Claire Danes’s Cry Face begins with the chin. You will know this by now, since it has been discussed and dissected everywhere from Pinterest to SNL; essays have been written; masks have been made. We are at the tail end of a national Cry Face frenzy, and it all stems from Danes’s remarkable chin, which dimples and shakes autonomously at the first sign of emotional stress. But hers is not the only chin game in town. Entire movies (including Anna Karenina, out Friday) have been made around Keira Knightley’s jaw, which possesses an astonishing range of motion and can be used to express everything from disdain to physical pleasure. The question before us: Who is the better chin actress? Danes and Knightley’s mandibles face-off in five key categories below.
Danes’s chin crumples at the first sign of distress – even when it is overjoyed, in Little Women, it is followed by tears.
Knightley’s chin, however, can demonstrate anger (Pride and Prejudice); pride (Anna Karenina); or, in the case of Atonement, orgasm. (The :30 mark, below):
How many tricks does the chin have? Danes’s can tremble; it goes from side to side; when things get really heavy it actually tucks back in (see: Little Women). Knightley’s only goes forward.
Range of Motion
Or, put more simply, thrustiness. Knightley takes this, no contest. Look how far that thing can go!
Danes’s chin: three Golden Globe wins; two Emmy wins.
Knightley’s chin: one Academy Award nomination; two Golden Globes nominations.
This is a positive ugly — it represents a commitment to the craft, and a willingness to be unattractive when the scene requires it. Knightley's chin, for all its attitude, can never wrinkle or look anything other than porcelain. Danes’s chin goes full prune.
Best Chin Actress Winner: Claire Danes, as God and memes intended.
* This post has been corrected to include Danes's first Emmy win (for Temple Grandin).