We've launched the Best Makeup and Hairstyling category in our Oscars predictions center. The category's name was changed in 2012 to include hairstyling and has typically been awarded to the film with the most extensive prosthetics, usually to create creatures for sci-fi and fantasy films ("The Wolfman," "Pan's Labyrinth," "How the Grinch Stole Christmas"), or to age or transform actors in biopics ("La Vie en Rose," "Frida," "The Iron Lady").
However, last year's winner was "The Grand Budapest Hotel," a period comedy with some showy prosthetic work on Tilda Swinton as a wealthy octogenerian, but not nearly as showy as rival nominee "Guardians of the Galaxy," which used extensive makeup to create various alien races.
The year before "Dallas Buyers Club" beat "Bad Grandpa" and "The Lone Ranger" despite a makeup budget of only $250. And the year before that Makeup/Hairstyling went to the period musical "Les Miserables," which beat another pair of films that fit the usual criteria: "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey" with its elaborate creature makeup, and "Hitchcock," which turned Anthony Hopkins into the legendary director.
"Grand Budapest," "Dallas Buyers Club" and "Les Miserables" had much more overall academy support than their rivals, which means it might be wise to bet on the strongest Best Picture contenders as opposed to the showiest makeup when picking the winner this year.
Among potential Best Picture contenders with a chance in this category are "The Danish Girl," which transforms Eddie Redmayne into a real-life transgender woman coming to terms with her identity. Makeup and hairstyling are also used to transform Michael Fassbender in to the title character in "Steve Jobs" during three different time periods, to turn Johnny Depp into Whitey Bulger for "Black Mass," and to capture the intricate period details in "Carol" and "Brooklyn."
Sci-fi/fantasy films often still have the most extensive makeup and hair, so we should also consider "Star Wars: The Force Awakens," "Mad Max: Fury Road," "Pan" "Avengers: Age of Ultron," "The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 2," "Cinderella" and "Crimson Peak" as strong contenders.