, Magic Mike XXL only grossed around half of what the first movie made, and Foxcatcher topped out at $12 million. But that latter, Bennett Millerâ€"directed movie in particular proved to filmmakers that he's more than just a handsome face, and his very high studio score reflects how eager most executives are to work with him. He also defies Hollywood conventional wisdom: While male audiences tend to penalize a leading man who makes movies targeted at women, Tatum's solid likability score proves that regardless of his stripping exploits, he's a four-quadrant star.

Photo: Splash News/Corbis

Black Widow breaks into the top ten, and likely won't stop here.

Last year's Lucy proved that Scarlett Johansson is one of the world's biggest stars, and this summer's Avengers: Age of Ultron added yet another all-time smash to her résumé. She's on a mighty roll right now, which is why Johansson vaulted into this list's top ten - and her 2016 looks just as solid, with appearances in the Coen brothers' Hail, Caesar!, a voice role in Jon Favreau's The Jungle Book, and another co-lead in the sure-to-be-massive Captain America: Civil War dominating the first half of the year.

Photo: Mayer RCF/Splash NEws

The billion-dollar everyman.

Two years ago, Chris Pratt wasn't even on this list; now, off the backs of global blockbusters Guardians of the Galaxy and Jurassic World, he's within striking distance of the top ten. Everyone wants to work with him - he has our fourth-highest studio score, and he's rumored for just about every franchise or reboot in town - but even more impressively, he earned the highest likability score on this list, out-polling beloved veterans like Sandra Bullock and Tom Hanks. It's no wonder that Pratt is co-starring opposite Jennifer Lawrence in next year's Passengers, since he, too, is one of Hollywood's rare, bona fide new stars.

Photo: Albert L. Ortega

Saint Hanx can do no wrong.

Tom Hanks, you will not be surprised to learn, has great likability and studio scores. In fact, not much about Hanks is surprising these days, which may be due to the fact that he's been a big star for three decades. But it's also attributable to his on-the-nose movie choices as of late: He played a heroic wartime negotiator in Steven Spielberg's Bridge of Spies, he's next playing heroic pilot Sully Sullenberger for Clint Eastwood, and he's got another Da Vinci Code sequel coming, too. Can't someone get Hanks into a comedy to tap his mischievous side?

Photo: Chris Jackson

Holding strong thanks to his out-of-this-world success.

After a few years of close-but-no-cigar attempts at a blockbuster hit, Damon has scored the biggest success of his career with Ridley Scott's The Martian, a huge box-office performer that may make significant inroads into awards season, too. Yes, Damon took a few lumps in the press for his awkward comments on diversity and gay actors, but career-wise, he's putting everything together awfully well now, setting up a new Bourne sequel with director Paul Greengrass and signing to star in Alexander Payne's ambitious new satire Downsizing.

Photo: Danny Martindale

Everything is very all right all right right now.

Last year, the final piece of the McConaissance fell into place: After restoring his critical career with an indie arc that eventually netted him an Oscar for Dallas Buyers Club, McConaughey returned to the studio system with a vengeance, starring in the massive worldwide hit Interstellar, the biggest movie of his career. Fortunately, McConaughey hasn't abandoned what works, or thrown away his indie mojo to suckle at the studio teat once more: His next project is the ambitious Civil War drama The Free State of Jones, directed by Gary Ross.

Photo: Xavier Collin/Image Press/Splash

Consider his career invincible until further notice.

Disney surely hoped for more from its summer tentpole Tomorrowland, but the movie's $93 million gross is nevertheless one of Clooney's biggest hauls as of late. (Aside from lending support to Gravity, he hasn't had a $100 million movie since 2007's Ocean's Thirteen.) So how does Clooney continue to stay in the upper reaches of the list despite so-so returns? His high-profile marriage helped goose his gossip score, his critic and Oscar scores remain top-tier, and Clooney is still so tied to A-list directors that he'll always be working at a respectable level.

Photo: Kevin Winter

Still playing the game as well as ever.

By this point considered Hollywood royalty, Brad Pitt can at least be commended for his willingness to keep switching things up. A Euro-style marital drama like By the Sea and a scrubbed-down ensemble role in The Big Short are not the types of projects that super-glam leading men usually put their star power toward, but Pitt has always had a canny reticence toward his stardom that reflects his onscreen acting style. Perhaps that's why his carefully curated career continues to earn high marks in every metric.

Photo: Chung Sung-Jun

Hollywood's most high-profile new auteur.

It's fitting that Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt occupy side-by-side spots on the Most Valuable Stars list, given that By the Sea makes good use of their marital intimacy. Jolie dropped a bit from last year's list because she wasn't in a film during the measuring period, a casualty of her intermittent acting career giving way to a newfound passion for directing. But she's still one of the most famous women in the world, and whenever she wants to step into a high-wattage studio movie, the role (and the audience) will be there for her.

Photo: Jon Kopaloff

How long will he continue to use his very particular late-career set of skills?

It's possible that Liam Neeson is reaching the end of his unlikely late-career transformation into an action hero, but 2014's Taken 3 still managed pretty good returns worldwide (even though it was the lowest grosser of the franchise domestically). At 63, Neeson is one of the oldest leading men on this list, but he's got unquestionable global appeal and the ability to toggle between adventure and drama, as he'll do next year in a biopic about Watergate informant Mark Felt.

Photo: Jackie Brown

The actor turned acclaimed director now turns Batfleck.

Here's how far Ben Affleck has come from his Gigli days as a critical punching bag: He's now got one of the highest critic scores on our list, thanks to a savvy reconstruction of his career that included one Best Picture winner (Argo). Can he retain that score as he now leaps into comic-book fare with Batman v Superman? Whatever the pundits make of that, it will undoubtedly pump up his box-office metric, helping offset the one score where Affleck is ailing: After those nanny-cheating headlines, his likability score plummeted in the last year.

Photo: Michael Tran

A leading god, but is he a leading man?

Has Chris Hemsworth meaningfully proven himself outside of his Marvel franchise, Thor? Not quite, which may be why Hemsworth is tied for the lowest studio score in our top 20. That said, as long as he stays in those Marvel movies, he's guaranteed to star in some of the biggest films of all time, so this is not a bad problem to have. At least Ron Howard seems to have found a muse in Hemsworth: After the duo made the underrated Rush, they're reuniting for the maritime thriller In the Heart of the Sea.

Photo: ACE

You can't mess with Furiosa.

The five-year Most Valuable Stars consideration window puts in stark relief the sort of comeback that Charlize Theron has mounted: Now that a passel of her lowest-grossing films from the late '00s have been excluded from the sampling period (bye-bye, The Burning Plain, Battle in Seattle, and The Road), Theron's box-office scores have taken a significant, Mad Maxâ€"aided bump. She also got a nice lift in her studio score since her Furiosa became an immediately iconic action-movie heroine. Next up: more tentpole badassery in the sequel to Snow White and the Huntsman.

