Our top nine favorite beauty moments on TV and film

I like to pull influences from all sorts of media, but the canon of film and TV is such a particularly great resource because it laces aesthetics with philosophies about beauty and identity. In film and TV, makeup moments say a lot about character and these moments are pretty intentional by design. We recently had a discussion about great beauty moments from film and TV in the Project Vanity Community group, and I’ve put together some our faves into this little list.

Shosanna,  Inglourious Basterds  (2009)

Shosanna, Inglourious Basterds (2009)

To punctuate her fiery revenge, Shoshanna Dreyfus lines her eyes and lips with the delicacy of an assassin. She then puts rouge on her cheeks like war paint, and we see her face lit through her veil, with a gaze fixed on what’s to happen. We love the emphasis on precision like we love a multi-use lipstick.

Cherie Currie,  The Runaways  (2010)

Cherie Currie, The Runaways (2010)

A young Cherie Currie paints a red hot lightning bolt over her eyes. She drapes the red blush on her cheekbones almost as a contour. She knows she’s going to be booed off the stage, but her affect remains deadpan and unapologetic as she lipsyncs to David Bowie’s “Lady Grinning Soul”. Very punk, or more appropriately, very Cherie Currie.

Mulan,  Mulan  (1998)

Mulan, Mulan (1998)

As one of the commenters said, we need to know what kind of makeup remover Mulan uses! But seriously, sometimes the act of taking the makeup off is just as powerful as putting it on. We love how Mulan takes hold of her identity in a world where women are not allowed to do so. And, you know, kicks ass while doin’ it.

Annalise Keating,  How to Get Away with Murder  (2014-present)

Annalise Keating, How to Get Away with Murder (2014-present)

Speaking of strong women taking their makeup off, the moment Annalise Keating unwinds after an exhausting day was important because it shows that powerful women (often called bitches) are people, too. Keating takes her weave off, which is something we never used to see in mainstream media. Many a think piece has been written about this moment, and with good reason! Also, our girl loves NARS which is a nice Easter egg for makeup crazies like us (aka, me).

Lisbeth Salander,  The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo  (2011)

Lisbeth Salander, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011)

Hela,  Thor Ragnarok  (2017)

Hela, Thor Ragnarok (2017)

Pris,  Blade Runner  (1982)

Pris, Blade Runner (1982)

They say the eyes are the window to the soul. And what does the gorgeously smokey eye on Ms. Salander, goddess Hela, and femmebot Pris say about their souls? Anger. Revenge. Power. Salander says it outright during an extreme closeup, “I am insane.” You know what I’m insane about? Extreme smokey eyes that I always try to replicate but never successfully pull off. Someday, friends. Someday.

Trisha,  Die Beautiful  (2016)

Trisha, Die Beautiful (2016)

We already know of the artistry of Paolo Ballesteros’s makeup transformations, but when you re-contextualize it in transgender identities and death, it becomes something else. It not only becomes a testament to the power of makeup, but also becomes a tool to enact and reveal truths about ourselves.

RuPaul (and a  lot  of other face queens),  RuPaul’s Drag Race  (2009-present)

RuPaul (and a lot of other face queens), RuPaul’s Drag Race (2009-present)

We stan an Emmy-award Winning show and host! Season 2 alumna Raven received an Emmy nomination for her work on Season 10 as well, although Mathu Andersen deserves an award for really paving the way and creating Ru’s most iconic lerks. I could probably write a whole other article just on the looks from the show but one of my favorites has to be Ru’s golden bunny look from Season 7. We don’t see a lot of soft brows these days, but the way it was done just adds to the gloriousness of her monochromatic look. Then it gets even better with a glitter red lip and an emphasized beauty mark, making her at both times real and fantastic.

What are your favorite beauty moments in film and TV? Should we do a hair moment next?

Header image from Disney’s Mulan