Which top-paid actress makes the best movies?

91932__nicole_lThe Hollywood Reporter has released its annual list of the world’s highest-paid actresses, and not surprisingly, Julia Roberts leads the pack, commanding $20 million a film. She’s followed by Nicole Kidman (left), Reese Witherspoon, Drew Barrymore, RenĂ©e Zellweger, Angelina Jolie, Cameron Diaz, Jodie Foster, Charlize Theron, and Jennifer Aniston.

My question for today is this: Which of these actresses represents the best (and worst) value in terms of quality filmmaking? If you’re willing to forgive Bewitched and The Stepford Wives (and I know that’s asking an awful lot), I’d argue Kidman’s had the best track record since 2000, thanks to The Others, The Hours, The Interpreter, and Moulin Rouge. And worst value? That’d have to go to Jolie. Admittedly, I’d pay to watch her read the phone book, but then again, that’d be preferable to sitting through the abysmal Taking Lives, Original Sin, or Lara Croft: Tomb Raider. As for Theron, if she wants to retain her ranking, she’ll have to survive Friday’s opening of Aeon Flux, which apparently isn’t being screened for critics. (Uh-oh.) Okay, now it’s your turn to argue which of the above actresses most (and least) deserves her hefty paycheck.

Ready, set, debate!

addCredit(“Nicole Kidman: Arnd Wiegmann/Reuters”)


Comments (53 total) Add your comment
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  • Glenda Penney

    The others do not hold a candle to Nicole Kidman.

  • Chris

    Jodie Foster deserves to be in the $20 million club.

  • Steve

    I love Nicole Kidman’s movies/roles! I try to watch or rent any movie she’s in…more so than Julia Roberts. I agree that no one holds a candle to Nicole Kidman except for Renne Zellweger…I love her too…’Cold Mountain’ (great movie) was two for the price of one!

  • brandon

    Nichole Kidman is an incredible actress. That said, Bewitched and The Stepford Wives were the two most disappointing movies of the the last two summers. She should stick to drama. Theron is wonderful in anything she is in, but she chooses roles that are great in movies that are average. Zellweger suffers from the same problem that Roberts does. She is more herself than her characters. Only in the original Bridget Jones did she transcend being Renee Zellwegger. The actress who does the most consistently great work in the best movies would have to be Kate Winslet. Unfortunatley she does not get paid like the actresses on this list.

  • Miles

    Why does Drew Barrymore get paid that much. She has never been able to carry a film on her own. Everyone else in the list, pretty much gets what they are worth. Still, actors making that much money and teachers making poverty income, it just doesn’t seem right.

  • Matt

    After “Walk the Line,” I can see why Reese Witherspoon deserves to be at the top. I just wonder if she’ll take on a few more really good roles before returning to something like “Legally Blonde” again…

  • Sara M. SLC, Utah

    Frankly I don’t know why Julia keeps getting roles. Every charachter she’s played is only minutely different than the last, with only a couple of exceptions. Yeah, Yeah, everyone loves to see you gum for the camera, but a little skill in your acting would be nice. $20 mill for playing another lovelorn woman seems like way too much.

  • Liza

    No one is as good as Nicole Kidman. To me, Julia plays herself in every movie.

  • Danielle

    I agree with brandon, Kate Winslet is definitely one of the most consistently great actresses in consistently great work that I have seen. Nicole Kidman and Renee Zellweger would be next on my list.

  • Kimmie G

    I don’t believe that Julia Roberts (or Cameron Diaz) has ever really been worth the price of the popcorn (or sometimes, just), and have found it amazing that Julia’s consistently been at the top of this list. My list of faves also includes the incredible Kate Winslet, who is one of the best actresses out there right now; Nicole Kidman; and Reese Witherspoon in the serious stuff (please no more “Blonde”s!!). And I actually really like Angelina Jolie, too. While I’ve appreciated some movies out of all these ladies’ catalogs, I cringe at thinking that my $10 movie ticket goes to their huge salaries.

  • Lopez

    The one to watch is little Dakota Fanning, she also has a younger sibling that is coming to her owm. She just makes the other actors around her so much better.

  • cal

    Nicole Kidman is hands down the best actress on that list, and Kate Winslet should be a close second. And even though I couldn’t stand her performance in “Bridget Jones’s Diary” — which is a fun movie, but no where near as good as the book itself — I have to begrudgingly admit that Renee Zellweger is a good actress. Julia Roberts (who, in my opinion, tried to prove her dramatic range in “Closer” but failed miserably) and Drew Barrymore are really nothing more than box office draws without a lot of acting… but Barrymore’s films are my guilty pleasures. (I love “50 First Dates”)

  • Hez

    This list alone just shows moviegoers can’t recognize good acting or excellent movies.
    For pure talent alone it should have been;
    Kate Winslet, Julianne Moore, Renee Zellweger, and my all time fave Cate Blanchett!

  • elizabeth

    The only person on that list that deserves the money is Nicole Kidman. Kate Winslet doesn’t get paid as much because she’s British and hasn’t made that cross-over yet, and all of her movies are driven by the male actors (titanic = leo, the one about her losing her memory = jim carrey, finding neverland = depp), the movies that she is in aren’t promoted as HER movies. She’s been nominated for Oscars more than any of the other actresses on the list, yet again she deserves to have one more than anyone else. With Julia Roberts and Cameron Diaz people confuse likeable with talent. I’ve never payed $10 to see their movies, and never will.
    Jodie Foster has always been one of my favorite actresses because she knows how to choose her roles, and doesn’t allow her personal life interfere with her work, something that can’t be said about Jolie. I mean, does anyone know anything about Jodie? I dont, and I dont want to, I like the mystery.
    And I feel like WHATEVER when it comes to everyone else on the list. Jodie Foster and Nicole Kidman are #1 in my list!

  • Jim

    Nicole Kidman is easily the most overpaid/overrated actresses. No one goes to see a “Nicole Kidman” flick. She simply does not open movies. If it is a money discussion, paychecks should be based on how much money they generate and not their acting ability. If it were, Jim Carrey and Tom Cruise would not make more than Robert Downey Jr. A majority of Kidman’s films can be justifiably considered bombs at the box office; Bewitched, Birth, Stepford Wives, Human Stain, The Hours, Birthday Girl, Practical Magic. She hasn’t carried a succesful film since The Others and her Oscar came on a film no one saw (The Hours.) Now I am not asking her to take crap roles in pop films (like Jolie in Tomb Raider), I just don’t believe that she is worth $20 million.

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