Photo: Mireya Acierto

We know what we're getting with Denzel. Is that becoming a problem?

Denzel Washington has always been a solid star, but could he use a little excitement? His studio, likability, and gossip scores all dropped a notch this year, knocking Washington from his comfortable top-ten berth. It's not like he stopped delivering at the box office: The Equalizer was another solid pick that spawned a franchise, even though the first one finished at a fine-but-not-fantastic $101 million (and failed to make too much more abroad). Maybe his 2016 redo of The Magnificent Seven, co-starring the potent Chris Pratt, can kick Washington back up to where he ought to be.

Photo: Noel Vasquez

His career is skewing a little too furious.

After the biggest hit of his career in Furious 7, you might have expected Vin Diesel to make a significant year-to-year move up the Most Valuable Stars list. Instead, he's hovering around the same spot he occupied last year, in part because Diesel hasn't done a great job picking films outside his primary series: The Last Witch Hunter was a big miss, and attempts to revive his pre-lull franchises (Riddick, xXx) seem imprudent. His studio score is the lowest by far in the top 30, reflecting executives' wariness.

Photo: Nancy Kaszerman

The current titleholder of America's Comedy Darling.

She's Hollywood's top female comedian, possessed of a healthy studio score and great domestic numbers - so why hasn't Melissa McCarthy ascended higher on this list? Simple: Her foreign box-office numbers are still fairly mediocre, since it's the rare American comedy that puts up big numbers abroad. Still, there's reason to think that may change soon, as next summer's Ghostbusters will wed McCarthy's comic sensibilities to a paranormal adventure that should introduce her to a whole new global audience.

Photo: AR Photo

A return to proven franchises should help the listing mega-star.

When we put together the first Most Valuable Stars list in 2012, Johnny Depp was sitting pretty in third place. His fortunes since have sunk considerably after a row of flops and underperformers like The Lone Ranger, Transcendence, and Mordecai, and while his acclaimed performance in this year's Black Mass will restore some of his critical credibility, there's still work to be done. At least he's got two box-office sure-things on the way in Alice Through the Looking Glass and Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales, both sequels to billion-dollar grossers.

Photo: James Higgins

Are his leading-man days behind him?

Will Smith took some time off between 2008 and 2012, and his subsequent comeback has seemed awfully tentative: Men in Black 3 did well enough but cost too much, After Earth was a famous flop, and Smith's romantic drama Focus earned a forgettable $53 million. His studio score has decreased, too, although there's good buzz around his performance in the football film Concussion, and he's got the heavily hyped Suicide Squad landing next year. Still, it's hard to believe that the onetime King of Hollywood is now doing ensemble superhero films instead of dominating the summer schedule all on his own.

Photo: Jeffrey Mayer

She'll hold onto a high slot until you pry it from her cold, dead hands.

Meryl Streep has almost the same slot on this list that she earned last year (No. 26), and her recent résumé explains why: Into the Woods was a hit that gave her yet another Oscar nomination, but Ricki and the Flash and The Giver were misfires, meaning her fortunes essentially evened out. Still, Streep's staying power at age 66 is enviable, and her likability and studio scores reflect that venerated-veteran status.

Photo: Rune Hellestad

The soon-to-be-ex-Dark Knight can float for a while.

Christian Bale dropped a handful of places from last year's list (No. 18) thanks to the widely disliked, underperforming Exodus: Gods and Kings. That was a stumble for the English actor, but those megagrossing Dark Knight films and his continued Oscar-friendliness will keep him aloft for the time being … at least until Ben Affleck's new reign under the cowl makes Bale's blockbuster Batman-past yesterday's news.

Photo: Gary Gershoff

Moving on without his talking teddy bear.

Ted 2 was supposed to give Mark Wahlberg one of Hollywood's rare blockbuster comedy franchises, but the movie shockingly underperformed, grossing less than half of what its series-spawning first installment made. (The worldwide numbers were even more dire: Ted 2 came in at over $300 million less than the first one.) Couple that with the indifferently received The Gambler, and Wahlberg had something of an off year - but he continues to work consistently, and an eclectic group of upcoming projects - a Will Ferrell comedy, a Peter Berg drama, and likely another Transformers sequel - will keep him from getting stale, even if Ted's been put to bed.

Photo: Jason LaVeris

Comedy's bright star keeps rising.

If you have a buddy comedy in the works, you want Kevin Hart for it. The fast-rising comedian proved his box-office mettle by pairing with Ice Cube for Ride Along (a sequel is due in months), doubled down on it for the Will Ferrell comedy Get Hard, and will next tangle with Dwayne Johnson in the spy comedy Central Intelligence. A few years ago, even as he was starting to come up, Hart failed to make this list due to low studio-executive scores; this year, he's the highest-rated comic in that category.

Photo: George Pimentel

He's gone from blockbuster leading man to critical favorite.

Jake Gyllenhaal has one of the highest critical scores on this list, and it's no wonder: The Oscar-nominated heartthrob has been deep-diving into drama over the last few years, turning in acclaimed performances in movies like Nightcrawler, Prisoners, and Southpaw. While Gyllenhaal isn't exactly setting the box office on fire - he's only been in one movie that hit $100 million domestically, 2004's The Day After Tomorrow - he still enjoys high name recognition and has a career arc that's catnip to every hot director.

Photo: Kevin Winter

Will he keep donning Captain America's cowl?

Not long ago, Chris Evans seemed ready to hang up the Marvel spandex after his six-film duties as Captain America came to a close. Recently, though, Evans has changed his tune: Though he had threatened to leave behind his acting career entirely, he's now open to making more Marvel movies, especially since they're among the best-reviewed, highest-grossing movies of his career. Evans had once evinced a desire to direct instead of perform, but after his Before We Go flopped this past fall, perhaps he's now more inclined to keep suiting up.

Photo: Jason LaVeris

He gets one last Bond bump, but then what?

Daniel Craig seems like he'd now rather be doing anything other than making another James Bond movie, but actions speak louder than … action: In the three years between Skyfall and Spectre, Craig filmed no other new movies. Yes, he and wife, Rachel Weisz, were busy with the Broadway play Betrayal in late 2013, but otherwise, Craig has done little to burnish his non-Bond bona fides. At least the franchise he has such an antagonistic relationship with is doing better than ever: Skyfall was Bond's first billion-dollar grosser, and Spectre is doing big business, too.

Photo: Mike Marsland

The queen of YA has some cards left to play.

