Sunday, October 03, 2010

IMDb Top 20 Actress List. A Few Late Notes.

Have any of you read this IMDb list which purports to evaluate the "overall importance and impact" of film actresses across the span of the past two decades. That'd be 1990-2009 (though obviously they're including 2010.) I had somehow missed this list which arrived in September I think but I can't let it go by without some comment. I'm not sure what they mean by "impact" exactly... global fame? If so, Angelina is too low. And "importance" is another highly subjective word. The list is as follows.


[I've added the "peak periods" after their names to attempt to show when they were most "important/impactful" or, rather,  "when people cared about them the most" in film.]
  1. Julia Roberts  .............[1990-2001]
  2. Meryl Streep ..............[1990, 1995, 2002-now]
  3. Cate Blanchett ...........[1998-2008]
  4. Kate Winslet  .............[1994-2008]
  5. Jodie Foster   .............[1990-1997]
  6. Nicole Kidman  .........[1995, 2001-2005]
  7. Sandra Bullock  .........[1994-2000, 2009-now]
  8. Halle Berry  ...............[1991-1992, 1998-2002]
  9. Emma Thompson   ....[1991-1995]
  10. Angelina Jolie   .........[1999-now]
  11. Julianne Moore   .......[1998-2004, 2008-now]
  12. Susan Sarandon   ......[1990-1995]
  13. Helen Mirren   ..........[2001, 2006-now]
  14. Gwyneth Paltrow  .....[1995-2002]
  15. Hilary Swank   ..........[1999,2004]
  16. Cameron Diaz   .........[1994-2005]
  17. Renée Zellweger  ......[1996-2004]
  18. Meg Ryan   ...............[1990-2000]
  19. Jennifer Aniston   .....[2006-now]
  20. Judi Dench   .............[1997-2001, 2005-2006]
I've never attempted to remove my own opinion for an objective list... objective lists are best done by committee. But I did notice that most of the objections to my own personal "Best of the Aughts list" (which only counted 2000-2004 as it was made in 2005) were based on the overall fame and consensus acclaim of the snubees combined with the willful refusal to see that it was a subjectively judged "best/favorite" opinion piece.

But even if you are trying to be objective with "impact/importance" there will be disagreements.

 <--- Nathaniel's #1 "Actress of the Aughts"... if you include the 1990s though, her rank would drop quite precipitously.

For example, I can't figure how Jennifer Aniston ranks at all since they're talking about a decade in Cinema. If you include TV, she is absolutely deserving of a top 20 spot given global fame and tv iconography. But even her romantic comedy features aren't the classics or blockbusters that the other romantic comedy women on the list (Julia + Sandra + Cameron + Meg) have achieved -- usually more than once, too. So I think they're confusing "fame" which she certainly has a lot of with "importance to cinema".

I also think Swank shouldn't rank. She's an active figure for only half of the time frame PLUS her only claim to fame is two roles when all is said and done. Sure those were Oscar winners but that's it. Is there any other modern actor who has managed so much credit for body from such a tiny tissue sample? Because the rest of her resume.. nobody cares. I don't think that's just a personal opinion influencing my observation. Consider that I'm not the biggest cheerleader for Renée Zellweger either but I absolutely agree that she deserves a top 20 spot on a list of this type covering this timeframe. I'd believe that about Aniston too, given her longevity, if anyone could point to any film that was a big deal, either critically or box office wise that she was intrinsic too. Maybe The Break-Up (2006) but isn't that the only possible argument? It's not like people paid for Bruce Almighty to see her.

Also: Gwyneth Paltrow. Similar situation in a way to Jennifer Aniston... i.e. unquestionably one of the biggest celebrities, but one of the biggest actresses? Unless "overall importance and impact" means "size of celebrity" in which case, the list would need serious reworking.

Most surprising (but deserved) inclusion: Meg Ryan. She's the only person who made the list who hasn't been capturing public attention recently and not generally treated positively. I'm proud of the editors for their objectivity there. See, you can usually tell when a list is made by what the rankings are; they always follow current perception meaning that however people are feeling about someone right then matters far more than whatever they felt about them over the course of whatever time frame they're judging. Take Helen Mirren for a prime example. She is very very very busy right now and has sustained the hysteria over The Queen (2006) surprisingly well -- good for her and her team -- so she makes the list but in actuality she has one of those filmographies/ careers where people flit in and out of interest in her quite easily. When she's out of sight, isn't she out of mind?


