Ryan McGinley’s Oscars Portfolio

The names Casey Affleck, Josh Brolin, Michael Cera, Julie Christie, Marion Cotillard, Paul Dano, Hal Holbrook, Jennifer Jason Leith, James McAvoy, Sienna Miller, Ellen Page, Seth Rogen, Amy Ryan, Jim Sturgess and Tang Wei probably include at least some familar to you. One thing they do have in common is that I’ve not photographed any of them!

They were however all photographed for the New York Times 2008 Oscars ‘Breakthrough Portfolio’ by Ryan McGinley. Despite being a photographer who became famous for his free and easy natural-looking images of his young New York friends, the shoots for these images had a full complement of assistant, stylist and various others responsible for hair, grooming and items of clothing.

On the page there is a video in which Editor Lynn Hirschberg talks about the film performances but not about the photographs as the pictures are shown, which I found just a little odd. I tried hard to see any link between what she was saying about the actor or character and the images but failed. I’m not a great film-goer, and the only film involved I’ve seen is La Vie on Rose, (billed at our local cinema as a Spanish Language film,) and although I like McGinley’s photo of Marion Cotillard, I can’t see any link between it and her performance in the film – or indeed Edith Piaf. Hirscherg suggests she needs to lose her charming French accent, but it would really be a great loss. Perhaps Americans should learn to accept that not everyone mangles the English language their way?

You can also see a short film on the page made by McGinley during the sessions in which he shot the portraits, sometimes with suggestions of rather more interesting ideas than some that emerged in the final portfolio. Another short movie by Jake Paltrow has the stars talking to camera about the actors that inspired them, perhaps looking more like themselves, though of course every time they face a camera it’s a performance.

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