Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Vanity Fair's Hollywood ~ Episode 11 (2005)

Missed previous episodes? See: 1995 , 1996, 1997, 1998 , 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003 and 2004.

Vanity Fair briefly killed my enthusiasm for the "Hollywood project" when they nixed the traditional cover for 2009. But time heals most wounds and I have reanimated the project's corpse. 2004's cover had 13 already peaking actresses on it. How'd they follow it in 2005? With another batch of goddesses, 60% of whom had already graced their "Hollywood" cover. In the case of the C/Kates, it was now thrice. Was Vanity Fair running out of ideas? Given the idiosyncratic pool the covers regularly pulled from you'd think there were only 40 actresses in Hollywood... but then, it's probably all in who you know who represents you when it comes to face time here. It's definitely not only about the fame. Consider this: this cover series lasted from 1995 - 2008 and Angelina Jolie, Halle Berry, Michelle Williams and Tilda Swinton never appeared on them (just four chronologically appropriate examples off the top of my head).

click to enlarge for maximum beauty

For reasons that only pop culture archives will be able to fully explain to future generations this cover was called "Not So Desperate Housewives". Only two of these actresses were even married at the time (the C/Kates) and only six kids had sprung from their enviable DNA (two kids each for Cate, Kate and Uma).

Uma Thurman, about to turn 35, had appeared on VF's very first Hollywood issue back in 1995. Back then she was celebrating her deserved Oscar nom for Pulp Fiction. I like to think that her get up here, white shirt and black pants (the only one of the ladies eschewing a gown), was a nod to "Mia Wallace" in Pulp Fiction. It would make sense. Director Quentin Tarantino had just finished (momentarily) resuscitating her talent and fame with those thrilling Kill Bills and she was about to risk memories of that film with the John Travolta dance number in Be Cool. She had divorced Ethan Hawke in 2004 and the three films coming out (Prime, Be Cool and The Producers) were a nice range of drama, comedy and musical... on paper. Onscreen it didn't work out so well. More flops followed. Uma turns 40 in 2010, and she's undoubtedly looking for that third career wind. Next up: Motherhood, Percy Jackson and Eloise in Paris.

Cate Blanchett had just been won an Oscar (The Aviator) and was about to turn 36. Aside from the Oscar win, 2005 was quiet. Blanchett never stays quiet. The next four years would be jam packed full of Oscar bait and trips down the red carpet culminating in the two biggest non-Hobbity hits of her career (Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button). No films in 2009 (shocker!) but she'll be back in 2010 as Maid Marian in Ridley Scott's Robin Hood [see previous posts]

Kate Winslet was 29 years old, still Oscar-less and an old pro at the "Hollywood" covers. Uma & Cate are her superiors when it comes to behaving like models in photoshoots (think about it), but she wasn't letting them pull all the focus with her sleek über sexy look here. Her inarguable triumph in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004) was about to prove very difficult to follow. Fascinating time capsule note: 2005 is the year wherein she guest starred on "Extras" as a foul mouthed narcissistic "Kate Winslet", bitching about having to do a Holocaust drama to win an Oscar.



Despite that hilariously written and performed prophecy, her next several films didn't truly catch on (The Holiday, Little Children, Romance & Cigarettes, Revolutionary Road and All the Kings Men). The happy ending punchline arrived earlier this year when she won her Oscar for the holocaust drama The Reader. Up next: Nothing. With Oscar in hand, I'm guessing she lays low for the next couple of years. She was never a ubiquitous celebrity to begin with.

