The 50 Smartest People in Hollywood

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Power Lists are so over. Magazines, including EW, have done them for decades, but as way of digging deep into Hollywood’s DNA, “power” has become sort of beside the point. “Power” just tells you who’s in charge. It doesn’t tell you who’s shaking things up. So EW decided to go in search of the people who are rocking the industry’s world this year, the people with ideas innovative, creative, dangerous, renegade ideas who are changing the way movies are made. We went looking for the 50 Smartest People in Hollywood.

Below are the results of three months of constant research, hundreds of hours of conversations with the brightest minds in the industry, and weeks of heated debate. We started with a list of more than 300 contenders, and it proved surprisingly hard to chop them down to a trim 50. We had to establish strict criteria to determine who would and who would not make the cut. Here were our rules:

1) Every person on the list had to be smart not just in general, but
smart right now. They had to be leading the industry forward in some
way, today.
2) The list would be about the movie business only. (We’ll do a Smartest People in TV list, too, next year).
3) The list would represent a broad range of intelligence in the movie business not just the suits and the stars, but the composers and the costume designers, too.
4)
“Smart” could mean many things. It encompasses books smarts and street
smarts, financial genius and emotional intelligence. We weren’t
interested in IQ. What mattered was the originality of each person’s
thinking and the reach of their ideas beyond the borders of their own
careers.
5) At 50 names, the list could not possibly include every
smart person in Hollywood. Each person on this list needed to help
paint a portrait of where movies are today and where they’re headed.
Each person on this list tells a different story about the movie
business today. They are all smart, certainly, but they also symbolize,
collectively, Hollywood now.
6) We ranked them first, and
primarily, by their overall impact on the industry this year, and then
factored in the influence of each person within their own profession.
It allows for a diverse and surprising list, where a cinematographer
(Emmanuel Lubezki) can take the #24 slot, while an Oscar winning
director (Michael Moore) can come in below him at #27. It will also
give you, we’re sure, plenty to argue with us about.

We hope you’re happy to see a few familiar faces rewarded on this
list and are intrigued by the people you’ve never heard of. You’ll find
the complete package with #5 entry Will Smith on the cover
on newsstands this week and, of course, here on EW.com, along with a quiz to
test your Hollywood IQ
. (Yes, you’ll be graded, but we won’t tell
anyone your score.) Feel free to tell us how brilliant or idiotic
our choices on the comments section below. And make sure to tell us who you’d
nominate as one of the 50 Smartest People in Hollywood. We’ll take it
under advisement.

The list after the jump…

Entertainment Weekly’s 50 Smartest People in Hollywood:

1. Judd Apatow, director/writer/producer
2. Steven Spielberg, director/producer
3. James Cameron, director/producer
4. Ari Emanuel, partner of the Endeavor Agency
5. Will Smith, actor/producer
6. Meryl Streep, actor
7. Peter Rice, president of Fox Searchlight
8. Tyler Perry, actor/director/writer/producer
9. David Heyman, producer
10. John Knoll, visual-effects supervisor of Industrial Light & Magic
11. Brian Grazer, producer
12. Dick Cook, chairman of the Walt Disney Studios
13. George Clooney, actor/director/producer
14. Jerry Bruckheimer, producer
15. Amy Pascal, co-chairman of Sony Pictures Entertainment
16. Peter Jackson, director/producer
17. Will Ferrell, actor/producer
18. Robert Zemeckis, director
19. Tom Rothman, co-chair of Fox Filmed Entertainment
20. Ben Stiller, actor/director/producer
21. Johnny Depp, actor/producer
22. Jeffrey Katzenberg, CEO of DreamWorks Animation
23. Brad Bird, writer/director
24. Emmanuel Lubezki, cinematographer
25. Zack Snyder, director
26. Stacey Snider, CEO of DreamWorks SKG
27. Michael Moore, documentarian
28. Paul Greengrass, director
29. J.J. Abrams, producer/director
30. Jodie Foster, actor/director
31. Kathleen Kennedy, producer
32. Thelma Schoonmaker, editor
33. Angelina Jolie, actor
34. Sacha Baron Cohen, actor/writer/producer
35. Tim Palen, co-president of film marketing for Lionsgate
36. Modi Wiczyk, co-CEO of Media Rights Capital
37. Guillermo del Toro, writer/producer/director
38. Diablo Cody, screenwriter
39. Mary Zophres, costume designer
40. Jeff Skoll, founder of Participant Productions
41. Stefan Sonnenfeld, president of Company 3
42. Daniel Battsek, president of Miramax Films
43. Beth Swofford, agent at CAA
44. Roderick Jaynes, editor
45. Cate Blanchett, actor
46. Jeff Walker, Comic-Con impresario
47. Amy Powell, senior vice president of interactive marketing at Paramount
48. Gustavo Santaolalla, composer
49. Sarah Polley, actor/writer/director
50. Ben Affleck, actor/director/writer/producer

Entertainment Weekly’s 50 Smartest People in Hollywood:

