Sans makeup surfeit of charm
Ugliness is no longer passé at the Oscars, specially if supported by a strong script, performance and role:
Nine times out of 10, I’d rather see a celebrity wearing no makeup than wearing no clothes. The former is usually far more shocking and entertaining — I mean, once you’ve seen one naked, plastic Hollywood type, haven’t you seen them all? So, you see, when I came across an ad for Fox’s new special, ‘Stars Without Makeup’, I couldn’t turn away. “They look more like you than you think!” the show promised, while flashing paparazzi shots of actresses wearing hooded sweatshirts and eating burritos. After all, the Academy adores gorgeous women who go makeup-free in the movies — and almost every year, it seems, at least one is rewarded with a statue.
Who will win Sunday? While all of this year’s best-actress nominees have moments when they look imperfect on screen, I say it will be the one who exhibits the most of the following Oscar-winning traits:
1. Hate lipstick. Love prosthetics and fake blood. Last year Charlize Theron nabbed an Oscar for a role that required her to speak through a set of fake hillbilly teeth. The year before, Nicole Kidman won by a (false) nose for her performance in ‘The Hours’. Maybe if ‘Kill Bill’s Uma Thurman had sported horns or an extra elbow, she’d be in the running this year.
2. Dare to wear pants. An actress can go miles in a pair of khakis. Some former slacks-sportin’ nominees: ‘Silence of the Lambs’ Jodie Foster, ‘Gorillas in the Mist’s Sigourney Weaver and ‘Fargo’s Frances McDormand. While Cate Blanchett’s Kate Hepburn doesn’t skimp on the makeup in ‘The Aviator’, she does don some clever drawers — and an Oscar is almost certain to be in her pocket Sunday.
3. Cry like a baby. Halle Berry wept almost as much in ‘Monster’s Ball’ as she did during her Oscar acceptance speech. Naomi Watts turned on the waterworks for ‘21 Grams’. This year, Imelda Staunton does her share of sniffling throughout ‘Vera Drake’, as does Annette Bening in ‘Being Julia’. Only time will tell if their salty tears will be worth Oscar gold, though.
4. Age a decade (at least). So many Hollywood women are trying to stay young that Academy voters can be shocked when actresses portray an older person on screen. Susan Sarandon managed to do it in ‘Dead Man Walking’; Ellen Burstyn also gained a few wrinkles for ‘Requiem for a Dream’.
5. Dress kinda trashy. Miniskirt devotees worldwide crossed their fingers and legs for Julia Roberts in 1991, the year she could’ve won an Oscar for ‘Pretty Woman’. It wasn’t until almost 10 years later that she finally won for ‘Erin Brockovich’ — for playing another character who preferred push-up bras to period costumes. ‘Coal Miner’s Daughter’s Sissy Spacek and The Accused’s Jodie Foster also took home Oscars after playing fearless women with frayed wardrobes.
6. Go nuts. Acting crazy worked for Angelina Jolie in ‘Girl, Interrupted’ (and real life), ‘Nell’s Jodie Foster and Misery’s Kathy Bates. The Academy loves lunatics, male and female. Which makes it all the more puzzling why Paul Giamatti wasn’t nominated for ‘Sideways’.
7. Die. Meryl Streep didn’t make it to the end of ‘Sophie’s Choice’, ‘Silkwood’, ‘Ironweed’ or ‘One True Thing’ — but she did earn Oscar nominations for her roles in each film. Ditto for ‘Love Story’s Ali McGraw, ‘Terms of Endearment’s Debra Winger, ‘In America’s Samantha Morton and ‘Boys Don’t Cry’s Hilary Swank. Speaking of Swank, everyone who has seen ‘Million Dollar Baby’ should take another look at the above list. Fake blood? Check. Tears? Check. Trashy clothes? Check. And on and on.
Hilary Swank eating a burrito on ‘Stars Without Makeup’, however … now that I could get into.