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Hitchhiker's Guide. And before that, I dunno. My take is that the reason that movie stars aren't *stars* anymore is because their native sex appeal is drained out of them until all that's left is superhuman perfection. You want to stare at them, but you wouldn't want them in your house. Cary Grant, though, you can always imagine swooning into his arms.


So, who do you go to the movies to see?

No one anymore.

Who would you call a movie star?

Robert De Niro. Not so much anymore though.

Who are your favorite movie stars?

Bogart, Jimmy Stewart, Cary Grant, De Niro

What was the last movie you saw (besides Star Wars)? What movies, in the theaters now or coming soon, do you really want to see?

In the theatre? I don't know. I didn't even see Star Wars. That comedy about wine afficionados maybe. There's nothing I can think of that I want to see.


I assume you're focusing on US movies - there have been some really good Chinese movies out there - Shaolin Soccer, King Fu Hustle, Flying Daggers, other foreign films out there.

Fav Movie Stars: Gene Hackman, Al Pacino, Morgan Freeman. All three have done the occasional bad film, but they shine even then. Maybe Dustin Hoffman. I think Brad Pitt COULD be great if he had the right grooming. Ditto for Natalie Portman and Jonnie Depp.

Last Movie - Mr. & Mrs. Smith. Okay sue me. It was a guilty pleasure. Looking forward to Batman Begins, Chronicles of Narnia.


One word: Serenity.

Everything else is negotiable.


I went to my first movie in six months this weekend -- Mr and Mrs Smith. Wanted to see Sith but my fiance refused. I actually enjoyed it, I have to admit. And there was something deeper there than a video game -- watch it for an interesting commentary on marital communication and conflict. I wouldn't go so far as to call it subtlety, but it was something.

You forgot the other reason people don't watch movies any more -- it's prohibitively expensive. I honestly can't afford a night out like that. Ten bucks each? It's why I only go every six months to a year, and I only choose movies I think will look good on the big screen (I can wait for a drama to come out on DVD and not miss anything).

And hey, Christian Bale is a movie star. Remember Newsies?

Kit Stolz

Uh...Clint Eastwood. Obvious movie star, not to mention a huge talent. Mel Gibson, obvious movie star. (I don't much like him, personally, but he's a star now, well into his middle age, and I think movies like "Road Warrior," "Year of Living Dangerously," "Braveheart," and even "We Were Soldiers" mark him as a man who would be a star in any of Hollywood's eras since the advent of sound.) It's tougher for women, but Kate Winslet is utterly fearless -- the first quality of movie stardom.


I read that Hollywood makes movies so that any seventh grader can understand it. Apparently, studies had shown that seventh graders are repeat customers, they watch movies they like over and over again...

IF this is true, then it is no wonder I have not liked anything Hollywood has made for years. I really do not get excited over the historically inaccurate movies such as gladiator and troy. Are those supposed to be good? Also, for drama, indies do it better...

Hollywood, like the RIAA, they suffer from lack of creativity, and lack of courage to take chances...

mrs. norman maine

Movie stars need to possess a warmth, a willingness to let us in... That's why I wonder if it could be true that Angelina Jolie is the next big thing. She is intriguing, and certainly a great beauty, but it seems to me her calling card is her bad-ass attitude, and I'm not sure that equals true movie stardom.

Julia Roberts has it and Nicole Kidman has it, though we tend to think of the latter as a cool beauty off the screen. Yet she softens, somehow, on film.

I don't agree that George Clooney has given up, and think that the Cary Grant comparisons are quite apt. I think Jude Law has something, although I'd rather see a film starring his friend, Ewan McGregor, but that's a personal quirk.

As you said (I think) probably the best personal definition of a movie star is someone whose movie you would go see without needing to know anything else about the flick.

For example, I admire Renee Z. in general, but I'd need to be interested in the film she's in before shelling out the money for a ticket. On the other hand, I'd schedule my day around a Cary Grant movie if I saw it in the TV listings. I have a fatal weakness for Julia Roberts, and would suffer through most things in order to see that quivery smile.

This is not leading to any great conclusion, other than that I think that in modern times we pick our own stars and follow them, whereas it was somehow decided for viewers in previous decades. The packaging pointed the way.

Please be gallant and forgive (and even fix!) any glaring errors in the above, Sir Lancelot.


Personally, for me, whoever happens to be starring in a movie is a secondary consideration. The story has to be compelling; otherwise, why bother shelling out $11 just to see a movie star? For that, I have Netflix.