Missing from the list: I think the most obvious snub is Reese Witherspoon who was working for all of those 20 years and earned a couple of classics, a few self-sold blockbusters and an Oscar as reward.

Your turn. Do you think the editors made the right choices? Or are you mad that they snubbed Uma? Penélope or any other international divas? Oscar-regular Frances? 90s biggies like Michelle, Joan, Winona, Holly, Angela or Demi? Anjelica? Charlize? Laura or Laura? perpetual classic Diane? kooky Helena? bitch-goddess Annette? avant-garde Tilda? Keira or Scarlett? Or maybe Natalie Portman who has been famous for *gasp* 16 years now and still isn't 30.

63 comments:

Aaron said...

Reese Witherspoon, definitely. Recently, I haven't been the biggest fan of her work...but she achieved career heights with excellent performances in Election (my fav) and Walk the Line, plus she was THE it girl of 2001 with Legally Blonde (which ascended her to A-list Hollywood), and had big box office hits with Sweet Home Alabama and Four Christmases (awful movie, but it also made an awful lot of money). And didn't she get paid $20 mil for Legally Blonde 2? Yeah, as far as power goes, she def should be included over the likes of Halle Berry and especially Hilary Swank (I agree Nate, besides her two Oscars, her resume is one atrocious mess of green vomit!)

I'd also include Penelope Cruz too, considering she achieved a rare feat of being nominated for 3 Oscars within a timeframe of 4 years. And I cant remember if Anne Hathaway is on the list, but if not, I'd include her--she's been the up-and-coming Hollywood starlet since Princess Diaries, and her star is only rising.

Lucky said...

I saw the list and thought it was ok (still, although she def. deserves a spot, Julia Roberts shouldn't be at #1), but I totally agree Reese was SNUBBED.

Michael said...

That's SO strange that Reese Witherspoon isn't on the list, seeing as she's one of the few actresses in Hollywood whose name could get a movie greenlit. Anne Hathaway has also been famous for nine out of the ten years of the second decade on the list, and has made quite the mark, so it's a little weird that she's absent. (Also, Jen Aniston had Marley & Me which did okay critically and amazing box office-wise, but you're right, her and Gwynnie should not be on this list.)

Vitano said...

Let me say this before anyone starts whining about Julia Roberts being #1.

She is, in terms of box office numbers, THE MOST SUCCESSFUL ACTRESS OF ALL TIME. She just reached 2.5 billion at the box office, no woman has even come close (unless you count Diaz whose most successful films are the Shrek movies). Roberts took a bunch of years off to raise her kids and she's still miles and miles ahead of all over women in terms of her overall box office numbers.

Also, when you are:
-The first woman to command a $20 million paycheck
-The first (and still the ONLY) woman to have over 10 films gross $100 million or more
-The only actress EVER to be #1 on Forbes's most powerful women list
-The only actress to be in the top 10 most powerful actresses list every year for 20 years (since 1990 she has been on the list every single year)

She still gets first dibs on almost all roles (she was first choice for Proposal, Blind Side, Secretariat, Backup Plan, and the movie McAdams is shooting now).

I don't quite understand why Blanchett is #3, that seems entirely too high for her.

Where is Bening?

Amanda said...

People may or may not like Julia, but anyone should be able to see that she deserves the #1 spot.

RyanR said...

I love how you added the years of "importance". I feel they should replace Halle with Reese, then the list would make more sense to me.

Contentious1 said...

I agree that it is odd that Witherspoon is not on the list. Honestly, she should be where Blanchett is ranked and Blanchett should be somewhere much lower. I really don't think Cate has that much influence or power.

Why in the world is Aniston on that list?

I don't quite get why Swank is on the list. Yes she has two Oscars, but her resume is mostly crap. I do think Cruz deserves to be on that list over her.

I think Meryl Streep and Julia Roberts are both living legends, and I don't think any two actresses define the last 20 years of American cinema better than they do. Streep is the greatest living actress, Roberts is the greatest living female movie star, so their spots at #1, and #2 are well deserved.

Quesion: Is it true that Lancome just offered Roberts $50 million to continue to be their spokesperson? Holy Crap!

Anonymous said...

Julia Roberts should not be #1, the category is "Top Actress" and most people would agree that Streep is the Queen in this realm. I would put Roberts in the top 5 or maybe 3, but not 1!