Scarlett Johansson was just 20 and already a back to back Hollywood covergirl. She had skyrocketed in 2003 with the global success of Lost in Translation, the critical success of Girl with a Pearl Earring and her high profile relationship with another Young Hollywood star, Josh Hartnett. And though nothing in 2004 had added much to her mystique she had the lead in a would be summer blockbuster for 2005 (The Island, which flopped). No one at the time saw her Woody Allen's muse status coming, but Match Point (their first collaboration) was about to debut at Cannes and become the legendary director's biggest hit in over a decade. Cut to several Scarlett roles and three calendar years later: she's beloved as a celebrity, newlywed and spokesperson but who loves her as an actress, any more? Can she turn that around with her stint as The Black Widow in Iron Man 2 (see previous post)

<-- Rupert Everett, Claire Danes and Billy Crudup at the premiere of Stage Beauty in October 2004

Claire Danes, turning 26 appears to have been slain by ScarJo. And maybe she was. Hollywood only has room for a handful of young superstar blondes in any given time period, you know. Perhaps she's prone as sacrifice for Cate, Kate and Uma none of whom have ceded much space for up and comers, holding onto big fame with that iron grip combo of talent, beauty and the favor of important filmmakers. Or maybe Mary-Louise Parker had snuck in to lay her down? It had only been a year since the gossip machine had ground and spit Claire Danes and Billy Crudup out for splitting with their partners -- in Billy's case, the several months pregnant Parker.

Which is all along way of saying that her cover girl status was slightly puzzling. Despite Danes' absolutely stellar start in television's My So Called Life and a promising initial silver screen transfer (Little Women and Romeo + Juliet), the movie career never really worked out. Her career had slipped in the late 90s and the Aughts brought nothing but a string of well performed but small supporting roles (The Hours, Igby Goes Down) or lead parts that didn't do much for her (Terminator 3, Stage Beauty). This trend continued after this cover, too: The Family Stone, Stardust, Evening and Shopgirl haven't provided breakthroughs. Up next: Temple Grandin in which she plays an autistic scientist. Should she try headlining a TV series again?

Rosario Dawson about to turn 26, had been on the cover before and had just caused a mini-fuss with her scene stealing nudity and feral performance in Alexander (2004). Vanity Fair's cover indicated a good sized year for her and it was: Sin City and Rent "I wanna go ouu--uuuuuttt, tonight" both premiered.


Zhang Ziyi newly 26, had enjoyed a high international profile since her breakthrough in Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, five years earlier. The preceding months had been very good to her with three well received successful imports: 2046 (her best performance if you ask me), Hero and House of Flying Daggers. But she was undoubtedly on this cover because everyone in the world seemed to be anxiously awaiting Memoirs of a Geisha, then only a blockbuster book and not yet a disappointing movie. She was making lists like People magazine's 50 Most Beautiful, she was a frequent object of lust in men's magazines. Once the Memoirs craze ended, things went quiet, though one can still spot her on red carpets or in paparazzi shots with venture capitalist boyfriend Vivi Nevo. Is an international comeback going to happen? She's only 30. Next up: Sophie's Revenge and possibly the romantic drama Waiting which would reunite her with her Daggers co-star, Takeshi Kaneshiro, her only co-star to ever challenge her for "prettiest person in this movie" contests.

Kerry Washington, 28, had just appeared in the Oscar nominated biopic Ray and was still dating actor David Moscow (pictured together right, Jan. 2005) Many people, including yours truly, were pulling for major stardom for Kerry. She's still high profile and highly castable (young, beautiful, talented, speaks multiple languages including very handy ones for the cinema: French and Spanish) and yet the cinema can't seem to figure it out. 2005 brought only bit parts in Mr & Mrs. Smith and Fantastic Four. When will Hollywood ever figure out big careers for the top black actresses? It seems hopelessly beyond Tinseltown's capabilities. Things are still about the same for Kerry. She'll give a great performance (The Last King of Scotland, Dead Girl) and it's like it didn't happen at all in the larger scheme of the star hierarchies. It's so frustrating. Will her new projects turn the tide? Next up: A Thousand Words with Eddie Murphy and a possibly plum possibly Oscar-bait supporting role in Mother and Child starring Annette Bening.

Kate Bosworth, 22, was fresh off the underrated romantic comedy Win a Date With Tad Hamilton! and the flop biopic Beyond the Sea starring Kevin Spacey. She was very high profile in the celebrity-watching sector as Orland Bloom's girlfriend and Hollywood seemed to have faith in her. She was soon given the Lois Lane role in Superman Returns (unfortunate casting, that). Her film career has long since been smaller than her celebrity and she hasn't actually been making many movies. Next up: The Warrior's Way.