That's why the movies I plan on seeing this year (Serenity, Narnia, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory) are not the usual CRASH BOOM affair.


Jolie - yup, Stanwyck she could do (and physically, quite a bit more...) - but who the fuck is going to write her the parts? Just offhand, I'd like to see her run up against Hugh Jackman or Russell Crowe (who was mighty abashed opposite Kim Basinger) - one more nimble, one a rock upon which to dash herself (and take bites out of).
Last thing I saw in a theater was "Hero" - J., above, is right about the presence of Asian stars - Maggie Cheung, Tony Leung. Andy Lau in "Infernal Affairs" reminds me of Lawrence Harvey in his prime. How about Javier Bardem - saw "The Dancer Upstairs" not long ago (and yeah, it's 4 yrs. old, but...) - he's amazing. What about Julia Stiles? She's just waiting for it to happen,..pillar of strength, but achingly vulnerable, too (remember "The Bourne Supremacy", with a gun at her head?)
The notion of the fucking "franchise", tho - the comix characters, the pre-sold property - is killing for these actors. That's the bane of US movies - 90% of the time if you can't advertise it before it's made, you can't make it at all. How stuff like "Eternal Sunshine..." snuck thru is a fucking miracle (and there you have Winslet, and Dunst, too - and Carrey at his sweetest and most enabling....).
The prime, STAR-making years for an actor are incredibly short - 10, 15 years on the outside, and you'd better start early.

mac macgillicuddy

I'll see pretty much anything with Wallace Shawn in it. Ever since I saw "My Dinner with Andre." I keep waiting for him to do something else of that stature, though he hasn't, but if he's in a movie, even for a short scene, there's a bright spot in the movie for at least that long.

I used to feel the same way about Jeff Goldblum, but then he forgot his mantra, and he hasn't been the same since. His former wife Gena Rowlands was someone else I enjoyed, but she doesn't get around much anymore. And there are still some out there who insist I had a thing for Elizabeth McGovern, but I don't remember that thing, and now I don't even know if she's still working.

For me, though, the mix of the cast is more of a driving force than any one star. It's hard to get much better than Casablanca. People have been trying for decades, but that chemistry was just an accident (imagine if Ronald Reagan HAD played Rick -- nobody would have gone to Rick's, I'm guessing). Same goes for Wizard of Oz and the Graduate. These are, in my opinion, the 3 greatest movies ever made.

By the way, did anyone else out there besides me think that Anne Bancroft was already dead?

mrs. norman maine

Mac, you mean Geena Davis, not Gena Rowlands, but Gena and Jeff are a pretty funny couple to contemplate.

By the way, both Gena and Geena are awfully compelling actresses, ALBEIT in different ways, and I'm glad to have their names brought into the discussion.


Mrs Maine, you think you can taunt me with a simple albeit, do you? Ha! I'm made of sterner stuff. Let's see you use a heretofore.


Who do you think could be a movie star if the powers that be in Hollywood knew anything about making movies?

I don't know if we necessarily want stars now like we had stars in the classical Hollywood era. Having Classical Hollywood stars implies that they will be in classical Hollywood movies - the structure and the players within that structure are inseperable, to some extent. John Wayne and John Wayne/John Ford movies are simultaneous. Do we want John Ford movies being made right now? I would argue no - not because I dislike John Ford movies (rather, I think many of them are masterpieces) but because we are in a different era and time within our cinematic evolution.

Second, I would argue that the era of the movie star already passed away by the mid-1950s, with the emergence particularly of James Dean, Marlon Brando (and later on Warren Beatty, Paul Newman and so on). Or within world cinema, the emergence of Belmondo, Delon, Cybulski, Leaud, Piccoli and so on.

So, I would say we need stars properly fitting our own era. I'm not precisely sure what that would look like in an American context, but one possible guide is Tony Leung within the Hong Kong cinema - an actor able to blaze a path showing a whole generation how going deeper and realer can make you greater and more popular.

In that light, I would mention the following within the English speaking context:

Paul Giamatti
Ethan Hawke (particularly when directed by Linklater)
David Thewlis
Ewan McGregor (however, not when directed by Lucas)
John C. Reilly
Vincent Gallo
Sean Penn


Scarlet Johansson
Christina Ricci
Maggie Cheung
Emily Mortimer
Samantha Morton

Who are your favorite movie stars?

