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Hollywood's real A list

These actors earn awards and big bucks at the box office.

entertainment Updated: Dec 09, 2009 20:31 IST

There are prestige actors who win tons of awards and then there are blockbuster actors who guarantee boffo box office around the world. The stars who can succeed in both worlds are the most coveted actors in Hollywood.

No one straddles that divide better than Johnny Depp. Thanks to his highly original performance as Captain Jack Sparrow in Disney's Pirates of the Caribbean series, the three films have earned a collective $2.7 billion at the box office worldwide.

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Over the past five years, Depp's films (which include Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, but not the first Pirates movie, which came out in 2003) have earned $3 billion, putting him at the top of our earners list.

Depp has also been nominated three times in the Oscars' Best Actor category, though he has never won. One of those nominations was for his work in Pirates, but the others were for less-seen films, including 2004's Finding Neverland, which earned $117 million.

Depp's combination of acting chops and mass appeal puts him at the top of Hollywood's Real A List, our first list of actors who have been nominated for Oscars and who have also made good money at the box office.

To compile our list, we looked at all the actors who were nominated over the past five years in the Best Actor/Actress and Best Supporting Actor/Actress categories. We then added up the box office for the films each actor had starred in during that same time period. We only included box office takes for movies in which actors had a supporting role if they were nominated for an Oscar in the supporting category. So for example, Morgan Freeman gets box office credit for Million Dollar Baby, for which he won the best supporting actor Oscar, but not for his supporting role in The Dark Knight.

We also compiled a separate list ranking the actors by how many times in the past five years each had been nominated. Cate Blanchett topped that list with four Oscar nods in the past five years. Two of those nominations came in 2007 when she was nominated for Best Actress for Elizabeth: The Golden Age and for Best Supporting Actress for I'm Not There. But with box office earnings of $824 million, it wasn't enough to land her in the overall top 10, at which we arrived by adding up actors' rankings on the Oscar and box office lists, picking the 10 with the lowest sums.

Ranking second after Depp is Brad Pitt. The heartthrob actor proved he's more than just a pretty face when he earned a Best Actor nomination for his work in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. The nod was Pitt's second, a rare feat for any actor, and the film earned a healthy $334 million at the box office.

The late Heath Ledger ranks third. Over the past five years, his films earned $1.3 billion (mostly thanks to The Dark Knight) and the actor earned two Oscar nominations. He won posthumously last year for his portrayal of the Joker.

Meryl Streep, the most nominated actress of all time, is the highest-ranking woman on our list with two Oscar nominations in the last five years and $1.3 billion in box office earnings, thanks to recent hits like Mamma Mia and Julie & Julia. Streep comes in fifth behind Will Smith.