The Ten Best Performances Of Hollywood's Most Hideously Overpaid Actresses

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The Ten Best Performances Of Hollywood's Most Hideously Overpaid Actresses

By Joanna Robinson | Seriously Random Lists | July 30, 2013 | Comments ()

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Forbes released its annual “Highest Paid Actresses” list today, and while there are a refreshing number of ladies on here that I love and admire, the list is still riddled with names that are … less deserving. Or, to be more accurate, performers who used to be deserving. It must be hard, once you reach a certain strata of stardom, to tap into the vigor and depth of your earlier career. That makes sense. I just hope that the younger actresses on this list hold onto their spark for as long as possible.

But even the actresses that we adore, the ones we would probably pay a million dollars just to share a sandwich with, well, good goddamn they earn a lot of money. This isn’t news, but when the numbers are right there in black and white, it can rankle. So here, to soothe ruffled feathers over the actresses who “don’t belong” and to drown out the pounding in your ears over the price tags in general, are the fondest movie memories I could dredge up. Think on that until the sick feeling passes. Actresses ranked in order of top earners from cheapest to “too rich for my blood.”

Julia Roberts — Mystic Pizza: Before all her toothy “aw shucksing” and painful stabs at deeply dramatic work, Roberts was relatively unknown in this lovely story of three young friends. It’s a strange, sweet little slice of ’80s nostalgia, and Roberts handles all of her beats, both comedic and dramatic, handily.

Mila Kunis — Black Swan: Kunis is one of the up-and-comers on this list, and while she’s not exactly the most astonishing and impressive young actress out there, she completely blew me back in my chair as the hyper-sexual and dangerous foil to Natalie Portman’s Prima ballerina. Perhaps some of the credit needs to go to Aronofsky for drawing such darkness out of Kunis. When it comes to comedy, however, she’s always had a charming, off-beat sense of timing. I like her very much. I’m a little surprised to see here here, but if, in the future, she can pull off the same murky magic she tapped into for Black Swan, I wouldn’t be surprised to see her back.
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Natalie Portman — Beautiful Girls: Portman’s debut in The Professional is, of course, quite famous. But it’s this ‘96 charmer that won me over completely. I’ve found most of Portman’s adult work overly mannered (which worked well for her neurotic character in Black Swan), but here she is fresh and charming and utterly winning.

Sandra Bullock — Hope Floats: Yeah, hold onto your butts. I love this movie. But not because of the trite Connick Jr. romance angle. For me, this is a movie about mothers and daughters and generationally sandwiched between the stately and wonderful Gena Rowlands and that freaking acting prodigy Mae Whitman (yes, HER), Bullock turned in one of her finest performances.
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Charlize Theron — The Cider House Rules: I won’t argue with anyone who would rather see Monster in this slot. Certainly that was a tour de force. But Theron is so strangely compelling in this movie. Both untouchably beautiful and completely real. She seems almost unformed, and what better way for a romantic projection to be?

Emma Stone — Crazy, Stupid Love: I really very much wish the scenes between Gosling and Stone were their own short film. It would be one of my favorites of all time. I watch it literally any time it’s on cable. Just the Gosling Stone stuff. She’s impossibly adorable.

Jennifer Aniston — Office Space: As an unabashed “Friends” fan, I’ve never really gotten the massive amount of Aniston hate. I can, however, concede that her movies in general have not been all that impressive, and this this performance, specifically, is the most joyous one on her resume.

Kristen Stewart — Into The Wild: Look! People! She’s almost smiling! You can almost see it! Stewart’s coltish, sullen “charm” fit right in with this spare, rambling film. I actually thought she was quite lovely in it. That’s really the extent of nice things I can muster about Kristen Stewart.

Jennifer Lawrence — Winter’s Bone: Ugh, Jennifer Lawrence is the f*cking BEST. I will not argue. I don’t, however, think that Academy Award should have gone to her. Most F*cking Charming celebrity? Sure. Oscar for Silver Linings Playbook? No. That being said, she was a rockstar in Winter’s Bone. Just incredible to behold.