Hollywood's favorite YA star is the go-to look for any adaptation in need of a female protagonist. But can Woodley expand beyond dystopian franchises and tear-jerking teen angst? She'll try with Snowden, Oliver Stone's Joseph Gordon-Levittâ€"led, sure-to-be-controversial biopic on the horizon. At 24, Woodley's only getting further in age from her current audience, so a strong foothold in the world of adult drama could help this talented actress make the leap - that is, if Stone comes with more of a JFK and less of a W.

Photo: Jon Kopaloff

Done with Spider-Man, she's got to figure out her next move.

Fresh off an Oscar nomination and a leading role in the Spider-Man franchise, it feels like Stone should be higher on this list, particularly when you factor in her strong rep with critics. But the fact is, not since 2010 and 2011 has she led movies that made much of an impact on the box office, and her two outings in 2015, Aloha and Irrational Man, came and went through theaters faster than the web-slinger between two buildings. Hopes are still high for Stone, whom the gossip-industrial complex still adores thanks to her now-extinguished relationship with Andrew Garfield, but it would be nice if La La Land, the Damien Chazelle musical she's starring in with Ryan Gosling, makes a mark.

Photo: Donato Sardella

Can this unlikely British heartthrob become a Marvel megastar?

Studios love Benedict Cumberbatch even more than Tumblr does, but he's still yet to really establish himself with mainstream American moviegoers. He's about to get his chance: Cumberbatch is set to play Thomas Edison (in The Current War), Shere Khan (in Andy Serkis's Jungle Book reboot), and a Marvel superhero (Doctor Strange) over the next couple of years. So prepare for the ranks of Cumberbitches to swell, and for plenty of your co-workers to ask if you've seen Sherlock yet - that Cumberland guy is awesome.

Photo: Karwai Tang

Back, now as an actor-director, after a two-year hiatus.

Despite zero - count 'em: zero - movies released in 2014 or 2015, Portman's up four spots from last year. Maybe it's due to relief that Jane Got a Gun, her troubled Western, finally has a director and a release date. Maybe it's anticipation for her directorial debut, A Tale of Love and Darkness. Maybe it's just old-fashioned excitement since we're finally going to see the 2010 Best Actress winner back in theaters. Whatever the case, Portman has the chance to prove a formidable presence as she moves behind the camera - and add to the ranks of actresses making the jump to directing.

Photo: @Parisa

Holding onto her seat at the popular-kids' table, even if her movies can't.

Gossip rags love Jennifer Aniston, which you know if you've been to the supermarket at any point in the last 20 years, and her likability is good. But after her full-court press for a Best Actress nomination - tied to the lukewarm Cake - came up short, and her Horrible Bosses sequel failed to replicate the original's success, she's down five spots from 2014 and 22 spots from 2013. Could Iraq War drama The Yellow Birds be a game-changer? After losing director David Lowery, it's hard to count that as a sure thing, though replacement Alexandre Moors has promise. And hey: There's always Mother's Day.

Photo: Steve Granitz

The summer smash Trainwreck made her an in-demand comedian.

If you're someone who spends any time on the internet (hi!), you'd be forgiven for thinking that Amy Schumer isn't the most valuable star in Hollywood. But considering she wasn't even on last year's list, No. 39 ain't bad for the comedian, and studios are even more excited for her than the World Wide Web. Just wait for that buddy comedy she's writing with the Most Valuable of Stars: This rocket's going up, up, up.

Photo: Steve Granitz

Hey girl, the Gos has five, count 'em, five new movies. Make out with someone in the rain to celebrate.

Despite the occasional ardent supporter, Ryan Gosling's directorial debut, Lost River, was a calamity both critically and commercially, with it barely even receiving a theatrical release. Fortunately for the tabloids and fans of indistinguishable accents everywhere, Gosling's coming back hard, which explains his 31-spot leap in this year's rankings. The Return of the Gos starts with this winter's The Big Short, where he'll be competing with a handful of Hollywood's top leading men for a little Oscar love. Then it's La La Land, Shane Black's The Nice Guys, the new Blade Runner, and maybe even that Terrence Malick Austin music-scene movie that's been in the ether for a while now.

Photo: Karwai Tang

Settling into an impressive if unremarkable groove.

Although his heist flick Masterminds-which co-stars Jason Sudeikis, Kristen Wiig, and Owen Wilson-has fallen victim to the Relativity bankruptcy, Zach Galifianakis is way up in the rankings this year, thanks to adoring reviews for his turn in Birdman, and because he seemingly has enough on the horizon - his new FX series Baskets, more of those plum supporting roles, plus, eventually, Masterminds - to maintain that momentum. Whether he will ever reclaim the fame of his Hangover days, or even cares to, is a different question.

Photo: Kevork Djansezian

This first-time MVS might be adding an Oscar nomination to her résumé.

After proving a worthy foil to Tom Cruise in 2014's Edge of Tomorrow and then top-lining Denis Villeneuve's excellent drug-war drama Sicario, Emily Blunt jumps onto the list for the first time -and at a pretty high spot. Her studio, critical, and gossip scores are all strong, and with the lead role in high-profile adaptation The Girl on the Train secured, they should only get stronger, particularly if she can break through a crowded actress field this awards season for her great work in Sicario.

Photo: Nicholas Hunt

Mean bloggers can't keep her down, but low productivity could.

Although Anne's never been as disliked by the general public as she has been by the merciless internet, she's down 15 spots this year. The underperformance of Hathaway's starring-vehicle The Intern certainly played a part in that drop, but it may also have to do with her continued scarcity - two movies in three years hardly keeps you in the public eye, even if one of them is Interstellar.

Photo: Karwai Tang

He's one of Hollywood's most wanted, but America still hasn't learned his name.

Oh, the plight of an Oscar hopeful. Fassbender was a rising star and a shoo-in for a Best Actor nom on the eve of Steve Jobs's release. But in the wake of Aaron Sorkin's latest coming up way short at the box office, trades have been wondering whether Fassbender held the film back with American viewers. Still, no one's worried about Fassbender's chops, and the studios and critics still love him. With Assassin's Creed on the horizon, he'll have another shot at making a bona fide hit.

Photo: James Higgins

Filling his escape pod from Captain Kirk with really interesting choices.

At this point, Chris Pine might be best known for his tearful appearance in the 2015 Oscars telecast. But he's been making interesting choices as of late, delivering a strong performance in the unseen Z for Zachariah and flexing his sense of humor in Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp. Pine's got at least another few years in the captain's chair on Star Trek, so he has some breathing room in taking on these kinds of roles. They could be important in determining how Life After Kirk will look.

Photo: CM

A sure bet for Oscars talk, but do critics actually like her?

