Taking It All Off (Part Two)

February 26, 2006
A thought by James Berardinelli

There are two ways to look at all the numbers I'm about to throw out: "Just the fact, ma'am" or "There are three kinds of untruths: lies, damn lies, and statistics."

It's said there's no time like the present, so let's start there, with the last three years (2004, 2005, and 2006).

(Note: nude credits are examples, and not meant to be comprehensive listings.)

In 2004, on the Lead Actress side, nude nominees were four out of five, with the understandable exception being Keisha Castle-Hughes. The others: Charlize Theron (winner; nudity in The Devil's Advocate, Monster), Diane Keaton (nudity in Something's Gotta Give), Samantha Morton (nudity in Under the Skin, In America), and Naomi Watts (nudity in Mulholland Drive, 21 Grams).

Turning to the Supporting Actress side, three out of five were nude nominees: Patricia Clarkson (not a lot, but enough to qualify between Wendigo and Pieces of April), Marcia Gay Harden (nudity in Happy New Year), and Holly Hunter (nudity in The Piano, Thirteen). Non-nude nominees: Renee Zellweger (winner) and Shohreh Aghdashloo.

In 2005, nude Lead Actresses were three out of five with an asterisk. The one with no nude credits is Catalina Sandino Moreno, who at this point had only made one movie. Then there's Imelda Staunton. I couldn't find any evidence that she has done a nude scene, but I suspect that, over her long career, she may have. (Most British actresses have.) However, until I get proof of a title, I'll leave her in the non-nude category. The naked ones are: Hilary Swank (winner; nudity in Boys Don't Cry), Annette Bening (nudity in The Grifters), and Kate Winslet (nudity in Jude).

For 2005 Supporting Actresses, it was a slim year, with only Laura Linney (nudity in Kinsey) and Virginia Madsen (nudity in The Hot Spot) having nude credits. Thus far, Cate Blanchett (winner), Natalie Portman, and Sophie Okonedo have kept their clothing on. All are young enough that there's still hope. :)

This year, things are looking better, with a 10-for-10 sweep across both categories. For Lead Actresses: Reese Witherspoon (nudity in Twilight), Kiera Knightley (nudity in The Jacket), Charlize Theron (nudity in The Devil's Advocate), Felicity Huffman (nudity in Transamerica), and Judi Dench (nudity in 1978's Langrishe Go Down). For Supporting Actresses: Rachel Weisz (nudity in Stealing Beauty, The Constant Gardener), Michelle Williams (nudity in Brokeback Moutain), Catherine Keener (nudity in Living in Oblivion), Amy Adams (nudity in Psycho Beach Party), and Frances McDormand (nudity in Laurel Canyon).

So, over the last three years, here are the totals. In the Lead Actress category, 12 out of 15 nominees have done nudity during their careers (80%). All three winners have done career nudity. (Since 2006 was a sweep, it doesn't matter who the winner is.) But only 5 out of 15 (33%) did a nude scene as part of the nominated performance. In the Supporting actress category, 10 out of 15 nominees have done career nudity (67%). One of three winners has done career nudity (33%). And 5 out of 15 (33%) did a nude scene as part of the nominated performance.

Now, let's expand things and look at the 1990s and 2000s as a whole. I'm not going to give a year-by-year breakdown. If you're interested in a specific nominee, feel free to ask by e-mail. I have everything recorded; I'm just not going to regurgitate it here.

For Lead Actresses from 1990 through 2006, there were 67 out of 85 naked nominations (79%); 47 out of 64 naked nominees (73%); and 16/17 naked winners (94%). The only Oscar winning actress in this period to have never done an (intentional) nude scene is Julia Roberts. As indicated yesterday, I don't consider her obscure Pretty Woman nip-slip to be valid. For Supporting Actresses from 1990 through 2006, were 57 out of 85 naked nominations (67%); 48 out of 72 naked nominees (67%); and 9 out of 17 naked winners (53%).

Here are the results for the entire 27-year period from 1980 through 2006. For Lead Actresses, there were 109 out of 135 naked nominations (81%); 62 out of 85 naked nominees (73%); and 21 out of 25 naked winners (80%). The non-nude winners were: Katharine Hepburn (1982), Geraldine Page (1986), Cher (1988), and the aforementioned Julia Roberts (2001). Only 27 out of 135 (20%) featured a nominated actress performing a nude scene in that movie. For Supporting Actresses, there were 84 out of 135 naked nominations (62%); 69 out of 115 naked nominess (60%); and 13 out of 26 naked winners (50%). Only 14 out of 135 (10%) featured a nominated actress performing a nude scene in that movie.

A few curiosities... 2006 is only the second time there was a 10-for-10 sweep. The other time was 2000: Leads Hilary Swank, Annette Bening, Julianne Moore (nudity in Short Cuts), Meryl Streep (nudity in Silkwood), Janet McTeer (nudity in The Intended), and Supports Angelina Jolie (nudity in Gia), Catherine Keener, Chloe Sevigny (nudity in Boys Don't Cry), Toni Collette (nudity in Lilian's Story), Samantha Morton.

There have been three 5-for-5 Supporting sweeps (2000, 2001, and 2006) and ten 5-for-5 Lead sweeps (1983, 1984, 1985, 1987, 1989, 1990, 1996, 1998, 2000, and 2006). In the Supporting category, there was one 0-for-5 shutout. This was in 1988: Olympia Dukakis (winner), Anne Archer, Norma Aleandro, Anne Ramsey, Ann Southern. There has not been a 0-for-5 shutout in the Leading category. The "low water mark" came in 1986, when only 2 of the 5 nominees had done nudity.

In part three, I'll offer some thoughts and observations, all of which should be taken with heaping spoonfuls of salt.