10 JOHN LASSETER - MOGUL/DIRECTOR
After Pixar spent a decade wiping the floor creatively with the House of Mouse, Disney riffed on the “if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em” maxim by buying the company lock, stock and barrel and putting John Lasseter in charge of all its animation output. So, now the loud-shirted, big-brained Toy Story director – quite possibly the most charming man Total Film has ever met – has Uncle Walt’s back catalogue to play with and promises new outings for the likes of Goofy and ol’ Mr Mickey Mouse. With fellow Pixar pal Steve Jobs also responsible for Apple, Lasseter is on the bleeding edge of both entertainment and entertainment-delivery technology.
What’s next? Pixar’s WALL-E (the beautiful bastard child of ET and Short Circuit) looks terrific, while Toy Story 3 – once a dreaded Disney contractual cash-in – is one of the most keenly anticipated sequels ever, now that Lasseter is on board. For a shot of the man himself, check out upcoming documentary The Boys, about Academy Award-winning musicians Robert B Sherman and Richard M Sherman.
9 WILL SMITH - ACTOR/PRODUCER
The former Fresh Prince has gone from sit-com silliness and chart-bothering ’choons to being the most self-assured star in Hollywood. Behind the laid-back shtick is a laser-sharp mind, ruthlessly aware of what it takes to stay on top, but still in love with making movies. Newsweek ranked him the Most Powerful Actor On The Planet and he’s certainly master of his own destiny, carefully alternating passion projects (Ali, The Pursuit Of Happyness) with ambitious blockbusters (I Robot, I Am Legend – which he got made when Schwarzenegger couldn’t). The disastrous Wild Wild West and the Oscar miss for Ali knocked Big Willie sideways for a while, leaving him placing safe bets (Men In Black II, Bad Boys II) but there are signs his commercial nous will be matched by critical interest in the upcoming…
What’s next? ...Hancock, a promising superhero-in-mid-life-crisis action com, and Seven Pounds, about a bloke who falls in love at the same time as he decides to commit suicide. Also has Empire in the works, playing a media mogul for Michael Mann.
8 SHIA LABEOUF - ACTOR
Spielberg thinks he’s the new Tom Hanks. Total Film thinks he’s better than that. LaBeouf gave soul and wit to Transformers, ensuring Michael Bay’s blockbuster wasn’t pure robot porn (a tough task). He also channelled a teenage Jimmy Stewart in Disturbia, the Rear Window redux that surprised us by A) Making a great deal of money and B) Being rather good. LaBeouf is the boy next door you always imagined you could be: geeky-cool, always ready with a snappy comeback and though hardly Tom Cruise good-looking, not exactly the dirty back-end of a bus, either.
What’s next? There’s the minor matter of – deep breath – Indiana Jones And The Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull, before a re-teaming with Disturbia director DJ Caruso for terrorism thriller Eagle Eye. Then it’s back to the Bay once again for more robot-on-robot action in Transformers II.
7 PETER JACKSON - DIRECTOR/WRITER/PRODUCER
The Lovely Bones may not be due until 2009, but Jackson still holds sway over our imaginations – particularly now his long-running dispute with New Line has been nixed and The Hobbit is go... Yes, PJ might not be directing, but his blessing should ensure the two-part tale of Bilbo discovering that ring (see page 12 for more details) is in line with the entrancing vision of Middle-earth already lovingly committed to screen. ...Bones sees Jackson returning to territory closer to his earlier work on Heavenly Creatures and it’ll be fascinating – and probably pretty moving – to see what he does with Alice Sebold’s tear-yanking bestseller.
What’s next? As well as The Lovely Bones, Jackson has his interactive/gaming goings on, having signed a collaboration deal with Microsoft (although he won’t be directing Halo). He’s also got producing duties on a remake of classic war drama Dam Busters to keep him busy. Then there’s the little matter of taking Belgian boy-adventurer Tintin to the big screen, in a trilogy to be co-directed by a little known wannabe called Steven Spielberg...
6 ANGELINA JOLIE - ACTRESS
Beyond Borders, Taking Lives, Sky Captain And The World Of Tomorrow... There was a time not too long ago when sex appeal aside, the idea of Jolie being ‘hot’ was beginning to seem absurd. She was a tabloid story searching for a career. And then she remembered, once again, that she was a great actress. The only person to emerge from Alexander with any credibility, she sizzled in Mr & Mrs Smith and then showed an entirely different side in A Mighty Heart; dignified and moving without tipping over into mawkish, her performance as Mariane Pearl deserves an Oscar. Other actresses might earn more, or equally pull punters, but no one excites the way Jolie does.
What’s next? Teaching James McAvoy to kill in Wanted, before dealing with child abduction and mystery for Clint Eastwood in The Changeling.