Tony Leung Chui Wai
Michel Piccoli
Emmanuelle Devos
Nina Hoss
Renata Litvinova
Ethan Hawke
David Thewlis
Anthony Wong
Eric Tsang

What was the last movie you saw (besides Star Wars)? What movies, in the theaters now or coming soon, do you really want to see?

Sin City, Milk + Honey (in theater)

coming soon:
Howl's Moving Castle
Sally Potter's Yes
Jim Jarmusch's Broken Flowers
Miranda July's You and Me and Everybody We Know
Assayas' Clean
Zwigoff's Art School Confidential
Night Watch
Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room
Kings and Queen (unfortunately, I actually missed the run of this movie in Chicago)
Kenneth Anger's Mouse Heaven

Exiled in NJ

Housemate says she will let Travolta park his shoes under her bed any day; she dreams of dancing with him. Alas, everything he does today shows a man not stretching Redford who'll play characters like Warren Justice until the cows come home. Let Newman find some pill that takes ten years off his age and do Nobody's Fool again, or let Albert Finney be young again, or even the age of Shoot the Moon! Crowe, Fiennes and Diane Lane, all for different reasons, are three I would pay to see.


"Who are your favorite movie stars?"

Oh, you meant historically?

Robert Ryan
Michel Simon
Jean Gabin
Veronica Lake
William Holden
Chishu Ryu
Setsuko Hara
Machiko Kyo
Shin Saburi
Buster Keaton
Janet Gaynor
Romy Schneider
Gena Rowlands
John Cassavetes
Takashi Shimura
Orson Welles (as actor)
Joseph Cotten
Yves Montand
Marcel Dalio
Jeff Bridges
Lee Marvin
Jack Palance
Gene Evans
Richard Widmark
Tatsuya Nakadai
Jean-Louis Trintignant
Stephane Audran

mrs. norman maine

Also, this may be an odd choice, but -- Alan Alda. There's just something about his sense of decency and the twinkle in his eye that recalls Jimmy Stewart. Put him in a Woody Allen movie and the sparks really fly!

mac macgillicuddy

If you say so, Mrs.

mac macgillicuddy

you mean Geena Davis, not Gena Rowlands

If you say so, Mrs.

(Just wanted to clarify what I was referring to. Not Alan Alda.)

harry near indy

what -- no mention of jack nicholson? he's the only man i can think of who's both an good actor AND a star.

others like hackman, deniro, pacino are good actors. they should be praised. they're good movie actors, but not stars.

and i, for one, do not mourn the death of the movie star. that era is dead.

as long as most of the movies made in hollywood are either aimed at teen-aged kids or indy-style dramas, you won't have a movie that must appeal to all ages.

i'm reminded of the movie my favorite year, where peter o'toole, as an errol flynn-like character, is told he has to act on live tv.

he replied, "i'm not an actor -- I'M A MOVIE STAR!"

harry near indy

o yea -- the last movie i saw in a theater was american splendor because i'm a fan of harvey pekar's work and i wanted to see how the movies would do his life.

mac macgillicuddy

I forgot to say the last movie I saw in a theater. It was "Hitch hikers guide to the Galaxy" But it could just as easily have been "Shark Boy and Lava Girl."


Christian Bale could be a movie star if he got the right scripts. If this Batman flick is a hit, maybe it'll happen. His work in American Psycho was (and this is a word I've never used to describe anything) breathtaking.

Scarlett Johansson could be a female movie star in a couple of years. Right now she's what, 22? Give her four years and, again, decent movies. She's been in some good ones, particularly In Good Company, which too few people saw. (Dennis Quaid should have been/should be way bigger than he is, BTW).

I don't like Angelina Jolie. Don't find her sexy, or interesting. Wish she'd go away.

Trish Wilson

My favorite movie stars are Elizabeth Taylor, Sophia Loren, Catherine Deneuve, Cary Grant, Natalie Wood, Robert Deniro (though not lately), Dustin Hoffman, Peter Cushing, Tommy Lee Jones, Lauren Bacall, Helen Mirren, Vivien Leigh, Jack Lemmon, James Stewart, Henry Fonda, Basil Rathbone, and many more I can't think of right now.

I think Johnny Depp has it in him to be a movie star. I like Angelina Jolie a lot, but I'm not sure if she's movie star material. It doesn't help that her movies lately haven't been all that good. I've never been a big fan of Julia Roberts, although from what I understand she's the only woman who can pull in big box office receipts.

I don't really know if anyone today can hold a candle to the old style movie stars. Actors aren't groomed the same way they used to be. Plus, too many movies today are like live-action cartoons. The actors are overshadowed by the special effects.