Going into awards season, there was talk that Cate Blanchett's biggest competition for Best Actress might be herself. Fast-forward a month, and Truth has come and gone faster than you can say, “This is [tick, tick, tick] … 60 Minutes.” Nonetheless, Carol's still on the horizon, and while it's another scenery-chewing turn for the Aussie, there's a very good chance it'll land Blanchett her sixth Oscar nom. But will it be enough to lift Blanchett's shockingly low critical score?

Photo: Stuart C. Wilson

Riding high, for now.

The second casualty of Steve Jobs's flame-out, a possible Supporting Actor nom looks less likely for the funnyman as he seeks to emulate Jonah Hill's move toward Serious Acting. That said, he still has The Night Before poised to make a play for the pantheon of Christmas comedies, plus a Neighbors sequel coming next year - and no matter what you thought of The Interview, it certainly got people (and governments) talking. While it's nice that Rogen can always go back to the stoner-comedy well if his forays into drama and directing come up short, those frontiers are where any future growth likely resides.

Photo: Derek Storm

He knows the box-office power of a decent buddy comedy.

You could make a good argument that, at this point, Will Ferrell's significance in Hollywood is as much as a producer as it is an actor. But the funnyman can still draw respectably when he does appear onscreen - while Get Hard didn't make the critics too happy, it did gross $100 million worldwide. Ferrell's keen enough to realize that when he plays opposite another star, they both benefit, and he'll keep working that strategy with Mark Wahlberg in Daddy's Home this Christmas.

Photo: Mike Marsland

Carefully, the Deadpool antihero is revitalizing his career.

Last year we said Ryan Reynolds was “plotting his careful comeback,” and the proof is in the pudding: Mr. Blake Lively is up 55 spots this year, having wooed both critics (Mississippi Grind) and fanboys, who are giddy for his upcoming Deadpool. If the super-/antihero flick hits like expected, Reynolds's comeback could be complete, and he might become the well-rounded leading man he's always threatened to be. If it doesn't - well, let's just say that you only get so many second chances.

Photo: Warren Toda

Is she headed toward another Erin Brockovich kind of year?

America's sweetheart hasn't appeared on the big screen since August: Osage County in 2013, but that'll change soon with the release of the reportedly super-dark Secret in Their Eyes. Part of a loaded cast, Billy Ray's thriller remake will seek to convince a nation of viewers that Roberts should be reckoned with as an actor of gravitas and intensity, a process that began when August landed Roberts an Oscar nod. Jodie Foster's Money Monster is next - and there's no better example of how to age gracefully than her co-star there, George Clooney.

Photo: Donato Sardella

Off to HBO to bend and snap her way out of a down 2015.

How did Reese Witherspoon build on her big 2014, which saw her get dirty in Wild, produce Gone Girl, and gain auteur cred with Inherent Vice? She … starred in The Heat clone Hot Pursuit, which flopped hard with critics and moviegoers alike. Lacking anything on tap film-wise in the immediate future - albeit with promising Paul Feig and Alexander Payne roles further down the road - Witherspoon will take the True Detective path as she and Nicole Kidman co-headline HBO's Big Little Lies, a project the pair will also produce - something that's an increasingly important tool in Witherspoon's toolbox. (Plus, there's always Legally Blonde 3.)

Photo: Jon Kopaloff

His likability took a hit, but he'll always have Channing Tatum.

Since his only 2015 effort, True Story, came and went without noise, Hill slips 18 spots from last year, and his likability score shows a surprising dip - possibly thanks to his often less-than-flattering portrayal in the gossip mags. But a few quiet months can't take away his two Oscar nods, and with 23 Jump Street in the pipeline - plus the Coens' Hail, Caesar! and Todd Phillips's Arms and the Dudes with Miles Teller - Hill remains both a bankable comedic lead and a strong supporting actor.

Photo: Ryan Miller

He's making that Marvel money, but this onetime critical fave could use a non-superhero smash.

It's been a bittersweet year for former Best Actor nominee Jeremy Renner, a distinction that feels weirder and weirder the farther we get from The Hurt Locker. He appeared in two of the year's top ten movies, Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol and Avengers: Age of Ultron, but they were both supporting roles, and neither gave Renner all that much to do - Age of Ultron's bizarre Hawkeye subplot notwithstanding. What looks to be a major role in rising auteur Denis Villeneuve's next movie could be what Renner needs to get out of the franchise doghouse, even if there are far worse doghouses to be in.

Photo: Earl Gibson III

The king of productivity is keeping it interesting.

James Franco probably made more movies in 2015 than the rest of this list combined - I'd tell you for sure, but trying to keep track of his career is a full-time job of its own. But critics and studios continue to like him well enough: He's talented, for one, and there's something respectable in his willingness to star in the smallest project by the most unknown filmmaker, not to mention his insatiable creative spirit. And despite the countless indies, Franco also continues to play ball by appearing in bigger projects, including The Interview and the upcoming Stephen King mini-series 11.23.63.

Photo: Jon Kopaloff

Could he be back in badass Django form with a gritty French action-thriller remake?

Jamie Foxx keeps busy, but lately it hasn't been with acting: his last movie was Annie in 2014, and he only has one - a remake of the French crime thriller Sleepless Night - coming in 2016. That alone could explain his small drop from last year (No. 42), but the fact that he remains this high is a testament to the fact that when Foxx does take a role, he makes an impression - even if that star turn in Django Unchained is only getting farther away.

Photo: Alberto E. Rodriguez

This galactic goddess stars in three of Hollywood's biggest franchises.

It doesn't matter that Zoe Saldana hasn't had a movie in 2015: With parts in three major, ongoing franchises, she can't be forgotten for too long. Saldana has new Star Trek, Guardians of the Galaxy, and Avatar movies on the horizon, and it's unlikely that any of those films will be the last in their respective series. Now all she needs is a plum leading role - and next year she's got a Nina Simone biopic co-starring David Oyelowo that may do the trick.

Photo: London Entertainment

Still defying industry odds at age 70.

With a low studio score and sky-high likability, Helen Mirren is a testament to the strange disconnect in Hollywood regarding older actresses: The public loves them, but the industry can't find a place for them. Regardless, Mirren continues to work - she has modest awards buzz generated by her role in Trumbo - and that's helped vault her onto this year's list after being absent last year. And good thing, too: If the movies can't find a place for an actress as good as Mirren, then something is hopelessly broken.

Photo: Photo Image Press

A man's man who's willing to take a backseat to Furiosa.

Tom Hardy has one of the highest critic scores on our list, but even with Mad Max's success earlier this year, the fact remains that he's yet to really bring in the kind of bucks you'd expect of a legitimate movie star. The question isn't can he, though: The question is, does he care? Hardy continues to prefer challenging, ambitious fare, with Legend and The Revenant both poised to bolster that critic score this winter, and the latter possibly to nab him his first Oscar nom. With more Mad Max movies likely coming down the (fury) road, at least he has a franchise, albeit an unconventional one, to bolster his rep with Joe Moviegoer.

