The Xinhua website has nominated its Top Ten Cover Female Stars of 2010, based on appearances on the covers of the Chinese editions of leading fashion magazines. It can be taken as a measure of a star’s popularity, and provides an overview of who's currently considered the most glamorous/stylish/photogenic in the Chinese entertainment industry.
Nine of the ten stars are actors, the other a singer. Reflecting the growing dominance of the Chinese mainland in entertainment, eight of the ten are mainland stars, one was born on the mainland before moving to Hong Kong as a teenager, and the other is from Taiwan.
Zhou Xun (周迅)
The 34 year old actress, who CNN once dubbed “China’s Queen of Quirk” was red hot in 2009, winning Best Actress awards at the Golden Roosters and Asian Film Awards. In 2010 she appeared in two films, the historical biopic Confucious and Hong Kong martial arts movie True Legend, neither of which had much of an impact at the box office. This year she’s set to star alongside several other leading Chinese actresses in another historical epic, about the famous Yang Lady Generals. A well-known story from Chinese history, about a group of Song Dynasty women who set out to avenge their husbands killed on the battlefield.
Zhao Wei (赵薇)
Despite her likeable screen persona and comic gifts, the 34 year old Zhao Wei has had an often bumpy relationship with the Chinese public. She took a break from filming in 2010 as she became a mother for the first time. As well as celebrating motherhood she was awarded Best Actress at both the Shanghai Film Critics Awards and One Hundred Flowers Awards for her performance in Mulan. Also in 2010 her most recent film, 14 Blades, was released, although to lukewarm reviews. Her next film will be the time-travelling romantic drama, Underground Resistance.
Li Bingbing (李冰冰)
A year ago the 34 year old Li Bingbing topped a successful 2009 with the Best Actress Award for The Message at Taiwan’s prestigious Golden Horse Awards. She had another hit movie in 2010 with the action mystery Detective Dee and the Mystery of the Phantom Flame, but bombed out with the Hong Kong thriller Triple Tap. This year she will star for the first time in an English language film, Wayne Wang’s Snow Flower and the Secret Fan. Will it be the breakout movie that turns her into an international star?
Zhang Ziyi (章子怡)
2010 was a quiet year filmwise for the 31 year old, though she still featured prominently in the news headlines. Early in the year she was embroiled in controversy over claims she failed to donate all the money she had pledged to Sichuan earthquake relief efforts. She later apologised and made up the shortfall, which was blamed on an error by her brokers. And the year ended with an announcement that her engagement with billionaire Vivi Nevo was over. On the positive side, she was named CineAsia’s Actress of the Decade at a Hong Kong industry trade fair. This year she will appear in Wong Kar-Wai’s latest film, a martial arts epic called The Grandmasters, as well as an English-language version of Mulan.
Fan Bingbing (范冰冰)
The in-demand actress (12 films plus 1 TV series completed or in the pipeline in the three year period 2009-11) is the youngest of the ten stars at 29 years old. She recently won Best Actress at the Tokyo Film Festival for Buddha Mountain, and will also star in the much anticipated martial arts blockbuster, Shaolin, alongside Andy Lau and Jacky Chan, as well as the new Chen Kaige historical drama, Sacrifice. She was just recently named at number one in a list of young rich and famous Chinese celebrities (link here, but in Chinese). More awards could soon be on the way.
Wang Fei (王菲)
41 year old Beijing born but Hong Kong raised Wang Fei is the only non-actor on the list. The iconic pop diva famous for her other-worldly voice and haunting ballads came out of semi-retirement in 2010. She appeared at the Spring Festival Gala performance, a Chinese New Year tradition that attracts hundreds of millions of viewers every year. She also sang the theme song for the Confucious soundtrack, and embarked on a sell-out concert tour in Beijing, Shanghai, Taipei and Hong Kong.
Tang Wei (汤唯)
Another comeback queen of sorts, 31 year old Tang Wei achieved notoriety back in 2007 with the film Lust, Caution. In the film she bared all for some explicit sex scenes, then fell foul of conservative sections of the Chinese government and media. She found herself unofficially blacklisted and disappeared from the spotlight. Her penance apparently served, she returned to the screen in 2009 with the romantic comedy Crossing Hennessy, a role which earned her a Best Actress nomination at the Golden Horse Awards. In 2010 she starred alongside Korean star Hyun Bin in the US production Late Autumn, a love story between two immigrants in America. Her rehabilitation now complete, she will star alongside other big-name Chinese actresses in the upcoming Yang Lady Generals movie.
Shu Qi (舒淇)
The 34 year-old Taiwanese actress has made one of cinema’s most remarkable transformations, from soft-corn porn starlet to critically acclaimed mainstream leading lady. Her latest film, the romantic comedy If You Are The One 2, is vying with Aftershock and Let the Bullets Fly for the honour of China’s biggest grossing film of all time. Last year she was also nominated for a Best Actress award at the Hong Kong Film Awards for another rom-com, Look For A Star. On a less successful note, she also appeared in the heavily panned City Under Siege, and the lukewarmly-received martial arts actioner Legend of the Fist.
Xu Jinglei (徐静蕾)
Actress, director and blogger (she writes one of the world’s most visited blogs according to Technocrati), the 38 year old is known for her acting versatility. In 2010 she directed and starred in the romantic comedy Go Lala Go, which she also adapted from a best-selling novel. She’ll next appear in Eternal Moment, a romantic drama that will be released, fittingly, on Valentine’s Day. It’s the sequel to a 1998 TV drama series, Cherish Our Love Forever, the show that gave Xu her first break. Other original cast members will also return for the sequel.
Zhang Jingchu (张静初)
The 30 year old Fujian-born actress has long been touted as a candidate for superstardom, though her preference for roles in arthouse productions ahead of blockbusters has hindered her progress. She has appeared in more populist fare of late, including the biggest movie of 2010, Aftershock. Her shift to the mainstream wasn’t all smooth sailing however - she also starred in two shockers, Flirting Scholar 2 and City Under Siege.