Sienna Miller, at 23 was, like Kate Bosworth, far more famous than her filmography would imply. She was Jude Law's new fiancé -- they had just made Alfie (Oct 2004, left)-- and he was at the peak of his celebrity. A few months after this Hollywood cover they broke off the engagement and their on and off again relationship has provided tabloid fodder for years now. She followed Alfie by romancing Heath Ledger in Casanova. She's been working a lot ever since (Factory Girl, Stardust, The Edge of Love, The Mysteries of Pittsburgh) but it looks doubtful that her movie career will ever equal her celebrity. Or not. Maybe she's just the right role away from more legitimate stardom? Next up: playing "The Baroness" in G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra.

PLEASE NOTE: If you'd like to read more about any of these stars, click the names in the labels section below.
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median age: 27. Blanchett was the eldest, Scarlett the baby.
noticeably absent: Who else was topical 'round mid 2004 to mid 2005? Let's see... Monica Bellucci (international profile raised with The Matrix films and The Passion of the Christ), Jennifer Garner (transferring to movies with 13 Going on 30 and Electra), Eva Mendes (had 4 movies coming out including Hitch), Lindsay Lohan (Mean Girls) and maybe Sophie Okonedo (Hotel Rwanda)
collective Oscar stats before cover:
7 noms / 1 win (all by the front cover girls. Blanchett won for The Aviator)
collective Oscar stats after cover: 5 nominations / 1 win (3 for Cate, 2 for Kate)
fame levels in 2009, according to famousr, from most to least: Uma Thurman, Scarlett Johansson, Cate Blanchett, Kate Bosworth, Claire Danes, Sienna Miller, Rosario Dawson and Kerry Washington. Not listed in famousr for some bizarre reason: Kate Winslet & Zhang Ziyi.
previous episodes: 1995 ,1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003 and 2004.
*

44 comments:

Hayden said...

I think Claire Danes' performance in Shopgirl is one of the finest pieces of the decade, her work in Stage Beauty is a worthy effort in the strongest Best Actress year of the decade, and she is easily the most underappreciated actress of her generation, in my opinion. A combination of bad roles and bad luck have detracted from what an intelligent and subtle actress she is. Oh, and the blogosphere has made it such that she can't be mentioned without some mention of Mary Louise Parker.

ayrton valles said...

anne hathaway was in the 2008 issue

ralph said...

yes she was i saw her when my sister bought the magazine

Iggy said...

I'm glad you're back with this series, I've missed it.

This must be one of the most clearly doctored covers ever. Look at Winslet's right underarm and the huge difference with her waist below.

BTW, with so much clevage in this cover, why is Washington the only one dressed to the neck? Even Uma in a shirt shows more flesh.

NATHANIEL R said...

oopsie.
i was stopping at 2007 in my research. i shall correct.

Karen said...

I've really enjoy the Hollywood issues. Fun stuff indeed!

adam k. said...

Wasn't Emily Blunt supposed to be Black Widow before ScarJo? What happened with that again? It's a shame that didn't happen.

Jim T said...

Nate, you said the predictions would be updated today. What's up with that? :(

PS: You gave Up a A-. Had you given Wall-E the same mark or was it an A?

NATHANIEL R said...

Jim T... all that coming soon stuff yesterday was meant to be "last week of May coming soon"

don't know which days i'll get to which things.

NATHANIEL R said...

Hayden -- you have a point about the bad luck. Luck is always a factor in careers (of any sort... not just HOllywood) Though the blogosphere isn't really to blame for the Mary Louise Parker business ;)

adam k -- not sure why. i assume it's the standard "scheduling conflicts"

Jim T -- i also gave WALL-E an "A-" but i like it better than UP.WALL-E is like the high end of A- almost A and UP is like the low end of the A- almost B+ ... but when you're B+ or above it's a "win" for me however you consider it.

Wayne B. said...

When it comes to Kerry Washington I speculate that her career will follow a path similar to Christian Bale or Johnny Depp where they start working young, giving superb performances to very little critical huzzahs etc but later on in her life (late 30s) she'll have a blast of superstardom like them.
That's my own lil prediction. :)

Hayden said...

