Monday, January 14, 2008

Would You Consider Sarah Michelle Gellar "A List"?

This weekend I gave a bunch of thought to the whole A list B list thing and how it really should be defined. In one post somewhere on the site is a way of defining A and B list television stars which makes everything cut and dry. Film though is so much more fluid. I know there are various definitions on this site and others, but what truly makes someone A list?

In my mind, A list is someone who can open a mainstream film all by themselves. When I say mainstream, I mean a film that opens in the 1000+ screen category. I think that is the one true measurement of whether someone is A list or not. The question should be, am I interested in going to see this movie because so and so is in it and I don't care what the movie is about. To me, there are many more male A listers than female A listers and to prove it, just go through any list of female or male actors in your mind and ask the question above. There are just not that many women who can open a film, or even given the opportunity to do so. Most people would say there are about 10 A list female stars. I say that is true, but that there are A list women within A list women.

In one of my blind items I called Kirsten Dunst A list because she was the female lead in several of the highest grossing films of all-time, and she has opened a mainstream film on her own. The problem is that when I stopped to think about it. Almost anyone could have played her role in Spiderman, so why should that give her A list status. Plus, Bring It On, was more of an ensemble film and she just happened to be top billed, but was she the reason everyone went to see the film? No, of course not. No one went "OMG, Kirsten Dunst has a new movie out, we have to go see it." Instead it went like this, "There is this really cool movie out right now and Kirsten Dunst is in it. We should go." There is a big difference.

So, then we get to my other beef with my own theory which is Sarah Michelle Gellar. I actually like SMG and she fits the criteria, except for one thing. Horror films should be excluded from the list. Most horror films have a female lead, but it is the story, not the actress that brings in the audience, and thus, although technically opening a film, they are not the reason the people are going to see the film. Yes, there are people who love SMG. I know this. But you have to be objective about it. I have also thrown Nicole Kidman into this mix now. The only film she has done which did well on its own with her name alone lately has been The Others which was a horror film. She is only making money because she is Tom Cruise's ex. She doesn't deserve A list status or money.

Here are the top ten highest paid actresses from 2007.

1. Reese Witherspoon
2. Angelina Jolie
3. Cameron Diaz
4. Nicole Kidman
5. Renee Zellweger
6. Sandra Bullock
7. Julia Roberts
8. Drew Barrymore
9. Jodie Foster
10. Halle Berry

If you have a franchise, then you are automatically A list, so Reese, Angelina, Renee, and Sandra automatically move on. (for now)

Cameron Diaz and Drew Barrymore have a franchise, but it is not on their own. Drew however is so A list it isn't even funny and can't believe she is only the 8th highest paid actress. She needs a new agent. Cameron Diaz is someone who will drop from the A list eventually, but people will go see a film solely based on whether she is in it. Julia Roberts is Julia Roberts and so will always be A list. Jodie Foster is in the same category as Cameron Diaz. The only difference is Jodie has been A list for much longer and has probably achieved A list status permanently. Halle Berry is almost there. If she had a franchise like Cameron does, she would be a shoe in. As it is though, she is right on the edge every year of A list B list.

So now you know.


Unknown said...
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Unknown said...

I think this gets confused because as you say, some stars have "probably achieved A list status permanently." Meryl Streep, for example. She is A-List, but has never really been a big filme opener. Due to the Oscars and her talent, she seems much more A-List to me than stars like Jennifer Anniston or Jessica Alba. I think people will always be confused who is A or B, because it's fluid and subjective.

Anonymous said...

Ent, thanks for the explanation, but... did you get knocked on the head or something, up til now, you've always hated SMG? Why the change of heart? Are you involved in her new movie with the piemaker? (Ahhh... Lee Pace, my boyfriend won't mind if I make out with you, promise... especially if he gets to join in.)

Jolara said...

I understand your reasoning behind the A list ENT. Just as you pointed out, what makes an actor/actress A list (or whatever) will solely depend on your criteria of what makes someone A list worthy. But, just as you also pointed out, there are questionable names on there... Just because THEY make lots of money for a film, but they don't necessarily make lots of money FOR a film does that make them A list?

Jolie is hugely popular mainly for her private life, but her acting ability isn't Meryl Streep or Kathy Bates..but because people are curious about her "humanitarian work", her children, her bed mate or is she or isn't she doing heroin, she is a movie draw. Same goes for a few others on the list. I'm not arguing the names, just stating.

jax said...

thanks that certainly helps!

Kory said...

no I don't.

YahMoBThere said...

There are many more male A-listers because once women hit a certain age, they can't get parts anymore.

As for the criteria, it's helpful, but will Jennifer Aniston EVER be in a movie w/o having a heavyweight starring opposite her? I think not and she's been on the top paid list, too. She's probably number 11 or 12 on that list you posted.