Angelina Jolie — “Gia”: In light of her recent health issues, I’d be very uncomfortable with insulting Angelina Jolie too much. So I’ll just say this. Wasn’t she amazing once? Before she was so …regal? When she was our Psychopathic Darling? Firefox, Hackers, Girl Interrupted? Nothing could touch her for a while there. I’m not overly fond of what she’s got going on these days, but as a seemingly lovely mother, happy wife and the highest paid woman in Hollywood, I don’t suppose she cares for my opinion.

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Comments Are Welcome, Bigots and Trolls Are Not

  • melancholicmess

    I like both 'Mystic Pizza' and 'Steel Magnolias' and I thought Julia Roberts earned all her praise in the latter. She didn't seem as natural in MP as she did in SM.

  • Adrien

    Kunis - Forgetting Sarah Marsall.
    Theron - Devil's Advocate
    Bullock - Crash
    Stewart - Speak/Adventureland

  • dizzylucy

    I was fascinated by Angelina Jolie in Girl, Interrupted, and then haven't liked her in anything since. I think her off screen persona overshadowed her work too much, but she's also never come close to that performance again - which would be tough for most people to do too.

  • Captain D

    I'm disappointed that Jennifer Aniston's top performance listed was not Leprechaun

  • Dragonchild

    I agree that Mila Kunis in "Black Swan" was a very pleasant surprise (but I take exception that it was all darkness -- she played the character reversal bits just as well), and Angelina Jolie as a sociopath in "Girl, Interrupted" was bone-chillingly convincing.

    But Jennifer Aniston in "Office Space" was not good acting. I mean, she did fine, but the job was very easy. As a serious "love interest" supporting role in a light comedy, in every scene she only had to play the role straight-up. It's not like we had to get inside the head of an exhausted food service worker.

  • zeke_the_pig

    Into the Wild - and all performances therein - is the shit.

  • ,

    Teeth was an asshole in "Mystic Pizza." Everybody else thinks she was adorable. But she was an asshole.

  • wsapnin

    My favorite Aniston role was definitely "Horrible Bosses". It was the only time she didn't play Jennifer Anniston.

  • I can only manage two points, both of them among the most important ever shared with humans.

    1. "You're so beautiful it hurts." Even mopey Tobey couldn't take away from the golden hued lighting that captured Ms Theron in her perfection. It really did hurt to look upon her.

    2. Portman as that 13-year-old in 'Beautiful Girls' was a little scary, a combination of adorable and just-a-bit knowing that is crack to a man, both in good and creepy ways.

  • Luke Anthony Matthews

    I've never understood the Aniston hate, but she is AMAZING in The Good Girl. Such an underrated movie.

  • Sara_Tonin00

    Was it underrated? I thought it was praised as the indie film of the year. I watched it and found it to be a solid B. Didn't blow me away. I was just thinking about it the other day when reading the literature-plot-points thread.

  • llp

    What about Aniston in Horrible Bosses? That was her best performance in years, I thought.

  • Untamed

    Uh, even the highest paid actress makes much less than her male counterparts. Robert Downey, Jr. made over $50M on Iron Man 3. Don't pick on the ladies.

  • Bandit

    That picture of Mila Kunis is giving me Faith vibes. I scrolled by and wondered what Eliza Dushku was doing on this list.

    I'd also like to point out that I don't get the Natalie Portman thing. I've never found her to be charismatic or engaging like most of the ladies on this list (I've never actually seen Kirsten Stewart in action so I cannae judge).

  • Artemis

    Fine, I'll say it. I thought Julia Roberts was fantastic in Pretty Woman. There is no way that movie should have worked, but it did, and it was because of her.

    I don't really love Notting Hill, but I liked her in it. I'd probably put Mystic Pizza third, and it would be a steep fall after that.

  • foolsage

    You're not alone. I thought her performances in both those movies were excellent and generally underrated.

  • llp

    *whispers* Steel Magnolias.

