Even the finest thespians in Hollywood, the ones with multiple Oscar nominations and universally acknowledged talent, may not be embraced by everyone. Example: A relative of mine, who shall remain nameless, went to see "There Will Be Blood" and walked out after the two-hour mark, right before the "drink your milkshake" scene -- really, before "I drink your milkshake"?! -- because he didn't like the movie. One of the key reasons he didn't, in his words: "Daniel Day-Lewis can't act."
Clearly that which is obviously perfect can still be dismissed by someone out there. Yet, there are some actors who everyone, from your uber-cranky grandmother to your surprisingly discerning 8-year-old, tends to like. I call them the Indisputables. These are actors for whom we harbor affection no matter how many bad movies they make; people who, generally speaking, lead seemingly normal personal lives; and stars who we would accept in the No. 1 spot atop a Forbes highest-paid actor list.
Note: This list is not exhaustive; a longer version can be found at washingtonpost.com/celebritology.
The star of "The Amazing Spider-Man" is talented. She's relatable. She slept with Ryan Gosling in "Crazy Stupid Love," and we didn't resent her one iota. She even briefly convinced us the MTV Movie Awards are important. If you don't like Emma Stone, then clearly you just hate humanity and should start looking for a new apartment on one of those distant planets in "Prometheus."
Jon Hamm can be Don Draper one minute, then crack us up repeatedly on "SNL" the next while barely pausing to blink. He can be a total jerk to Kristen Wiig in "Bridesmaids," and we will somehow find that behavior endearing because it's Jon Hamm and he's so funny. Really, he appears to be good at pretty much everything and is crazy-handsome, but oddly no one is bitter about this because he is Jon Hamm. And he is indisputable.
Your mom loves him. Your snotty cinephile best friend loves him. Your kids don't love him yet, but when they get old enough to see "The King's Speech" or "Pride and Prejudice," clearly they will. As evidenced by his superb 2011 Academy Award acceptance speech, Mr. Firth is the very picture of British dignity and grace, without condescension or pretense.
It didn't seem right to make this list without Ms. Dench. (Maggie Smith has been reserved for The Indisputables Vol. 2.) I mean, this woman won an Oscar for a role in "Shakespeare in Love" that lasted only eight minutes. Can you make that kind of impact in eight minutes? I can't even find my car keys in eight minutes. But that's because the rest of us aren't Dames, whereas Judi Dench is, in title and spirit.
I respect that Mr. Mackie ("The Hurt Locker," "Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter") wanted to train at Juilliard because Wendell Pierce (Bunk from "The Wire") did. I respect even more that he actually followed through and went to Juilliard. I love that during the first of two interviews I've done with him, he made this statement: "I thought 'The Wire,' other than, like, 'Sanford and Son,' was some of the best TV I've ever seen." And I also love that he said this during our second interview: "I'm very happy being No. 4 on the call sheet because I can make fun of people and enjoy craft services all day."