Meg and Jennifer would not be on my list. I might have put Charleze Theron on this list before Meg and Jennifer.

more than Jen and Meg, i think Penelope, Uma, Reese, damn even Angelica Housten! This list is suspicously short of older actresses!!! Even though she's not my fav, Keaton should probably be on it.

I don't know. This is tough.

Jamie said...

Box Office is a poor indicator of an actor's importance. Anyone care to argue that Megan Fox should rank high because of the Transformers movies? Or Sam Worthington because of Avatar and Clash of the Titans?

The methodology and criteria of IMDb's lists are hard to fathom so I wouldn't take this one too seriously.

Angelina beat out Oprah last year to Rank #1 on Forbes' 100 Most Powerful list. Julia didn't make the cut. But that list is of little importance as far as true impact on Cinema. I prefer The Guardian's recent list which takes a lot of factors into consideration.

Contentious1 said...

People, if you read, IMDB clearly states:
"The IMDb Editors' Top Actresses list is based upon the overall importance and impact these women have had on the last two decades of film. Note that "Top" does not mean "Best" and we realize there are some painful omissions here but, after much wrangling, we came up with the following rankings."

Hayden said...

Obviously Julianne Moore deserves to be higher. Even her post-2002 "slump" was shortlived and produced some solid performances in weak or decent movies.

But I've said this before: for me it's SO easy to pick the five most definitive actresses of the 00's in terms of overall movie stardom, acclaim, and Oscar attention. And those are clearly Nicole Kidman, Cate Blanchett, Kate Winslet, Julianne Moore, and Renee Zellweger. And even if Moore is the only one who survived the decade without a win, I'd hold her filmography against any of the other four.

PoliVamp said...

Shouldn't Kirsten Dunst be on this list? Between Bring It On and Spiderman 1 & 2, she's got the box office. She also won acclaim for Crazy/beautiful, Eternal Sunshine, and for Bring It On. And didn't Interview with the Vampire come out during the time period used? I'd say she arguably deserves a spot on the list. Maybe more towards the bottom, but still on it.

James T said...

"Gwyneth Paltrow. Similar situation in a way to Jennifer Aniston"


He. You mean, Pitt's ex-girlfriends? :p

Blanchett before Winslet? But... I don't like it! How could they do that to me??

And Dench at no 20?

And Streep at no 2? WTF????!!!!

OK, OK, I should be objective. The thing is, I don't really care about evaluating an actress's "impact" in a specific timeframe. Sreep is Streep and if you going to erase her pre-90's work and take into consideration the MONEY her movies made, I don't see the point.

I would have been interested if this list was only about money-bringing or quality of performances and/or role choices AND only for the 90's or the 00's.

This list is beyond arbitrary.

I'm not really angry. Just sleepy :p

Hayden said...

Although I will say that while I will take a knockout Moore or Kidman performance any day of the week, I need a break from Cate and Kate. Their careers had such weird, excessive, overblown moments (Winslet in 2008; Blanchett in 2007) that I can't deal. Those were years where their perceived acclaim and hysterical fanbases superseded every performance they gave.

And for as much flack as Hilary Swank gets for working the trailer park angle in 2004 (when doesn't she?) I can't think of an uglier or more shameless way to win an Oscar than the pairing of Weinstein and Winslet in 2008. Everything about that was so absurd and disappointing.

Yavor said...

Well it should be box office + critical acclaim right? or something similar to that.

In that case Meryl has got to be number 1!!!

I like Uma and Diane Keaton but I think they are rightfully left out of this chart.

I love Cate Blanchett's place.

Halle Berry needs to go way down, Emma Thompson as well.

I suppose Hilary Swank deserves number 20 (but not more)for those two Oscars alone.

Susan Sarandon, Jennifer Aniston, Gwyneth Paltrow should not be included.

While I Do think Anne Hathaway, Keira Knightly and Natalie Portman should be on the list. Unlike Jennifer Aniston all 3 have had an Oscar nomination and have been in some beautiful and critically acclaimed movies and in box office hits.

It's funny, if they are to be following their own logic Angelina has to be in the top 5. Strange...

Was this chart based on the most mouse-clicked actress names on IMDB for these 20 years? It could be the driving principle.

NATHANIEL R said...