Are you implying that Danes did that to herself? Perhaps; if anything, by engaging in that affair she underestimated the level of sexism in entertainment media (blogosphere, tv, etc). That's her real crime, I suppose.

NATHANIEL R said...

Hayden... I see what you're saying but I don't think it's sexism only. Lord knows Billy Crudup was harshly judged as well.

The truth is that public figures are public figures. They have to understand that there's fallout from stuff like that. I'm sure they knew there was going into it but the heart wants what it wants. and who knows. Maybe MLP is evil incarnate and we wouldn't blame Billy or Claire if we were Billy or Claire.

But I wasn't passing judgment on her. i'm not big on judgment -- outside of assessing movies ;)

I was just saying that the press was passing judgment --they always do. There are still pockets of people who refer to Angelina Jolie as a "homewrecker".

NATHANIEL R said...

iggy ... good question on Kerry and the lack of cleavage. Maybe it's just to have some variety (like Uma's pants situation)

Anonymous said...

I don't know anything about Claire Danes and her situation (I haven't heard anything about it) But you have to put yourself in other people's shoes (in reference to Angelina). I literally wanted to kill the Bitch that did that to my Mom. My stance is you should NEVER under ANY circumstance mess with a married man or woman unless he/she is seperated. Yes, I've been in the other situation also. It was simply a helll no. So yes, IMHO Angelina is a homewrecker, a charitable one though and so is Alicia Keys and Abbie Cornish.

Hayden said...

Well I don't think Danes and Jolie are comparable at all, simply because the tabloid media is so constantly saturated with information about Angelina, good or bad (though mostly good) that being a "homewrecker" is only a tiny (and now, very outdated) aspect of her public persona. But unlike Danes, Jolie is a constant stream of valuable tabloid fodder.

Claire Danes comes across as so irrelevant that in order to provide context for her career, people feel the need to talk about the Billy Crudup thing. Claire has always been more of an actress than a celebrity, so it's sad that when fame-centric features pop up, we can only define her within the context of the sordid personal story that's caught on in the press instead of her unique career.

I think she's very serious about her craft, much more humble and gracious than many of her peers. I guess my point is that for an actress who gets so little attention as it is, I wish more of it was positive.

NATHANIEL R said...

hayden fair point, you make.

as for myself... i think she's having some trouble with the acting part lately. I feel like i'm seeing the same mannerisms in the oddest of pairings (like the celestial body in Stardust and the young woman in Evening). I would love for her to "wow" me again like she did back in the 90s.

wayne that's a charitable view of where Kerry Washington's career is heading but i hope it's a correct view.

rosengje said...

I think the Emily Blunt situation had something to do with Fox having an option on her dating from The Devil Wears Prada and wanting her to do Gulliver's Travels. Extremely unimaginative replacement casting in a franchise that has been so consistently interesting.

NATHANIEL R said...

rosengje. damn straight. I used to read iron man and daredevil and all of those things and SCARJO (as much as I like her in some things) is about as far from most incarnations of Natasha that I can think of.

Aside from the big boobs but if that's the casting decision than Scarlett is literally perfect for all comic book roles since all the women have massive racks.

Bailey said...

Omg I looove Claire Danes!!! I'm Team Hayden on this one - I think the whole Claire "Manstealer" Danes thing is a bit overdone and unfair. Although I can agree with Nate that she's basically playing roles the same over and over now. I guess I just don't care because I find her so enchanting! And she's like, kinda really not pretty but somehow manages to be totally beautiful. I can't explain that, and I like it.

Anonymous said...

I just don't think people realize how hurtful those things can be. And you wonder why some still consider Angelina a homewrecker? Do you realize how many people come from broken families because of this? I don't have any respect for a man or woman who would get in that situation especially when there are children involved. So I really don't care about Claire Danes or Billy Crudup sorry. They should have thought about the consequences ahead of time. Being a fan of an actor or actress strictly based on their performances is fine for some, but for me I couldn't be a fan of someone with a fucked up personality (Gwyneth) or a racist, sexist or homewrecker.