Photo: Diego Corredor

He's a convincing multi-hyphenate, even as he lets some of his distinctions languish.

Can you even call Justin Timberlake a working actor at this point? He hasn't appeared onscreen since 2013, when he had a dynamite supporting part in the Coens' Inside Llewyn Davis - and a far more forgettable leading role in the Ben Affleck flop Runner Runner. And yet, his studio score is actually up from last year, as is his place on the list (last year No. 76). Does absence make the heart grow fonder? Either that, or the idea of Timberlake the actor has outpaced the actual reality of it. Without a live-action part anywhere in the foreseeable future, we may never find out.

Photo: Steve Granitz

Doth Hollywood have anything for her but period pieces?

An Oscar nomination for The Imitation Game - the second of her career - helped Keira Knightley make a nice jump up the rankings from last year. But her presence in 2015 was scarce: She had a supporting role in the disappointing Everest, and she's spending the latter part of the year on Broadway, which will keep her away from movie cameras. Knightley's more than convinced critics and audiences of her quality as an actress, particularly in period garb. Whether the studios will have many parts worthy of her when she returns from the Great White Way remains to be seen.

Photo: Celebrity Monitor / Splash News

He fell with The Walk. Now will audiences stick around to see his Edward Snowden?

The Night Before should be an interesting referendum on JGL. Sure, he's a household name, and his HitRECord brand is a good example of his aspirations beyond acting. But after The Walk fell short at the box office, with much of the criticism directed at Gordon-Levitt's performance, it's worth wondering whether audiences are growing tired of his peppy, drama-kid vibe. If The Night Before hits, it could revive his reputation as a bankable ensemble lead. If not - well, do you want to see Oliver Stone's Edward Snowden movie?

Photo: Felipe Ramales

Gun-shy of studio movies after Bridesmaids, she's finally ready to bust some ghosts.

The post-SNL career can be a dubious prospect, but you'd never know it from Kristen Wiig. She's led her own hit comedy (Bridesmaids), become a fixture in the indie world (The Diary of a Teenage Girl, Welcome to Me, and Nasty Baby, all just this year), and nabbed a supporting part in a blockbuster space movie (The Martian). That upward trajectory will only continue with her starring role in the Ghostbusters reboot next year, and she's convinced critics, studios, and audiences that she can do both drama and comedy. The next step might be the kind of role that could court Oscar - and considering her track record, nothing's out of the question.

Photo: Jason LaVeris

The Hogwarts alum is testing himself onstage and in independent film.

The Boy Who Lived has settled into his post-Potter life nicely, even if studios and audiences are still trying to figure out exactly what Daniel Radcliffe can and will be going forward. Victor Frankenstein might help, for better or for worse: That blockbuster, in which Radcliffe stars as a much more relatable and attractive Igor, bows soon, giving the actor his first blockbuster role since he hung up the glasses and wand. Regardless, Radcliffe has established himself as a gifted and adventurous actor; he'll just have to be a little patient while the world catches up.

Photo: Splash News

Still waiting for her post-Potter breakout.

Speaking of Harry Potter … Hey, Emma Watson! Unlike her former co-star Radcliffe, Watson's been too busy saving the world (she's been working as an activist with the United Nations) to do all that much acting recently. That'll change in 2016, when she returns as the lead in James Ponsoldt's The Circle, based on Dave Eggers's zeitgeist-y novel about the tech industry and social networking. Then there's Beauty and the Beast, in which she will play Belle opposite the ascendant Dan Stevens's Beast. Radcliffe may work more, but it's Watson who's snagged the higher-profile roles over the next few years.

Photo: Diego Puerta

This critical favorite finally gets the superhero paycheck she deserves.

Everyone loves Amy Adams! Possessing one of the highest likability scores on our list, Adams also does well with critics, probably thanks to her impeccable choice of projects - even if Big Eyes had bigger eyes than moviegoers' stomachs. That won't change going forward: She's in Denis Villeneuve's next movie, and will co-lead Tom Ford's second film alongside Jake Gyllenhaal. Playing Lois Lane in DC's significantly less lofty Superman movies might not have the same level of prestige, but welcome to 2015, when even Amy Adams is in a superhero franchise.

Photo: Jason Merritt

Jupiter ascended, but her career is heading in the opposite direction.

Mila Kunis had the misfortune of playing the lead role in Jupiter Ascending, the Wachowskis' mega-budget sci-fi train wreck that tanked hard at the box office earlier in 2015. No actress could've saved that film, but it was the latest in a long string of rough outings for Kunis, and it has resulted in her tumbling down the list for the third straight year. The disappointments are taking their toll: No star on our list has a lower studio score than Kunis, though she's helped by strong gossip and likability ratings. The public hasn't tired of her - she just needs a decent part.

Photo: Byron Purvis

The leading thespian of his generation, and the most elusive, too.

Like the general public, Hollywood waits with bated breath for Daniel Day-Lewis to take on his next role. The great Actor-with-a-capital-A has been hanging tight since his Oscar win for Lincoln in 2012, and he has yet to attach himself to another project. When you've won Best Actor for two out of your last three roles, you can afford to be picky, and Day-Lewis's studio score remains strong, indicating complete faith within the industry that he'll make the right choice. After all: You can't rush genius.

Photo: Steve Granitz

Leaving comic books behind might turn out to be a blessing in disguise.

No doubt about it: Losing his perch as Spider-Man in so unceremonious a fashion hurt, which is why he's plummeted 28 points from last year. (It's never a good look when the studio pulls the plug on your franchise right after a movie that ended on a cliffhanger.) But Andrew Garfield, who seems to be a forthright fellow with a good head on his shoulders, always seemed to be better suited for great, meaty serious parts than superhero flicks. His acclaimed turn in Ramin Bahrani's 99 Homes, which might be in the Oscar hunt this year, will only help his case - as will, hopefully, Martin Scorsese's upcoming Silence.

Photo: Alberto E. Rodriguez

His show is over, so a hit movie would be nice right about … now.

Guillermo Del Toro's loyalty to Charlie Hunnam is fairly adorable, but the actor's turn in the underperforming Crimson Peak will do him few favors - that is, if anyone can even remember who he played in it. With his TV series Sons of Anarchy done, he needs either a hit, or at least a memorable role in a movie people actually like. Next year, he might get both: He'll be seen as Arthur in Guy Ritchie's Knights of the Round Table and also as the lead explorer in James Gray's long-awaited Lost City of Z. Of course, King Arthur movies don't have a great track record of late (just ask Clive Owen), and Gray's movies don't do much business. But the director's track record of getting great performances out of his cast might be just what Hunnam needs. Plus, if Del Toro's Pacific Rim 2 does get off the ground, Hunnam will get another shot at stardom there.

