Prestige vs. prosthetics for Makeup and Hairstyling Oscar?

The film that wins Best Makeup and Hairstyling at the Oscars usually has the most elaborate prosthetic makeup, but at other times the Academy prefers the nominee with the most prestige. That may be how “The Iron Lady‘s” relatively subtle aging makeup beat out the complex creatures in the “Harry Potter” finale.

It’s probably also how the biopic “Frida” beat the sci-fi film “The Time Machine” in 2002, how “La Vie en Rose” took down “Norbit” and “Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End” in 2007, and how the period musical “Les Miserables” beat prosthetics-heavy “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” and “Hitchcock” just last year. Even without layers of latex, a film can win if it has enough overall Academy support.

That could be good news for films like “Rush,” “12 Years a Slave,” and “American Hustle,” which may be contenders in multiple other categories, including Best Picture.

Two of Peter Jackson‘s films in the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy — “The Fellowship of the Ring” and “The Return of the King” — won this award, and the first of his “Hobbit” films, “An Unexpected Journey,” was nominated last year. So part two, “The Desolation of Smaug,” could be a major contender in this race.

Other sci-fi and fantasy films eligible to compete include “Oz the Great and Powerful,” “Pacific Rim,” “Ender’s Game,” and “Star Trek Into Darkness.” “Into Darkness” is J.J. Abrams‘s second film in the rebooted franchise; the first won this category in 2009.

Both “World War Z” and “Warm Bodies” take place after the zombie apocalypse and use makeup effects to create hordes of the undead.

The Butler,” “The Invisible Woman,” and “Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom” all transform their actors into recognizable historical figures.

Which way will voters go this year? Review the contenders below and make your predictions:

2 thoughts on “Prestige vs. prosthetics for Makeup and Hairstyling Oscar?

  1. You could assume (by default) that “heavy” makeup = Oscar win in this category.

    But even if the makeup is “subtle”, the portrayal of the characters under all that (subtle) makeup also matters a lot. I mean, what’s the use of all those heavy prosthetics if your portrayal of the character is not going to be up to the mark?

    Merely “looking” the part isn’t important, even “convincing portrayal” of the character(s) is just as important. That is what ‘prestige’ basically means.

    Let’s see a few examples:
    Iron Lady – won Oscars for Best Makeup & Best Leading Actress (Meryl Streep).
    ‘La Vie En Rose’ – won Oscars for Best Makeup & Best Leading Actress (Marion Cotillard) + nomination in Costume Design
    ‘Les Miserables’ – won Oscars for Best Makeup & Sound Mixing & Supporting Actress (Anne Hathaway) + nomination for Lead Actor (Hugh Jackman), and other categories including Best Picture.

    See a trend here? If your film has “subtle” makeup and you want to win in this category, having (at least) an acting nomination as well, really does make a great deal of difference – so as to justify the usage of “subtle” makeup, because the acting takes care of everything else. Especially, if you’re competing against films which have been nominated for heavy prosthetic usage.

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