1. Judd Apatow, director/writer/producer
2. Steven Spielberg, director/producer
3. James Cameron, director/producer
4. Ari Emanuel, partner of the Endeavor Agency
5. Will Smith, actor/producer
6. Meryl Streep, actor
7. Peter Rice, president of Fox Searchlight
8. Tyler Perry, actor/director/writer/producer
9. David Heyman, producer
10. John Knoll, visual-effects supervisor of Industrial Light & Magic
11. Brian Grazer, producer
12. Dick Cook, chairman of the Walt Disney Studios
13. George Clooney, actor/director/producer
14. Jerry Bruckheimer, producer
15. Amy Pascal, co-chairman of Sony Pictures Entertainment
16. Peter Jackson, director/producer
17. Will Ferrell, actor/producer
18. Robert Zemeckis, director
19. Tom Rothman, co-chair of Fox Filmed Entertainment
20. Ben Stiller, actor/director/producer
21. Johnny Depp, actor/producer
22. Jeffrey Katzenberg, CEO of DreamWorks Animation
23. Brad Bird, writer/director
24. Emmanuel Lubezki, cinematographer
25. Zack Snyder, director
26. Stacey Snider, CEO of DreamWorks SKG
27. Michael Moore, documentarian
28. Paul Greengrass, director
29. J.J. Abrams, producer/director
30. Jodie Foster, actor/director
31. Kathleen Kennedy, producer
32. Thelma Schoonmaker, editor
33. Angelina Jolie, actor
34. Sacha Baron Cohen, actor/writer/producer
35. Tim Palen, co-president of film marketing for Lionsgate
36. Modi Wiczyk, co-CEO of Media Rights Capital
37. Guillermo del Toro, writer/producer/director
38. Diablo Cody, screenwriter
39. Mary Zophres, costume designer
40. Jeff Skoll, founder of Participant Productions
41. Stefan Sonnenfeld, president of Company 3
42. Daniel Battsek, president of Miramax Films
43. Beth Swofford, agent at CAA
44. Roderick Jaynes, editor
45. Cate Blanchett, actor
46. Jeff Walker, Comic-Con impresario
47. Amy Powell, senior vice president of interactive marketing at Paramount
48. Gustavo Santaolalla, composer
49. Sarah Polley, actor/writer/director
50. Ben Affleck, actor/director/writer/producer

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Comments (288 total) Add your comment
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  • Rese

    Why in God’s name is Angelina Jolie on this list and to add insult to injury her name appears before Cate Blanchett?? Are you kidding me EW?? What is the obsession here? Her movies are ok… she is on the cover of some tabloid every week, is that “smart” to you??

  • Stephen

    Isn’t it interesting how the people who lead EW’s 50 or 100 Top Whatever list always seem to have some big movie or other product just about to come out. It makes me think these are just not-so-cleverly disguished promotional campaigns. Huh.

    • bartoly

      Is not disguished at all you just don’t pay attention to instructions
      “1) Every person on the list had to be smart not just in general, but
      smart right now. They had to be leading the industry forward in some
      way, today”

  • Jayel

    Can EW just found a second magazine devoted entirely to Judd Apatow? I have nothing whatsoever against him, personally or professionally, but while I’m very interested in pop culture, movies, and even comedy, he has yet to make a movie I have the slightest interest in seeing. (I’m a 43-year-old woman who sometimes even describes herself as a feminist, though only with great trepidation – he pretty obviously isn’t writing for or about me.) Yet week after week, list after list, my favorite media magazine devotes endless and adoring copy to him. It makes me long for the reign of “Arrested Development.”

  • Facebook

    Though I may quibble with some of these, I’m thankful you weren’t suckered into putting Leonardo DiCpario on this list.

  • Dylan Lover!

    Cate Blanchett should be hire than Angelina. She played Bob Dylan and it wasn’t sacrilege it was art. She embodied my one true love and embodied him. She’s the best actress out there and a gift to filmaking.

    • tali

      F*** yes brother. Cate Blanchett is phenomenal all around.

    • Nissim

      Why should Cate Blanchett hire Angelina? Does Angelina need a job?

  • Dylan Lover!

    Cate Blanchett should be hire than Angelina. She played Bob Dylan and it wasn’t sacrilege it was art. She embodied my one true love and embodied him. She’s the best actress out there and a gift to filmaking.

  • Rocio

    Where’s Sofia Coppola. Marie-Antoinette was genius. Props to Guillermo Del Toro.

  • Mike

    Even after reading your criteria twice, this list makes no sense to me. Why in the world is someone like Diablo Cody on the list who’s done exactly one thing? All that says is she has a great publicist. There are others to take issue with, but whatever…

  • JenJen

    Wow. 2 Women in the top 15, and only a little more than a dozen in the whole list. I’m disappointed.

  • Jane

    I think Jodie Foster should be higher she’s the smartest actor in hollywood. Cate Blanchett should also be higher. Angelina should not be on the list she’s not that smart she just tries to sound smart. Reese Witherspoon is pretty smart. Other smart people that aren’t as big stars are James Woods and Geena davis and David Duchovny. Kate winslet seems much smarter than Angelina too.

    • tali

      I’ve seen a couple Angelina Jolie videos…try ‘Inside the Actor’s Studio’… then compare them to ANY other by the same interviewer…she is not very intelligent…just poised and reserved.

    • Charles

      its cause women have smaller brains

  • Raiden

    I can’t shake the feeling that this list is stupid and abitrary.

  • Raiden

    I can’t shake the feeling that this list is stupid and abitrary.

  • What the?

    Hey, no Paul Haggis?.. he won an Oscar for Crash, the SMARTEST movie of the last 5 years, and has contributed to many more thoughtful projects than most of these hacks…
    pitiful…

  • What The to What The

    Whoa, Whoa wait… What the, you think that hack Paul Haggis should be on the list? And, worse, you think Crash was smart? Have you seen a film, like, ever?

  • Rita

    what abouty josh schwartz, greg berlanti, brad pitt? why the heck is ben affleck on this list?

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