2021 Oscar Predictions: Best Makeup and Hairstyling [Updated February 22]

The Oscar for Best Makeup and Hairstyling is particularly tough to predict early on because of the complicated system by which the nominees are determined in two stages. First, upwards of 15 members of the branch who attend special screenings cast preferential ballots with the top 10 vote-getters moving on to the second stage (it was a lucky seven till this year). Those members from the first stage and any other members who either attend screenings of excerpts from these semi-finalists or attest that they have seen them cast preferential ballots and the top five films are nominated; that is up from three in years past. (Scroll down for the most up-to-date 2021 Oscars predictions for Best Makeup and Hairstyling).

As a result of being well-received at these screenings, titles that had not been part of the conversation in the first few months of awards season end up as nominees. For example, the Swedish films “A Man Called Ove” (2016) and “The 100-Year-Old-Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared” (2016) bumped out films with much higher profiles like “Deadpool” and “Black Mass” respectively.

The award for Best Makeup was introduced in 1981, following an outcry over the lack of recognition with a special award for Christopher Tucker‘s groundbreaking work on “The Elephant Man” (1980). Hairstylists began sharing the award with makeup artists in 1993 when “Mrs. Doubtfire” won. However, the category didn’t change its name to reflect this until 2013.

The last three winners in a row have all showcased the skills of these artisans to transform well-known movie stars into famous real-life folks: “Darkest Hour” (2018) – Gary Oldman into Winston Churchill; “Vice” (2019) – Christian Bale into Dick Cheney; and “Bombshell” – Charlize Theron into Megyn Kelly.

Reviewing the list of other recent winners reveals the various types of makeup and hairstyling that appeal to academy voters: prosthetics (“The Wolfman” in 2011, “Star Trek” in 2010, “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” in 2009, “Pan’s Labyrinth” in 2007, “Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Event” in 2005, “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King” in 2004 and “LOTR: The Fellowship of the Ring” in 2002), dirt and grime (“Mad Max: Fury Road” in 2016, “Les Misérables” in 2014 and “Braveheart” in 1996) and big wigs (“The Grand Budapest Hotel” in 2015, “The Iron Lady” in 2012 and “Elizabeth” in 1999).

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UPDATED: February 22, 2021

Leading Contenders

“Birds of Prey” (Warner Bros.)

“Hillbilly Elegy” (Netflix)

“Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” (Netflix)

“Mank” (Netflix)

“Pinocchio” (Roadside Attractions)

PREDICT the 2021 Oscar nominations through March 15

Strong Contenders

“The Glorias” (Roadside Attractions)

“Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey” (Netflix)

“The Little Things” (Warner Bros.)

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Possible Contenders

“Emma” (Focus Features)

“One Night in Miami” (Amazon Studios)

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