Yavor -- i very much doubt that clicks had much to do with it or you'd see people like lindsay lohan and megan fox up top. it's seriously depressing what people search for on the internet. Have you ever seen lists of "most searched for" names. It's almost always the young party girls or the bimbos. I remember pamela anderson used to always top such lists. ;)

NATHANIEL R said...

Hayden -- i don't wanna get into that again but you know what I think is weird and overblown... how much people hate Kate Winslet in 2008. I've never seen people get so hysterical in hate about a performance. it weirded me out so bad. I still haven't recovered (partially because i liked the performance a lot -- not perfect but i admired the stretching -- and i was made to feel like i was immoral for continuing to love Kate) because every time the topic comes up it's like villagers and torches.

i find it downright spooky actually, the whole response to that film.

but anyway i agree that fever pitch moments can require breaks afterwards. if you'll notice on the chart of "years of importance" i find (and i've noticed this my whole life) that very few people survive oscar wins without people turning against them or cooling their love for them for at least a short time...

i think the Oscar wears everyone out ;)

Dusty said...

What about Frances McDormand? Maybe not in terms of "star", but so much so in terms of importance and quality. "DON'T DO DRUGS!"

Also, I suppose it's an overall Hollywood problem, but this list is awful white (save Halle). Surely, some women "of color" are as, or more, important than the Swank. Penelope Cruz, yes please. Whoopi Goldberg, probably.

Natasha said...

Aniston? Why???

Where is Naomi Watts, she is my second best actress after Streep, and she is light-years ahead of Aniston who is only famous (only) due to lucky circumstances.

MRRIPLEY said...

I was looking for 5 certain people

winona - 1990 - 1999
demi - 1990 - 1997
michelle 1990 - 2000
whoopi 1990 - 1995
reese - 1999 - 2009

mrripley said...

For impact i was thinking cultural you know becoming a household name and making a genre almost your own and becoming an ambassador for something like demi's power or winonas waif i hope that makes ense plus talent,b/off and oscars/awards.

mrripley said...

Another point who the hell is hilary swank fan,i never heard any1 say "i gotta see the latest hilary swank movie"

MRRIPLEY said...

sharon stone 1990 -1996

MRRIPLEY said...

sharon stone 1990 -1996

Anonymous said...

aniston started making films in the 90s, office space , object of my affection, picture perfect, and has been profitable than most on this list etc.

Lara said...

I love Julia Roberts but I'm still surprised that she was put ahead of Meryl Streep. Julia might be, or more precisely was, the biggest box office draw but she 's divisive and not seldom called a bad/ mediocre actress. And much fuss was made about her not being able to replicate earlier success with her last string of movies (Charlie Wilson's War, Duplicity, and even Eat Pray Love). And if box office numbers were one of the main reasons for this list then why is Angelina Jolie so low. Behind Halle Berry?!

Speaking of, Halle seems to be the token minority girl, that's the only reason she is on there. Citing "Bond girl" in terms of importance and impact is so ludicrous, it would be laughable if it wasn't actually sad that there is no other non-white actress coming even close to such a list.

Agree on the lack of Reese Witherspoon's name, girl will be pissed.

7Bis said...

Definitely Reese is missing and I think the list skews a little recent - I'd have loved to see Winona place in there - she owned the 90s in comparison to her peers. Most of my personal faves are missing, but I could've predicted that - Isabelle Huppert was hardly gonna rate a mention despite having the most consistently dazzling and prolific output of the past couple of decades - sigh...

John T said...

All right, I do love Aniston as Rachel, and while I wouldn't put her on this list, I feel she needs some defense. Look at her Box Office-she now has a lifetime gross of over $1 billion (exclusively in this time period), more than Helen Mirren or Susan Sarandon in that time period, not to mention that if you take out LOTR and Bond, that would top Blanchett and Dench. She has five films in the last decade that she was the female lead in that made $85 million or more, something almost no one on the list, with the exception of the likes of Streep, Julia, and Sandra can claim. And personally, I think she's got more credence on the list than, say, Halle Berry (if they were going to vote for a woman of color of the past two decades, they should have looked no further than Whoopi Goldburg).