And being in a franchise doesn't automatically make a person A list. See Chris Tucker and Jackie Chan.

AlishaK said...

What about Cate Blanchett and Kate Winslet? They may not be among the highest paid, but I'd say they're worth considering, particularly Blanchett. She does have a franchise of sorts (Elizabeth), too, and she can carry a movie on her own. Plus, numerous award noms.

I love SMG, but wouldn't call her A list at all. Not even A list name rec, probably, though I wish she were (she's so much more talented than people credit her for).

I think this is an interesting discussion. Nicole Kidman probably shouldn't be, but god, the put her in everything. I just don't think she's a particularly good actress.

Anonymous said...

lisha, I think that Cate probably qualifies for A-List as including her in a non-indie movie boosts revenue. Most people would consider seeing a movie solely based on Cate's casting.

Kate on the other had, was A-List after Titanic, but is probably B-List now.

An interesting one to me would be Jason Statham, now I even went to see his Uwe Boll movie yesterday just because he was in it and I was bored. But my personal opinion doesn't make it a rule. (And I did skip War w/ Jet Li... and Transporter 2. I guess I wasn't bored then. :)

GammaGirl said...

Thanks for the explanation ent!

As for SMG: actresses aren't always like the characters they play. Buffy will always be awesome, but I think people forget that she was playing a role. Her real-life Queen Bee tactics have made me a hater.

Jemtastic said...

Some publications hand out the 'A-List' title like chiclets to actors that under normal circumstances wouldn't be above F-grade (Heigl, JLo and Alba I'm looking at you) if it weren't their personal lives and good old-fashioned luck. It's really just sad because, as another poster mentioned, actresses with bona fide talent like Blanchett and Winslet are overlooked because they aren't scandalous enough.

Brenda22 said...

Drew Barrymore? Seriously?..."she's so A list it isn't even funny"

really? I know she's been around for a long time but she can't act to save her life. Have you seen the crap she's made? (Music and Lyrics, that poker movie with Eric Bana)

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

Drew Barrymore can open a romantic comedy. It's her semi-dramatic efforts that are not good.

Music & Lyrics (romcom) made $4 mil per DAY it's opening weekend.

Lucky You (drama) was sold as a drama. Didn't even hit 1 mil on opening Friday.

Fever Pitch (rom-com, where marketing focused on her and Jimmy Fallon ignoring Farrelly Bros.) $4.5 mil Friday, $5 mil Saturday.

She's a-list from a historical and financial perspective (what she's worth to open a movie), but she's really only worth $7 mil for a romantic comedy. For a drama or indie, she should really work for back-end. Truthfully, that's how everyone should work, but the studio's don't want to give up that pie.

Anonymous said...

Don't forget - the bottom line is driving this list.

I wouldn't ever put SMG on it, but I think Kidman stays. She's been in plenty of bombs, but I think the public views her as a true A list movie star. She has a solid resume.

Kat said...

Kidman is undoubtedly A-list. She has an Oscar, her name is household, she'll have that forever. I forgot SMG existed. Therein lies the distinction.

Town Bike said...

I can't believe you wouldn't classify Halle Berry as out and out A-list.

Unknown said...

I have always thought of A-list status as a combination of factors like how critically acclaimed the person is, whether they are offered serious roles, do they get award nominations or win awards, in addition to their box office appeal and salary per picture. Opening a film on one's own isn't the only criterion (though obviously important). There are plently of actresses who are taken seriously even though they aren't in large budget films all the time. Anyway, I think the A-list has to be longer than just the top 10 highest paid actors/actresses. Saying that someone is B-list almost implies that a director wouldn't want them in their movie. I'd pass up the next Jessica Biel movie in a heartbeat to see a movie co-starring Toni Collette or Kate Winslet.

Carte Blanche said...

What about people like Neve Campbell?

Regular cast member on long running, prime time TV show
(Party of Five)

Star of relatively successful franchise (Scream)

In other movies like Wild Things & 54...

She's not A list. B? Still? She's consistently working.

Anonymous said...

kara - she qualifies as "previously a-list TV" b/c she was on show for 5 seasons, but it was 1990s. Scream was a franchise, but again it was horror, and they were all Wes Craven (huge following). What was the last thing you saw in the theater because of her?

I went to see The Company (ballet movie) b/c Altman directed it #1, but Neve was in it #2 (always thought she was pretty and reasonably talented). If it were a Neve Campbell movie, directed by someone I didn't follow but hadn't heard of, I probably would've skipped it.

Alexa is right -- List status is based on a number of factors (of which, many are subjective), and it's not a fixed place unless you've been in the business for >20 years. A lot of it breaks down to $ -- what a person is worth, not what they actually earn.

