Friday, January 30, 2009

Vanity Fair's Hollywood ~ Episode 10 (2004)

Missed previous episodes? See: 1995 , 1996, 1997, 1998 , 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004 and 2005

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.


Anonymous said...

I hate Kirsten Dunst. How could she have dumped Jakey?

Anonymous said...

I think Gwyneth Paltrow has shot for award attention this year for "Two Lovers". The release date doesn't look promising but a César nomination for best foreign film and has been called "Best Drama of the Year" by one critic, though that came early in the year.

Michael B. said...

Cate Blanchett was overlooked. She had The Aviator and other roles during that period.

Anonymous said...

I've been missing this series for a while now, so glad you did the next cover. Its definitely an interesting cover, like you said Nathaniel most of them have all had quite big ups and downs. It's quite amusing that Swank is on the last fold.
Hope you do the next cover before the new issue comes out...speaking of which i wonder who will be gracing the hollywoodcover this year? No offence but I don't want them to do a bunch of guys, they're just not as interesting as the women.

Anonymous said...

Cate Blanchett was actually on the next cover after this, with Uma Thurman and Kate Winslet...I think the theme was 'desperate housewives'...or something along those lines.

Sally Belle said...

It is very unfair that Kirsten Dunst has become the fodder of gossip bloggers and is so hated by so many.

She is a talented girl, and has had to struggle with early success...her whole life spent behind a is hard enough to struggle through our teenage and young adult years, but add fame and you've got a magnified identity crisis!

She was remarkable in Eternal Sunshine, and she is infinitely more talented then Scarlett Johannson.

But, therein lies the problem...more depth...more messiness. Scarlett is obliviously shallow compared to Kirsten.

Being shallow and narcissistic makes it easier to go about your business without being troubled by the bullshit. Kirsten has all the sensitivity and insecurities you would expect.

I wish her the best.

Janice said...

I'm not sure if Naomi's career has "Peaked" or not (but then again she will most likely never top Mulholland Drive, so there's nowhere to go but down is there?) And yet she has continued to do some fine work (Eastern Promises, The Painted Veil). She's not a great actress but she's a very good, "workmanlike" one, who doesn't get lost in accents and wigs.

Hasn't Allison Lohman been at the edges ever since "Wings of the Dove"?

Anonymous said...

It's getting on my nerves. I am trying to find who the most famous actor is by comparing 2 at the time and I am not able to find someone more famous than Tom Cruise. Any ideas?


i think he's the most :)

The Pretentious Know it All said... referred to "Lipstick Jungle" as "Lipstick Mafia." I love it because either you're mixing it up with "Cashmere Mafia" or it could be tongue-in-cheek. Either way, it's a great comment on the ridiculous interchangeability of those two shows.

Michael Parsons said...

Nicole and Naomi in a film together....tell me you aren't salivating!

Anonymous said...

I really love Diane Lane, but sadly she quit showbusiness in October 2008. "Must Love Dogs", "Untraceable" and "Nights In Rodanthe" all made decent money around the world, but I think the delays and studio politics surrounding "Fierce People" and "Killshot" made her lose interest. A shame.

Glenn said...

That Kidman/Watts movie Need has been in the pipeline for YEARS. it never disappears from IMDb, nor do we ever hear anything about it ever being made.

Anonymous said...

On Kirsten Dunst:

Well, I have issues with anyone who breakes Jakey's heart (oh... but how he showed her).

But I attribute Dunst's despression to the fact that her "Drop Dead Gorgeous" co-star, Amy Adams, (who lost to Dunst in the pagent, remember) already has two Oscar nominations, not to mention starring in films oppistive Meryl Streep.

THAT has gotta hurt.

Anonymous said...

Why would it hurt?? Someone who had a small part in a film you starred in umpteen years ago I highly doubt it. I forgot that Amy was in that film.

Maybe I don't get it, why is Kirsten considered to be so talented? Her performance in Eternal Sunshine was like almost all her other performances, the only thing that was different was the script. I think she's just an okay actress, but I do wish her well.

P.S. Jake Gyllenhaal looks like a Frog and his sister is the better actor. Oh BTW he is a whiny bitch and those aren't just rumors.

Alex F. said...

Diane Lane quit show business? Was there a press release I missed?

