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Vanity Fair 2014 "The Hollywood Issue" (Part 1)

Ah, our favorite magazine tradition. Vanity Fair's 20th Annual Hollywood Issue is upon us and the dozen stars selected they've selected are very carefully placed (they've read their own reviews). Instead of an all white lineup with a person of color shoved onto the back fold, this is an extremely careful, as if everything has been weighed on a scale: 12 actors, exactly equally split between both men and women, and skin color.

Of course both of those 50/50 visual situations are grossly unreflective of the actual business of Hollywood movies but we're not here to complain but to praise, it's fun to see the cover shaken up ever so slightly. If we were here to complain we'd probably say something about the lack of Asian actors (they never get their due here in America) but no one has ever asked The Film Experience to guest art-direct a cover. 

If they did ask me I would pitch things that wouldn't move copies (which is reason #203 why no one would ever ask me) but which would definitely be fun one-offs: An all senior lineup (Dernsy!, Shirley and all the Dames), an all instantly recognizable supporting/character actor lineup (Like... I dunno Margo Martindale, John Goodman, Jacki Weaver on the cover with Judy Greer sprawled out on the floor on the gatefold with Celia Weston and Bob Balaban and Irrfan Khan behind her... I could go on and on. Someone stop me). An all foreign language imported legends lineup (Bardem, Binoche, Leung, Deneuve, Loren, etcetera), and my personal ultimate fantasy cover, which we'd call "always a bridesmaid" devoted to people who always lose the Oscars they're up for: Amy Adams, Michelle Pfeiffer, Glenn Close, Albert Finney, Ralph Fiennes, Annette Bening, Sigourney Weaver, Ed Harris, Julianne Moore, Marsha Mason, Jane Alexander, and Joan Allen. GOOD LUCK DECIDING WHO GETS THE ACTUAL COVER ON THAT FOLDOUT LINEUP OF TWELVE!

In other words I wouldn't go with people who are always on magazine covers like Julia Roberts and George Clooney. But enough about fantasies. On to reality.  Let's take a closer look, starting with the actual cover

Chiwetel Ejiofor, a British actor whose film debut was in Steven Spielberg's Amistad (1997), is finally getting his due after steadily-rising film work. That's thanks to his incredibly haunted and well judged work in 12 Years a Slave. But we've loved him since Serenity (2005... which incidentally also featured his 12 Years co-star Sarah Paulson) in which his screen presence was impossible to deny.
Stats: 25 Films. 36 Years Old. 1 Oscar Nomination.
Previous Essentials: Dirty Pretty Things, Talk To Me, Children of Men
Next Up for Chiwetel: Z for Zachariah, a sci-fi drama with Margot Robbie (also on this cover) and Chris Pine

Julia Roberts, "America's (Former) Sweetheart", is Oscar resurgent for her "Supporting" [cough] role in August: Osage County wherein she swiped 'Best in Show' reviews from Meryl Streep. Of all the stars gathered for this cover she looks the happiest to be there. But wouldn't you if you were sitting on Idris Elba's lap? 
Stats: 41 Films. 46 Years Old. 4 Oscar Nominations, 1 win.
Previous Essentials: Pretty Woman, My Best Friend's Wedding, Erin Brockovich
Next Up for Julia: She's doing Ellen Barkin's angry screaming doctor/Tony winning role in the TV adaptation of the seminal AIDS play The Normal Heart 

Idris Elba, another British import, recently headlined Mandela which won him a Golden Globe nomination, his fourth. After two major critically acclaimed successes on television, he's on many a casting director's list for the movies. 
Stats: 24 Films + A Lot of Television. 41 Years Old. Not Yet Oscar-Nominated. 
Previous Essentials: Luther (TV Series), The Wire (TV Series) 
Next Up For Idris: Three movies in the can coming soon which are No Good Deed, a thriller with Taraji P Henson, The Gunman, a crime drama with Sean Penn and Javier Bardem, and Second Coming a British family drama

George Clooney, who surely needs no recapping as to his profile. Though, as great as he looks in a tux, I was hoping for a fresher choice of a cover subject since he's been so ubiquitous for so long.
Stats: 36ish(?) Films and Lots of TV, 52 Years Old. 8 Oscar Nominations (Directing/Acting/Producing/Writing), 2 wins (Producing/Acting)
Previous Essentials: Out of Sight, Oceans 11, Good Night and Good Luck, Up in the Air
Next Up for Clooney: Monuments Men which he directed and stars in, is about to open, which probably explains the cover. In 2015 he headlines Brad Bird's Disney scifi film Tomorrowland about a former boy-genius inventor.

Do you like the new cover? Here's PART TWO of the closeup breakdown


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Reader Comments (36)

1) Clooney's head looks Photoshopped onto his body;
2) Margot Robbie is truly gorgeous;
3) There will be articles devoted to the Miss Julia corner of this image;
4) Lupita ftw.

