With the annual Vanity Fair "Hollywood" issue about to debut for 2009 -- I'm guessing we see the new cover in less than two weeks (UPDATE: the new cover has been leaked and Vanity Fair has chucked their traditional photo shoot *sniffle* for the millionth magazine cover featuring President Obama), let's briefly return to our Vanity Fair retrospectives. "Send in the Gowns" was the title of 2004's photo shoot and they returned to the first year's game plan of glamour girls. The cover was more crowded though, bringing us an unlucky 13. But who was this cover unlucky for?
Maybe all of them, with the exception of Maggie Gyllenhaal (hurrah) and Hilary Swank (known affectionately around these parts as Beelzebub), who was just 11 months away from her second Oscar. Vanity Fair had gotten less daring in their cover selections as the year's passed (at least in terms of fresh "they'll be famous!" proclamations), but many of these careers had arguably peaked and were headed downhill.
Strange coincidence: 23% of these women are starring in He's Just Not That Into You
Julianne Moore was 43 at the time. She had been on the first "Hollywood" edition in spring '95 (before anyone had seen [Safe]) and got a deserved promotion. In the 9 years between the covers she'd gone from gorgeous up and coming redhead to a famously talented familiar actress as well as an Oscar nom' magnet. Unfortunately, round about this time as her fame and price kept escalating, she stopped wowing. 2004 brought her her only solo film-carrying "hit" in the traditional sense (The Forgotten) but it also brought stinkers like Laws of Attraction and films that no one even knows exist like Marie and Bruce (the only Moore film I haven't managed to get my eyes on). She's been misfiring both critically and box office wise since though she did have small roles in two acclaimed films Children of Men and I'm Not There.
This past year's double Moore dip, Savage Grace and Blindness (FB Body of Work nomination), reminded us that she's a unique and formidable dramatic actress... when she's not trying to be a romantic comedienne or action heroine. Next: She has three films in the can for 2009: the lead in a thriller (uh oh -- not playing to her strengths!) called Shelter, and supporting roles in the dramas The Private Lives of Pippa Lee and fashion god Tom Ford's filmmaking debut A Single Man.
Jennifer Connelly was 33 newly married to fine actor Paul Bettany and had just starred in a hit that everybody thought of as a flop (Hulk) and an Oscar misfire of sorts (House of Sand and Fog) but she was still considered a major get. Only she wouldn't be got. So to speak. She took only co-lead or supporting roles that didn't do much for her in Oscar Bait projects that didn't hook any statues (Little Children, Reservation Road, Blood Diamond) and now she's doing CGI flicks (The Day the Earth Stood Still and Inkheart). Is there a second wind to this career? And if there is, doesn't it need to come very soon? Next: He's Just Not That Into You and then Creation, a Charles Darwin biopic where she and her husband will play the Darwins.
Gwyneth Paltrow, 31, was still arguably suffering from the Oscar Curse -- that messy career period that can follow an Oscar win (which she won for Shakespeare in Love, discussed at length right here). The Royal Tenenbaums and Sylvia had reminded that she had plenty of acting skill but something about the career wasn't taking with Oscar or the public. Did she not care enough? She was a newlywed when this cover hit (to Coldplay's Chris Martin) and already pregnant with their first child, though she wasn't yet showing (she's pictured right, a few months later). Her acting career definitely went on the back burner. She's had 7 films released since this cover debuted and only one true leading role among them (Proof). She's now far more of a celebrity than an actress. The fame part stuck. Next: Two Lovers is inching it's way into view. King Lear and Iron Man 2 are coming for 2010.
Naomi Watts, 35, had recently moved out from under that 'Nicole Kidman's best friend' tag and into her own celebrity. The fresh Oscar nomination for 21 Grams (due in no small part to the Mulholland Dr lead in we're sure) went a long way towards that. She was still dating Heath Ledger, who came with her to the Oscars, but their relationship was about to end. (Thank god she convinced him to take Brokeback Mountain first!). In 2004 she had two heavy dramas and one comedy (the brilliant I Heart Huckabees) on the way. She chased those with the massive King Kong. Ever the multi-tasker since stardom hit she's still busy busy busy despite being a new mom. Next: Mother and Child for actress-loving director Rodrigo García and possibly Need with Nicole Kidman. That would be their first movie together since the charming Australian romance Flirting in 1991.