And Julianne Moore is pushing 50 already?! It seems like only yesterday I was harboring an all consuming crush on her Dr. Sara Harding in Jurassic Park 2...


anon 10:46 with Dunst I find that people just haven't seen the films that show what a real talent she is and have let the spider-man movies (where admittedly she sleepwalks -- at least in the second two) take over.

I mean she has range -- terrific in comedies like Bring it On and Dick, delicate ad intriguing in dramas like Virgin Suicides and Cats Meow. there's Interview with the Vampire and above all else there's crazy/beautiful.

anyway i love her. the rest of the world can hate. ;)

Anonymous said...

Don't know if you missed it, but Julianne Moore is also on a "Natalie" remake with Liam Neeson and Amanda Seyfried under the direction of Atom Egoyan. The original was headlined by Emmanuelle Béart, Gérard Depardieu and Fanny Ardant and the new title is "Chloe".

Anonymous said...

i have seen crazy/beautiful and marie antoinette and bring it on and she is just awful in everyone bar bring it on which is in all fairness a throwaway cameron diaz role which is really what she is now a very cut price cameron.

i'm glad she had that smug smile wiped off her face the only thing she was ok in was intervew with the vampire.

Anonymous said...

Naomi Watts also has "The International" coming out (it's the opening film at this year's Berlinale). I usually love Tom Tykwer and Clive Owen is always nice to look at, I'm just not sure about the story.

Oh, I've actually seen "The Big White" at a sneak preview. It wasn't great, but still entertaining.


I was trying to restrict the "next" fields to mostly 2009

Anonymous said...

can I just say...If Marie Antoinette was recieved properly...and didnot start its run with the Cannes bashing...we would be referring to Kiki as an Oscar Nominee now...
and as much as I adore Jake Gyllenhaal (and her sister)

Its not like he was committed suicide or anything after that!
He's doing really good for himself

Anonymous said...

Nat, as for your response,

I'm not hating, I do like Kirsten and I have seen those movies you mentioned (except Crazy/Beautiful). In Marie Antoinette, I just saw Kirsten Dunst. I liked her performances in Virgin and Vampire. I don't think she's horrible, I just don't think she's that great...or maybe I need to watch them again. I'm just confused because others have said that she's extremely talented.

Grand Poobah Ayatollah Love Free I said...

Alison Lohman is a treasure. I'm still in love with her after she was so scrumptious in White Oleander and Matchstick Men. And her performances in both of those films were wonderful. Big Fish too.

Kirsten Dunst is a fantastic actress, and no bitterness over anything external should take away from that. I think her work in Eternal Sunshine deserved a Supporting Actress nomination.

I think I'm beguiled by the idea of Jennifer Connelly (she'd have to be a really cool person, for the great Paul Bettany to fall in love with her) than I am by her acting.

I'd like to see Naomi Watts' star keep rising. I don't want her career to peak with an Oscar nom for an uncharacteristically weak performance. She's staggeringly beautiful, and seriously talented. She deserves far more lead roles, of the type that'd go to awards magnets like Blanchett and Winslet. Or, alternately, she should be cast opposite them. I hope she also develops an auteur-lust along the lines that led Nicole to do amazing work in stuff like Dogville and Birth.

Paltrow's performances have been way better than anyone's given her credit for. I'd have liked to see her work in The Royal Tenenbaums get an Oscar nom. And she's so likable and fetching in Iron Man. That blue dress... oh my.

I think Dunst, Lohman and Amy Adams should be cast to play sisters. And then Paltrow should be cast as a relative of theirs. Laura Linney should also be involved. Maybe put them all in a Kenneth Lonergan film? Or something by this Garcia fellow?

Glenn said...

Lohman, I thought, was all sorts of "very good" in Matchstick Men and then she just vanished.

Jesus christ, Natalie is only, like, five years old!


grand poobah -- i'm liking the suggestions.

i'm not crazy about Watts but i would like to see her get something a little more interesting to work with than whatever she's been getting (usually somehow victimized women in thrillers lately -- three in a row sort of)

i thought she was quite good in KING KONG and almost brilliant in Painted Veil so i'd like to see roles that good again.

Anonymous said...

Anon 10:46 PM, you really are the one that sounds bitchy and immature with your comments about Jake Gyllenhaal.

I don't think there needs to be some competition between him and Maggie. I think they are both incredibley talented in their own ways. As for Jake's looks, I think he is gorgeous. It makes him more attractive that he isn't "perfect" looking.

Anonymous said...

Competition is what people want to see!

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