Trish Wilson

I know people have compared George Clooney to Cary Grant, but he reminds me a lot of Clark Gable.

Anne Laurie

What movie am I really, really looking forward to this summer? THE BROTHERS GRIMM. Scheduled for release on August 26. Check it out! Because: It's a Terry Gilliam (TIME BANDITS, BRAZIL, TWELVE MONKEYS) production. Because it stars Matt Damon (GOOD WILL HUNTING, COURAGE UNDER FIRE, BOURNE IDENTITY, OCEANS ELEVEN, RIPLEY, PROJECT GREENLIGHT) and Heath Ledger (TEN THINGS I HATE ABOUT YOU, KNIGHT'S TALE, MONSTER'S BALL). Oh, and it's from Miramax, if you believe that production companies still have "brands".

As it happens, THE BROTHERS GRIMM has been in production for something like three years now, and I think its history to date reflects a lot of what's behind your "Where did the Movie Stars go?" essay. The classic Movie Star we remember, or think we remember, required a particular set of working circumstances that may no longer exist. Apart from natural gifts, both physical & intellectual (no, I'm not saying all actors are "smart", but acting requires a particular set of mental skills that is NOT equally distributed), being a Movie Star requires making a lot of movies. All kinds of movies, good movies & bad ones, comedies & dramas & action flicks -- because a Movie Star is an actor who's put in a lot of hours working with other actors, and directors, and producers, and crew members, in order to appear on a lot of screens. I don't think you can be a good Movie Actor without putting in the hard work, and I don't think you can be a Star without a certain level of attention from the public which is only available if you're up on the big screen. Which means you need production companies to keep handing out money to screenwriters & directors & the thousand other individuals required to bring any movie (even a "little" movie, even a bad movie) from a one-line presentation to your local multiplex.

Unfortunately, the current Big-Screen Movie is said to require SO much money and SO many bodies that the companies with money to spend are afraid to "risk" anything less than a giant, throbbing wad of cash on anything other than what they hope will be a huge, pulsating "sure thing". Movie companies don't want to spend a reasonable amount of money on a bunch of dependable productions, all of which will earn a little back for investors and some of which (not always the predicted ones) will earn a whole LOT back for investors. (A whole lot of money, a whole lot of prestige, a whole lot of new, hopefully better jobs for the actors & directors & technical crew.) That's what cable TV is for, these days. Movie companies want to spend the annual budget of the World Bank on "guaranteed" stars, "guaranteed" directors, and most importantly "guaranteed" concepts... not writers, not ideas, but concepts. Or, as you call them, video games. One-sentence summaries that can be understood by seventh-graders, or by people who don't speak English & won't get decent subtitling, either. And once the investing company has staked that much money on the single Concept, it wants the "guaranteed" director to take one or two or three Celebrity Names & do predictable things (stuff you can let the publicity people film for TV infotainment reels) over a predictable time period (so the investors get a quarterly balance sheet with no surprises). If there are more than three Names, the casting goes over budget, and besides it's too hard for the marketing people to know which Name they should be slotting into which infotainment show/broadsheet/webcast. So the ideal modern movie consists, as you say, of a giant polished Actor Figure or two standing in front of (a) gorgeous scenery that (b) explodes...

Actual quote, courtesy DREAMS.. the Terry Gilliam fanzine ( "Weinstein and Gilliam reportedly clashed on THE BROTHERS GRIMM, but they appeared chummy at Cannes, and Weinstein said Miramax was releasing the film with a huge marketing blitz. Delays on THE BROTHERS GRIMM resulted because Gilliam and his collaborators had to inject top-of-the-line effects and production values essentially at half-price, Weinstein said. “It takes so long when the movie should cost $150 million and it only costs $75 million.”

Yeah, and we know Harvey Weinstein has to sweat every million. God forbid the CGI budget for Daniel Day Lewis' cheekbones should suffer...