Again, not saying she should make it, but I feel she at least needs something of a defense. :)

NATHANIEL R said...

anon & john t -- i feel like box office results are not emblematic of someone's bankability UNLESS they are the reason people are going to that movie. Which means that Julia Roberts and Sandra Bullock are bankable (there is a very steady ability there) but that someone like Jennifer Aniston or Cate Blanchett are not. Sure they've been in blockbusters, but the blockbusters weren't there doing. Lord of the Rings didn't make billions because of Blanchett and neither did the last Indiana Jones ;)

They advertised Marley & Me with... the dog. Jim Carrey is why Bruce Almighty was huge. Aniston's role could literally have been played by anyone else and the gross would have been no different. Her 90s films were not big hits (we can't rewrite history just because her fame is so huge)

even in box office articles they claim the reason she's employed is that she is a solid mid-level player. You're going to make money... but it's not like it's goign to explode (like Julia, Reese or Sandra do)

James T said...

Nathaniel - Re: Winslet in 2008

I completely agree! I just don't get the hate.

Amanda said...

Nathaniel,

Have you seen their "20 to watch" list?

Interesting!

Jenn said...

Everyone above basically said what I wanted to say. Although Meryl Streep is basically the queen, I can see why Julia is up top, considering how this is a list for both the 90's and the aughts. And besides obviously Reese Witherspoon, Natalie Portman also needs to be on there. Paltrow can certain get off the list to make room.

Also, I love all the sunglasses. Nice touch.

Ginger said...

This is the bottom line people, 50 years from now there will be two actresses on this list that will be the most remembered. Much like there were many actresses around during the Katharine Hepburn and Audrey Hepburn time periods, but they are the most discussed and revered - that is what Meryl Streep and Julia Roberts are. 50 years from now, of all the people on this list, they will be the most remembered.

Julia Roberts has EARNED her spot at #1 and to whomever asked, yes, Lancome offered her 50 million dollars to continue to be their spokeswoman (on top of the 20 million they already paid her).

Sawyer said...

Drew Barrymore is the biggest snub.

Lara said...

@Ginger, Katharine might be on a cloud all on her own (due to her four Oscar wins) but I honestly doubt that Audrey is more discussed or even revered than say Marilyn Monroe or Elizabeth Taylor and both are Audrey's generation.
I think that Cate Blanchett stands a good chance of becoming the one actress every wants to cast when it comes to women of a certain age, much like Meryl now.

BriancaB said...

I have to agree with @Ginger actually. Not a lot of these women have really had any impact to be remembered 20 years from now. I think Meryl and Julia are living legends. They don't have to work another day, they're both legends and icons. Meryl's 16 Oscar nominations = Katharines 4 Oscar wins. Julia in Pretty Woman = Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany's.

But is anyone really going to remember Cameron Diaz years from now? Exactly what impact has she made on anything?
Years from now, is anyone really going to be talking about Emma Thompson?
Will anyone think back to what a big impact Paltrow had on film?

The rest of this list is quite suspect. Why is Penelope Cruz not on this list? She's had a huge impact on American and Spanish cinema? Why is Jennifer Aniston on this list at all? Where is Reese Witherspoon?

But as much as I have an issue with some things on this list and I don't think anymore than 3 women on this list will be remembered, the top 20 actors list is so much worse.

Dimitra said...

Keira Knightley could/should be in the list. She's hard-working, she's had box-office success (Pirates) and critical-acclaim (P&P and Atonement). Natalie Portman is a similar situation.

Dimitra said...

Keira Knightley and Natalie Portman could/should have made the list.

And how about Helena Bonam Carter?

Tahj said...

The most legendary actresses on that list to me are Julia Roberts, Meryl Streep and the low key Jodie Foster. They are the actresses I constantly see people making comparisons to "the new Julia!" "as versatile as Meryl!" "the next Jodie!"

I can see why Julia Roberts ranks #1. If it were the last 30 years though, Meryl Streep should be #1 because she owned the 80s with her performances (and got some box office with Out of Africa).

Tahj said...

And Nathaniel, I totally agree about the fuss over Winslet in 2008. The problem is people can't watch the film without thinking about the award season. They resent overexposure and I notice I didn't see the bitterness until The Reader got best picture instead of the Dark Knight, and Winslet got the nomination for the Reader instead of Revolutionary Road. Had she been nominated for RR, people would hate on that because Weinstein's campaign tactics were so transparent so it's trendy to hate on Winslet's 08 season.

Maddie said...

If this is to highlight the 20 TOP actresses of the past TWO decades....Than no, Penelope Cruz should not be on there.

