Saturday, February 23, 2013


Academy Awards weekend can only mean one thing around my house: the Return of the (dreaded) Oscar Barbies! It's the time when I raid my eclectic collection of Barbie Dolls, vintage outfits, and scrap fabric to concoct my take on the Best Actress nominees.

But I can't say I'm much impressed by this year's nominees, Barbie-wise. None of them are in fantasy films or historical costumes dramas, so where's the fun in dressing them up? Jennifer Lawrence runs around in sweats most of the time in Silver Linings Playbook, Naomi Watts stumbles through the tropics in shorts and a bloody bandage in The Impossible, and Jessica Chastain searches the desert for Osama bin Laden in Zero Dark Thirty in a black fatigue jacket and black jeans. Bo-ring!

Of course, there are special challenges this year. Like 85-year-old Emmanuelle Riva in Amour. It's tough to de-glamorize a Barbie, since one of my rules is to never actually repaint a vintage doll, so this one's eye makeup remains intact. (Well, the character IS French.)

But she also has a molded head made for wearing wigs, so I borrowed some steel wool from Art Boy to give her sort of a grey pageboy, then I dressed her in a robe with a tea pot and cup to reference a key scene in the film at the breakfast table. (It's all about the props in Oscar Barbie World.)

But at least Ms. Riva is a full-size adult. What about vivacious little Quvenzhané Wallis in Beasts of the Southern Wild? (She was just 6 years old when the film was shot.)

Obviously, a regulation Barbie just wouldn't do. But the doll bin at the Thrift Center downtown yielded up this tiny little beauty—a steal at 31 cents!

Okay, she was originally white, but the no-painting rule doesn't apply to non-vintage dolls. She also has a gigantic mop of reddish hair that's sort of the correct color for the little girl in the film—I just had to lop off most of the length and tease up the rest.

Jennifer Lawrence/Barbie runs off with the gold

I crafted her tank top and cut-offs from fabric scraps and Scotch tape, but she came with her own sneakers!

Too bad there were no Best Actress nominees this year from Les Mis, or Lincoln, or Anna Karenina—or even The Hobbit! Those were costumes!

Oscar Barbie Heaven occurred for me back in 1999 when actresses from both Shakespeare In Love AND Elizabeth were nominated. For me it was a blessed orgy of Elizabethiana—puffed sleeves, hoop skirts and neck ruffs!

Oh, well, maybe next the meantime, here's a flashback to some of my Oscar Barbies Past. Enjoy!

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