20 Years of Vanity Fair’s Hollywood Issues   Leave a comment

The February issue of Vanity Fair magazine is reserved for its Hollywood issue. It’s that one month a year where they celebrate anything and everything about the Tinseltown. And one of the most prominent indication of this are the anticipated magazine covers. Each year, a combination of some of the most prominent and/or up and coming actors join forces in coming up with bravura pictures handled by the famous Annie Leibovitz. This year marks the 20th year of this annual tradition, so it’s just fitting to revisit all 19 covers (they skipped the 2009 issue and made a special to President Obama instead).

Batch ’95

Jennifer Jason Leigh, Uma Thurman, Nicole Kidman, Patricia Arquette, Linda Fiorentino, Gwyneth Paltrow, Sarah Jessica Parker, Julianne Moore, Angela Bassett, and Sandra Bullock

Oscar tally: 12 nods, 3 Oscars (Nicole Kidman, Gwyneth Paltrow, Sandra Bullock)

For its initial cover, Vanity Fair invited 10 actresses to don up the issue. And boy was this a wicked way to start it. There’s a lot of WTFuckery going on in here. Is Jennifer Jason Leigh pooping? Why is Nicole Kidman dressing up as Tara Reid? Who stole Sarah Jessica Parker’s top? How about Sandra Bullock’s shoes? This is a messy start but that’s a part of the cover’s appeal.

Batch ’96

Tim Roth, Leonardo DiCaprio, Matthew McConaughey, Benicio Del Toro, Michael Rapaport, Stephen Dorff, Johnathon Schaech, David Arquette, Will Smith, and Skeet Ulrich.

Oscar tally: 10 noms, 1 Oscar (Benicio del Toro)

For its sophomore issue, it’s the men’s turn in the spotlight as these ten men represent young Hollywood. At this time, only Tim Roth was an Oscar nominee, David Arquette wasn’t married to a Friend yet, and Will Smith isn’t battling aliens yet.. Also, isn’t it quite amazing that the two frontrunners for Best Actor this year share the front cover status? That would certainly make this year’s tally up to two Oscar winners.

Batch ’97

Cameron Diaz, Kate Winslet, Claire Danes, Renée Zellweger, Minnie Driver (reclining), Alison Elliott, Jada Pinkett, Jennifer Lopez, Charlize Theron, and Fairuza Balk.

Oscar tally: 12 nods, 3 Oscars (Kate Winslet, Renee Zellweger, Charlize Theron)

By now, I’m pretty sure you don’t even know who Fairuza Balk and Alison Elliott were, but I won’t take that against you. And don’t you miss Renee’s old face? (I do!) And Claire Danes, post-My So Called Life and Romeo + Juliet would have been the next big thing. Now she’s after Abu Nazir and three Emmys after. Not being too shabby either, months after this premiere, Kate Winslet would then star in the biggest film ever, and Cameron Diaz was Hollywood’s it girl. And dead at Charlize Theron getting the last page when she ended up as an award winning actress in six years.

Batch ’98

Joaquin Phoenix, Vince Vaughn, Natalie Portman, Djimon Hounsou, Cate Blanchett, Tobey Maguire, Claire Forlani, Gretchen Mol, Christina Ricci, Edward Furlong, and Rufus Sewell.

Oscar tally: 13 nods, 2 Oscars (Natalie Portman, Cate Blanchett)

Cate Blanchett stands out like a sore thumb here for some reason. But of course this was during Elizabeth era, and that was her Hollywood debut. And don’t you miss Joaquin Phoenix when he still cared about hygiene? Vince Vaughn is still matinee looking here, and Djimon Hounsou (thanks to Amistad) is still dapper as ever. And of course there’s Natalie Portman. She’s one of the few who Hollywood cheered along the way and totally delivered.

Batch ’99

Adrien Brody, Thandie Newton, Monica Potter, Reese Witherspoon, Julia Stiles, Leelee Sobieski, Giovanni Ribisi, Sarah Polley, Norman Reedus, Anna Friel, Omar Epps, Kate Hudson, Vinessa Shaw, and Barry Pepper

Oscar tally: 4 nods, 2 Oscars (Adrien Brody, Reese Witherspoon)

Wow a lot of these people have had find their success in TV. There’s that guy from The Walking Dead, the girl from Pushing Daisies, the Emmy snubbed actress from Parenthood, and that staff from House. Then of course there are those success stories as well with the guy who liplocked Halle Berry at the Oscars, Tracy Flick, Oscar winner from As Good As oops that was Helen Hunt, and Giovanni Ribisi.

Batch ’00

Penélope Cruz, Wes Bentley, Mena Suvari, Marley Shelton, Chris Klein, Selma Blair, Paul Walker, Jordana Brewster, and Sarah Wynter.

Oscar tally: 2000 – 3 nods, 1 Oscar (Penelope Cruz)

So thank you Penelope Cruz from saving this line up from major floppage. But whya re you even there anyway? You’re not even the same league. I guess this batch (save Cruz) is a testament that beauty has its toll in Hollywood especially if that’s all you’ve got. And while I’m reminded of the sad passing of Paul Walker, the others can bring their sad careers to the grave as well.

