Thursday, June 26, 2008

Vanity Fair's Hollywood ~ Episode 7 (2001)

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.


Amy said...

This is definitely my favorite Vanity Fair cover of all time, if only for the names involved. It's also the only issue where I have a problem with none of the names.

The cover is aesthetically gorgeous. I love the fact that Redgrave, Blanchett and Winslet have their arms on each other.

Amy said...

Okay, I lied. I guess I blocked out Paltrow. She had no place on the cover.

BeRightBack said...

I hate being bean-count-y, but it's too bad that "Master Class" seems to also have meant "an excuse to do away with even token black actresses."


yeah that does seem unfortunate.

it probably wouldn't have been as obvious if they hadn't cheated with people like penelope, chloe or gwyneth (who weren't "masters" or "legends")

i actually think an all black cover would be really cool. Once you get past Will, Jada, Forrest, Halle, Denzel, Don and maybe Kerry it's pretty much up for grabs as to who is second tier ;) that leaves 3 spots open for about 100 other actors that are mildly famous / successful to fight over! Publicist bloodbath.

I also think an all 50+ cover would be really cool (Streep, Keaton, Redford, Newman... but they'd never do it)

perhaps i should do a series of posts on covers they should do ...

Anonymous said...

Nathanial; Well here's cover I'd do...

I think they should do a male "master class" type cover. The best/most consistently acclaimed male leading men actors of the past 15 or 20 years or whatever. They all need to be over the age of 40 (so people don't whine when young 'uns like Ryan Gosling or Christian Bale don't get included). A selection that could include (not all of them are my personal favorites, but these guys are pretty much the most critically acclaimed dramatic leading men of the past 15-20 years overthe age of 40);

Sean Penn
Tom Hanks
Ralph Fiennes
Robert Downey jr


BeRightBack said...

NR: I think just a cover with no white people would be more fun, and even more revolutionary, in a way (so it's not just expanded tokenism).

So, yes, I support your closing suggestion.

Anonymous said...

Chloe definitely sticks out like a sore thumb; if they wanted to honor the hipster scene they could have picked someone more, I don't know, popular.

I don't think there needs to be a racial issue made of this, though. They just made some weird choices all around.

Anonymous said...

it is amazing wen you look aythat cover and think of 100 yrs from now and realise half those women will be rembered winslet,streep,deneuve,loren,blanchett & kidman the others i seriously doubt.

although due to her 98 win i think 3 of gwyneth's performances have gone unnommed and umloved sylvia,proof and the talented mr ripley

Anonymous said...

ok all black then and now females only

dihann carroll,cicely tyson,whoopi goldberg,ruby dee,angela bassettt the old

kerry washington,rosario dawson,taraja p henson,halle berry,paula patton

The Pretentious Know it All said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

I never understood this cover, were they supposed to join actual legends with future ones? On what basis? I mean, there's no way to predict an Oscar alone, how can one predict something as huge as a legend?

That said, they weren't so completele wrong, many of them aren't legends and probably never will, but at least all of them are still known and working, which is much more of can be said of other covers.

BTW, I've decided I hate photoshop, not particularly for this cover, which makes them look a bit like they were in a fishtank, but because the more Photoshop techniques advance, the more cartoonish the pictures get. So what's the point for that, you can just draw them in a traditional way.



iggy are you ACTUALLY suggesting that these stars did not all show up at some studio to meet with Annie Leibovitz at the same exact time? what a horribly CYNICAL person you have become

[/sarcasm] ;)

i hear you but I think Vanity Fair does a pretty good job of pretending that everybody poses together. I love celebrity photographs where you can tell everyone was together. Usually smaller groups hugging or whatnot.

par3182 said...

nicole - put your tits away; you'll never be as sexy as sophia (in fact, you'll never even be as sexy as chloe)

Glenn said...

I personally love the way they put Nicole and Penelope at completely opposite ends of the photograph.

Glenn said...

Also, notice that of the four legends included, they went very international. An American (Streep), Brit (Redgrave), Spaniad (Loren) and French (Deneuve) while of the new breed there are two Aussies (Kidman, Blanchett), a Brit (Winslet), a Spaniad (Cruz) and two Americans (Sevigny, Paltrow).

So I actually like that they acknowledged cinema is becoming far more international. Compare that to previous years where so many of the "what are they doing there?" moments came from fresh faced all-American newcomers.

This year, not one of the acting Oscar winners was American, which just goes to show ya.

Anonymous said...

what does Famousr scores mean? I honestly thought they were all there together. Thats what gave me some of the joy of looking at that photo. Now I cant look at it the same way as I did the first time.


famousr is a site that uses internet voting to show which stars are most famous. so you can compare people...

it's kinda dumb because it skews very very young (the young web users being the primary voters)... so classic movie stars other than people like marilyn monroe don't do well... even though if you polled everyone living all ages they'd be more famous than say "Rose McGowan" you know?

as for whether or not they were all there together... that's something for only the photographer to know.

Anonymous said...

How would I dare to suggest such a thing? So help me God. Lol. I'm pretty sure they went through real hard negotiations to join Nicole and Pe (those two, together with Mimi Rogers should consider a First Wives Club remake) in the same picture and the only way to do it was placing them in opposed sides as Glenn says. I heard at the time that a then passing-by newcomer called Katie-something suggested that possibility.
Just kidding, of course.

I guess what I love of this kind of pictures is what we all do, imagining them as possible all-star casts, the kind that were made in the 70s Towering Inferno and the like or in the Agatha Christie's adaptations: Ingrid Bergman, Lauren Bacall, Albert Finney, Vanessa Redgrave, Sean Connery, John Gielgud... all of them together in a movie.

Let's keep day dreaming...


Anonymous said...

Have to say that this cover does actually stand up (for the most part) moreso than others.
Nathaniel - I bet you can't wait to do the VF Hollywood cover with Keira + Scarlett, which will be considerably shorter than the rest, and therfore take less time!!

Janice said...

//I think they should do a male "master class" type cover. The best/most consistently acclaimed male leading men actors of the past 15 or 20 years or whatever. //

I believe that was the following year's cover, although it did not have all the same names you mention anon (I remember Ewan McGregor, Dennis Quaid, Tom Cruise, Tom Hanks, etc.)

I remember at the time thinking "Who the hell decided to put Penelope and Nicole on the same cover?" I agree with those who say that this nonetheless stands up better than most VF covers in this series (of course, half of the ladies are already legends, so we're pretty safe there).

I admit I love that pic of Nicole - very Satine-ish.


well, also, the closer we get to the current time frame the more the covers will stand up because we're still basically in that time frame.

give some of these covers another 12 years and there'll be more of a divide between then & now in terms of stardom and reputations

Anonymous said...

@ Glenn

Sophia Loren is not a spaniard legend.

She's Italian.

William Réjault said...

Je viens de lire les articles : bravo, brillant !

(Ron l'Infirmier, tu te souviens ?)