February 4, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterPaul Outlaw

Thanks for the 2nd paragraph because I was thinking exactly that after reading your 1st.

February 4, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterkin

I LOVE your fantasy always a bridesmaid cover. For me the concept would be high fashion in a seedy bar: Amy Adams (sexy and career hot right now), Julianne Moore (obvs), Glenn Close(duh), and Michelle Pfeiffer (don't insult me) would all be on the front cover laughing/having beers in a corner booth: Ralph Fiennes, Ed Harris, and Albert Finney would be attempting to buy Annette Bening a drink on the center fold: Sigourney Weaver, Marsha Mason, Jane Alexander, and Joan Allen would be dancing/singing karaoke on the left!

February 4, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterDrewB

So happy Lea Seydoux made the cut along with Brie Larson and Margot Robbie. All stand outs who deserve their place there.

It is interesting to see diversity here finally, but I agree, mixing in other cultures wouldn't have hurt. Nevertheless, not the time to complain.

February 4, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterBia

Drew B -- i officially appoint you my set decorator! Brilliant ideas.

February 4, 2014 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

Don't care what anyone thinks--I NEVER get tired of seeing Clooney in a tux. And I would take Idris Elba in anything or nothing. Also, Julia looks about 10 years younger in this photo; looks great.

My fantasy cover would be Supportings who are really Leads through the years.

February 4, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterPam

Oscar winner, America's sweetheart, mega star, and now sitting on Idris Elba's lap, Julia Roberts wins at life!

February 4, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterRami

Rami -- that she does! No wonder she led Denzel's Oscar win with "I love my life"

Pam - co-sign. also a great idea

February 4, 2014 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

LMAO! I feel like Julia trolls so hard, but not in a mean way. I mean, she literally dates or becomes BFFs with EVERY DAMN HOT MAN IN HOLLYWOOD! It is almost infuriating and she's 46 and still gorgeous! Like really Julia? Can you not?

We have Denzel, George, Brad, Javier, Idris, Jude, Richard, Bruce, Clive, Ewan, Matt, Bradley all her buddies on top of dating Dylan McDermott, Daniel Day Lewis, Benjamin Bratt, Liam Neeson, Dylan Walsh and her husband is hot.

Girl, bye! You don not have to make the rest of us so damn jealous

February 4, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJessica

I want a cover with just Celia Weston and Marsha Mason and only Celia Weston and Marsha Mason. And Clooney in a tux.

February 4, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterCorey

The cover is getting really diverse response from the black community, especially re: Lupita not being on the cover. I actually like this cover, both in general and more than I have any other. Definitely more than that one where Claire Danes(?!) is lying down amid the sea of actresses in a position so awkward that it actually looks like she was standing and photoshopped sideways.

I love the idea of Margo, or hey, even June Squibb on the cover (even if I wasn't wild about her in Nebraska) because, hey...we don't always have the luxury of having the big break in our 20s, right?

Love love love that they included Brie Larson, Michael B. Jordan, Chadwick Boseman (who is probably about to hit big with Get on Up). I would have taken out Julia and George, both of whom...well, one of who I really like, but neither of whom really need more magazine covers and I would have included Oscar Isaac, Melonie Diaz and Nicole Beharie. But we always have our substitutions and things we want to hold, or want more of. That's what makes this cover so much fun every year.

hahah Jessica I am so with you, but I also sort of just love her for that too as well as being insanely jealous of her, I mean she's Julia F'ing Roberts, I would be doing the same if I was in her place :-)

February 4, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterRami

Lupita N'yongo looks like an Oscar. So fitting. Go girl.

February 4, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJones

the lack of Asian actors (they never get their due here in America)

They're responsible for speaking up for themselves. Their belief that white folks will wise up to their value based simply on the merit of their work makes them easy to ignore because no one from their group is speaking up.

February 4, 2014 | Unregistered Commenter3rtful

I honestly didn't expect to see that much color either on the cover or in the fold out. I'd actually love to see a more intergenerational spread in the future, a celebration of like talents from different eras.

February 4, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterTroy H.

Buzzfeed has a partial compare and contrast of the VF Covers through the years.

I WANT that Oscarless cover. WANT. NOW.

February 4, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterforever1267

Nathan, you would put Marsha Mason and Albert Finney on your cover! I could hug you!

February 4, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterbrookesboy

Jessica, I love your comment. Julia does seem to have it all, doesnt she???? She wins!!!

Lupita looks like an Oscar statue....

February 4, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterAmanda

I like the Bridesmaids idea. Except I would put Jenifer Lawrence and DDL on the cover, dressed immaculately (which means no Dior), backs to camera with just enough profile to be able to see who they are and the foldout, all the bridesmaids in various versions of the ugly bridesmaids dresses/tuxes (I see lavender/green and powder blue).