Batch ’01

Nicole Kidman, Catherine Deneuve, Meryl Streep, Gwyneth Paltrow, Cate Blanchett, Kate Winslet, Vanessa Redgrave, Chloë Sevigny, Sophia Loren, and Penélope Cruz

Oscar tally: 47 nods(!), 10 Oscars(!!) (Nicole Kidman, Meryl Streep x3, Gwyneth Paltrow, Cate Blanchett, Kate Winslet, Vanessa Redgrave, Sophia Loren, Penelope Cruz)

What they lack in 2000, they more than make up in 2001. In their most ambitious and most iconic cover to date, they managed to bring in everyone. This cover is like the Mt. Everest of OMG actressing. You have the veterans like Deneuve and Redgrave, the foreigners via Loren and Cruz (now this is the group you should be joining, gurl), critical darlings Kidman and Blanchett, and movie stars Winslet and Paltrow. Then there’s Meryl Streep. The weak link is Chloe Sevigny but even at that time, she already has an Oscar nod under her name. Vanity Fair never reached this type of peak again in terms of star wattage in their Hollywood covers.

Batch ’02

Kirsten Dunst, Kate Beckinsale, Jennifer Connelly, Rachel Weisz, Brittany Murphy, Selma Blair, Rosario Dawson, Christina Applegate, and Naomi Watts

Oscar tally: 4 nods, 2 Oscars (Jennifer Connelly, Rachel Weisz)

Well the glory of 2001 is really hard to top so I understand that they go low key the following year. But it’s not too shabby either since a lot of these are underrated actresses though one might make a case of them rarely getting lead roles. However, the overall effect of the cover is quite bland, and I don’t have much to add to it aside from I miss Brittany Murphy.

Batch ’03

Tom Hanks, Tom Cruise, Harrison Ford, Jack Nicholson, Brad Pitt, Edward Norton, Jude Law, Samuel L. Jackson, Don Cheadle, Hugh Grant, Dennis Quaid, Ewan McGregor, and Matt Damon

Oscar tally: 35 nods, 6 Oscars (Tom Hanks x2, Jack Nicholson x3, Matt Damon)

Now this one compliments the 2001 cover by featuring the men in it. You have Ford and Nicholson representing the veterans, mega stars Brad Pitt and Tom Cruise, and boys next door Hugh Grant and Matt Damon, and Brits Ewan McGregor and Jude Law. And of course, Tom Hanks. If anything, they managed to include all those necessary during this time, though if nitpicking, I guess they’re missing Leonardo di Caprio in it.

Batch ’04

Julianne Moore, Jennifer Connelly, Gwyneth Paltrow, Naomi Watts, Salma Hayek, Jennifer Aniston, Kirsten Dunst, Diane Lane, Lucy Liu, Hilary Swank, Alison Lohman, Scarlett Johansson, and Maggie Gyllenhaal.

Oscar tally: 13 nods, 4 Oscars (Jennifer Connelly, Gwyneth Paltrow, Hilary Swank x2)

Gowns, gowns, and more gowns. That’s what this photoshoot is about. It;s too glamorous in an exclusive Hollywood way with all these women dressed in big coutures and flowy dresses with their sex appeals and big smiles in front. I like how they went a step forward with diversity here including an Asian and a Mexican, though they could have made room for Halle Berry here.

Batch ’05

Uma Thurman, Cate Blanchett, Kate Winslet, Claire Danes, Scarlett Johansson, Rosario Dawson, Ziyi Zhang, Kerry Washington, Kate Bosworth, and Sienna Miller

Oscar tally: 13 nods, 2 Oscars (Cate Blanchett, Kate Winslet)

They got this one right by having Cate and Kate in the cover and Uma’s also fitting because of her career resurgence. The rest varied from getting it right (Johansson) to waiting for my break (Claire Danes). What took my attention though is Olivia Pope! Six years before we discovered her leading the gladiators. Also, Sienna Miller looks left out here. Did the wardrobe hate her?

Batch ’06

Scarlett Johansson, Tom Ford, and Keira Knightley.

Oscar tally: 1 nod, 0 Oscar

So for 2006 they went with “less is more.” And less is more it is. Not only are there fewer actresses now, there’s no even budget for wardrobe I supposed. Ironic with Tom Ford on the cover. This one is more of the prominent iconic ones though as it got parodies and endless mentions. Sadly though, whoever’s in charge of the photoshop must really dislike Scarlett Johansson. They made ehr face Bridget Jones-like. And you know that isn’t Keira’s figure as she’s much thinner than that.

Batch ’07

Ben Stiller, Owen Wilson, Chris Rock, and Jack Black

Oscar tally:  1 nod, 0 Oscar

So I get it, they want to deviate away from their formula and tried something featuring the guys, but nothing worked here. If they’re gonna go with comedians, then they could have gotten at least a Carrey or a Carell. This is probably one of their weaker efforts, and it’s funny that in this photo, the only Oscar winner are the penguins.

