20 DOUG LIMAN - DIRECTOR/PRODUCER
The man who made Swingers money and birthed Bourne returns with sci-fi wow project Jumper. Shrewd, articulate, mildly insane – his films are exciting and unpredictable, much like the man himself.
What’s next? Jumper sequels and his pet production Untitled Moon Project. Expect it sometime in 2047.
19 KEIRA KNIGHTLEY - ACTRESS
Pirates made more than $1bn and Atonement completely removed the stick out of the ‘she can’t act’ brigade’s hands (and jabbed it into their lower colon). Beautiful, talented and swears like a pissed navvy. That’s our girl...
What’s next? The Edge Of Love with Sienna Miller, written by Keira’s mum, followed by The Duchess.
18 PETER RICE - MOGUL
Every studio has its own ‘indie’ division but none is as successful as Fox Searchlight, topped by Brit-born Rice. Sideways, Napoleon Dynamite, I ♥ Huckabees, Little Miss Sunshine… His strike-rate is top notch, added to by recent crit-hits Once and Juno.
What’s next? Keanu thriller The Night Watchman and odd prison stalk-com I Love You Phillip Morris.
17 DAVID FINCHER - DIRECTOR
Meticulous genius, master storyteller, supreme visual stylist… yadda, yadda, yadda. TF’s Fincher love is so big it’s getting embarrassing, but the Fight Club director still excites like no other.
What’s next? The extraordinary-looking The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button. Long-mulled-over digi sci-fi epic Rendezvous With Rama also continues to beckon.
16 JAMES MCAVOY - ACTOR
He first caught TF’s attention in 2003’s Bright Young Things, before causing confusing, faun-fancying dreams as Mr Tumnus in The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe. Deserves to help himself to a golden baldie for his astonishing turn in Atonement.
What’s next? Showing he can do tough by top-lining assassination comic-book actioner Wanted.
15 CHRISTOPHER NOLAN - DIRECTOR/WRITER
There are shades of Orson Welles to this Brit-born, US-based prodigy, who at 37 has already conjured a masterpiece in Memento and regenerated a long-thought-unsaveable icon in Batman Begins. He followed that up with The Prestige; which was quite a trick, utilising the skills of Christian Bale and Michael Caine once again. Nolan’s features deal in moral murk, dual identity and the power of memory, but the ideas never overpower the entertainment.
What’s next? After delivering Joker versus Batman thrills in The Dark Knight, Nolan has been signed to adapt cult ’60s TV series The Prisoner. Paranoia, torture, government conspiracy… Very, very now.
14 MATT DAMON - ACTOR/WRITER/PRODUCER
Absurdly denied Oscar noms for his superb turns in The Departed and The Good Shepherd, but few can deliver such conflicted, compromised, human characters as Damon, who rounded out ’07 with a trilogy-topper of uncommon quality in The Bourne Ultimatum. He mixes Redford’s good looks with Hoffman’s smarts – the complete package.
What’s next? A stint alongside Anna Paquin in Kenneth Lonergan’s Margaret, before joining Greengrass in The Green Zone, Soderbergh in The Informant and Clint Eastwood for The Human Factor.
13 JOHNNY DEPP - ACTOR/PRODUCER
The Pirates franchise may have run out of critical puff, but Depp’s performance as Captain Jack Sparrow (your pick for top spot in Total Film’s recent poll of great film characters) powered the franchise to astonishing box office success. He then had critics cooing over his blood-soaked singing in Sweeney Todd. The insiders’ outsider, Depp retains his cool despite commercial blockbuster appeal.
What’s next? Producer/star of heroin-dealer-turns-doctor drama Shantaram and playing notorious gangster John Dillinger in Michael Mann’s Public Enemies. Feel the heat...
12 KEVIN FEIGE - MOGUL
Marvel Studios’ president of production, Feige holds the key to the comic-book kingdom, particularly now that the company has the necessary wonga to self-finance its films. Iron Man is the first purely Marvel picture to roll off that production line (Spider-Man was a joint venture with Sony, while X-Men handed half the reigns to Fox). Feige, meanwhile, has business savvy matched with fan passion, which makes a potent combination.
What’s next? The tin fella (Iron Man), the green fella (The Incredible Hulk); another attempt to make a good Punisher movie; the intriguingly leftfield Deathlok; and the inevitable Spider-Man 4...
11 TOM CRUISE - ACTOR/PRODUCER/MOGUL
Write off Tom Cruise at your peril. The War Of The Worlds star was meant to be on the slide following his acrimonious exit from Paramount, only to bounce back with his own studio in United Artists. Lions For Lambs may have been a self-satisfied snore, but he was very good in it – while second UA outing Valkyrie will see the studio find its feet and reconfirm Cruise as one of the smartest superstars.
What’s next? There are several post-Valkyrie projects already in development, with Ben Stiller co-starrer Hardy Men the most promising…