That time has come again--this year's academy awards. As an illustration of the prevalence of skin conditions in motion pictures, it is notable that many of the nominated films feature dermatologic examples. Skinema is alive and well in our finest flicks. Keep this in mind while watching a clear complected Hollywood turn out on Oscar night! Our contribution to the celebration is another set of "Skinnies" Awards for the most notable movie skin conditions of the year. And the Skinnies go to:

Heroic scalp award:
Oscar himself
Showing the depth that superficial skin findings have permeated the Hollywood sub-culture, even the famous Oscar statuette features hair loss or alopecia. This is one case of hair loss that any actor or actress would actually want!
Best complexion for the millennium:
Fair-skinned Kate Winslet as young Rose from "Titanic"
Though many Caucasians are in denial, remaining true to one's skin tone is the look of the 21st century. People with fair skin need to use sunscreen and avoid both burns and tans. Though the sun feels good, exposure will eventually result in wrinkles and skin cancer (see below). As a fashionably pale upper class women from the early 20th century, Winslet shows that what goes around comes around.
Lifetime achievement of too much sun:
Sun damaged Gloria Stuart as elderly Rose from "Titanic."
While Winslet shows the way to retain a youthful appearance (sun avoidance), her character Rose is not as fortunate. As portrayed by veteran actress Stuart, the results of excessive sun exposure are evident. While her solar induced wrinkles and furrows are her own, makeup artists added the sunspots on her cheeks to heighten the effect.
The George Hamil-tan award for sun damage in progress:
Dustin Hoffman in "Wag the Dog."
Hoffman's hilarious depiction of a pompous Hollywood producer shows what not to do to your skin. His first appearance in the film consists of an entire conversation from within a tanning bed. For the rest of the film, he sports the tanned leather-skin look. Tanning beds and booths are not recommended. Any ultraviolet radiation can have long term effects and tanning booth tans do not sufficiently prevent burns. Rather than damage the skin, try the sunless tan creams instead.
Runner up for the Hamil-tan award:
Julianne Moore in "Boogie Nights"
While outstanding as a jaded porn queen, Moore has admitted that her best ally now is sunscreen. People who easily freckle are especially at risk for the damaging effects of ultraviolet radiation and should avoid attempts to tan.
Best depiction of a scarred gay man by a non-scarred heterosexual:
Greg Kinnear in "As Good As It Gets"
As the gay neighbor of Jack Nicholson, Kinnear gets severely beaten part way through the film. His face remains scarred through the movie's remainder as a reminder of our violent world. Though there are plenty of gay actors who could have been cast in this role, kudos to Kinnear for portraying a character who is gay, scarred and sympathetic. In any other movie (say, Lethal Force part Six), his character would be ruthlessly attempting world domination.
Best birthmark used to further the plot:
Dead prostitute in "L.A. Confidential"
This street walker gets "cut" to look famous.
Instead, she ends up on the cutting room floor...
...with her birthmark snaring the starring role.
"L.A. Confidential" is flashy film noir with many outstanding performances. One of the many plot threads features prostitutes who have plastic surgery to resemble movie actresses of the period. One of these is killed, her body later identified by a birthmark mole on her hip. Most birthmarks have no medical consequence, but all should be evaluated for their potential to become cancerous.
Most moles on an actor/writer: 
Matt Damon in "Good Will Hunting"
Up and coming actor and screenwriter Damon is haunting in his turn as a South Boston genius. From a derm angle, he has numerous moles. It has been shown that families with irregularly colored moles (called dysplastic moles) have increased rates of melanoma skin cancer. A recent study has shown that people with many moles (dysplastic or not) are also at higher risk for melanoma. People with moles should have them checked periodically, especially if any change shape, size or color.  

Overlooked actors with skin findings (Three way tie):




 Leonardo DiCaprio

 Russell Crowe

 Mark Wahlberg

"LA Confidential"
"Boogie Nights"
Chicken pox scars
Extra Nipple
These three young hunks share a unique distinction. All star in academy nominated films. All have skin lesions. And none were nominated by the academy this year for their performances. To inflate their sagging egos, we acknowledge their skin if not their performances. DiCaprio features a common form of scarring from the pre-chicken pox vaccine era: chicken pox scars. Though not as prominent as the severe pock marks that resulted from the now eliminated scourge of smallpox, these scars are still a cosmetic and psychological burden. Aussie actor (originally from New Zealand) Crowe has many facial moles, used to menacing effect for his anti-hero role. Finally, Wahlberg displays a common birthmark, the extra or accessory nipple. These actors are not letting skin lesions get in the way of their careers. Congratulations to the Skinnies winners, one and all.
Skinnies Awards

© 1996-2008 Vail Reese M.D.

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