Salma Hayek, 37, still had residual heat from the success of Frida in late 2002. She had broken up with Ed Norton and was dating Josh Lucas but her movie career was about to collapse. Flops like Ask the Dust, Lonely Hearts and After the Sunset were all on the way. A savvy star she's stayed in the game by seguewaying to television production, bringing the big hit Ugly Betty to ABC and doing guest work (30 Rock). Next: "Madame Truska" in Universal's Cirque Du Freak opening in time for Halloween
Jennifer Aniston had just celebrated her 35th birthday, and her career was coming to the crossroads. She was finishing up her last season on TV's mega hit "Friends" and her marriage to Brad Pitt was also close to wrapping (though we didn't know it at the time). They divorced in late 2005 shortly before her first two post TV stardom movies (Derailed and Rumor Has It) opened. Her feature career has been middling peppered with the occasional high concept hit but she's forever ubiquitous in the media thanks to that decade in our living rooms as "Rachel" and her gossip-drenched marriage and split from Mr. Pitt. Next: the star studded romantic comedy He's Just Not That Into You
Kirsten Dunst, almost 22, was about to dump Jake Gyllenhaal (my theory as to one of the reasons people hate her so), Eternal Sunshine was playing (she does not get enough credit for her wistful funny turn in that film) and Spider-Man 2 was about to open. She was extremely famous / busy. It's been a bumpy ride since with rehab, a misunderstood star vehicle (Marie Antoinette), internet backlash and flops outside of those webslinging blockbusters. Next: All Good Things, the narrative feature debut of documentarian Andrew Jarecki (Capturing the Friedmans) opens this summer. Possibly Spider-Man 4 after that. Don't do it Kiki! Save yourself
Diane Lane, who had been famous since she was only 14 had just turned 39. She had seen her lengthy career hit a new peak with an Oscar nomination for Unfaithful in 2002 which she followed with another minor hit Under the Tuscan Sun. She was about to marry Josh Brolin whose career was still a couple years away from supersizing. More films were lining up for Lane but things aren't as rosy now since none have really matched that Unfaithful triumph and some (Kill Shot and Fierce People) had trouble even getting into theaters. Next: nothing announced.
Lucy Liu, 35, had just given the performance of her career in Kill Bill but then... that tends to happen to people when they star in Quentin Tarantino movies, doesn't it? Liu had always toggled between features and TV and she kept doing so. She's never left wanting for work but no great successes since. Next: nothing announced since her last two televisions series Lipstick Mafia and Dirty Sexy Money were both cancelled.
Hilary Swank in '04. Photographed by Stephen Meisel for Calvin Klein (photo source)
Hilary Swank, nearing 30, was on this cover because she had a frankly amazing agent. I kid, I kid. Her career post 1999 Oscar had been unremarkable. The Core was her last release prior to this cover but 2004 was looking big for her on paper (a respectable TV movie Iron Jawed Angels and a Clint Eastwood picture Million Dollar Baby -discussed here) and looks weren't deceiving. She won another Oscar for the latter and promptly returned to doing what she does: random disposable projects of multiple genres. Next: Two Oscar hopefuls for 2009 and in both of them she plays the title character. There's Amelia, a biopic in which she plays the famous aviatrix and Betty Ann Waters an Erin Brockovich style working mother turned legal eagle drama.
Alison Lohman, 24, was just off of a few high profile gigs (Big Fish, White Oleander and Matchstick Men) but her follow ups were very low profile. Tell me, have you seen: The Big White, Where the Truth Lies, Things We Lost in the Fire or Flicka? Next: Two thrillers one called simply Game leans scifi, the other Drag Me to Hell is auteur Sam Raimi's return to the horror genre. That might be something to look forward to but can it raise Lohman's profile back to early 2004 levels?
Scarlett Johansson, all of 19 years old, had just become the movies hottest young star. Offscreen she was a dynamo in the Young Hollywood scene --vaguely around this time she moved from dating Jared Leto to a fairly lengthy romance with Josh Hartnett. Onscreen she was a fresh sensation. Girl with a Pearl Earring and Lost in Translation had both opened to enviable acclaim for the young starlet and an awards run, too (though Oscar passed). When this cover was shot she was a critics darling, a paparazzi treasure and very much in demand by both auteurs and corporations (her endorsement side career might be as profitable as her film career by now). She's been super busy these past 4 years with numerous films, marrying Ryan Reynolds and that fledgling recording career. But is it quantity over quality. A lot of people are beginning to think so. Next: He's Just Not That Into You
Maggie Gyllenhaal, 27 at the time, had become ubiquitous around 2002 appearing in critical hits like Adaptation and Secretary. She and Jake her brother ascended in very close succession. The next year or so was less eventful cinematically for Maggie but two years after this cover hit she was all over the screens again delivering you-can't-look-away performances in films ranging from World Trade Center (blech) to Stranger Than Fiction to Sherrybaby and off screen she was having her first child with Peter Sarsgaard. Oscar still hasn't taken a liking to Maggie but few would argue that she isn't one of the most impressive actresses of her generation. Next: Crazy Heart a drama with Colin Farrel and Away We Go a comedy for director Sam Mendes.
PLEASE NOTE: If you'd like to read more about any of these stars, click the names in the labels section below.*
median age: 32. Julianne Moore was the mamma (isn't she always?) and ScarJo the baby.
noticeably absent: Who else was topical around 2003/2004? Let's see... Halle Berry was about to screw up her career with Catwoman, Angelina Jolie (who has never been on one of these "Hollywood" covers) had a bunch of movies about to come out, Emmy Rossum was just off of Mystic River and about to co-star in two epics, Kate Beckinsale had had a minor hit with Underworld and was chasing it with another supernatural flick before co-starring in Martin Scorsese's The Aviator.
collective Oscar noms before this cover: 10 nominations (40% of those for Julianne) and 3 winners (her front cover co-stars Connelly & Paltrow and then Swank in the backfold)
collective Oscar noms after this cover: only one but she won (Hilary Swank)
fame levels in 2009, according to famousr, from most to least: Jennifer Aniston, Gwyneth Paltrow, Hilary Swank, Kirsten Dunst, Scarlett Johansson, Lucy Liu, Salma Hayek, Julianne Moore, Naomi Watts, Jennifer Connelly, Diane Lane, Maggie Gyllenhaal and Alison Lohman
previous episodes of 'VFH': 1995 ,1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004 and 2005.