Victor S said...

Who said Cate Blanchett has no movies in 2009? She plays Granmamare in the english version of Ponyo.

NATHANIEL R said...

well voicework isn't quite the same as being all over the screens ;)

par3182 said...

is sophie's revenge the sequel to sophie's choice..?

noticeably absent (from all these covers): you know who

Drew said...

Kerry Washington. The Last King of Scotland <3

Kurtis O said...

Easily one of the best VF covers ever...and I'm not just talking about the first third.

...oh, and I fully agree with Hayden about Ms. Claire Danes. She has never disappointed me on screen. Love her.

Hayden said...

I honestly wish more people would see Shopgirl and love it for her elegant, subdued, fully realized Mirabelle Buttersfield who could have walked right out of Martin's novella. 2005 was the year of roles that fit actresses like gloves, and Danes played the melancholy girl at the glove counter with such poise and easy grace you'd think you were watching a young Julie Christie. She was superb.

The Know Nothing Know It All said...

To Wayne B...

That's definitely a best case scenario you've described with Kerry Washington. She is beautiful and talented, true. But she's already in her thirties and she is a black woman, which means she doesn't have the shelf-life of a Bale or Depp in the eyes of Hollywood. She seriously needs a breakthrough starring role that can
A. Announce her as a presence to be reckoned with and
B. Allow her to showcase her talent in a shocking way. (Black women actresses always have to be loud or "shocking" to garner attention and be considered good.)

She needs a role like this and she needs it fast. She doesn't have a lot of time left, I'm afraid.

Hayden said...

To add to that point:

I remember reading something you wrote, Nathaniel, about how Julie Christie nailed her performance in Away From Her by being completely unafraid of disappearing to her audience. There's nothing hammy or self-serving in that performance, and I think Danes tackled Mirabelle's transparency with such selflessness and quietude that she never cared about alienating herself from her audience.

At the age where most actresses (ahem, Natalie Portman) are trying to be as assertive and vital onscreen as possible, Danes' ability (and willingness) to underplay is what gives her such maturity. I know 2007 was a disaster, but I can't help but think there's more where Shopgirl came from.

As for her discomfort in Evening and Stardust, what I see is the hand-wringing neurotic who SHOULD be Woody Allen's current muse instead of Scarlett Johansson. And she's based in New York. Done and done.

18 Year Old Blogger said...

I think Claire Danes got a beat down in the press becuase Parker was 7 months pregnant at the time.

But Hayden, I completely agree with you about Danes in Shopgirl. She should have been nominated.

alicia said...

She had to do something entirely after Kill Bill, so she went for broad comedy, a rom com and a musical. Honestly, you can't blame her for wanting to work with Streep and The Producers is not the worst musical adaptation around (Rent ? Phantom ?) By the way, a lot of reviewers said she was game as Ulla

Derreck said...

ah, i love reading these.

I don't have much of substance to say, so i'll just use my monthly shamelessly shallow comment.

It's my first time seeing this cover, but i just have to say, Kate Winslet is scorching hot in this photo. I'm so tempted to use the word "fierce", but i won't.

ah, screw it, FIERCE!

Anonymous said...

"I see what you're saying but I don't think it's sexism only. Lord knows Billy Crudup was harshly judged as well."

In fact Nath, I think both suffer the public judgement. Remember that after that episode, Mary-Louise Parker received the lead role in "Weeds" and after, she won a Golden Globe and her show is still succesfull, and the big coverage of her romance with Jeffrey Dean Morgan. I like Parker and I think she's a very good actress but Sometimes Hollywood loves the victims...

Many people think "Stage Beauty" was overlooked in audience ($723,729 at box office!!) and critics for the scandal. Cudrup has only success when he's only a supporting role/ensemble film AKA MI3 and Watchmen... "Dedication" disapears in only ONE WEEK and he wasn't even nominated for the ISA!!

My question is... What would happened with Shopgirl and this 2005 if Claire Danes didn't involved in that scandal? I don't know why, but I think Parker will get an Oscar nomination first that Danes and Cudrup...