Well, that's why I (and so many other people) love Netflix. That's why HBO and Showtime and A&E and even Fox TV and the WB are where the good actors & the "watercooler pictures" are coming from. There are plenty of great actors of both sexes that I'll go to see a movie, or at least consider seeing a movie, just to watch: Denzel Washington (THERE'S a true Movie Star for you!), Gene Hackman, Paul Newman, Will Smith, Michael Caine, Matt Damon, Heath Ledger, Johnny Depp, Dennis Leary, Tommy Lee Jones, Liev Schreiber, David Hyde Pierce, Chris Cooper, John Cusack, Hugh Jackman, Kiefer Sutherland, Donald Sutherland, Jeff Bridges, Haley Joel Osment, Lou Diamond Phillips, Julia Stiles, Sandra Bullock, Janeane Garofolo, Drew Barrymore (speaking of Old-Time Movie Stars!), Angela Bassett, Gena Rowlands, Mary Steenburgen, Cate Blanchett, Annette Benning, Helen Mirren, Meg Ryan, Alfre Woodard, Marsha Gaye Harden, Lili Taylor, Sigourney Weaver, Jane Alexander, Olympia Dukakis, Whoopi Goldberg (I would *so* love to see her play Hannah Jarvey in Stoppard's ARCADIA!), Toni Collette, Elisabeth Pena, Candice Bergen, Helen Hunt, Christina Ricci, Cher, Sissy Spacek, Rene Russo, Susan Sarandon, Ileana Douglas... There are also particular writers and directors for whom I'll pay multiplex prices to see practically ANYTHING they do, chief among them being Terry Gilliam and John Sayles. The fact that so many of these excellent actors (writers, directors) are not working, are working in television, are doing "underbudgeted" pictures once every five years, is another one of life's small tragedies. I'm grateful that at least I have Netflix (and cable tv, and internet news about movies I will want to see), none of which were available when Movie Stars walked the earth & most people had access to, at best, a weekly double-header at the one movie theatre within reach.

And when you get tired of these comments, you can always post another thread on "Movie Personalities Whom I Know to Avoid Under All Circumstances"...

Douglass Truth

Crash was wonderful. Best acting I've seen in ages. The director must really know how to get results. Matt Dillon (!) should get an Oscar for best supporting actor.

Maybe it's the times - we've got so much more "product" than we ever did before. There will never be another Beatles, either - just too many bands - too many good bands as well as bad - for a group to stand out as much as they did.

As for actor and actresses, one more comment, based upon watching a weeks' worth of Turner Classics and American Movie Classics at my mother's place: The old dudes and women seemed to be much more "real men" and "real women" then today's versions. Know what I'm saying? The actor all seem like kids today, with no real experiences that have seared them in any way. Science fiction has a similar thing: the writers of the fifties were almost all WWII vets, savvy adult men and women who knew the world, not just the fiction that came before...

will agree with some of the posts above - lots of good TV on: check out Deadwood.

Anne Laurie

Oh yeah -- Monica Bellucci! She's in THE BROTHERS GRIMM, too. I understand there are lots of guys who will go to practically any movie featuring Monica Bellucci, in the hope she will take her clothes off. I can't promise Monica Bellucci will take her clothes off in THE BROTHERS GRIMM, but you never know your luck, guys...


Frances McDormand, Judy Davis, Andre Braugher, John Glover, maybe Amber Tamblyn.... and you know what? I guess they'd mostly be considered character actors. So now I know: I loves the character actors.

In conclusion, I will echo SAP's One Word:



Johnny Depp is a current favorite. I usually hate the pretty boys unless they show a rare intelligence or are good comedians.

Can't stand Tom Cruise, that little putz.

Love Bill Murray (how perfect that 2 of my favorite actors of all time both played Hunter Thompson...).

Love Sean Connery and Michael Caine and ooooh - Alan Rickman!

I can't remember the last movie I saw where I actually took note of a female actress.

Seems to me movies were A LOT better in the '60s and '70s and even the '80s. I think more of this is to blame on the directors and executives up the ladder than it is on the actors, though. A good story & script, well directed, without such extreme dependency on special effects and gewgaws, would make all the difference.

Have to say I now think Mel Gibson must be a better actor than I'd ever given him credit for being, or else how could I have missed the fact that he's a raving lunatic?


I saw Sith. Otherwise, I mostly take the kids so last several movies I saw in the theater were cartoons, most recently Madagascar. I don't know what happened - we used to go to local artsy theaters every week, but we quit since we moved two years ago.

OK, many stars have been mentioned already and I agree with a lot of names.
Clint Eastwood and Jack Nicholson are the greatest male stars of recent history. Barbra Streisand - o, yeah - the last true female star! I loved Charles Bronson, for some unknown reason. I love Woody Allen in his own movies. Gerard Depardeu was going to become a star and then - what happened?
Also, I don't know why, but I like Holly Hunter, Neve Campbell, Jamie Lee Curtis and Jody Foster. Kill me.

But the greatest of them all:


Current (female) stars are sexy. And that's all.


