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Vanity Fair 2012 'Thoroughly Modern Actresses'

The "Hollywood Issue" cover is here! You can't see me but I'm totally throwing confetti. It's one of the ten greatest Oscar season traditions (do I feel a list coming on? Maybe later).


Mario Testino took over photography duties for the first time. The girl's with the hardest working teams behind them (how do you think anybody lands the front cover?) are, from left to right, Rooney Mara, Mia Wasikowska, Jennifer Lawrence, and Miss Ubiquity 2011 Jessica Chastain. On the inside folds we get from left to right: Elizabeth Olsen, Adepero Oduye, Shailene Woodley, Paula Patton, Felicity Jones, Lily Collins and Brit Marling.

A zoom in for a closer look... 

Lisbeth, Katniss, "Mia Vashivovkoska" (thanks Meryl), and Miss Ubiquity

RuPaul's Drag Race premiered again last night so you'll forgive this outburst... 


Not that any of these beauties look like drag queens... though Shailene Woodley wins the awards for "looking the least like herself" and Rooney Mara is still working the most easily duplicated look should you want her as your new style icon. 

more zoom-ins, reader questions, and fun trivia after the jump!

Martha Marcy May Marlene with Adepere and Shai (and Felicity's dismembered legs)

Given that these covers are obviously art-directed down to every square inch, the faint reflection of Jennifer's ass and Rooney's back from some imaginary mirror are no accident. Notice the "V" insignia and the white roses and white everything setting off the delicate satin colors so one wonders if the actresses had any say over which of the colors they wore? The colors don't really repeat but they all compliment each other so I see them all as reality show contestants on America's Next Top Actress and for this photoshoot they had to run to the wardrobe and grab at outfits. Paula was disappointed that there was no glaring LOOK AT ME yellow available and Rooney is pissed that she's in pink. Too flouncy for a goth girl.

Paula, Felicity, Lily and Brit 


In the past we've done studies of Vanity Fair's Hollywood covers and how well careers went afterwards but we obviously can't do that here, given that this cover is in the now! But we can guess.


  • Who wins an Oscar first? 
  • Who becomes a TV star by 2017?
  • Who from the inside gatefolds becomes a bigger star than most of the front cover girls?
  • Who are you pissed didn't make the cover and who should they replace?


Youngest: Shailene Woodley just turned 20
Oldest: Paula Patton is 36
Average Age: 25½  
Number of Oscar Nominations Among them:  3 (all on the front cover and 2 of them right now in Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress)
Average No. of Films: 6 (I only counted released movies... though it's Mia Wasikowsa and not Jessica Chastain that's skewing the sample. That girl works all the time.) 

Most Difficult Thing Any Of Them Was Asked To Do OnScreen This Year: Acting opposite Taylor Lautner (Oh, please you try it!) Poor Lily! Runner up: Elizabeth Olsen asked to shoot a kitten in Martha Marcy
Number of These Women Who Have Made Out With Ryan Gosling (That We Know Of): 0. Weird. Though Adepero did play an unnamed "Crack Smoker" in Half Nelson. The Gos had better get on that. After Emma, Michelle, Kirsten and Evan we thought he was working his way through the entire Hot List of young actresses. But maybe not.
Men They Have Shared:  Mia's Kids screen brother Josh Hutcherson is now Jennifer's love interest (and combatant) in Hunger Games; John Hawkes was menacing guide (of sorts) to both Jennifer & Lizzy in their breakthrough roles; Jennifer & Felicity fought over Anton Yelchin's affections in Like Crazy;  Terrence Malick has directed both Rooney (Lawless ...coming eventually) & Jessica (The Tree of Life); and both Mia and Jennifer have slept with Michael Fassbender...albeit offscreen or after the end credits (Jane Eyre and X-Men: First Class)

The Only One of These Women To Be Post-Converted into 3D
: Mia Wasikowska (Eyesore in Wonderland)
Number of These Women Name Checked in Meryl Streep's Golden Globe Speech: 3 (Rooney, Mia, and Adepero)
The Only One of These Women To Ever Play a Character Named "Blu Rain": Paula Patton. Paula wins. 

Here's Vanity Fair's making of tease...


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Reader Comments (59)

So so so so very "whiter shade of pale." (Again.)

BTW - which one is Mia and which one is Jennifer? I honestly cannot tell them apart.

