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The SFX Hot 50 Preview

And by preview, we mean the Top 10. You’ll have to buy SFX #215 to discover the whole 50

Who are the most interesting people in sci-fi at the moment? Each year SFX examines the movers, the shakers and the decision makers, to compile the definitive list of people having an impact on our beloved genre.

First launched back in issue 185, the annual Hot 50 List is our guide to the people you should be watching. Discussion and debate – and more than a little foul-mouthed disagreement – fill the office as the SFX perts pull together our guide to the hottest folk in the biz. Actors, writers, directors, special effects experts, futurists, spokespeople, ambassadors, artists and high profile fans – anybody who’s connected to sci-fi, horror and fantasy could be in here, as long as we think they’re having an impact on our experience of the genre.

In 2009 the top slot went to JJ Abrams and in 2010 we picked Christopher Nolan as leader of the pack. The 2011 list appears in full in SFX issue 215, on sale from Wednesday 19 October ( available digitally as well as in print – though click here if you’re in the US). Who will we identify as the hottest thing in the months ahead? All will be revealed...

10 Emma Stone

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Actress, Spider-woman
Previous form After an episode of Medium she became Superbad and went to Zombieland .
The Buzz Stone kicked zombie ass in Zombieland and even got to star alongside Nathan Fillion in Tim Minear’s ill-fated series Drive , but nothing’s going to endear her to us more than her role in The Amazing Spider-Man . As Gwen Stacy she’ll be romancing Andrew Garfield’s Peter Parker and then, once all the Spidey-fuss has died down, she’ll be kicking zombie ass all over again as Elizabeth Bennet in Pride And Prejudice And Zombies . What is it with this girl and the undead, anyway?

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9 Zack Snyder

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Director, screenwriter, style-merchant
Previous
form Remade Dawn Of The Dead in 2004 then gave us 300 , Watchmen and Sucker Punch .
The Buzz Snyder remains a uniquely divisive figure among the geek nation. His loving adaptation of Watchmen infuriated as many fanboys as it thrilled while the eyecandy ultraviolence of Sucker Punch sated cosplayers but swandived at the box office. Man Of Steel finds Warner Bros entrusting him with the big-screen fortunes of the single most recognisable superhero brand on planet Earth – no pressure there, then. 2013 will tell if he delivers the new Dark Knight or, Jor-El forbid, the new Green Lantern .

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8 Howard Overman

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Writer, Misfiteer
Previous form
Created and wrote two entire seasons of Misfits , scripted Dirk Gently ’s TV debut, regular writer for Merlin .
The Buzz Running Steven Moffat very close for the title “hardest working man in British TV”, Howard Overman is at least taking it slightly easy this year. For the first time, Misfits will feature a couple of episodes he hasn’t written himself. But with E4’s ASBO super drama going into a highly anticipated third season, a gig overseeing Dirk Gently ’s continuing BBC Four adventures, and being one of Merlin ’s best writers (he’s written two series four episodes this year, including last weekend’s stormer), he’s rapidly become one of the most prolific, most important figures in UK telly.

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7 Lauren Beukes

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Novelist, screenwriter, recovering journalist
Previous form
Straight-out-of-leftfield recipient of the Clarke Award for best SF novel of the year.
The Buzz Clarke winner Zoo City was a heady mix of future-fantasy, noir, magic realism, talking animal familiars and cyberpunk that confirmed Beukes’ emergence as an important new voice in SF. The promise of Moxyland (2008) was confirmed. A political writer in that her work is strongly rooted in South Africa’s inequalities, her next novel will be a thriller and “meditation on the nature of evil” based around the work of the country’s (now-defunct) Occult Crimes Unit.

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6 Grant Morrison

Writer, realitynaut
Previous form
Frontier-busting comic book projects like The Invisibles and All-Star Superman .
The Buzz The publication of Supergods – part history, part memoir, part call to arms – cements Morrison as one of pop-culture’s sharpest figures. His recent retooling of Superman as a crusading angel in patched denim has been the highlight of DC’s 52 campaign, and we’re still awaiting Multiversity , an epic that Morrison wants to stand as his finest work. Dominion: Dinosaurs Vs Aliens , a riotously high-concept collaboration with Barry Sonnenfeld, will see his skull detonate on the big screen.