Batch ’08

Emily Blunt, Amy Adams, Jessica Biel, Anne Hathaway, Alice Braga, Ellen Page, Zoë Saldana, Elizabeth Banks, Ginnifer Goodwin, and America Ferrera

Oscar tally: 8 nods, 1 Oscar (Anne Hathaway)

So yay finally Vanity Fair is back to their old format, and this time, they featured the next set of Hollywood ingenues. I love the Devil Wears Prada reunion with Emily Blunt and Anne Hathaway headlining with Amy Adams. I’m not here for butterface Jessica Biel tho. And even though her main break is on TV, I like how they tossed a bone to America Ferrera (just like Jennifer Aniston in 2004). A lot of these made some nice careers too like Ellen Page, Zoe Saldana, and Elizabeth Banks.

Batch ’10

Abbie Cornish, Kristen Stewart, Carey Mulligan, Amanda Seyfried, Rebecca Hall, Mia Wasikowska, Emma Stone, Evan Rachel Wood, and Anna Kendrick.

Oscar tally: 2 nods, 0 Oscar

What a bland batch. It’s like a vanilla sorority batch photo. And in a year where Gabourey Sidibe got one of the biggest breaks, they chose an all white line up. And a lot of these women haven’t lived up to their potential careers too (hello Abbie Cornish I’m looking at you!). The good is that there’s no Gemma Arterton, but I mean the four girls who should have headlined this issue were Mulligan, Stone, Kendrick, and Wasikowska. Where’s Emma Watson too?

Batch ’11

Ryan Reynolds, Jake Gyllenhaal, Anne Hathaway, James Franco, Jennifer Lawrence, Anthony Mackie, Olivia Wilde, Jesse Eisenberg, Mila Kunis, Robert Duvall, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Andrew Garfield, Rashida Jones, Garrett Hedlund, and Noomi Rapace

Oscar tally: 14 nods, 3 Oscars (Anne Hathaway, Jennifer Lawrence, Robert Duvall)

I like how every time Vanity Fair would put up an underwhelming cover, they’d make up for it twice the following year (see 200 and 2001). This year, what’s good about the line up is that all of their inclusions were understandable since they all gained traction for that year. It’s all these dapper dudes and sexy ladies. When they managed to make Jesse Eisenberg universally handsome, you know they achieved their goal. Plus points for adding Duvall in it.

Batch ’12

Rooney Mara, Mia Wasikowska, Jennifer Lawrence, Jessica Chastain, Elizabeth Olsen, Adepero Oduye, Shailene Woodley, Paula Patton, Felicity Jones, Lily Collins, and Brit Marling

Oscar tally: 6 nods, 1 Oscar (Jennifer Lawrence)

It seems like whenever there’s no concept that Vanity Fair can work on, the “ingenue group shot” is the one they always end up with. Sure we get Lilly Collins, Adepero Oduye, and Shailene Woodley here, and we have the awesome foursome at the cover (funny how Lawrence and Chastain would be the Best Actress contenders a year later), but one thing that has always bothered me is how does Paula Patton get any of these stuff at all!?!? Oh well.

Batch ’13

Ben Affleck, Emma Stone, Bradley Cooper

Oscar tally: 4 nods, 2 Oscars (Ben Affleck x2)

Okay this is a disaster. I know how they want to try new stuff, but this is just plain disastrous. I would totally have stolen that reaction of the monkey when I first saw it and have that reaction of whatever animal Ben is wearing to the one who suggested this is an awesome concept. Sorry Ben and Bradley, this is not how your supposed Hollywood issue cover should have looked. And Emma that’s two bad covers for you already.

Batch ’14

Chiwetel Ejiofor, Julia Roberts, Idris Elba, George Clooney, Michael B. Jordan, Jared Leto, Lupita Nyong’o, Naomie Harris, Brie Larson, Chadwick Boseman, Margot Robbie, Lea Seydoux

Oscar tally: 15 nods, 3 Oscars (JUlia Roberts, George Clooney x2)

Now this one showed up a lot of potential. Of course being the diva that she is, I doubt Julia Roberts would have even agreed to be oin the cover if she has to share it with another female superstar (coughSandraBullockcough). It’s surprising though that this is both Julia and George’s first Hollywood issue covers. What I’m loving here is the diversity though. Lots of black actors (even half of the main cover) then you have Michael B. Jordan besides George and the stunning Lupita Nyong’o looking like an Oscar herself in the middle. They could have had added Asians in the mix, but I guess baby steps, Vanity Fair. Then there are ingenues as well via Brie Larson and Margot Robbie. My biggest complaint though is WTF is Lea Seydoux wearing. Not only did it make her boobs look saggy, but you can see in her eyes that she knows it’s not a good look. Ugh.

All in all, if I have to choose five best covers, 2001 would win this in a cake walk followed by 2003. Then 2011 and 2014 were third and fourth placers. Last spot probably goes to 2006. How about you? What are your favorites? And who do you want to see be included in the future (mine would be Marion Cotillard and Diane Kruger!)?

You can follow me on Twitter: @nikowl


Posted February 4, 2014 by Nicol Latayan in Lists

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