People are reading way, way too much into this. Nowhere, did it highlight the quality of acting. I think this list is actually fairly accurate. And Gwyneth Paltrow SHOULD be on there. She was most definitely one of the biggest names of the 90's, and she did a lot of great work (Flesh & Bone, Seven, Great Expectations, Emma, Sliding Doors, SIL, The Talented Mr. Ripley). I think her run in her 20's is a helluva lot better than some of the actresses in their 20's nowadays.

The only actress I would remove is Hilary Swank, maybe Halle Berry. Reese Witherspoon should definitely be up there.

Drew said...

I'm clearly very out of touch with the world, because all I could think of while reading this was Tilda Swinton.

Volvagia said...

I wasn't focusing on the campaign season. I was focusing on this: Revolutionary Road was the better performance. That's it. Not, "Oh, shouldn't someone else have won" but, "She should have won, but not for the performance cited." She was much more, and this is the primary thing I look for in a performance, NATURAL in Revolutionary Road as opposed to The Reader. An acting prize for what amounts to accent work above naturalism? No... but, thanks anyway. By the way, I just want Stephen Daldry to do a comedy again. Unless he's too obsessed with breaking Kubrick's record of most consecutive films nominated for best director? (4 for K: Strangelove, 2001, Clockwork Orange, Barry Lyndon. A ridiculous 3 for D: Billy Elliot (support), The Hours (blinded by the wattage of Streep, Moore, Kidman, Harris, so ultimately understandable, but not supported), The Reader (don't support or understand at all, because of Nolan, Kaufman, Leigh, The Coens, anyone who actually did more solid work. I don't mind sad films, but the shooting style and performances of The Reader amount to a film that is grief baiting in the blandest possible way.)) In essence, the Academy should really think about nominating Daldry again, because then he's tied with Kubrick fcr most consecutive films nominated for Best Director. (Kubrick worked hard on both the visual and human aspects of film for those four nominations. Daldry...hasn't shown himself as anything more than a good performance director.)

Ashley said...

I think IMDB did a better job with the Actor's List:



http://www.imdb.com/list/77pbwLyeM0U/

Ashley said...

Here was their Actor's List in case the link doesn't work:

1.Tom Hanks
2.Russell Crowe
3.Denzel Washington
4.Johnny Depp
5.Sean Penn
6.Tom Cruise
7.Will Smith
8.George Clooney
9.Leonardo DiCaprio
10.Brad Pitt
11.Daniel Day-Lewis
12.Kevin Spacey
13.Jim Carrey
14.Ian McKellen
15.Morgan Freeman
16.Nicolas Cage
17.Christian Bale
18.Robert Downey Jr.
Actor, Iron Man
19.Heath Ledger
20.Jeff Bridges

Sawyer said...

Seriously, why is no one considering Drew Barrymore? So she doesn't have an Oscar nomination. But she's been a movie star since 1982, and a bankable lead actress for over a decade. If you're going to allow for actresses like Aniston, Paltrow and Berry, then I can't understand why not Barrymore, who has been a bigger movie star than those three for longer.

When we're finished with the next decade, and Drew's still around, making hit films (along with a few duds, but at least she's consistently working), and quite possibly clutching the Sandra Bullock Longevity Oscar, this list will look awfully stupid for leaving her off.

Dominik said...

Nathaniel, I can't really definitely figure out who the 90s greats Joan, Laura and Laura that you mentioned are. I can think of two Joans, Allen und Cusack, and Allen is probably more likely. And the Laura's are... Linney... and ... Dern? Not really? But rather Dern that San Giacomo... who am I forgetting here? To comment on the original list, the strangest thing on that list is definitely Jennifer Aniston. I think they tried to sell some rom coms with her as the star, but it didn't work. The strangest omission I think is Uma Thurman. I like her kind of but not that much, but I think she was definitely important. Reese, Charlize, Nathalie, Kirsten etc. they probably felt they are just too young to make that list already.

Dominik said...

Another thing that just came to my mind, and I just want to throw in. This list covers two decades, right? But which two decades belong together? The last two we saw, obviously. But isn't that very random? I think... definitely Michelle Pfeiffer, definitely Kim Basinger, maybe Melanie Griffith, maybe Sigourney Weaver, mayyybe Jessica Lange... would have made a list about 80s and 90s, but not a list about 90s and 00s (like the one we're discussing), nor a list about 70s and 80s. Don't you think?
Oh, but then again, Diane Keaton could be on any of those lists, couldn't she? Probably doesn't have to be, but could...