My understanding of this is that a person makes what they producers feel they can draw on opening weekend (see my comments re: Drew Barrymore above, she's somewhere between 5-8mil for a comedy, but <1mil for a drama).

Halle has alienated some audiences, I don't think that the African American audience is totally behind her like they are for, say, Tyler Perry. She needs to win some hearts, and that means doing roles for fun that make people laugh. I'd agree with Ent on her.

I was explaining to darling boyfriend and other friends this weekend on the significance of the Golden Globes. It's worth something for a person to even be nominated because it's a way to add prestige to a drama or highbrow comedy (ex. Juno, Little Miss Sunshine). It gives the producers another way to market their movie through you. By being able to flash "golden globe nominee/winner .... " it theoretically will draw the crowd that feels it means something (and there are). When The Pianist was nominated for a bunch of Oscars, it's box office jumped a lot. See this article for some other info. Entertainment Weekly has lots of issues with their reporting, even within this article(doesn't talk about increased screen/seat count), but it gives you a bit of an explanation. Does this mean Adrian Brody jumped up a slot on the list? Maybe temporarily, but when "The Jacket" was rushed out from the Direct-to-DVD hell it was supposed to be, and it sucked it up, it dampened his award. It got him noticed enough to get other jobs, and added some cachet, but he also suffered from his crappy/need-to-pay-rent roles in the past.

Sorry, long-winded.

Unknown said...

I agree with Alexa -- Money can't be the only indicator, otherwise people like Amy Adams, Kate Winslet or Cate Blanchett would be considered B-List since they don't make $20 million a movie. (And what does that make a Christina Ricci or Anna Ferris, C-List? By that logic, Kathy Griffin really would be like, G-List). The entertainment media confuses the issue (e.g., "A-Listers entertainers linked to steroids," and it's Mary J. Blige and Timbaland, who are perhaps A-Listers in the field of music, but A-List is misused for everyone from Eva Longoria to Matthew McCounaghey).

Bxrlvr said...

Ent - Halle Berry was in the X-Men franchise, if that counts for anything.

Personally, based on talent and awards, I would have to count both Meryl Streep and Cate Blanchett as A list. In my opinion, Cate is the new Meryl - incredibly talented and versatile. So they haven't made as much money, but is there anyone on that A list who has the range and ability that these two stars have? I think the only woman on the list who comes close is Nicole (don't attack me!).

vitazza said...

Not to burst anyone's bubble but, Halle Berry is A-list in A.A. Circles she has had "Banger Status" for her acting and appeal for years so don't get it can never compare Halle an actress to Tyler Perry productions which are fine but the actors and actresses tend to be C+ and D+ status........
I also agree many FACTORS should be examined when determining A B status....opening a film on your own and mostly talented A plus work examples Blanchett, Winslett, and Collete.

mandjo said...

Dnfrommn, I thought the same thing about the comment about SMG--Ent always seemed to dislike her before...But in my opinion she is MAYBE B-list, and thats a big maybe.

YahMoBThere said...

X-Men franchise or not, Halle Berry is A list.

link88 said...

I am more confused than ever now. I used to have a shaky concept of A list for both tv and movies...!

Does Ent realize by claiming that there are a limited (10 or so) number of A list actresses, that he obviously has greatly overused the A list, A- list actress claim on so many of his past blinds? Someone who cares should make a count of how many times he has used the term A list actress (from popular tv drama, from sitcom,from movies, etc.,). Or even just how many times he used it for movie actresses. Surely all those were not referring to the same 10 exceptionally successful women all of the time.

It's too subjective. Not everyone has the same taste in movies or the same like/dislike of actresses to say it is someone people would want to see in a movie (like dnfrommn pointed out, sometimes you want to see an admired director's latest movie, or a well-known costar in a comedy, etc. TOO SUBJECTIVE!). He should ditch the A, A-, B+, B list crap and switch to descriptive terms like "award winning", "one of highest grossing", familiar for a certain type of role, etc., instead of the ridiculously subjective "A" list.

QT said...

Could Ent be giving a clue to a prev BI? SMG may not be being guessed, as most do not seem to believe she has A list creds.

Being on the A list is like being a five star hotel in the States- since there is not an official board certifying status, it is vague and imprecise.

Wouldn't it be great if there were some sort of celeb union- one could start out as an apprentice celeb, become a journeyperson, etc... all the way to A- List?

ablake said...

Since when have you started liking SMG?
I'm pretty sure you made it more than clear in the past that she was the bitch of the show, is the reason there won't be a Buffy movie and have made snippy comments when you've posted pics of her.
Is today opposite day, or did something happen to cause a change of heart?

Kidsis said...

Enty, all we want to know is what list is Kate Winslet on????! ;p


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