  • $2786243

    If you don't leave me alone I'm gonna LEAVE!

  • Artemis

    I haven't seen Steel Magnolias (I know, I know), but I'm willing to take your word for it.

  • e jerry powell

    Steel Magnolias is in a special class unto itself because of The Gay Factor. Even Darryl Hanah gets a pass on that (much to Paula Poundstone's chagrin).

  • Amberlark

    I can't tell you how much I love that you mentioned Hope Floats. And YES, it absolutely is a movie about mothers and daughters.

  • John W

    I wonder where Michelle Williams falls on that list? She might be the best actress working right now. Her and Tilda Swinton.

  • toblerone

    Jessica Chastain might disagree but M.W is pretty good too.

  • John W

    Yeah she's good plus I think Chastain will soon be in that top 10.

  • e jerry powell

    The Jennifer Aniston hate runs along the same course as the Sarah Jessica Parker hate.

  • oilybohunk7

    Mentioning Sarah Jessica Parker makes me want to go home and watch Girls Just Want to Have Fun, I loved her in that movie so I go a LITTLE easier on her than most.

  • Wednesday

    Oh, no, those are entirely different rivers. That's where you're wrong. The headwaters of the Jennifer Aniston Hate form high in the mountains of Disproportional Initial Success to Talent Ratio. It picks up steam on its path through the valleys of Relentless Tabloid Fodder.

    SJP Hate, on the other hand, begins life as a trickle meandering through Slight Comedy Roles of the Late Twentieth Century, but really becomes a true river due to the snow melts of Overhyped Irrelevant Pop Culture, then joins up with the Julia Roberts Hate to empty into the Gulf of Very Long Faces.

    Sandra Bullock Hate is a bottomless black sea adjacent to the Antarctic Ocean. You don't hear much about it but it runs very deep.

  • e jerry powell

    Now, see, geography has always been one of my weakest subjects.

  • hippyherb

    Very well put. I don't agree with what you wrote, but you wrote it beautifully.

  • AudioSuede

    The way I feel about Crazy Stupid Love is pretty much exactly how I feel about Easy A: If they made an entire movie with just the most entertaining couple (Gosling/Stone and Tucci/Clarkson), they would each have been much better.

  • APOCooter

    I suddenly find myself having to watch Crazy, Stupid Love because that gif of Emma Stone reminds me of every chick I've ever had a thing for.

  • toblerone

    Yup, she is perfect. And there are lots of reasons to watch
    C.S.L. like Liza Lapira.

  • Andrew Edward Davies

    No, she's not perfect. She's a hypocrite who pretends she never wanted to be famous even though she clearly embraces every aspect of fame.

  • ohwhitneykay

    Show us on the doll where Emma Stone touched you...

  • I will watch a lot of crap for Liza Lapira. People should give Liza Lapira more work.

  • toblerone

    She is another reason I hate ABC for cancelling D.T.T.B.I.A 23. Them and to an extent the producers of the show who totally under used her.

  • Bert_McGurt

    Oh, Beautiful Girls. Such an underrated little film with a great cast - Noah Emmerich, Michael Rappaport, Martha Plimpton, Matt Dillon, UMA - heck, even the therapist from True Blood we were talking about yesterday! It always gives me this lonely, nostalgic sense of satisfied sadness - regret tempered with a sliver of hope and a dash of promise. And Portman WAS very good in it.

    It's also the only other film besides Grumpy Old Men that I can recall featuring semi-romantic scenes (or any scenes at all, really) in an ice-fishing shack.

  • Slim

    I love this movie. I love the soundtrack. I love Natalie Portman in it and her dialogue with Timothy Hutton. I don't really like Uma in much but love her in this. Rosie O'Donnell's diatribe about God being a fair God is awesome. It's streaming on Netflix, people, and be ready to sing some Sweet Caroline.

  • Uriah_Creep

    Not on Canadian Netflix, it isn't. This is why we can't have nice things.

  • Jifaner

    It's such a great movie that no one remembers. When he piles up all the snow in front of Plimpton's garage and then remorsefully removes it the next day...ugh. Gets me every time.