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5 Christopher Nolan

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Director, writer, producer, Gotham quality controller
Previous form
The man behind the reborn, cred-plated Bat-franchise and the twisty delights of Inception .
The Buzz Sure, The Dark Knight Rises looms on the horizon like some invincible, iron-clad battleship, but there’s more to Nolan than the most feverishly awaited box office banker of 2012. Dreamscape thriller Inception showed a man unafraid of loading his multiplex material with a provocative level of smarts. Never one to knowingly underestimate his audience, the London-born helmer champions a precious sense of intelligence in a genre increasingly in thrall to safe-option solutions. Something tells us he’s only just begun.

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4 Joss Whedon

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Writer, director, compulsive quote-merchant
Previous form
Quip-blasting wordsmith behind Buffy The Vampire Slayer , Angel and Firefly .
The Buzz Next April sees the belated release of his winking rural chiller The Cabin In The Woods (tagline: “If you hear a strange noise outside… have sex.”). But that’s only the warm-up act for Whedon’s conquest of 2012. As writer and director of The Avengers he’s tasked with splicing some of the most profitable franchises in history into one almighty box office beast. And, y’know, tell a good story and make it look pretty and stuff. It’s his biggest assault yet on the mainstream, and we just know it’s going to be shiny.

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3 Peter Jackson

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Director, writer, producer, Weta-wizard
Previous form
The Rings cycle; however his last work, The Lovely Bones , was a bit of a syrupy mess and he also lost his Halo .
The Buzz You can almost drown in the drool as the world waits impatiently for Jackson to finish The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey ; expect it to break box-office records in December 2012, with its sequel, There And Back Again , no doubt doing the same a year later. Dwarf-wrangling aside, Jackson’s also found time to team up with Spielberg to tell the tale of a boy and his dog in The Adventures Of Tintin .

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2 Ridley Scott

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Producer, director, visionary
Previous form
Earns no less than two lifetime passes for SF masterpieces Alien and Blade Runner .
The Buzz Seventy-three-year-old Scott returns to the genre he redefined like a veteran gunslinger, determined to prove he’s stronger than the sum of his past glories. The stakes are provocatively high – not only will 2012’s Prometheus invite direct comparisons with Alien but there’s also the small matter of a sequel to the untouchable Blade Runner . Factor in an option on Joe Haldeman’s epic The Forever War and you have a helmer with the full-blooded ambition of a man 50 years his junior.

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1 Andrew Garfield

Actor, rising star, neophyte arachnid
Previous form A stellar five-year trajectory that has taken him from the London stage and a bit part in Doctor Who to Hollywood
A-list, including award-magnet turns in Boy A and The Social Network .
The Buzz As the fundamental moral law of the Church of Marvel tells it, with great power comes great responsibility. If power translates as becoming the frontman for a $2.5 billion franchise then there’s a world of responsibility on the lean shoulders of Andrew Garfield, scoring prime position on this year’s SFX Hot 50 for his upcoming turn in The Amazing Spider-Man .

Garfield may feel like the face du jour but his star has been climbing for a while now. In 2006 he was crowned outstanding newcomer at the Evening Standard Theatre Awards. 2007 saw him bag a TV Bafta for his break-out performance in Boy A , playing a teenage convict with a murderous past, a role that capitalised on the trademark neurotic currents that would lead to Peter Parker, the ultimate boy outsider. The same year saw dreamtown bible Variety name him one of their 10 Actors To Watch. It was his supporting role in 2010’s The Social Network that finally promoted him to the Hollywood frontbench, and Sony signed him as their new Spider-Man amid a timely shower of gongs and noms.

With all the spindly charisma of a Steve Ditko drawing, Garfield feels a good fit for the awkward, frequently heart-bruised wall-crawler. His love for Spider-Man is unfeigned – at this year’s Comic-Con he charmed the hordes of Hall H with an impassioned personal hymn to the web-slinger: “I needed Spidey in my life when I was a kid and he gave me hope,” Garfield recalled. “He made me, Andrew, braver.”

The prospect of global fame may terrify him, but with his mug about to be slapped on lunchboxes from Brooklyn to Bangalore he’ll need every ounce of that bravery.

And Spider-Man’s there at his side once more…

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