Fame is certainly a fickle beast. Some people can do nothing for it and still get it, and others can work for their whole lives and still be relegated to the D-list. But sometimes there are just those celebrities that are so overexposed and so under-skilled that their continued fame and success are totally baffling, while there are others who seem like they’re right on the cusp of some major and well-earned success but just haven’t made it yet.
What qualifies a celeb to be part of the A-list? Clearly, there are many celebs that are incredibly famous, and we aren’t really sure why. So who are those people lingering on the A-list even though they haven’t done anything to deserve it in years? And who is stuck right below them on the B-List, but more deserving of that success than the A-Listers are? Here are some celebs that we wish would just go away, and some that we hope will reach more fame and success, because they definitely deserve it.
15. Overrated: Taylor Swift
I can give Taylor Swift props for somehow managing to monetize Kanye West‘s narcissism, but besides that, her shtick is just tired. The snake thing is tired, the boy obsession is tired, the acting like a teenager when she’s in her late 20s is tired. I get that being Taylor Swift is a very lucrative business, but continued success needs to have something solid behind it, and it feels like Swift has lost that. “Look What You Made Me Do” was a pretty weak appetizer for her new album, and “Gorgeous” is the same stuff we’ve been hearing from her for a decade. Her always Instagram-ready perfect life was boring, but her attempt to flip the script on everyone when they stopped buying it is a little embarrassing; we all know she’d still be playing that role if anyone believed it. And good god, could the snake thing be any more on the nose?
14. Underrated: Evan Rachel Wood
Evan Rachel Wood‘s profile has gotten an enormous boost since she started totally killing it on Westworld, and I think that she really needs to take that good momentum and run straight to the top with it. She has been doing some really good work since she was a kid, and her ability to shine in a cast that includes people like Anthony Hopkins and Ed Harris only demonstrates how much talent and charisma she really does have. HBO shows are certainly a good jumping off point for any actor on the verge of a major breakout, but I hope that Wood keeps going for the tougher material that really shows off her assets. She could easily be among the highest echelon of prestigious actresses, and I think that the role of Dolores has finally given her the perfect launching pad to get on to the A-list.
13. Overrated: Angelina Jolie
Angelina Jolie is actually a pretty solid actress when she has material that suits her, and it’s admirable that she has used her significant public profile as a means of promoting her philanthropic work. But her last good work was also like, ten years ago. I’m sure the whole Brad/Angelina/Jennifer Aniston drama will never fully disappear from the tabloids, but since when did tabloid drama guarantee someone a near lifetime on the A-list? There are plenty of actresses with Angelina’s skill level and beauty, and most importantly they actually want to put in the work for all the accolades. It’s fine if Angelina’s interests no longer lie in Hollywood, but if that’s the case, then why not just give it up and go where her heart is taking her? Frankly it’s not like the film industry would be missing a whole lot if she were to ditch it. Most of her recent work has been mediocre and forgettable at best.
12. Underrated: Christina Hendricks
Christina Hendricks is an astoundingly beautiful and unique actress who really made a name for herself as Joan Holloway on Mad Men, which makes her mediocre career trajectory after Mad Men kind of confusing. She has been working non stop, but a lot of that work is on projects that aren’t particularly interesting or high profile and a lot of the roles are small and kind of irrelevant. Considering the massive boom of female-oriented TV shows and films that are coming out lately, it seems like the ideal time for someone like Hendricks to tackle some good material and raise her profile. And a lot of the other ladies from Mad Men (some of whom don’t have the acting skills of Hendricks) have gone on to some really impressive work in some really big name projects, so her middling success is more than a little odd.
11. Overrated: Selena Gomez
Did any of you know that Selena Gomez is actually the most followed person on Instagram? I certainly didn’t, because well… why would Selena Gomez be the most followed person on Instagram? I mean, aside from breaking Justin Bieber‘s heart and singing some forgettably pleasant dance songs, I don’t even know what she does. I know she did some Disney stuff, and I guess it’s commendable that she managed to be one of the few Disney kids who grew up without ever going insane, but yeah. It’s just a little astounding that Gomez has managed to become such a high profile celebrity when she doesn’t seem to be doing all that much for it. I mean she’s not even pulling a Kim Kardashian and making being famous her job, but she’s super famous anyway. I hope she’s at least paying her publicist well, cause they’re sure as hell earning their keep.