  • Robert

    Jennifer Lawrence won an Oscar for having a great year. She's good in Silver Linings Playbook, stunning in The Hunger Games, and charming as can be. That year got her an award. I would have held my nose and voted for her for Silver Linings Playbook, too, since The Hunger Games wasn't nominated.

  • Yossarian

    But was Jennifer Aniston's performance really anything special in Office Space? Or did she just happen to be the female lead in a decent movie. Because she's simply not a good actress. Elizabeth Berkley is a more extreme example of the same problem. She could do a very specific thing in a very popular show that required a very simple performance where the writing did all the work and the performer was the character but she is completely unequipped for anything outside of that range. The only difference is everyone laughed at Berkley because Showgirls was ridiculous and Aniston had a better manager and somehow became a hideously overpaid actress.

  • sean

    Wasn't that the whole point of her character? That she was a normal, slightly lazy, not super intelligent person? She was a waitress in a shitty place. Her character wasn't supposed to be special. Of course, Aniston seems to be a slightly lazy, not super intelligent person who just got lucky in real life.

  • Yossarian

    Right, and praising her role in this film amounts to "It was a funny movie and she didn't ruin it." But replace her with anyone and they probably do a better job. She added nothing but the overall damage was negligible. It's not Joanna's fault, there's nothing else in the Aniston oeuvre that is any better.

    Say what you will about the other actresses on this list, you would have a hard time replacing them in the roles listed. It would at least take effort to equal or exceed what they brought to those parts.

  • Bedewcrock

    Jennifer Lawrence should have won something for Winter's Bone (that was a pretty tough year: Black Swan, Blue Valentine, The Kids Are All Right). I think that's why they gave it to her for Silver Linings Playbook. Completely agree with you on that one. (Also, John Hawkes. So awesome.)

  • BWeaves

    John Hawkes was robbed so many times.

  • This couldn't be more accurate.

  • NateMan

    I'm actually looking forward to Aniston in We're the Millers. First time I've ever said that about her.

  • emmalita

    I am cautiously looking forward to that one too. As long as she doesn't get too caught up in the heart of gold part.

  • toblerone


    Or if not, how was Grown Ups 2?

  • NateMan

    Not sarcasm at all. I think it looks amusingly stupid.

  • toblerone

    How are Emma Stone or J-Law in the "Hideously Overpaid Category"? Dollar for dollar both deliver and are worth every penny to date.

    I kept scrolling down through this post looking Katherine Heigl but then remembered it was Katherine Heigl...

  • Scorptilicus

    I would imagine if you subscribe to the idea of big name movie stars being overpaid in general.

  • Andrew Edward Davies

    I hate Emma stone. She is hideously overpaid and an over praised hypocrite. She can go away any time now.

  • Kate at June

    hypocrite? Why?

  • toblerone

    Also where's Halle Berry?

  • Alarmjaguar

    Or any non-white actress now that you mention it.

  • minxy

    Also, Bullock is still a very big draw. Julia Roberts hasn't been in a hit movie in a while and I think the last few films Aniston and Jolie starred in flopped.

  • toblerone

    True. But Bullocks best work was as herself in Action.

    Faster. More SPEED

  • Comparing Julia Roberts and Sandra Bullock is interesting. I find Roberts more annoying overall. But at least she was in Charlie Wilson's War. I can't think of a single thing I enjoy that Bullock is a part of. And The Blind Side might the worst offense of either, not because it's the worst performance, but because that movie should have been so much more than it was.

  • emmalita

    I like Sandra Bullock in The Heat. Or maybe I just really loved Melissa McCarthy. Now I can't remember.

  • Semilitterate

    I love Charlie Wilson's War--but Roberts and that stupid accent was off putting to say the least. PSH stole every scene he was in

  • Stellamaris2012

    Speed. I liked her in Speed. I adored her in Ms Congeniality and the Proposal.

  • pumpkin

    Loved her in Ms Congeniality and While You Were Sleeping.