And then let the bridesmaids play the moment.

The back cover could be a reverse with the bride and groom bloody and beaten in a heap on the floor with the bridesmaids all looking victorious and perfect. Glenn Close can be holding the bouquet.

I love JR and Idris. They work hard, but still look like the enjoy their lives and have a healthy perspective on everything.

February 4, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterHenry

Having read the film experience often, I really shouldn't get amped up by 3rtful's comments by now. And yet.

MAYBE you are right. Asian actors don't point out their lack of attention every chance they get. But why did it become their fault? Why aren't the media at large addressing this shortage and seeking Asian actors for interviews, or you know, magazine covers like this? Why aren't Hollywood making more movies with Asians so they have opportunities to shine like the Black actors profiled? I mean, Yunjin Kim basically disappeared (let's not acknowledge that burnoff ABC summer series) after Lost despite her ample talent and beauty. Harry Shum Jr., Daniel Dae Kim...these are not actors that Hollywood can put in substantial roles?

Also, you are not right. The above plus Ang Lee, Mindy Kaling, Masi Oka has all pointed out how Hollywood is still not casting Asian leads.

I am sorry I turned this fun tradition (I did thought of Nat when I first saw this cover elsewhere) into another politically-charged thread here, and I am glad that Asians are making more in-roads in television, but maybe we should let Vanity Fair that they didn't "succeed" just yet.

February 4, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterkin

I'm just going to be preparing myself mentally for the next 26 days for Ejiofor not to win. I will be ok with it, and even ok with him never getting near Oscar, so long as he gets SOME roles in the future deserving of his talent. (Clearly I'm in the bargaining phase).

February 4, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterRebecca

that was supposed to read 'never getting near Oscar again'

February 4, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterRebecca

Rebecca -- the bargaining phrase. haha. it's so true. It would be so great if he won but it's just not going to happen.

Brookesboy -- get in line. i kid i kid. I am always up for huggings.

February 4, 2014 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R


The Asian-American's community's silence is denying them access to greater representation in the media. If they choose to believe themselves superior over every other minority group who "complains" for handouts of opportunity so be it. They'll continue to be an invisible class but superior to the complainers.

February 4, 2014 | Unregistered Commenter3rtful

The VF Hollywood cover should do a feature of the 6 time losing actress
club with Close. Kerr, Ritter. Also, include Any Adams who will most likely
Join the club at the Feb. 2015 awards telecast...

February 4, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMark

I would love a rom-com starring Clooney and Roberts. Everytime I see them together I think about that idea. I wish I could write a screenplay and send them.

February 4, 2014 | Unregistered Commentercal roth

This cover reminds me of that time when Nathaniel said Julia Roberts is her favorite best actress oscar winner from the past few years even though he didnt want her to win tgat year! I feel exactly that seeing the cover, didnt want her to be on it but love her the most on it! Lol

February 4, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterRizz

If they choose to believe themselves superior over every other minority group who "complains" for handouts of opportunity so be it. They'll continue to be an invisible class but superior to the complainers.

@3rtful - is there a reason for your prejudiced statement about Asians apart from your contrariness? Did you hold a national survey on Asians, their beliefs and their culture and find this to be statistically true, that Asians believe themselves superior? I'd like to question your scientific methods for brandishing this deeply flawed and frankly offensive opinion as incontestable fact.

February 4, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterFlickah

Julia and Idris look smokin' hot! Damn.

February 4, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterStan

Is it just me or does George Clooney look totally Photoshopped? Was he even at the shoot, or is this a Madame Tussauds situation?

February 4, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMareko

P.S. Interesting that Idris and Naomie both made the cut for a movie (Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom) that was an almost complete non-starter with Oscar. They are each so yummy.

February 4, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMareko

Mareko. see first comment above. ;-)

February 4, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterPaul Outlaw

The did the photoshoot in two groups
Group 1: Chiwetel, Idris, Julia and George
Group 2: The rest

Here is the behind-the-scene video:

Also I really REALLY want some kind of rom-com/drama film with Idris and Julia now (she should have re-teamed with Denzel by now too). If anyone can do a great interracial romance/story I think she can and make it fly

February 4, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMelissa

I am always amazed by the fact that Chiwetel Ejiofor is 36 years old. He's been around for so long I forget he's the same age as I am.

February 4, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterjtagliere

So, the under representation of Asians in the media and film on the US is their fault? Wow. The comment section of this site is becoming so malicious lately.

February 4, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMe34

Ken Watanabe is going to be in the next Scorsese and Gus Van Sant films as well as the blockbuster Godzilla, here is hoping he gets some notices and makes the cover next year.

February 5, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterRami

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