I would rather have seen Charlize, Meryl, Viola, Kristen, etc etc -but they almost always go for the young'uns. (2001? with Nicole, Kate, Cate, alongside Denuve and Meryl, etc was an exception - and my favorite of all the covers.)

On the other hand, the article "Free Willy! The penis in cinema!" sounds like a must read - it might be great or it might be crap.

January 31, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJanice

First Oscar will be Chastain or Lawrence.

On the TV question, Shailene Woodley already has an (awful) TV show, so it's easy to imagine her upgrading to a better one. Of the ones who currently don't, I'd say Paula Patton.

January 31, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSean C.

Chastain would seem the safest bet for first Oscar. I think the front 4 are the right 4, out of this set, but if someone was to rise up I'd put my money on Olsen - and maybe Patton too. I realize she's older and has been around awhile, so the clock is ticking, but given today's culture's love of women who can kick-ass and still look amazing in evening gowns, she could definitely break-out with the right projects.

January 31, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterScottC

Janice -- um. there's two women of color here. (and i'm afraid i'm totally lose on what you're talking about with a free willy? huh?

Sean C -- Paula leading a tv drama? i could see that.

January 31, 2012 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

And on the forth question - Adepere, easily. I can understand why those four made the front cover - duh, they're the most famous, and Oscar nommed as you say - and it's not just for the sake of diversity. To me, Adepere is the most elegant but still alive and vital, not a wan doll - she's really rocking the '30's style. To steal your phrase, Nat: More, please.

January 31, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJanice

Who wins an Oscar first? I'm guessing Paula Patton.
Who becomes a tv star? Is it too safe to answer Shailene? If so, Felicity Jones in the vein of Emmy Rossum on Shameless.
Who from the inside folds...? Elizabeth Olsen, hopefully.

And for the last question, my answer is Anna Kendrick. Where the hell is she?!

January 31, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJonathon

Jessica Chastain in the first winner, I think. She has something Rita haywoth-ish in this photo, like she is telling us "Me?".

Don't you think The Girl With the Dragon tattoo is goign to tv after the 3 movies? Because, you know, Salander kicks ass and everybody wants Salander.

January 31, 2012 | Unregistered Commentercal roth

Everyone's betting Chastain for I the only one thinking she will die down soon? I mean, too much of a good thing doesn't last.

January 31, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJonathon

@Jonathon - didn't everybody say that of Streep, at some point? (She was all over the place to the point of exhaustion.)

January 31, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJanice

Lawrence, Chastain, or Wasikowska are most likely for the next Oscar nominations, so Mia is the most likely to get her first. Dark horse: Britt Marling, who seems to have good ideas (Another Earth) that just need some help on execution. Maybe she'll get a writing nod someday.

Paula seems out of place. She was in a BP nominee two years ago and even then, she was known! Also, aren't the legs you attribute to Paula belonging to someone else (Felicity Jones or Lily Collins)? Most of the girls look so unlike themselves it's hard to tell who's who.

January 31, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterEvan

It's AdeperO. Meryl's mangling of the name has gotten to you!

And Josh Hutcherson, not Hartmett (though where did *he* go!?).

January 31, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDan

Janice: Are you kidding? They look nothing alike to me. Jennifer wins most glam for me.
First to win: Tough. Going with Chastain, though I think Mara, Olsen, and Wasikowska are all making great choices/have lots of talent, so who knows. Lawrence is playing a wonderful long game (mixing warmly received blockbusters with interesting smaller films, and doing both well). I think she'll get her win eventually.

Nat: It's not Josh Hartnett (lol, that casting would really have put fans in a tizzy) its Hutcherson (sp?)

January 31, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDrewB

The under 20 crowd have never been crowd pleasers for me. Jessica Chastain is the only one I could have a compelling conversation about.

January 31, 2012 | Unregistered Commenter//3|RT

Josh Hartnett? I think you mean Hutcherson...The Kids Are All Right would've been weird the other way. ;)

January 31, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKeelay!

Nathaniel, you made a couple of errors in your Vanity Fair comments. The dismembered legs belong NOT to Paula Patton but to Felicity Jones - just check the dress color. Also, Josh Hartnett is way too old to have played the teenager in The Kids Are Alright. That was Josh Hutcherson. Might want to fix those.

January 31, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJonathan Lewis

Dan, Keelay, Jonathan, Drew -- AYIYIYIYIYI. I was trying to go without coffee this morning (seriously) and I have learned my lesson. fixed.