  • Leigh

    And Practical Magic.

  • kirivinokur

    I really liked Julia Roberts in Notting Hill. That's about it.

  • dizzylucy

    I still love that movie, and didn't mind her in it.
    I do however think it rested mostly on Hugh Grant's charm, and that many an actress could have stepped into Julia's role.

  • Sarah

    Kristen Stewart was exceptional in Panic Room. And Speak. Twilight made her a superstar but destroyed her credibility, perhaps unfairly. She's not a bad actress, she just has a very specific range.

  • Rachelchron

    You are correct. She does have a very specific range: awkward, angsty, lip biting adolescent. Once she gets too old for those roles, she's done.

  • cgthegeek

    I think it's rather unfair to judge her range on the Twilight movies. That's like saying "why didn't you make this shit not stink, Kristen!?"

    And I love that she never smiles. Male actors are never requested to smile. Keep scowling girl.

  • Kate at June

    Speak was fucking amazing.

  • Joe Grunenwald

    I had no idea there was a movie of Speak! I read the book for an adolescent lit class in college and it was wonderful in a totally emotion-wrecking way.

  • Kate at June

    You probably missed it because it was only released on, ahem, Lifetime. And Showtime, I think?

    It nailed the emotion wrecking bit. I had no idea there was a book! To be honest, I'm not sure I could handle the book, though...

  • rio

    This freaking forever, she breaks my freaking heart in that movie.

  • Guest

    I'd go as far to say that she was pretty incredible in Speak. That's a seminal film.

  • Xikar

    I thought she was terrific in Adventureland as well.

  • Jifaner

    Not having seen any of the Twilight movies, I was taken aback by all the hate directed at someone I thought was lovely in Adventureland and Panic Room. I'm gonna blame the writing :D

  • kirivinokur

    Yeah, I kinda fell in love with her in Adventureland. Maybe she was my type in college.

  • Repo

    Totally agree. That movie was right in my wheelhouse. Fun performances and a heady soundtrack.

  • Devin McMusters

    Loved Jennifer in "Management".

  • Michelle

    I keep seeing Management pop up on Netflix when I'm hungover in bed and have contemplated watching it, but just...don't.

  • Devin McMusters

    I like it because my little caveman brain thinks if Steve Zahn has a chance with Jennifer Aniston.....well.....maybe....

  • ohwhitneykay

    SAME. That happened with Life Happens, too. I finally watched it and while it wasn't mind-blowing, I wasn't begging the universe for my two hours back either.

  • IngridToday

    The last thing I saw Roberts in was "Mirror Mirror". I didn't buy her as a queen.

    I had no idea Jolie or Anister would be on this list, since I have no idea what their last movie.

  • apsutter

    Mirror, Mirror was fucking awful. Of course I didn't expect it to be great but I thought it would have a quirky sweetness or charm. Boy, was I dead wrong. And Julia was terrible in it.

  • melancholicmess

    True. They had Snow White & The Hunstman as a contending 'rival' at the box office and Charlize Theron really nailed it as the Queen there. I know the performances are of different genres but Julia Roberts was really horrible in it.

  • Fredo

    That could be a game. Without looking, guess what the last movie that actress was in.

    Roberts: ....
    Kunis: Ted
    Portman: Thor
    Bullock: The Heat
    Theron: Prometheus
    Stone: Amazing Spider-Man
    Aniston: Marley & Me?
    Stewart: Twilight
    Lawrence: Silver Linings Playbook
    Jolie: Salt?

  • competitivenonfiction

    Was Salt before that one she was in with Depp that looked so bad I can't even be bothered to look it up.

  • Aniston: Horrible Bosses ?

  • syradobomako

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    Comparing Julia Roberts and
    Sandra Bullock is interesting. I find Roberts more annoying overall. But
    at least she was in Charlie Wilson's War. I can't think of a single
    thing I enjoy that Bullock is a part of. And The Blind Side might the
    worst offense of either, not because it's the worst performance, but
    because that movie should have been so much more than it was.

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