5 DANIEL CRAIG - ACTOR
As snugly as Craig fitted into that tuxedo – and his 007 is a definite 21st-Century vision – it’s quite impossible to see the 40 year old simply as ‘Bond’. For so long a solid support player, Craig suddenly looks the real deal: animal charisma, muscular acting force, frosty vulnerability, sly wit and probably the only man the wrong side of 40 who can look cool in a pair of too-small blue swimming trunks. And Craig has two other aces: chameleon versatility and sheer workrate. In the 12 months since Casino Royale, he’s played a gay death-row killer (Infamous), a sci-fi scientist (The Invasion – sssh...) and a warlord professor (The Golden Compass). DC’s always been impossible to pigeon-hole. Now, he’s impossible to ignore.
What’s next? Bond 22 is just one of four movies Craig has slated for 2008. Ed Zwick’s WWII drama Defiance will keep his star power blazing, but brace for his turn as the devil made flesh in I, Lucifer. Typecasting? Pah.
4 STEVEN SPIELBERG - DIRECTOR/WRITER/PRODUCER
That extraordinary double-whammy of War Of The Worlds and Munich proved many things. Mainly, that Steven Spielberg can do anything he wants. He has the power. He has the genius. He has the drive. Since then, the ’Berg has produced five movies – including Eastwood’s WWII double and Transformers – and is prepping his next onslaught. Here’s the thing: three decades after Jaws, the most successful director of modern times is still the only man on planet Earth consistently capable of creating movies that keep money men, critics and audiences thrilled. Even at 61, the former movie brat’s ambition and passion remain unrivalled. He’s a living legend.
What’s next? Thank him later for the fact there are more Transformers and T-rexes to come. By the end of 2008, ticket stubs from Indiana Jones And The Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull, production shots from history epic Lincoln or The Trial Of The Chicago 7 and buzz about sci-fi groundbreaker Interstellar will have reminded you why you fell in love with cinema in the first place.
3 BRAD PITT - ACTOR/PRODUCER
Behind the lazy grin and movie idol image, Pitt is producing some of the most exciting, interesting films in Hollywood. Matching his on-screen magnetism with behind-the-scenes smarts, he produced Oscar-nabber The Departed and powered The Assassination Of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford with a Fight Club-rivalling performance and production heroics. It was his cash that salvaged the prolonged post-prod process on James, before he backed A Mighty Heart, with ’er indoors delivering a career-best turn. This year sees him act up for the Coens (Burn After Reading) and Fincher (The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button), while his Plan B Entertainment is nurturing much-hyped zombie apocalypse picture World War Z and awards contender The Time Traveller’s Wife, among many others. Most enticingly, Plan B has optioned French graphic novel The Killer for Fincher to direct – prompting rumours of a cold-blooded reunion with his Se7en collaborator. Think Bourne without remorse and be excited.
What’s next? The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button, Burn After Reading.
2 JUDD APATOW - WRITER/DIRECTOR/PRODUCER
He owned comedy in ’07, he’ll own it in ’08 and frankly we wouldn’t bet on anyone else for a good few years after that… Knocked Up and Superbad you know about; Walk Hard you should go and watch now. Forty years old but no Hollywood virgin, Apatow has come through crushing disappointment (the cancellations of his early, ace television shows Undeclared and Freaks And Geeks) to reach giddy heights and now can’t seem to fail… Of course he will, one day. But in his comedy of hard knocks and home truths, it’ll only mean more glorious material.
What’s next? Regular TF readers already have the inside track on Pineapple Express, Step Brothers and Forgetting Sarah Marshall. While that would be enough for most people, Apatow also has a sticky finger in the Paul-Rudd-seeks-a-Best-Man laffer I Love You, Man and Attorneys At Raw, about – what else? – lawyers who become rappers. Year One, directed by Harold Ramis, is also on the cards.
1 EDWARD NORTON - ACTOR/WRITER/DIRECTOR/PRODUCER
Who knew? Behind the New York cool and intimidating IQ is the beating green heart of... a geek. Edward Norton: Marvel kid. Cast as the Incredible Hulk, to general surprise and fan excitement, Norton is set to pulverise 2008. Recently at his Fight Club-equalling best in 2005’s brilliant but underseen Down In The Valley, before starring in sleeper hit The Illusionist, he’s now setting his sights on the blockbuster, zeroing in on Marvel’s most iconic franchise. Producer, writer, star, he’s rebooting Bruce Banner and rescuing a moribund series he’s loved since knee high. So, he’s bringing brains to the brawn, but smarts without snobbery – he adores the material and is embroiled in every aspect, from script to effects work, which he’s currently beavering away on in Los Angeles. Now bringing box office clout to his enduring credibility – and producing his own work through Class Five Films – Norton is our guy and 2008 is his year.
What’s next? Gavin O’Connor’s cop corruption drama Pride And Glory, playing twins in Tim Blake Nelson’s comedy Leaves Of Grass and a certain big, green mean machine...