The Hottest 100 People In Hollywood Right Now 40 - 31

At the time of going to press, this is what we wrote about Ledger, who died tragically aged 28. "Is it possible to be too excited about Ledger’s upcoming performance as The Joker in Christopher Nolan’s Batman revisit The Dark Knight? Not really. Going on the charismatic Aussie’s current post-Brokeback form we have nothing to fear except, well, the gash-mouthed action clown himself." Just as he was teetering on the brink of mega-stardom, the gifted Aussie actor was gone. The Dark Knight will be the last glimpse we see of him, as Terry Gilliam’s The Imaginarium Of Dr Parnassus now looks set to fold.

Not content with co-creating Lost and making Jennifer Garner a star with Alias, Jeffrey Jacob Abrams buddied up with Tom Cruise for Mission: Impossible III and used that success to land Paramount’s other most cherished franchise: the one with that bloke with the pointy ears.

What’s next? Post-Cloverfield... the fanboy-baiting Star Trek reboot.

Dubbed “the suicide King” when he bankrolled Traffic, King had the last laugh when Soderbergh snared the Oscar... The Brit then backed Scorsese’s 30-year passion project Gangs Of New York, following it with The Aviator and finally landing Marty an Oscar – and one for himself – with The Departed. King’s name is a clear mark of quality.

What’s next? Prestige pic The Young Victoria, as well as long-gestating Johnny Depp drama Shantaram.

The hottest new writer in Hollywood right now (real name: Brook Busey-Hunt) is riding high on the success of indie sensation Juno. With a pithy, painfully funny take on teen pregnancy, she’s got every studio itching for her scripting. And she’s a former stripper who writes a blog called Pussy Ranch to boot. What’s not to love?

What’s next? Juno’s success has landed her a gig on Spielberg’s TV show The United States Of Tara and has also led to horror comedy Jennifer’s Body

From French & Saunders to Hollywood & Vine, Wright’s rise has been as dizzying as his whiplash whip-pans. He turned Shaun Of The Dead’s unlikely pitch (rom-zom-com, really?) into a comedy classic, before broadening his appeal with cop-com Hot Fuzz. He’s currently juggling scripts before the inevitable call to helm a major franchise.

What’s next? Marvel oddity Ant-Man is still on the cards although yet to be cast, Spaced-style comic-book adap Scott Pilgrim’s Precious Little Life also beckons or – our favourite – much-buzzed conspiracy comedy Them, with Jon Ronson.

Too long the geek champion, Singer managed to bring a meticulous intelligence and storytelling panache to his X-Men and Superman comic-book blockbusters. But none of them have managed to top his noir masterpiece The Usual Suspects. Which is fine, because...

What’s next? ...Singer has reteamed with The Usual Suspects scripter Chris McQuarrie on a couple of projects. First up is Tom- Cruise-as-good-Nazi thriller Valkyrie, closely followed by gay rights biopic The Mayor Of Castro Street. Superman 2 is also due in 2009, with Singer still (just about) attached.

Next-gen horror fanboys across the globe (Aja, Roth, McClean, Zombie) have all tried to tear open a new chapter in horror. Make no mistake: none of them can touch our boy. With ferocity, ingenuity and sheer, nerve-shredding fear, the 37-year-old Brit has managed to make B-movie tropes (werewolves, people-eating cave-crawlers) feel like brand new nightmares.

What’s next? The end of the world in $30m apoco-drama Doomsday. Buy plastic pants now.

A partner at the Creative Artists Agency, Swofford is an agent with smarts and soul. She introduced Sam Mendes to Spielberg for American Beauty and got Paul Greengrass the Bourne gig, before repeating the trick with David Yates for Harry Potter and convincing screenwriter Scott Frank to direct The Lookout.

What’s next? Yates’ second stab at speccy: Harry Potter And The Half-Blood Prince.

The pioneering French director was always going to be a perfect fit to psychedelic-as-you-likeadelic scribe Charlie Kaufman. We’re loving his collaboration with Jack Black in the gloriously silly Be Kind, Rewind. Apparently, he made all the props himself. You’ve got to love a guy who gives good glue-stick.

What’s next? A cinematic triptych of three Tokyo-set stories, alongside Joon-ho Bong and Leos Carax.

Once a producer for current affairs show World In Action, Greengrass retains a fierce commitment to truth, explicitly apparent in Bloody Sunday and United 93 and even evident in his Bourne pictures – where the cost of killing is explored in a way unique in blockbusters.

What’s next? Currently prepping another Matt Damon collaboration, The Green Zone, based on Iraq occupation chronicle Imperial Life In The Emerald City.

The Total Film team are made up of the finest minds in all of film journalism. They are: Editor Jane Crowther, Deputy Editor Matt Maytum, Reviews Ed Matthew Leyland, News Editor Jordan Farley, and Online Editor Emily Murray. Expect exclusive news, reviews, features, and more from the team behind the smarter movie magazine.