January 31, 2012 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

Sorry, still haven't gotten over Another Earth.

Also, how uncomfortable does Elizabeth look? Yikes.

January 31, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJake D

Who wins an Oscar first? Chastain
Who becomes a TV star by 2017? Paula Patton
Who from the inside gatefolds becomes a bigger star than most of the front cover girls? Elizabeth Olsen
Who are you pissed didn't make the cover and who should they replace? Octavia Spencer, it's her breakout year and I bet if she was a bit more 'slimline' she'd be here. I would take her over Woodley or Collins

January 31, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterRamification

Chastain will win Oscar first . She's like the American Blanchett from 15 years ago, she will get all the big director roles and is bound to win. Probably in supporting actress.

Mia is so unrecognizable... I was like which one is she. Only by process of elimination did I guess.

Nicole Beharie is missing. Amazing in Shame. She should replace Patton since Patton has been working for a while.

Woodley would be first to fade away. In 3 years after her show has been gone for a while, no one will remember her overrated performance in The Descendants.

Olsen has the looks and talent, and most importantly charisma, to be biggest star in this lot.

January 31, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMurtada

Murtada -- you'll be happy to hear that Beharie is totally nice too. She was so sweet when I met her. And yeah. helluva performance.

Rami -- you're probably right re: octavia

January 31, 2012 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

vanity fair placed them well for me - front cover, know their work; middle, heard of them; hidden away up the back are the four i've never heard of

maybe i'm getting far too old and have lost all interest in ingenues, but this is an underwhelming cover. time to put some boys back on there

January 31, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterpar3182

Ugh, tell Rooney's team this goth look doesn't suit her outside of the film. She is not the punk prodigy Lisbeth. I see her more of Erica Albright, the preppy feisty Ivy League snob with a cute beanie. She should totally do a New England-set drama with Jim Sturgess.

Anyways, she looks like a pissed Marilyn Manson impersonator in the cover. She looks almost as pissed as Ellen Page when the latter was wearing those hideous heels few years back.

January 31, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLalaland

Murtada-- do you really think that AMPAS voters are aware that Shailene has a show on ABC Family or whatever it is (and even more, are impressed by her performance in The Descendants because she has that show)?

I'm in my mid-20s and had no clue that she had the gig; I can't imagine senior citizen Academy member knows or cares. S/he just loves the movie and by extension, her.

January 31, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterEvan

What is with Paulas Leia buns?

Who wins an Oscar first? - Lawrence - I think she has longevity in her

Who becomes a TV star by 2017? - Oduye - Something gritty on HBO or Showtime or Collins in some kooky comedy.

Who from the inside gatefolds becomes a bigger star than most of the front cover girls? - Olsen - I wanted to go with Woodley but had an immediate Lohan feeling - sniff

Who are you pissed didn't make the cover and who should they replace? - Bérénice Bejo - knock of Collins who I do not get at all.

January 31, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMichael

Chastain will be the first to the Oscar. I can't imagine she'll be able to keep up her pace but even so it does just seem like a matter of time.
I'm really rooting for Wasikowska and Olsen though to at least get nommed. Those two really struck me this year.

January 31, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAmes

Who will be first to win an Oscar? - Jennifer Lawrence/Jessica Chastain. I definitely think there will be at least future nominations for these two.
Who becomes a TV Star by 2017? Lily Collins and Paula Patton. I can see Patton in a procedural and Waskiowska taking the Claire Danes route.
Who could become a bigger star than those on the front cover? - Brit Marling/Lizzie Olsen/Shailene Woodley

Boys are missing from this cover. There has been an influx of young actresses in Hollywood these past few years, however, there is a lack of talented young actors. Good roles are not being written for them.

January 31, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAbs

Abs -- well it's always been that way. the great roles for women are written for 20somethings and 30something and then great roles for men are written only for 30something and 40somethings. young actors who become mega stars super early (like Leo) are very rare. Notice that Gosling Gordon Levitt and Fassy are just now ascending in their 30s.

it'd be cool if there were great roles for people of all age ranges. then we'd really see who had the stuff and the endurance to keep challenging themselves and turning it out.

Ames -- for some reason i'm worried about Wasikowska. but i shouldn't she's cast so often. But something is not catching on. I mean she was so wonderful in The Kids Are All Right and in Jane Eyre and other than being cast a lot it seems pretty quiet surrounding her.