Photo: Jon Kopaloff

Is he the next Robert Downey Jr. or the next Brandon Routh?

Critics praised Henry Cavill's comic verve in The Man From U.N.C.L.E., but the film failed to find an audience. Of course, the real test will come with next year's Batman v Superman. Warner added Ben Affleck as Batman to give the Man of Steel sequel some extra oomph, which could indicate skepticism over whether Cavill could carry the movie on his own. But even if an Affleck-powered BVS becomes a gargantuan hit, Superman is still supposed to be the founding stone for the rapidly expanding DC Universe, and Cavill will need to step up - 2016 could be a make-or-break year for him.

Photo: Splash News

The go-to gal for dark, grown-up rom-coms - but do they even make those anymore?

After a busy 2014 - which saw her in The Other Woman, Sex Tape, and Annie - Diaz hasn't released a movie in 2015, so she's dropped some spots. (She did, however, write a self-help health book and has been reportedly starting a family.) She's still in an interesting position, though. The ingénue parts are long gone, and she's not quite cut out for playing ordinary women: She's too broad, too edgy, maybe even too dark for those. That helps explain the success of films like The Other Woman, where she played a hilariously vengeful, seemingly heartless scorned mistress. We also haven't forgotten that time she screwed a car in The Counselor, proving that she's willing to go that extra mile and then some for the right part. It all comes down to this: There is a particular type of character that only Cameron Diaz can play, and when the right movie comes around, watch out.

Photo: Nancy Kaszerman

The Renaissance woman can do it all, but can she open a movie?

This year saw the immensely likable and hardworking Fey collecting accolades for creating and writing Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt and for successfully co-hosting the Golden Globes with pal Amy Poehler. Widespread success in movies has eluded her for a couple of years, however, with films like Muppets Most Wanted, Admission, and This Is Where I Leave You all disappointing. Everybody's hoping (and expecting) that her upcoming comedy Sisters, which reunites her with Poehler, will change all that.

Photo: Steve Mack

The killing machine has graduated from B movies to blockbusters.

Statham's over-the-top physique, terse way with dialogue, and deadpan persona is ideally suited for goofy Euro-pudding action flicks, but he clearly wants more than that. The Expendables appears to be over, and the Transporter series tried to reboot itself without him (to middling results, which reflected well on Statham). Meanwhile, he upgraded to playing the bad guy in the insanely lucrative Furious 7 and taking a comic turn in Spy. Now it looks like he'll be back for Furious 8, and he's also got another Mechanic movie in the works. But may we offer a suggestion? There was always a humorous undercurrent in Statham's action movies, and given his delicious straight-man turn in Spy, it seems clear that he's got a bright future in comedy … if he wants it.

Photo: Splash News

Hey, it turns out he can act!

Jason Segel was always more effective as a scene-stealing co-star than he was as a leading man in the world of Judd Apatow (and Judd Apatowâ€"influenced) comedies, but his wildly acclaimed turn as David Foster Wallace in End of the Tour surprised just about everybody - not because they didn't expect him to be good, but they didn't expect him to be this good. It remains to be seen how successful his Oscar run will be, but either way, he's now certainly in the running for more serious roles. He's only up a few points from last year on this list, but if he plays his cards right, he could be skyrocketing up it next year.

Photo: Christian Charisius

He established his action-movie bona fides, but what's next?

Kingsman's success seemed to confirm the long-held belief that Colin Firth would have once made an excellent James Bond. You'd think that between that and his Oscar for The King's Speech, he would have become more of a draw, but many of his post-Oscar films have disappointed. He'll next be in Bridget Jones's Baby, returning to the franchise that gave him one of his biggest hits back in 2001. Details on the plot are few, but it's apparently not based on the third Bridget Jones novel - which is lucky for him, since his character is dead in that one.

Photo: Storms Media Group

After coasting for years on lame comedies and straight-to-VOD fare, he's showing signs of life

Robert De Niro's status as one of the greatest American actors of all time will forever remain secure, but it's no secret that De Niro hasn't exactly been hitting career peaks with his work in recent years. But he's having an okay year: The Intern didn't open well, but it has shown decent legs, and he was surprisingly likable in it. Next up is Joy, in which he once again stars opposite Jennifer Lawrence for David O. Russell, who got the last great De Niro performance out of him, in Silver Linings Playbook. And who knows? Dirty Grandpa could be good. Right? Right?


He's still Ben Freaking Stiller, but even Ben Freaking Stiller could use a decent hit.

Stiller's last directorial outing, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, was a hugely expensive, years-in-the-making, ambitious comic saga that was supposed to elevate him as a filmmaker. Instead, it got blasted by critics and, while not exactly posting Ishtar-type numbers, did mostly meh business. He's been slowly turning that around, however. He gave a much-admired performance in Noah Baumbach's While We're Young earlier this year. More important, he's got Zoolander 2 coming up next; the original film has become something of a generational touchstone over the years, so the next one should be big. It'll have to be, however: Without another Night at the Museum or Meet the Fockers on the horizon, it's the one franchise Stiller has left.

Photo: RG/PQ/MCI

We'll always love Bill Murray, but we'd like to love a new Bill Murray movie.

It looks like people are finally starting to tire of the "oh my god, Bill Murray randomly showed up to my friend's backyard party in Williamsburg and played bongos and took selfies with us all" stories, and as much as we appreciate his dedication to turning himself into a one-man viral phenomenon, it'd be nice if Murray made a good movie now and then, too. Last year's St. Vincent seemed like calculated awards bait - maybe even more so than the previous year's Hyde Park on Hudson. And this year's Rock the Kasbah made both of those movies look like The Godfather. Will his appearance in the new all-female Ghostbusters be another glorified cameo, or will the movie actually put his considerable comic chops to use? Either way, it'd be great if Wes Anderson wrote another big part for him.

Photo: Splash News

After some years in the wilderness, he might be ready for a comeback.

The jury's out on whether his directorial outing The Water Diviner helped Crowe's career as an actor or not. The film was well liked in his native Australia, but it vanished Stateside, and seeing him romance younger co-star Olga Kurylenko seemed to perfectly embody the film industry's nauseating age gap. In recent years, he's seemed content to work in smaller roles with the occasional lead in an auteur-driven vehicle. (See: Noah.) Can he return to the glory of his early-aughts Oscar years? Does he even want to? But his upcoming turn in Shane Black's '70s-era crime film The Nice Guys, co-starring Ryan Gosling, gives us hope.

Photo: Ciao Hollywood

He's getting older, but is he growing up?

