Missed other episodes? See: 1995 , 1996, 1997, 1998 , 1999, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2004 and 2005 to get you caught up.
After six years of spotlighting Young Hollywood's rising or just-risens, Vanity Fair surprised ever so slightly in 2001 by going "classic" cutting the true shock of it by including a few people who, whatever the size of future achievements, had no business being called "legends" back then [Though the title of this cover was actually "Master Class" -editor] Even Nicole Kidman, entering the year that would make her one, wasn't. She was just exiting her endentured period as Mrs. Tom Cruise. The cover (shot by Annie Leibovitz as always) ably conveys wealth and class but for its desire to throw moneyed starlets on the carpet. You know they sit on thrones at home.
Nicole Kidman, almost 34, had just announced her separation from Cruise. She was about to ascend, headlining two hits (The Others and Moulin Rouge!) and soon to be named "Oscar nominee", "Entertainer of the Year" and any other title you could think of. ("Box Office Poison" was a later appellative). Over the next two years her asking price would septuple and critical acclaim was rapturous. Like all superstars she's been a target for tearing down since. Up next: reteaming with the man other than Tom Cruise who is most responsible for augmenting her celebrity, director Baz Luhrmann (Moulin Rouge!) for the romantic epic Australia (see previous posts)
Catherine Deneuve, at 57, proved she still had it in her to thrill sophisticated audiences and cinephiles. In 2000 alone, just before this cover, she had five movies released stateside: the masterpiece Dancer in the Dark (she should've been Oscar-nominated), the eerily beautiful and controversial Pola X, the foreign language Oscar nominee Est-Ouest, and arthouse fare Time Regained and Place Vendome. Few movie stars are or were her equal. I love that they included her.
Meryl Streep, soon turning 52, was moments away from a golden rejuvenation of her already awesome career. Though she had never stopped working since blazing onto the screen in the late 70s, the 90s were an uneven time for her at best. When Entertainment Weekly compiled their famous 100 Greatest Movie Stars of All Time in the late 90s she ranked only #37. Surely this great second wind in her career will put her in top tens from here on out in history books. In the two years that followed this particular Vanity Fair cover Adaptation, The Hours and Angels in America placed her back on top as cream of the acting crop. Then The Devil Wears Prada (2006) introduced her to a whole new generation of fans.
Gwyneth Paltrow was 28 when this cover was shot. Her placement made sense then: the future seemed bright for Hollywood's princess, still hot from Shakespeare in Love's big success at the box office and on Oscar night in early 1999. Most people believe that she'll scramble her way back to acting prominence with the right role and movie and though her fame hasn't abated at all, few would argue that she's made the right film choices since winning the Oscar (Shallow Hal opened this year and that's just one example) or has even cared that much about her stardom since.
Cate Blanchett, turning 32, was working nonstop building her reputation with 6 movies in the two years preceding this cover and 4 opening directly after. She was still a few years away from becoming an Oscar regular. Is she a legend yet? Only time will tell but given the critical hoopla that greets her every move now, chances are good.
Kate Winslet was already a household name at 25. That's what happens when you star in the biggest movie of all time. She had two Oscar nominations under her belt (a record for someone so young) ...and the rest is history and should continue to be. It's thrilling to remember that she's only 32 years old. Streep was 32 when she was filming Sophie's Choice... and that was just the beginning of Meryl's cinematic dominance. Think of how much Winslet we all have to look forward to before we die! Wheeeeeeee
Vanessa Redgrave, was 64 and after a long and storied career that had netted her 6 Oscar nominations and 1 Oscar she was still doing simply genius work (I'm not alone in considering her appearance in television's If These Walls Could Talk 2 to be one of the great performances of the Aughts). Master class indeed.
Chlöe Sevigny, at 26, was the oddest selection for the cover but it was probably a nod to the hipster scene (of which Chlöe was already an icon) or the indie film generation. With Boys Don't Cry (1999) and her Oscar nomination for supporting actress she had garnered mainstream attention and had essentially dethroned Parker Posey as Queen of Indies. Strangely, considering the timing of this cover, this was the quietest time in her film career. She did not appear in any features that opened in the US for the next two years.
Sophia Loren, one of the cinema's most legendary beauties was 66 years-old. She had been a massive star in the 50s and 60s and the first woman to ever win the Best Actress Oscar for a foreign language performance (pre-dating Marion Cotillard's win by 4 decades) She was honored at film festivals in 2001 while promoting her first film in several years Francesca and Nunziata. She has a plum supporting role in the movie adaptation of Broadway's Nine opening late next year (if all goes according to plan) which will be her first American picture since Grumpier Old Men (1995) and her first musical since Man of La Mancha (1972).
Penélope Cruz, 27, was appearing on the Hollywood cover for a second year in a row (previous post). Her inclusion was perhaps another nod to international cinema although the young starlet was spending most of her time in Hollywood pictures by this point. Her international fame skyrocketed when she replaced Kidman on Cruise's arm and onscreen (in Vanilla Sky) this very year but it wasn't until 2006 and the Spanish language hit Volver that she began to be treated with great respect (Volver posts -I love that movie). Her acting ability had been questioned numerous times prior to that Almodóvar guided breakthrough. Next up: Vicky Christina Barcelona for Woody Allen.
median age: 41 ---a bit young for a "master class" cover, don'cha think?
collective Oscar noms before this cover: 26 nominations (Streep and Redgrave responsible for the lions share) and 5 Oscar statuettes had been won by these women before this shoot took place.
collective Oscar noms after this cover: They've won 12 more nominations and 2 Oscars (Kidman & Blanchett) in the seven years since this photograph was published.
fame levels in 2008, according to famousr, from most to least: I usually include Famousr scores in these roundups but they're useless once you start getting to actual legends. The names Vanessa Redgrave and Sophia Loren will still be remembered 100 years from now. But they'd easily be considered "less" famous than Penélope Cruz from internet scoring, which tends to skew young and "right now". I don't even wanna look at it to find out.
see also: 1995 ,1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2004 and 2005.