BTW, I would love if Kerry will get again the lead role in "mama Black Widow" or something like that. She needs a lead historic role. Unfortunally for Kerry she has two KO in Hollywood:

-Being a Woman (If you're not Cate Blanchett, Jodie Foster or Julianne Moore at her 40...)
-Being Black (Besiude Halle Berry, How many Black American Actresses will get a sucessful career as lead performers?)

mrripley said...

i think nat is right about winlset icannot see her doing a gothika/reaping horror flick she may take tiny role but lead roles will come back in 18 months and it will be a biggie.

danes ruined her chances with the lead/supp catrophe at the globes,she should have gone to drama less competition.

NATHANIEL R said...

alicia i actually thought Uma was pretty good in 2 of those 3 movies (Be Cool was just a disaster) but none were successful for her was the point.

hayden you have clearly given Danes career a lot of thought. And I like your Woody Allen idea. If anyone could channel that jitteryness she couldn't get rid of in those 2007 performances to work for her, it might be he.

anon 2:57 i have to think/hope that's going to change for black actresses at some point. Halle may be the only one that managed to maintain a leading actress career for a long stretch but Angela Bassett almost got there.

I'm a little bit more hopeful about that then i used to be... but i still think we're losing valuable opportunities right and left. Take Nia Long in Alfie. Wouldn't a white actress showing such an utterly sizzling supporting presence like that, totally be deluged with offers thereafter?

I am sad that Regina King never got the career she really deserved either but I think she's really good on Southland so if black actresses are still having trouble becoming big leading stars, at least they're having less trouble maintaining long careers in film and television.

par3182 do you mean Meryl? She was on that "legends" cover.

par3182 said...

oh nathaniel...
the lovely laura linney

Glenn said...

I knew that's who Par was talking about!

Poor Claire Danes (I guess). I didn't even recognise her. She was great in Shopgirl though, which was a really nice movie all 'round.

Victor S said...

Nathaniel, I know its voice work, but is Blanchett: even when she is all over the screnn is all about her voice!

judy said...

Danes gave a small supporting (but very fine I thought) perf in Igby Goes Down, but then again that film was crammed with fine perfs and hers was rather small but very much against type as Igby's rather unsympathetic love interest. She's a selfish girl and Danes neither hides from nor underplays the selfishness.

Starlight, on the other hand, she was just completely wrong for, so it's clear that she really needs the right roles. I think Hayden's idea re: Woody Allen is brilliant, on the other hand (Can someone please send him a telegram with the idea? I suspect the man still does not have an email address.)

NATHANIEL R said...

@Judy -- HA! I bet you're right. A telegram it is.

Yancey said...

I do wish that Claire Danes would finally emerge as the big film star that she should have managed to do years ago. "My So-Called Life" is a seminal viewing experience of my life, and Angela Chase was such a heartbreaking character. I wanted to see her leap mountains after that role, but nothing has eclipsed it, and as they say, the clock's ticking. I did detect a bit of a double standard in the press post-affair with Billy Crudup, with more of the ire going to her for breaking up the MLP/Crudup coupling (it didn't help MJP being so very pregnant at the time) than him. He goes on to supporting roles in action films and wins a Tony, but what is she left with? Sure she could pick scripts better, but something's amiss there with her. If all else fails, I'd like to see her headline a television series again, preferably cable.

Dom said...

Oh, how I fondly remember this cover... It was from the year I was graduating from an art program and we had to take "fun pictures that reflected our personality" for our yearbook.

In my picture, I eat VHS tapes like spaghetti while holding this copy of Vanity Fair as a cookbook...

Good time...

PS Bless you Hayden for defending Claire Danes! While I agree with others that her work has been lackluster lately, I thoroughly enjoyed Shopgirl (not to mention her 90s work). Also, I have a problem with people who only talk about her in reference to the Crudup thing...

Diego said...

Don't forget Sienna Miller was on the excellent Layer Cake alongside Daniel Craig.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous,

I actually think Jeffrey Dean Morgan will win an Oscar before BC, CD or MLP.