We've all been quietly staring into Zac Efron's hypnotic blue eyes and waiting for him to become a grown-up movie star for some years now. His success with Neighbors a couple of years ago finally seemed to crack the code, letting him showcase his handsome brand of insincerity in a broad, gross-out comedy. With a sequel in the works, he should be set. However, the abject failure of We Are Your Friends, aka the Zac Efron DJ Movie, demonstrated that he still has difficulty opening movies on his own. Luckily, he seems to have realized that he doesn't need to.

Photo: Splash News

It's been a relatively quiet year for him (which is still a busy one for anyone else).

It's kind of amazing that the typically prolific Perry didn't release a film in 2015. He didn't exactly kick up his feet, either, having been busy with such lucrative OWN shows as The Haves and the Have Nots and Love Thy Neighbor. Last year his funny, sharp supporting performance in Gone Girl suggested that he could do a lot more than play broad characters in his own films, and he's currently at work on the next Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie, in which he'll play ninja turtle nemesis Baxter Stockman. Okay, it ain't Fincher, but the last TMNT made almost $500 million worldwide; if the sequel does as well, it could expose Perry to a whole new audience, especially internationally.

Photo: XactpiX/Splash News

He could (should?) be the one who breaks out of the Spotlight acting huddle.

After years of being the best thing in a lot of movies both big and small, Ruffalo garnered a well-deserved Best Supporting Actor nomination for Foxcatcher in 2014, and he may very well win that award for Spotlight this year. (His main competition could be some of his co-stars.) Meanwhile, he brought the requisite charm to the role of Bruce Banner in Avengers: Age of Ultron, once again proving his ability to nail one of Marvel's trickier heroes, and we'd still love to see him in a stand-alone Hulk film. He's also a dedicated anti-fracking activist, so if he does win that Oscar, expect a passionate acceptance speech â€" but delivered in that rumpled, endlessly charming way of his.

Photo: Todd Williamson

Good things come to those who wait.

He turned out to be the perfect choice for Marvel's winning, modest Ant-Man, and his profile will only rise as the character is incorporated into the broader Marvel Cinematic Universe. Will that translate into a bigger audience for the kinds of comedic roles on which he built his career? Let's hope so. Over the years, Rudd has remained loyal to collaborators like David Wain (Wet Hot American Summer, Wanderlust, They Came Together), and it seems likely that he will continue making such movies, even as his star rises. It helps that he can spend the next 50 years doing so, since he doesn't age.

Photo: Reimschuessel

While older bro Chris is all over the place, the youngest Hemsworth seems strangely quiet.

As The Hunger Games franchise gets ready to wrap up, it remains to be seen whether Liam Hemsworth will be able to parlay his involvement in those movies into further roles. While his brother Chris has managed to work with big directors like Michael Mann and Ron Howard (albeit in financially disappointing films) and seems intent on stealing other movies with his cameos, Liam has stayed under the radar. Next year's Independence Day sequel will reveal whether or not he can hop on a new franchise.

Photo: Stephane Cardinale

He's become one of our foremost directors, but will he ever act again?

It's mind-boggling that Clint Eastwood's spot on the list is just one number higher than his age. It remains to be seen whether he will ever return to being in front of the camera â€" 2012's Trouble with the Curve was his last feature role â€" but Eastwood's status as an American icon remains undisputed; the mind-blowing success of American Sniper, for all the film's controversy, was an impressive achievement for a filmmaker of any age.

Photo: Splash News

She's having a great year, even when her movies disappoint. And they rarely disappoint.

Twitter loves her, critics love her, and pretty much nobody has anything bad to say about her, ever - both as a person and as a performer. (She even got some extra media lift from the success of Jurassic World, a movie she had nothing to do with, thanks to her resemblance to that film's star Bryce Dallas Howard.) Her appearances in Interstellar and A Most Violent Year didn't quite live up to their advance awards buzz, but she's one of the best things in this year's beloved The Martian. She was similarly appealing in the significantly less-beloved Crimson Peak. Could another Oscar nomination be in the works this year? It depends on how far The Martian goes.

Photo: Ray Tamarra

Does the perennial wild card even want box-office success?

Last year's Inherent Vice divided critics and died at the box office, but it cemented Phoenix's status as one of the most risk-taking and idiosyncratic actors of his generation. A good thing, too, because his leading role in Woody Allen's Irrational Man seemed to go nowhere. Phoenix remains the go-to guy for high-profile auteurs, but he's clearly uncomfortable with stardom; a brief rumor last year that he was being considered for Marvel's Dr. Strange, while exciting at the time, seems in retrospect more like an April Fool's joke than a real news item.

Photo: Steve Granitz

Will playing Harley Quinn send this deadly beauty into the stratosphere?

Never, ever doubt Martin Scorsese's ability to spot talent. After her breakout performance in The Wolf of Wall Street, Robbie followed up with acclaimed turns in Z for Zachariah and Focus. The latter may not have been a hit for star Will Smith, but it helped further establish his co-star. Robbie's real coup came when she got cast as the super-villain Harley Quinn in Warner's upcoming Suicide Squad. Her wild, dark, sexy costume has already become an internet meme, and she may well be more buzzed-about than Jared Leto's Joker. She'll also be playing Jane in next Summer's Tarzan. Depending on how those two wannabe-blockbusters fare, she could be well-poised to rocket up this list.

Photo: Michael Loccisano

She was so good in Steve Jobs, maybe she should have played Steve Jobs.

Winslet gave one of the best performances of her career in Steve Jobs, virtually disappearing into the part of Apple's put-upon director of marketing, and will be in the running for another Oscar nomination this year. (The film's tepid box-office, meanwhile, reflects little on her drawing power, as Michael Fassbender and the subject matter were the main attractions here.) Meanwhile, she's going strong in the Divergent series, which have proven to be solid, if unspectacular, performers. She's also won raves for her turn in the period piece The Dressmaker, a film that set fire to the Australian box office but has yet to open here. Next up is February's heist thriller Triple 9; if that turns out to be a hit, look for her to start rising again.

Photo: Jason Merritt

He does everything so well!

He won an Oscar against considerable competition for The Theory of Everything earlier this year, and may well be in the running again this season for The Danish Girl. And just in time for all of us to start tiring of him in awards-season prestige projects, he'll have the lead in next year's J.K. Rowling adaptation Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, which will give him a chance to demonstrate both his comic side and his box-office potential. (Meanwhile, he should be thanking his lucky stars that no one saw his hilariously campy villain in Jupiter Ascending.)

Photo: Splash News/Corbis

She had one of the year's biggest hits but continues to follow her muse.