Volvagia said...

Bridges, Spacey and Pitt should be higher, Hanks, Washington and Cruise should be lower while the very hit-or-miss Nicholas Cage shouldn't even be on this list, especially since his next four films are directed by: Dominic Sena, Roger Donaldson, Patrick Lussier and Joel Schumacher. It's a cornucopia of "Oh bleep, how could this not suck." And if you don't trust me on that last one, Trespass is a 9 week shoot. Which screams "Big Movie." Which means...we're likely looking at something awful.

Dominik said...

Ok... actors... I don't really feel Ian McKellen and Robert Downey Jr. have to be on that list... omissions... I'd say: Harrison Ford, Bruce Willis, Samuel Jackson... like them or not... they were very present and more than fairly successful I think. And @Volvagia, I used to hate Nic Cage for being in so many (apparently, obviously I didn't care to see them) crappy movies, most of which were so-called blockbusters, always playing the same unlikeable character (again: apparently) but I think he deserves his spot on that list "objectively", like it or not!

Lara said...

I was actually wondering the same as Dominic and I'd like to add, who is Angela? Bassett?

But I think us wondering who you mean is the reason they're not on this list.

Aaron said...

I think Jodie Foster's time frame should span much longer than 1990-1997...honestly, she was very much present til the mid 2000s, with big box-office hits in Panic Room, Inside Man, Flight Plan, and The Brave One (to a certain extent...regardless, it still earned her a Golden Globe nomination). Not to mention the fact she worked with directors such as David Fincher, Spike Lee, and Neil Jordan...

...she doesn't get enough credit for being one of the most consistently reliable and bankable actresses in Hollywood.

Dominik said...

@Amanda: can you link the "20 to watch" list?

NATHANIEL R said...

@AARON -- most of the women worked from 1990-2009... so i was just trying to point out the years in which people most obsessed over them. Obviously there is room for error there.

@LARA -- well, yes and no. I feel with lists like this, you can't properly make them if you didn't experience the decade as an adult that you're talking about (IF what you're measuring is "importance and impact" because you would have had to have seen it.) So if their editors are say, in their early 20s... they wouldn't really have a clue who was equivalent impactful from 1990-1995 = 2005-2010 you know? that's why i feel like you can always tell when lists were made. They always emphasize the present even if they're meant to represent the past.

@DOMINIK -- i think if you're combining two decades, some of those people would still make it. If you say 1970s through 1980s, yes Pfeiffer would have to rank very high even though she wasn't around in the 70s. But I also think people forget how important she was in the first half of the 90s since she petered out so much late in the second half and was so ambivalent about continuing in the Aughts (2 big hits but not much else that people noticed)

NATHANIEL R said...

DOMINIK -- these were all the 22 people I mentioned as 'would have to be considered' for that two decade timeframe (i totally forgot Drew Barrymore & Whoopi Goldberg --oops) even if you would decide they shouldn't make it personally... I mentioned them just as discussion topics since I don't beleive you can really understand the past two decades of actressing without these folks (though obviously some wouldn't merit "top 20"):

i'll include key years like i did with their actual list

Uma Thurman [1990-1997, 2003-2005]
Penélope Cruz [1998-2000, 2004-now]
Frances McDormand [1996, 2000-2003]
Michelle Pfeiffer [1990-1996]
Joan Allen [1995-1998, 2000]
Winona Ryder [1990-1995]
Holly Hunter [1993-1995, 2003-2004]
Angela Bassett [1993-1998]
Demi Moore [1990-1994]
Anjelica Huston [1990-1993, minor wes anderson revival in aughts]
Charlize Theron [1997-2003]
Laura Linney [2000-2005]
Laura Dern [1990-1993]
Diane Keaton [1990,1996, 2003-2005]
Annette Bening [1990-1991, 1995, 1999]
Helena Bonham-Carter [1990-1993,1999]
Tilda Swinton [1992, 2001, 2007-now]
Keira Knightley [2002-2007]
Scarlett Johansson [2003-2008]
Reese Witherspoon [1998-2005]
Natalie Portman [1994-1996, 2003-2006, 2010]

with a lot of actresses big gaps in their filmography killed their momentum (Bening was just skyrocketing in the early 90s for example but then abruptly quit when she got pregnant and dropped out of Batman Returns . Joan Allen and Holly Hunter also have weird gaps.)

