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