Welcome to this year’s look at the great and good amongst movie actors, those stars who keep us coming back to the cinema time after time, and help put as many bums on seats as they possibly can. I was going to do this post back in September, but with some surprising outcomes at the 2015 box office I thought I’d give it a bit more time, and see if there were any major changes to last year’s list. As it turns out there wasn’t, though we have lost Robin Williams and Bruce Willis from the list, but overall it seems as if this is a year for positions and box office returns to keep the rest of the Top 10 in a kind of holding pattern.
NOTE: HGM stands for Highest Grossing Movie, and the figures represent the worldwide gross. And all figures are courtesy of boxofficemojo.com.
10 – Gary Oldman / HGM: The Dark Knight Rises (2012) – $1,084,939,099
The first of two newcomers to the Top 10, Oldman is fast becoming a franchise expert, having appeared in not only the Dark Knight trilogy, but the Harry Potter series and the last Planet of the Apes movie. Without these appearances though, Oldman would be way down the list, but it’s good to see someone who truly doesn’t have that opening weekend star factor showing up in the list, and relying more on some good acting choices.
9 – Michael Caine / HGM: The Dark Knight Rises (2012) – $1,084,939,099
The another newcomer to the list, and another beneficiary of the Dark Knight trilogy boosting them into the Top 10. Caine has obviously had a varied career but it’s his recent affiliation with Christopher Nolan that seems to have made all the difference, with Interstellar also adding to the star’s recent run of prestige movies. With the million dollar mark being passed by more and more movies each year though, whether or not he can maintain his position remains to be seen, but as with Oldman, it’s great to see a character actor break into the Top 10.
8 – Johnny Depp / HGM: Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest (2006) – $1,066,179,725
Up one place from last year, Depp retains his position in the Top 10 despite appearing in the awful Mortdecai and the risible Transcendence. Without the Pirates franchise to keep him in the Top 10, Depp wouldn’t even be close to appearing in it, and while the disappointing Black Mass has allowed the actor to regain some of the critical standing he used to enjoy, another trip to the Pirates well doesn’t bode well, even if it does provide a boost to his box office status.
7 – Robert Downey Jr / HGM: The Avengers (2012) – $1,519,557,910
Up three places from 2014, Downey Jr continues to rely on his Marvel Cinematic Universe outings as Iron Man to keep him in the Top 10. That he’s still the best thing in the MCU is a given, but with only a supporting turn in Chef and a less than gripping courtroom drama The Judge under his belt away from Marvel, he’s yet another actor who might not even reach the Top 20 if it wasn’t for his association with a major franchise (if not the major franchise). It’ll be interesting to see how he fares once he hangs up the iron suit and goes back to making more “regular” movies.
6 – Tom Cruise / HGM: Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol (2011) – $694,713,380
No change for Cruise even though it looked for a while as if Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation was going to surpass its predecessor at the box office, and despite the relative failure of Edge of Tomorrow. Cruise chooses his movies carefully, but with only two in the pipeline, and one of them the sequel to Jack Reacher, he’ll need to rely on his outings as Ethan Hunt to keep him in the Top 10.
5 – Eddie Murphy / HGM: Shrek 2 (2004) – $919,838,758
No change either for Murphy, his place in the Top 5 secured by his role as Donkey in the Shrek franchise, and seemingly unassailable as a result. His place in the list is proof that you only have to pick just one part and have it becomes hugely successful to retain that place seemingly forevermore. Murphy hasn’t made a movie since A Thousand Words (2012), but he is attached to the Beverly Hills Cop reboot due in 2016, but whether that can be successful enough to push him up the list remains to be seen.
4 – Harrison Ford / HGM: Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008) – $786,636,033
Another non-mover, it’s strange perhaps that Ford’s biggest success at the box office is also the least of the four Indiana Jones movies, but with a certain sequel heading its way to our screens very soon, there’s a good chance that this time next year Ford will be either heading up the list or will at least have a different HGM. Either way, it’s going to be quite a while before he loses his place in the Top 5, and it’s great that he’s done it all without making a superhero movie.
3 – Morgan Freeman / HGM: The Dark Knight Rises (2012) / $1,084,939,099
Down one place from last year, Freeman’s attachment to the Dark Knight trilogy keeps him in the Top 5, but recent choices such as 5 Flights Up and Dolphin Tale 2 haven’t added to his box office lustre, and the result is a slip that may well be the start of a more serious downward trend (though let’s hope not). With the veteran actor now taking what are largely supporting roles, there’s always the chance he’ll find himself in another blockbuster, but with the movies he has coming up, it doesn’t look as if that’s going to happen anytime soon.
2 – Tom Hanks / HGM: Toy Story 3 (2010) – $1,063,171,911
Down one place as well, Hanks loses the top spot by not releasing a movie in 2014, and only recently reappearing on our screens in Bridge of Spies. But like Harrison Ford, there’s a certain sequel on the horizon that could very well see him grab back the top spot in a couple of years’ time, and that combined with another outing as Robert Langdon in Inferno next year could well be all he needs to reassert his position as numero uno.
1 – Samuel L. Jackson / HGM: The Avengers (2012) – $1,519,557,910
Up from last year’s third place to the number one spot, Jackson reigns supreme thanks to another treasure chest-bulging performance at the box office by a Marvel movie, namely Avengers: Age of Ulton. Full marks to Jackson for getting to the top of the list by virtue of playing a supporting character in an ongoing franchise, because like Downey Jr, without Marvel he wouldn’t be here. And as his continued involvement as Nick Fury hasn’t been confirmed as yet, a change at the top come this time next year could well be on the cards.