- Leonardo DiCaprio
- Johnny Depp
- Adam Sandler
- Will Smith
- Tom Hanks
- Ben Stiller
- Robert Downey Jr.
- Angelina Jolie
- Sarah Jessica Parker
- Mark Wahlberg
If I can indulge in some film lover wish fulfillment, I think it would be nice if the list of highest paid performers reflected those actors currently in the zone, instead of those whose fame guarantees success in the Asian markets regardless of whatever turkey they crank out. If I managed to wrestle control of Hollywood's purse strings the list of those most handsomely rewarded would look more like this:
Hollywood's Highest Paid (Ideal World Edition)
1. Daniel Day Lewis - He is, simply put, playing on another level than 99% of actors. Landing a Day Lewis performance transforms any film into a major cinematic event. Besides, prying him away from his cobbling isn't cheap.
2. Catherine Keener - Guaranteed Instant Awesome for any project. Need to make a good movie better or make a bad movie watchable? She should be the first name you call. Never fails.
3. Viggo Mortenson - A man of action with complexity, studios should be shelling out the big bucks to attach his gravitas to a project.
4. Paul Rudd - A no-brainer. He might not open movies like Rogen or Carell but his name on the poster promises prospective audiences that a movie will bring the laughs. I lost count of how many poeple I know who decided Our Idiot Brother looks funny based on nothing more than Rudd's presence.
5. Ian McKellan - The reigning king of the blockbusters. Can turn any material to gold with his classically trained magic. So powerful he can even make solid crap like the Da Vinci Code watchable in small bursts. His presence cannot be overvalued.
6. Marion Cotillard - A beauty on par with Audrey Hepburn and Grace Kelly she is currently knocking love interest parts out of the park in stuff both bright (Midnight in Paris) and dark (Inception). When Hollywood figures how to better take advantage of those Oscar-winning acting chops, look out.
7. Leonardo DiCaprio - This is one name I think the free market got right, if only for his uncanny ability to pick worthwhile projects over the last decade.8. Tilda Swinton - When she is not unleashing the acting fury in independent features she is a heavy hitter in big Hollywood projects, specializing in taking characters that should be off-the-shelf - slimy corporate lawyer, evil witch - and turning them into movie defining highlights. If I was producer I would all but back a dump truck full of cash into her driveway to get her on board.
9. Javier Bardem - The MVP of any movie he appears in, it is all but impossible to pay attention to anyone else when he's on screen. Indeed it is often difficult to imagine one of his movies existing at all were he not cast.
10. Michelle Williams - With a list of credits that includes Blue Valentine, Brokeback Mountain, Meek's Cutoff, Synecdoche, New York and more, Williams is quietly developing one of the most impressive bodies of work in the business. She may not be packing them in on Friday night yet, but with work like this it is only a matter of time.