10. Underrated: Deborah Ann Woll
Deborah Ann Woll definitely made an impression when she was playing Jessica Hamby in True Blood, but Jessica ultimately amounted to little more than a supporting character who delivered some occasional comic relief to the sexy vampire show. Woll certainly did what she needed to do for the performance, but it wasn’t the kind of role where you really get a good idea of what someone can or can’t do. But Woll’s turn as Karen Page in the Netflix Marvel franchise certainly has. On paper Karen Page could have been a bit of a throwaway character, but with some good writing and even better acting she has really become the breakout female character of the entire franchise. She seems to have chemistry with nearly every character she interacts with, and the fact that she could outshine a legendary character like Elektra Natchios really goes to show how great she is. With The Punisher coming up in less than a month, it’ll be interesting to see what they do with her character, but they’re fools if they don’t push her to the forefront of the narrative.
9. Overrated: Blake Lively
Blake Lively‘s greatest skill as an entertainer seems to be her ability to keep herself in the public eye without actually doing much besides trying to be overly adorable with Ryan Reynolds. I mean, even on Gossip Girl she was one of the weakest in the cast when it came to actual acting skills, and since GG ended she has done exactly zero memorable or interesting performances. She did make an attempt at her own “lifestyle brand” a while ago, but that also bombed and the only really memorable thing about it was her attempt to act like a “life curating company” was something that made sense. Or that those words even made sense together. And when you are the blandest of famous white girls and you can’t hack it at even the fall back pseudo-career of bland famous white girls then maybe it’s time to throw in the towel, or at least to stop trying to put yourself so aggressively to the forefront when you don’t have anything to back it up.
8. Underrated: Leighton Meester
When it comes to the Gossip Girl face off, one can only hope that slow and steady will ultimately win the race. Blake Lively was certainly promoted as the star of Gossip Girl, but Leighton Meester undeniably became the fan favorite. Her ability to make a spoiled brat like Blair Waldorf actually seem sympathetic and sometimes appealing was impressive, and since the show came to an end in 2012 Meester has continually done some solid TV and film work. But I think it would be nice to see her take on some bigger projects. She managed to carry a lot of shoddy writing and ultimately carried huge portions of a show that was hit or miss at best, and if she can make a CW villainess dimensional and heartfelt then I think it would be very interesting to see what she does with a bigger role in some more prestigious work.
7. Overrated: Cara Delevingne
Cara Delevingne is a really striking model, but unfortunately modelling skill doesn’t translate to acting skill, and the abrupt push to make Delevingne into a silver screen leading lady when she can’t even carry a scene on her own is a little ridiculous. And it’s not even like Suicide Squad or Paper Towns required much heavy-hitting acting ability, but she really can’t even do what little needs doing. It’s also pretty weird that she just got an avalanche of acting work right off the bat too; even models with some decent acting skills who want to cross over into acting tend to have trouble scoring any gigs that aren’t just the super hot chick, but Delevingne has been the female lead of nearly every movie she’s done so far. It’s one thing to go for something that’s actually within your skill set, but it’s pretty unwarranted to this supermodel to be plopped into A-lister roles that even high profile and talented actresses would be lucky to get.
6. Underrated: Rosie Huntington-Whiteley
I wouldn’t expect her to be winning an Academy Award anytime soon, but as far as models turned actors go, I think Rosie Huntington-Whiteley is actually pretty above average. I wasn’t particularly impressed by her debut in Transformers: Dark of the Moon, but she actually kind of killed it in Mad Max: Fury Road. I know it’s hard to say that someone is good at something when you’ve seen them do it well once, but her performance as pregnant runaway Angharad held it’s own in a cast of really talented and experienced actors. And to her credit, the role she played really didn’t allow her to fall back on her looks to compensate for any lack of ability, and as the leader of Immortan Joe’s runaways she really did have to do a lot of the heavy lifting in the film. She can certainly play the random hot girl if she wants, but she has a lot more in her than just that, so I think it’d be interesting to see her work on more diverse projects in the future.
