Let’s dive right into this:
It is correct to have Reese Witherspoon is on the cover this year — she has had a great year, and placing her with Oprah (with whom she appears in A Wrinkle in Time) and Nicole Kidman (with whom she appeared in Big Little Lies, and who has also had a great year) makes loads of sense. It feels like Reese is ALWAYS on the cover of this issue, but I just did a deep dive, and that’s not true: She’s only been on the 2015 cover (which is AWFUL) and the 1999 cover, looking about 14 years old, on which everyone has incredibly greasy hair. Nicole, on the other hand, was on the VERY FIRST Hollywood Issue, and the 2001 cover (on which she looks amazing), and then took a long hiatus (the role of the Hollywood Redhead got taken over by a lot of Amy Adams/Emma Stone/Julianne Moore). This is Oprah’s first Hollywood Issue, and I think she looks great, although I wish she and Jessica Chastain (who was on the cover in 2012, previously) had switched dresses; they both look smashing in their respective frocks, but Oprah would have been resplendent in red.
All the dudes look fine, and in the case of Michael B Jordan, also foine. I enjoy how amused De Niro looks; I suspect he is entertained by the fact that Graydon Carter was like, “THIS IS MY LAST HOLLYWOOD ISSUE! PUT ME ON THE COVER!” (A decision I cannot fault, honestly. I’d have put me on the cover if I were on his shoes, too.) Harrison Ford looks like he just wandered in all vaguely rumpled from a fun night out, which is exactly how we always want to see Harrison Ford. Michael Shannon back there might be planning to murder someone, but chicly — which is also how I always want to see Michael Shannon, generally. I am DELIGHTED that Zendaya landed on this cover, but I think she got the most underwhelming of the frocks (which is probably fair if you look at Frock Dispersement as a question of seniority, which it likely actually is; the other more underwhelming one is, obviously, the Underpants McGee get-up on Gal Gadot, who manages to carry it off somehow). I think the loser of the whole equation might be Claire Foy, whose general demeanor makes her seem like she just crawled up into frame after being shipwrecked. She is gorgeous, and I think she’s so talented, but Chastain is stealing focus from her like Jean Valjean nabbing a loaf of bread. Don’t worry, Claire — you’ll snag that glory position eventually.
(There is, obviously, tons more coverage over at Vanity Fair; it has loads of behind the scenes pictures from the shoot, which are actually really interesting and deliciously logistical.)