Welcome to your franchise, Anna! Kendrick was the biggest name in this spring's sleeper blockbuster Pitch Perfect 2, which is now headed for a third installment. She also had one of the biggest roles in last year's financially successful Sondheim adaptation Into the Woods>. But she can do more than sing, obviously, and even as she's made bigger and bigger films, the charming Kendrick has continued to work in indie dramas and comedies like Joe Swanberg's Digging for Fire and John Krasinski's upcoming Like It Once Was. That kind of dedication may diminish her box-office clout, but it does wonders for her appeal with critics.

Photo: Steve Granitz

The funnyman's in a bit of a free fall, but when he combines his comic talents with his ambition, watch out.

Carell has plummeted 37 points from last year, despite managing a Best Actor Oscar nomination for Foxcatcher along the way. We'll soon know if his upcoming December release The Big Short has the goods to net him more awards chatter or critical acclaim, but otherwise 2015 was a relatively quiet year for Carell. His supporting turn in Freeheld as a flamboyant attorney crusading for gay rights barely raised a pulse, he didn't have any major comedies, and he was only briefly in the Despicable Me spinoff Minions this summer. But he's clearly less interested in big, broad comedies and wants more challenging roles - albeit often in a comedic vein. The upcoming tennis comedy Battle of the Sexes, in which he'll play Bobby Riggs against Brie Larson's Billie Jean King, could combine a number of his talents.

Photo: LAN

It's not too late to right the ship.

For a guy who had the lead in the Oscar sleeper Whiplash, Teller has had a kind of terrible year, mainly thanks to the historic flop of Fantastic Four. That film's failure was laid squarely at the feet of director Josh Trank, but Teller's lack of charisma in the film was still disconcerting; we'll chalk it up to the extensive reshoots. A fairly disastrous Esquire cover profile, in which he came off as Ãœber-cocky, didn't help matters. He's still one of the best actors of his generation, but it remains to be seen whether he'll be the next Christian Bale or the next Shia LaBeouf.

Photo: Erik Pendzich

The underused star is still waiting for her next great part.

Watts was deceptively stellar in Best Picture winner Birdman, but all of the buzz for that film focused on the more showy roles of alpha males Michael Keaton and Edward Norton, as well as co-star Emma Stone. Similarly, she got some love for St. Vincent, even as Bill Murray sucked all of the oxygen out of the room. Still, that was enough to stanch the bleeding from her disastrous leading turns in the critically reviled Diana and Adore. This year saw her joining the Divergent franchise, while the trans drama About Ray got a lukewarm response at Toronto. But as one of our greatest actresses, Watts is capable of doing so much more, and she needs a good part. Hopefully, Jurassic World director Colin Trevorrow's upcoming The Book of Henry will fit the bill. She's also got The Shut-In, a thriller co-starring Room's young breakout star, Jacob Tremblay, coming in February.

Photo: Splash News

Could the dormant ass-kicker be ready to step out from the shadows?

Ever since she became Mrs. Ben Affleck, Garner has been mostly content with supporting parts (appearing opposite Matthew McConaughey in Dallas Buyers Club, Kevin Costner in Draft Day, and Al Pacino in Danny Collins) and modest family films. But now that they're separating, could she be ready to branch out with bigger parts? It's a shame that it took a high-profile divorce to bring her back into the public eye, but there's a lot of good will out there for her. And we know the former Alias star can kick serious ass; Marvel should consider giving her a part and throwing serious shade in DC's Batfleck-fueled direction.

Photo: Taylor Hill

The once (and future) queen needs another hit. Or even just a good movie.

Sad to say, but it has been a long time since people were excited about a Nicole Kidman movie. The dreadful Aussie drama Strangerland was a nonstarter, and the much-delayed Grace of Monaco was such a dud that its own screenwriter hate-tweeted its TV premiere. Meanwhile, the Werner Herzogâ€"directed Queen of the Desert hasn't been released yet, after finding little love on the festival circuit. Still, she made for a game villain in the wonderful Paddington, a solid hit, and there's still hope that the star-studded Secret in Their Eyes could help get her career back on track.

Photo: Marco Piraccini

It's (still) any day now for the presumed next big thing.

The world has been waiting for Idris Elba to become an A-list movie star for some years now; just look at the social-media feeding frenzy that happens whenever someone suggests (or decries) him as a potential James Bond. His excellent, no-holds-barred performance in Beasts of No Nation seems to be a natural Oscar contender, but the film took something of a hit when its theatrical release went nowhere; it remains to be seen whether the news that millions have already seen it on Netflix will help matters. (Similarly, he won acclaim last year for his lead role in Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, but the film itself was weak.) Everybody seems to like him, and he's steadily become a familiar face by doing solid supporting work in blockbusters like Thor and Prometheus. We're all waiting for that one role that will finally make him a superstar.

Photo: Didier Baverel

Mr. Grey will see us now. But is he bound for bigger things?

Fifty Shades of Grey fully lived up to its box-office potential when it came out earlier this year - making $569 million worldwide - and Dornan's signed on to reprise the role of Christian Grey in its two upcoming sequels, slated for 2017 and 2018. His chilliness was well suited to the part, and both social media and the gossip rags have been fascinated with him - mainly because he seems to look amazing no matter what he does. He's also won acclaim for playing a serial killer in the ongoing British series The Fall. So, a cool S&M enthusiast and a cold-blooded serial killer - he's managing to put his creepily good looks to creepy good use.

Photo: Stefan Reimschuessel

What's next for this long-overdue-Oscar winner?

Last year, we predicted that Moore, then positioned at No. 87 on the list, would rise further if she won an Oscar for Still Alice. Welp, she won … aaaaaand slipped to No. 99. So, what happened? Well, The Seventh Son, a dreadful fantasy adventure in which she hammed it up as the villain, happened. And her drama Freeheld, about a dying cop fighting for her lesbian partner's right to her pension, went nowhere, though she was solid in it. Good thing she has another Hunger Games entry coming up.

Photo: Reimschuessel

Hollywood doesn't deserve this powerhouse-in-waiting.

It's been two years since she had her blistering, Oscar-winning breakthrough in 12 Years a Slave. How is it that we haven't seen her in anything since then, save for a brief appearance in Non-Stop (which was filmed before anyone knew who she was)? Well, that's what sometimes happens with overnight stardom - it takes a while for the next big movie to come around. The good news is her next part is in a little Christmas movie called The Force Awakens, though her character will reportedly be under loads of SFX makeup. She's also doing a voice in The Jungle Book. But how ironic and sad that one of the most talented and beautiful women of her time (alongside giving one of the best performances of the decade, she's a regular on red carpets and in fashion-mag spreads) is still waiting for her next big part - ideally one where she gets to be a flesh-and-blood human?

Photo: Walter McBride

Domestic Box Office, Overseas Box Office, and Critics' Score are weighted medians.

Domestic Box Office, Overseas Box Office, and Critics' Score are weighted medians.