5. Overrated: Kendall Jenner
As far as the rich girls buying themselves a modelilng career goes, Kendall Jenner is probably on the less offensive side of things. I mean she’s pretty, and it’s not like momager Kris Jenner would have had any other career options in mind for her, but quite frankly, she’s just dull. Her lack of charisma wouldn’t be an enormous problem if the Kardashians weren’t trying to sell her as the second coming of Cindy Crawford, but being a really good model instead of just a passable one is an actual skill, and it’s a skill that Kendall doesn’t have. Existing and being good looking doesn’t mean that you deserve fame and fortune, and Kendall’s only real distinction is that she’s slightly more interesting than Kylie (or at least she was before Kylie got pregnant at 20). She’s cute, but she’s catalogue model cute, not A-list supermodel cute.
4. Underrated: Kat Dennings
One of the saddest scenarios for a genuinely talented actor is to wind up on a CBS laugh track comedy for years on end. I’m sure the money is great, but the material is just so, so sad. Kat Dennings was the co-lead of the long running CBS sitcom 2 Broke Girls, and while that may be a situation a lot of actors dream of being in, I think it’s something that has relegated Dennings to the B-list when she could be solidly on the A-list. Obviously she has the comedic chops to carry her own TV show, but her minor appearances in the Thor franchise as well as her turns in smaller movies like Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist or Charlie Bartlett have demonstrated her pretty broad acting skill set. Now that 2 Broke Girls is over I think it would be interesting to see her play some more diverse roles, and I think with her looks and acting ability she really has the potential to go a lot further.
3. Overrated: Bella Hadid
Rich girls with significant social media followings becoming “supermodels” is certainly having a moment right now, but while most of these models can be met with a resounding “meh,” I think Bella Hadid is the meh-est of them all. I guess a significant selling point for her brand is that both she and her sister are models, but aside from that, she seems like an incredibly bland addition to the modelling world who’s name we wouldn’t even know if her parents weren’t rich or her sister wasn’t Gigi Hadid (who obviously made it pretty far on her parents money as well). Hell, she wouldn’t even be a model were it not for her families wealth and connections, to add to the fact that she has no exceptional skills or talents, she actually had plastic surgery before becoming a model. That’s not a crime in itself, but if someone has literally made their way by paying their way instead of on any innate ability then I think it’s more than a little ridiculous to consider them an A-lister.
2. Underrated: Freida Pinto
Slumdog Millionaire really burst onto the scene out of nowhere in 2008, and Freida Pinto and Dev Patel were definitely breakout stars because of it. And while Patel has gone on to make some very highbrow films, Pinto’s success seems to have stalled a bit, despite the fact that she really has some talent and can totally light up the screen. Out of all of the young, moderately successful working actresses in Hollywood it doesn’t seem like there is anyone similar to Freida Pinto, and seeing as Indian women are still massively underrepresented in media it seems obvious that someone like her should be the trailblazer. Unfortunately, a few of her more significant film roles have been very “damsel in distress” too, which is obviously a problem in movies in general, but is also really limiting as an actor. It’d be interesting to see what she can do with a heavier workload, and it’d be interesting to see an actress like her really come to center stage in Hollywood.
1. Overrated: Scarlett Johannson
Scarlett Johansson has been a working actor for longer than some adults have even been alive, and over the course of her career, she’s become one of the highest paid actresses in history. Her resume is impressive, to be sure. However, her actual abilities are not. Aside from looking good on screen, she doesn’t really seem to have any acting skills, which is weird enough when you consider how successful she is but even weirder when you consider how much artsy credibility she has. But I guess it’s not that weird when you realize that Woody Allen essentially made her career, and not to be crass, but I don’t think that it was her incredible acting talent that made her into his muse. A lot of people have complained about the fact that Marvel has yet to do a Black Widow movie and attributes that to the studio not having faith in a female superhero, but frankly I think ScarJo’s inability to carry a role has a lot to do with it.
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