January 31, 2012 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R


I love that the Dujardin win made you forgive the Clooney and you put him in the banner. You just can't keep hard feelings towards him :)

January 31, 2012 | Unregistered Commentercal roth

The Academy seems to have a boner for Rooney Mara, so I'll say that she could surprise and win, but Jennifer Lawrence and Jessica Chastain are working like crazy to get there faster. Elizabeth Olsen is probably the most likely to be promoted to the front cover next year.

January 31, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterBia

Mara looks so Isabella Rossellini in Death Becomes Her. AWESOME!

Personally I think this is the best VF actress spread ever. And just when I was getting over the new Old Hollywood obsession!

January 31, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSawyer

I don't know what Lily Collins is doing here - the only thing I know her from is that dreadful-looking Julia Roberts Snow White flick. Overall, though, the other choices are quite good.

January 31, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSuzanne

■Who wins an Oscar first? Chastain is the easy choice, but Olsen could if she makes good choices.

■Who becomes a TV star by 2017? Probably Adepero Oduye, because movie studios won't cast her in starring roles, and she'll go to Showtime and win multiple Emmys/Globes/SAG awards, and Hollywood will continue to exist in unabashed shame.

■Who from the inside gatefolds becomes a bigger star than most of the front cover girls? Olsen

■Who are you pissed didn't make the cover and who should they replace? Who is Brit Marling? Not sure if Hayley Atwell has made this before or not, but I would have included her. Or hell, what about Emma Watson?

January 31, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSawyer

Emma Watson will surpass them ALL I reckon!

January 31, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterRamification

I love Shailene here. In the photo she is showing a different side of herself // make me wish she had gotten a nom. oh well. There just wasn't room for her this year. but oh man...Mia Wasikowska...she is already overdue. I'm worried her style is too mellow for AMPAS to bite :// Here's hoping the Academy gives Ms.Wasikowska a nomination in the next year or so. She has Wettest County and Stoker coming up which both could be good!

January 31, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLola

I'm actually shocked they didn't include Berenice Bejo here. I mean she is in the Best Picture front-runner and has the kinds of "look" that would fit right in.

January 31, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterRyan T.

Shailene looks the least human and I feel bad because I make fun of her a lot. She deserves less photoshop.

And they're not so much glaring omissions but my wish list for next year would be Melanie Laurent, Saoirse Ronan, Juno Temple, Jessica Barden, Yasmin Paige. America and Australia are well represented on the cover but I'm sensing a British invasion in a few years. As usual.

January 31, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterPaolo

Olsen will be the biggest star next to Chastain. Mark my words.

January 31, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMayukh

@DrewB - no, I'm not kidding actually, I was being sincere. I did have to look at it for a while in the larger pic to figure it out. Maybe you have better eyesight than I do.

@Nat - I was only referring to the very front cover. As I said in another post, I get why these ladies are there, just...(It probably doesn't help that I prefer richer, deeper tones to all these pale colors. I know what they're going for, in terms of '30's high glamour - shades of The Artist, maybe? It's an odd retro look to go with the text "thoroughly modern actresses.")

January 31, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJanice

The problem with Mia is that she is soo bland. Her performances are good, but not great. She does absolutley nothing for me.

January 31, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMelissa

I've recently noticed that Mia Wasikowska friggin rocks as a model. She's done a lot of style shoots, and I'm consistently amazed by how unrecognizable and magnetically glamorous she can be in them (see: recent Miu Miu campaign, InStyle Australia, the NYtimes villain short).

The VF videos online were pretty interesting as well. It's only for the cover page stars but it's cute to see their distinct personalities emerge in their oh-too-short interview snippets; they're all lovely and intelligent, but Jennifer Lawrence is like the confident sophisticate, Jessica the total sweetheart, Rooney is the introvert, and Mia comes off as an old soul. For some reason however, I find it kind of hard to warm to Lawrence.

January 31, 2012 | Unregistered Commentercaroline

First Oscar: The front fold girls seems like the logical choices, but I feel like Olsen could be the one with the quiet dark horse quality (especially if she ends up landing the role in that new Warren Beatty project as rumored).
TV: Lily Collins and Shailene. I just don't see much more going on other than some bad teen films leading up to that point.
The front four are the right four, but I agree with another commenter, the mixing of old and new would have been really sensational. Just imagine Rooney, Mia, Jenn, Jessie, and Lizzie with Kate, Cate, Nicole, Tilda, Meryl, and Julianne. To die for.