Nate said...

I think Whoopi Goldberg, as a woman of color, has had much more of a impact on film of the last 20 years than say Halle Berry. Whoopi's peak years were arguably [1985, 1989 - 1995.] Halle's [1998 - 2002], no competition.

brandz said...

By any measurement, Meryl Streep should be #1. That's a no-brainer. Also, I really don't like the list of male actors at all.

Deborah said...

I immediately noticed that the list was very, very white (despite Berry). I was happy to notice the age range -- that's big progress!

But Penelope Cruz should certainly be there, and Aishwarya Rai as well. I mean, cinema isn't just Hollywood.

Joe said...

I agree with others about Goldberg. She is not the first name you think of, but if you think about what she brought to the table, it was not only unique, but some EXCELLENT actressing in a way none of the others actressed. She also had some major hits on her hands and was a big deal at the beginning of the 90s.

Also hard to see how one can make this list without the lovely Penelope Cruz who has been at or very near the top since 2006.

Manuel said...

Tagging my thoughts for each and everyone of these actresses


1. Julia Roberts: first woman to get the 20 mill deal, multiple box office hits, moviestar, rom-com queen, Oscarwinner and oh that smile, comeback
2. Meryl Streep. living legend, 8 oscarnoms in that period, beloved, power because of talent and respect, chamelon, acclaimed
3. Cate Blanchett: highly respected in the industry and offered all the baity roles as well, LOTR triolgy, 5 Oscarnoms, talent and intelligent, she can really greenlight a project ( The Gift), chamelon, fashionista #1, power, acclaimed
4. Kate Winslet: highly respected in the industry, 6 Oscarnoms, Titanic, dramaqueen, acclaimed
5. Jodie Foster: highly respected in the industry, Oscarwinner, 2 noms, her name= money, intelligent, power, thriller queen, speaks French, acclaimed. comeback, director
6. Nicole Kidman: respected, Oscarwinner, moviestar, Tom Cruise divorce, 5 highly acclaimed roles in a row
7. Sandra Bullock: rom-com, moviestar, Oscarwinner, funny, beloved, box office hit
8. Halle Berry; Oscarwinning historic moment, moviestar
9. Emma Thompson: Oscarwinner, funny, respected, writer, British, intelligent, acclaimed
10. Angelina Jolie: moviestar, sexy, Brangelina, box office hits, Oscarwinner + noms, respected, beloved, united colour of benetton kids,
11. Julianne Moore: drama and crying queen, 5 Oscar noms, respected,
12. Susan Sarandon:Oscarwinner + noms respected, living legend, intelligent, acclaimed
13. Helen Mirren: Oscarwinner + noms, British, popular, living legend, acclaimed
14. Gwyneth Paltrow: "controversial Oscar win", Pitt's ex, moviestar
15. Hilary Swank: 2 Oscar wins
16. Cameron Diaz: rom-com, comedy, moviestar, sexy, Oscar snubbed, popular, power
17. Renée Zellweger, Bridges Jones, Oscarwinner + noms
18. Meg Ryan: rom-com. comdey queen, has been, former moviestar
19. Jennifer Aniston: "moviestar"
20. Judi Dench: Oscarwinner + noms, living legend, British, Bond movies, respected, acclaimed, intelligent

VonCastle said...

Meryl not No. 01? SCANDALOUS! I love Julia, but Pretty Woman WAS 20years ago and Meryl's recent WOW at the box office beats Julia's. Then Meryl is the Queen as "best".
With this killer start, Meryl as second anywhere, it renders worthyless just to read the list through...

Babushka said...

Julia and Meryl at the top is very accurate. People and critics criticizing Eat, Pray, Love in the US hindered much of its box office run but still managed to gross around $80 million which is good for a drama and a female driven film.But it just surpassed $100 million overseas because Julia is a big name outside the US. Most people outside the US rely on household names that they are familiar with. We actually still line up for Julia movies. And just for comparison The Blind Side was huge in the U.S. but was not really big international. I love Sandra B. too, but Julia has the lasting essence of a Movie Star.

Quinton said...

Clearly Reese is snubbed. She is an Oscar-winner as well as a bankable actress. Most of the actresses on the list are obviously not as good as she is. I don't know if the editor snubs her on purpose or not. She's just too big to ignore.