Os-scar Buzz 2000: The Skinnies Awards

The millennium is upon us and film makers still use the same raw material as last century: Actors. And since most actors and the characters they play have skin, why not spotlight those with skin conditions? Therefore, the winners of the "Skinnies" are...  
Skin As Dysfunctional As Their Families:
the cast of "American Beauty"




Teens in turmoil: Bentley, Birch, and Suvari

 Left upper lip scar (in shadow)

 Many, many moles

 American Beauty Mark (chin)

The emotional core of this film is embodies by three teens, and each has facial lesions that reflect their backgrounds. Wes Bentley plays an odd but inspired rebel. A prominent lip scar (hidden in shadow) echoes his own emotional scars. Thora Birch's character is unsure of herself and is portrayed as not conventionally beautiful. Her numerous facial moles reinforce this depiction. Mena Suvari is cast as a glamorous teen who aims at super model stardom. Her solitary beauty mark mole is consistent with her conventionally attractive appearance. Somehow, none of these stressed adolescents has acne, but more on that later...
Kevin Spacey's father figure is also emotionally scarred, trapped in a meaningless materialistic existence and a loveless marriage. His traumatic cheek scar suggests the pain hidden behind his calm demeanor. The scar also foreshadows the film's climactic violence. For those who have not seen "American Beauty," we recommend it, and not just for its cutaneous qualities!
Resurgence of the Worst Trend:
Tanning in "The Talented Mr. Ripley"
   Just as we hoped that the tanning fad would deservedly fade comes this serial killer romance. Set in the 1950's, "Ripley" features cast-against-hunkiness Matt Damon in the title role as a chameleon class-jumping cad. When he first meets socialite couple Gwyneth Paltrow and Jude Law, his fair skin is mocked. He retorts : "But it's just a primer..." The joke is on the young lovers, for Ripley's entire persona is just a primer.


Whatever the situation demands, Ripley alters his character to accommodate. He slowly but surely mimics Law's over-tanned character and later accidentally kills him.


Fortunately, this saves Law's character from prematurely wrinkling and dying of skin cancer. Though not as dramatic as the film's story, it is an equally realistic outcome. We can only hope that Law doesn't do for tans that Warren Beatty and George Hamilton did in their day. We suggest putting your dermatologist out of business--wear sunscreen!

Smallest Lesion on the Biggest Star:
Tom Cruise in "Magnolia"
In "Magnolia," uber-star Tom Cruise portrays a charismatic new age evangelist. His cheek mole has always complimented and never diminished his stunning good looks. This "skinny" goes to a small lesion that is in inverse proportion to the breadth of Cruise's career.
Skin Lesion as Best Symbol of a Movie Title:
Ice Cube's facial bumps in "Three Kings."



 Three Things on One King

 Cube's DPN's

 The black comedy "Three Kings" is studded with great performances, including Cube's tough but religious soldier. Cube himself is studded with these three benign facial bumps. Common in those of African descent, their overlong medical name is best substituted with the abbreviated "DPN's." Usually, as with Bill Cosby and Morgan Freeman, these lesions are scattered across the face. Cube's triangular pattern is quite distinctive. We have a hunch he was cast because his three DPN's visually represented the three kings of the title. Look, if critics are going to label this site obsessive, we might as well earn it...
Best Shakespearean tattoos:
Jessica Lange in "Titus"
Sure, we've seen tattoos in Shakespeare flicks before. Long before his martial artistry in "The Matrix," Laurence Fishburne displayed a tattooed pate in "Othello." And Pete Postlethwaite was an evil tattooed priest in "William Shakespeare's Romeo + Juliet." But in "Titus," Jessica Lange has skin markings as complex as her character. The good news: the tattoos are all blue and black, the colors that best respond to laser removal should she want them gone. The bad news: there are no lasers in this epic's ancient world. Just cannibalism and decapitation, which seem like overkill just to erase a tattoo...
Most Gratuitous Tattoo:
Denise Richards in "James Bond: The Franchise Continues."
As the Y2K Bond gal, Richards portrays a nuclear physicist. Like most physicists, she favors revealing halter tops and hot pants. But we are not aware of many physicists with abdominal tattoos. This is where the film makers went too far! Judging from her acting, Richards' Barbie doll looks are the only reason she was cast in this latest Bond installment, as a cynical attempt to attract the 15-25 year-old male audience. Come to think of it, that's the reason she's included here as well.
Most findings per square inch of skin:
Verne Troyer as "Mini-Me" in "Austin Powers, The Spy Who Shagged Me."
When you don't have a line of dialogue, the visuals really count. The cloned love child of Dr. Evil, Troyer's character is really an extended spoof on Donald Pleasance's classic James Bond villain. Despite these impressive influences, Troyer truly makes the part his own. Two conditions, hair loss and scarring, on a small body surface area results in an especially potent skinematic performance. Shagadelic, indeed.
Most Overlooked Dramatic Performance:
Paul Reubens as "Spleen" from "Mystery Men."
The rage, the shame, the frustration of adult acne. Nothing else came close to Reubens' extremely irritable (and irritating) pseudo-hero. We realize that he is unlikely to end up on anyone else's top ten lists. This role had more OXY moments than Oscar moments. And given the quality of the remainder of the flick, many a critic and audience member may themselves have broken out just from sitting through this dud. But that sad fact merely makes Reubens' cutaneous contribution all the more poignant. Maybe next year, Paul...
Skinnies Awards


© 1996-2008 Vail Reese M.D.

Dr. Reese's office