January 31, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDrew C

Instead of "Gagging on the ELEGANZA", I gagged when I saw that Mia is credited as "Albert Nobb's Mia Wasikowska."

January 31, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterBen

Oh Potter fans -- eventually you'll have to give up on the Potter kids becoming huge stars outside of that franchise. They'll always be famous, obviously, but they just don't have the chops that other stars their age have that only became famous because they proved themselves to be strong actors (or great beauties). It is so very hard for child stars to become full adult stars and generally the only ones who do are the ones with crazy-ass acting talent (Liz Taylor, Jodie Foster, etcetera)

I say this only to soften the eventual blow ;)

Ben -- I KNOW. Mia can't have been happy about that because She's really not very good in Albert Nobbs (though it's a very strange part)

January 31, 2012 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

Who wins an Oscar first? Jessica Chastain definitely, or perhaps Jennifer Lawrence (although I'm hoping The Hunger Games doesn't ruin her dramatic reputation like Twilight did for Stewart).

Who will surpass the cover four: Elizabeth Olsen. I'm really rooting for her and she is gaining some valuable indie cred that will do wonders for her. Could easily see her having the career of someone like Michelle Williams. Rooney Mara could really be a big star too if she would let people in a little more, if you know what I mean. Michelle Williams doesn't have the most exuberant and outgoing personality but at least she generally looks grateful and happy to be at awards shows, premieres, etc...Rooney always looks like she's being led to her grave.

TV Star: Probably Shailene or Adepero, although it's hard to say. Something about Shailene is blah to me, but I'm sure she will come into her own eventually.

Who got snubbed? All of these actresses are (for the most part) good choices if they are going for the young ingenues (I guess Kirsten Dunst and Michelle Williams are too well-known at this point to grace this cover)...although Lily Collins is a WTF inclusion, considering I only know her from her worthless part in The Blind Side and that horrible looking Julia Roberts-Snow White debacle. I would've picked Berenice Bejo, Melanie Laurent, Lizzy Caplan, or Andrea Riseborough to take her place.

January 31, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAaron

Nathaniel, I think you underestimate Emma Watson. I don't know that we'll be seeing her win any Oscars, but she is beautiful (and consequently everywhere with those modeling campaigns) and unlike the other two of the trio, she makes good movie choices. I at least wanted more of her in My Week with Marilyn.

Oscar? Again, not sure, but she should have a nice, respectable career.

January 31, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterEvan

Agreed Evan. I am not a super Potter fan though I like the films but I am a big Watson fan

January 31, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterRamification

Anyone else surprised that they actually were all in the same room?

January 31, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDerreck

Um, I'm crazy devoted to Harry Potter and I love the trio. They're just the most well-mannered, funniest, hardworking and intelligent kids ever, Emma's a perfect fashionista, and I want all of them to be my bffs. I also have a feeling that they will all have respectable careers, because all of them have the support and resources to do so, and they all have passionate fanbases and seem to be making very successful and wise career choices. That said, they are such mediocre actors it almost hurts. Plz, no.

January 31, 2012 | Unregistered Commenteranon

I'm not a Potter fan but I agree with Evan. Don't underestimate Emma Watson as a "Harry Potter kid" with weak acting chops. She's beautiful, charismatic and has the potential. Don't base her credibility on a sub-par film like Some Like It Hotter My Week With Marilyn.

Your perspective could've been said of Keira Knightley after appearing in the Pirates films. But that changed. Watson should be in this cover replacing Woodley or any of the girls appearing on the third fold not married to Robin Thicke.

January 31, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLalaland

First Oscar? Chastain or Wasikowska. Mia must be Vanity Fair's best bet, because she's the only repeat from the VF cover "Fresh Faces 2010", having moved from page 2 to page 1.

TV star? Lawrence.

Underestimated? Felicity Jones. I've only seen her in The Tempest and that Bill Nighy BBC thing, Page (something). An actor needs practice (with inspiring colleagues) to get better, and successful British actresses just have more opportunities to practice. Plus, she is one of the most beautiful of the Brits.

Should have been in? I concur with Melanie Laurent and Andrea Riseborough. And my projection for a few years would be Zoe Kazan and Emma Watson. I think MWWM showed that the British actors consider Watson to be one of themselves, so jobs + practice = getting good. A beautiful accepted hardworking girl with brains and connections? Oh yeah.

January 31, 2012 | Unregistered Commenteradri
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