The list is a magazine's friend. Look on any mag's cover and you'll see at least one bold, colorful number touting the XX best whatevers, be they skin creams or horror films. (Listing is also why movie people love the Oscars -- it's an orgy of top fives combined with the suspense of a horse race.) So, let's meditate on the latest list featured in Premiere's latest issue, keeping in mind that my definition of a "movie star" is one who makes a notable quantity of good and lasting films while exhibiting a radiance both onscreen and off (very different from a "celebrity"). Do they deserve to be on it?
50. Brad Pitt. Maybe. Hasn't made a great one since Thelma & Louise, but he's hot and smart.
49. Russell Crowe. Yes. Chameleonic, serious about work, and a rabble-rouser.
48. Nicole Kidman. Yes. Every inch the star, despite her shyness.
47. Johnny Depp. Yes. Everyone's favorite these days.
46. Meryl Streep. Yes. Because she's she.
45. Jack Lemmon. Yes. First on list besides Streep to have a secure spot in pantheon.
44. Will Smith. No! Certainly not ahead of Streep and Lemmon.
43. Clint Eastwood. Yes. And boy can he direct.
42. Gary Cooper. Yes. But awfully low on the list.
41. Peter Sellers. Maybe. More comic genius than movie star.
40. Elizabeth Taylor. Yes. Chops, marriages, violet eyes.
39. Denzel Washington. Yes. Has that gravity; doesn't sell out.
38. Robert De Niro. Maybe. Because he's really abusing his status as one lately.
37. Al Pacino. Yes. Rightfully ahead of De Niro.
36. Sean Connery. Bond alone takes care of this.
35. Harrison Ford. Yes. Even though he played Indy and Han the same way.
34. Rita Hayworth. Yes. I mean, look at her.
33. Shirley Temple. No. Child stars must grow into it to own it.
32. Jane Fonda. Yes. Hopefully she's learned from Monster-in-Law.
31. Steve McQueen. Yes. No range, but badass!
30. James Dean. No! Icon (via early death), not movie star.
29. Warren Beatty. Yes. First playboy-artist hybrid on the list.
28. Tom Hanks. Yes. Watch Big, then Philadelphia.
27. Gregory Peck. Yes. If only for longevity.
26. Errol Flynn. Dunno. Never seen his movies.
25. Bette Davis. Yes. And should be higher.
24. Doris Day. Maybe. She's still alive but dropped out of the movies in '68.
23. Fred Astaire. Yes. The definition of class and grace.
22. Judy Garland. No. I'm just not a fan.
21. Clark Gable. Yes. Especially when they called you the King of Hollywood.
20. Sidney Poitier. Yes. Still capable of another great performance.
19. Spencer Tracy. Yes. But what if he didn't have Hepburn?
18. Audrey Hepburn. No. The quintessential movie star, but she always seems phony to me.
17. Robert Redford. Yes. One hot hyphenate.
16. Jack Nicholson. Yes! The quintessential movie star, fascinating in every aspect.
15. Marlon Brando. Yes. What if he'd kept it cool like Jack?
14. Katharine Hepburn. Yes! The AFI rightly said she was the #1 female star.
13. Humphrey Bogart. Yes. The AFI said he was the #1 male star.
12. Grace Kelly. Yes. Heck, on looks alone.
11. James Cagney. Yes. Peck-like longevity, Pacino-like passion.
10. Henry Fonda. Maybe. Actor yes. True star...maybe?
9. James Stewart. Yes. Hanks' predecessor.
8. Greta Garbo. Maybe. Can mystique alone justify this spot?
7. Julia Roberts. Maybe. Premiere calls her career "uncompromised." What about Runaway Bride? America's Sweethearts? Stepmom? And so on.
6. Paul Newman. Yes! Utterly.
5. Ingrid Bergman. Yes. Grace Kelly + the deep reserves.
4. John Wayne. Maybe. I mean, if you say so.
3. Tom Cruise. Yes. Makes and anchors great movies.
2. Marilyn Monroe. Yes. Because she's she.
1. Cary Grant. Yes. And what if this man had talent in addition to charm?
Omissions from the classical set: Orson Welles, Joan Crawford (who would be furious), Burt Lancaster, Robert Mitchum, William Holden, Rosalind Russell, Lauren Bacall.
Omissions from the golden age set: Dustin Hoffman, Faye Dunaway, Gene Hackman, Diane Keaton, Woody Allen, Sophia Loren, Michael Caine.
Omissions from the modern set: Jodie Foster, Sigourney Weaver, Jeff Bridges, Mel Gibson, Juliette Binoche, Susan Sarandon.
On Premiere's list, 34 are men, 24 are still alive (of which 18 are still working regularly and eight are under the age of 50 -- Hanks will hit the mark next year).
Your thoughts on inclusions, omissions, my thoughts? Let's see your list of top five or 10.
Nathaniel's Top Ten of 2017
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