beloved adj: dearly loved; dear to the heart.

That's kind of exactly what I thought the word beloved meant, but you can't blame me for having to double-check after Jodie Foster told the Associated Press that her Beaver co-star Mel Gibson is "the most beloved actor of anybody I've ever worked with in the film business." Most beloved. Dear to the heart.

I don't doubt that Foster means what she said, but obviously, there are other people in Hollywood who don't share her genuine affection for Gibson, especially in light of A) His polarizing direction of The Passion of the Christ, B) His anti-Semitic slurs during his 2006 drunk-driving arrest, and C) Phone recordings of his nasty arguments with the mother of his young daughter. It would be fair to say that Gibson is not universally beloved.

But who is dear to our hearts? When I think of the title, Most Beloved Actor, I immediately think of Jimmy Stewart and Jack Lemmon, two actors who carved out a reservoir of goodwill with numerous classic characters who resonated with multiple generations. Among today's working actors, I actually think Foster belongs in any discussion about Most Beloved Actor. So do Tom Hanks and Morgan Freeman. I'd throw Bill Murray, Meryl Streep, and Jeff Bridges in the mix too.

Who gets your vote for Most Beloved Actor?

Read more: