who — if anyone — has emerged as an indisputable movie star since the year 2000?


This week’s Question is stolen from my friend and fellow critic Ian Mantgani, who recently tweeted:

Fun challenge: Think of an indisputable film “star” who has emerged since the year 2000. Harder than u think. Is there one?

So there’s the challenge:

Who — if anyone — has emerged as a indisputable movie star since the year 2000?

A good working definition of “movie star”: someone who’s a household name even among those who don’t go to the movies much, and someone whose presence in a film is enough to get people talking about that movie (for better or worse). Indisputable movie stars who emerged pre-2000 (and who are still working today) are folks such as Tom Hanks, George Clooney, Meryl Streep, and Sandra Bullock.

We’re nearly 15 years into the century — it shouldn’t be so hard to think of names to fill this roster. But the only one I can think of, potentially, is Daniel Radcliffe… but only because of Harry Potter, and Harry Potter is still more famous than he is. There are plenty of interesting young actors — we had no trouble filling out a list of them back in August — but I don’t think we can reasonably call any of them actual movie stars.

There’s been a lot of talk about the end of “movie stars”: that big names no longer open movies, for instance. Is that why we can’t think of any names here? Or is something else going on?

(If you have a suggestion for a Question, feel free to email me.)

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