*swoon* I'm sorry, I lost myself there.

You know who is full of talent and beauty who'd be a great movie star is Catherine Zeta Jones. Unfortunately, she hitched her star to a creepy old man, which diminishes her.


The Lords of Dogtown was an entertaining couple of hours-Heath Ledger owned the scenes he was in-we left the theater and rented Dogtown and Z Boys for a good double bill.Not "movie stars",but I'm surprised no one has mentioned several of the better actors of their generation-Daniel Day Lewis,Val Kilmer,Julianne Moore.Any movie by John Sayles,the Coen brothers,Robert Altman gets my attention.


As others have said, I'm looking forward to Serenity and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, although in the latter case it's more a case of curiousity to see how it differs from the 1971 version.


George Clooney was on his way, but he seems to have given up.

I immediately thought of Clooney when I read this post. If you're looking for a recent movie star moment, I would suggest that you can do no better than the hotel-bar scene in Soderberg's Out of Sight, which serves as a prelude to a Lopez-Clooney romp in the sheets. The scene is lit and shot beautifully--it's one of the most gorgeous pieces of recent film that I can think of.

The film is also germane to your discussion here because it takes place at a pivotal moment in Jennifer Lopez's career. I think the film provides evidence that she could have been a movie star--if only she hadn't followed the performace by hiring herself out "to lend the cachet of [her] celebrity to the product being sold" -- which, in her case, turned out to be the cultural commodity known as JLo.

Now, as far as Clooney giving up, it seems to me that in recent years, Clooney has resisted glamorized parts in favor of slightly more risky fare like "Solaris," 'Confessions of a Dangerous Mind," and "O Brother, Where Art Thou?" I find it hard to criticize a movie star, in this day and age, for taking on projects that don't have the commercial cachet of the latest Star Wars flick.

And I wonder how much trends like cinema verite and the 70's cinematic fascination with anti-heroes hastened the demise of the prototypical movie star. Breathless is one example of that; Chinatown is another: a movie shot with old school glamor, though this time the hero gets his nose broke real good.

As for some of the other stars mentioned in this thread:

Johnny Depp: pretentious fop (though he was amazing in "Dead Man")
Daniel Day-Lewis: brilliant, but not a "movie star" in your sense
Nicholson: again, brilliant, but more an actor than a glamorized star
Ewan McGregor: he's great, and smart, but, like Nicholson and Day-Lewis, I don't think he's interested in being a movie star

Scarlet Johansson: if she plays her cards right, yes
Monica Bellucci: she's gorgeous...but is she a movie star? probably not.
Susan Sarandon: she comes very close
Dunst, Winslet, Stiles, Portman: they've got the looks, but have they got the chops? Winslet does, but I don't think the others do.

What strikes me about many of these actors is that I don't think any of them want to be movie stars in the traditional sense.


check out cary grant paintings at:

roy edroso

A very astute analysis of a topic I thought had been exhausted. Bravo!

Can you please run more pictures of Angelina Jolie?


Gregory Peck


Men: Edward Norton, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Billy Bob Thorton, Benicio Del Toro, Chris Cooper, Bill Murray, Gael Garcia Bernal, Peter Sarsgaard, Barry Pepper.....although none of these men have the sex appeal of say, Brad Pitt.

Women: Meryl Streep, Scarlett Johansson, Natalie Portman (with a script NOT written by Lucas), Samantha Morton, Julianne Moore, Kate Winslet (NOT directed by James Cameron), Audrey Tautou, Thora Birch

Dan Nexon

Western cinema long ceased to be a medium for movie starts. The 1990s were the decade of the character actors. What's next? Who knows. Most of the quality is coming from serialized dramas, particularly on HBO. An increasing percentage of what I watch is from Japan, and animated.

But Asian cinema, particularly Hong Kong and Chinese? The other posters are right. They still have stars, Real ones. If you want to understand how much starts are a creation of the idiom, rather than simply dependent on the individual, consider what happened to some of the great Hong Kong stars when they came to Hollywood: Jackie Chan, Jet Li, and Chow Yun-Fat (hands down the only modern cinema actor who, in his heyday, could give Cary Grant a run for his money). They weren't stars anymore. But Jet Li went back to being a star in Hero, and Chow Yun-Fat was a star again in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (a vastly overrated film, by the way).

If anyone has any doubts that Maggie Cheung is the greatest living female "movie star", watch Irma Vep, Hero, and the 1992 remake of Dragon Inn back to back.

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