Film-goers and TV viewers love a good ugly cry. As a matter of fact, apart from gaining or losing a lot of weight or wearing unflattering facial prostheses, ugly crying may be the best way to secure acting award nominations. While less-serious starlets look put-together and beautiful while they cry, maintaining matte skin as a single, picturesque tear rolls down their cheeks, ugly criers are the real deal. Their eyes and noses get red, there is snot all over, their mouths gape, and sometimes I swear they’re practically drooling.
Two of the best ugly criers of our generation are Anne Hathaway and Claire Danes. Both got their start on network TV, then moved on to film roles. Today Danes is an Emmy winner for her work on the acclaimed Homeland, while Hathaway is nominated for an Oscar for her role in Les Miserables. But until now, nobody has settled who the best ugly crier of the two really is. Wonder no longer — Cookies + Sangria point-counterpoint has you covered.
Most actresses struggle to produce even an acceptable ugly cry, but Hathaway did the unthinkable – she managed to ugly cry and sing at the same time. Do you even realize the breath and mucus control that requires? Next time you’re ugly crying, pay attention to your diaphragm. It’s probably spasming, or at least not working regularly. Alright, now try to sing I Dreamed A Dream. It’s almost impossible! But not for Anne Hathaway. Note how she retains her trembling, wailing mouth-shape while performing a pitch-perfect rendition of a musical theater classic — LIVE. For added unattractiveness points, Hathaway’s hair is cropped and she’s made up to look like she has tuberculosis. THAT’s how you cry when you’ve just been forced into prostitution and haven’t seen your child for years and your teeth were ripped out and you’re singing your feelings.
Okay, Hathaway does a pretty good ugly cry, but do you know what the root of all comedy is? Truth. Well, and robots fighting with things. And fart noises. But mostly truth. So when SNL chose to parody Claire Danes’ ugly crying on Homeland, they were doing so because her hideous weeping is known far and wide. Once something has been spoofed on this late night comedy, you know that it’s a feature on the pop culture landscape. I mean, come on. They put mom jeans on the map.
Dying is easy, comedy is hard. What that means is, it was nothing for Hathaway to ugly cry as a consumptive prostitute, but to ugly cry and make it hilarious? That takes some serious chops.
Have you seen this? If you had HBO in the early 2000s, the answer is probably yes, because it was on all the damn time. Anyway, Brokedown Palace is a treat. Claire Danes ugly cries her way in to and out of a third world prison. And she ugly cries so vehemently that she is practically slobbering and seizing. Seriously, like you wonder if someone was off camera ready to hold her tongue so she didn’t swallow it.
According to the Internet, Hathaway said: “I was a wreck from start to finish. I think I cried every single day. I had to lean so much more heavily on everyone around me than I’m used to. I’m used to pulling my own weight. But I totally fell apart.” Did you get that? God, Hathaway ugly cries even when the camera’s not rolling. You can tell me she cried beautifully, but I won’t believe it for her second. Recreational ugly crying?! Anything for her craft. [Ed. note: please note Hathaway’s references to “leaning heavily” and not being able to “pull her weight.” This was obviously before she went from regular skinny to very, very skinny for Les Mis. Her weight loss secret? Expelling excess water through tears. Very strict regimen. Lots of onions and feelings.]
You know what’s hard? Being a teenager whose love interest wrote a song that you thought was about you – and learning that it was about his car. You know what’s really hard? Being a teenager dying of scarlet fever. You know what’s ridiculously hard? Being a teenager whose star-crossed love affair ends in the death of the both of you. It’s hard to even imagine how difficult those scenarios are, but luckily we don’t even have to – Claire Danes’ tears did the talking, before she even had a driver’s license. What were you ugly crying over at that age? Whatever it was, you probably weren’t winning Emmys for it.
A lot of things happened to teenaged Hathaway, too! Like, this one time, she thought she was a regular teen, but then she found out she was a princess! But you know what she didn’t do? Cry about it, really. She made some ugly faces of disgust and shock but that only gets you like a half-point, maybe. I still don’t know how I’m supposed to be scoring this but I think Danes wins this round.
The real Temple Grandin has said that “geeks that cry keep jobs” and that she “turned her anger into crying.” What are the chances that one noted crying enthusiast would play another noted crying enthusiast in an HBO biopic? And you thought there were a lot of parallels between Halle Berry and Dorothy Dandridge.
Little known fact, if your character inspired the ugly cries of other characters in the film, that counts a little, too. It’s like getting a recruitment bonus when you sign a friend up for your insurance.
I don’t really know how to quantify this. I mean… they’re both really good. Why does everything have to be a competition? Why can’t we just appreciate their unique, teary, snotty-nosed talents on their own merit? Okay… I’m calling it a tie. But if Hathaway wins on Oscar night, she becomes the reigning queen of the Ugly Cry, until Danes EGOTs or something.Note: All images link to source. You’ll notice that a lot of the Danes pics link to The Claire Danes Cry Face Project . I found out about that blog when I was drafting this, but haven’t read it yet because I didn’t want to be influenced… but now I’m going to go spend half a day there and you should too! Note 2: Those wanting further discussion of the Hathaway ugly cry should join us on Sunday, February 24, as we live-blog the Oscars! OSCAR UPDATE: Anne Hathaway won an Oscar for her Fantine ugly cry, gave a shoutout to prostitutes, and made our worst dressed list. She started her speech with “… it came true!”. “It” being the dream that she dreamed, of being the ugliest crier in all the land. Details are in our liveblog.