The Makeup Oscar race has often been one for odd surprises, even if it does cater towards a very specific group. Even in narrowing it down to a shortlist of seven, many expected candidates are given the shaft out. The main two of those this year had chances ranging from extremely likely to an absolute wild card, with the latter being Holy Motors, some of whose makeup was done onscreen. That didn’t take away from the believability of Denis Lavant’s metamorphosis, and in quite the opposite enhanced it, though it’s no shock the Academy wouldn’t include it. The film’s wider chances have been shot since France gave the Foreign Language slot to sentimental favorite The Intouchables.
A bigger surprise to be left out is Cloud Atlas, whose ambitious makeup work grew as many skeptics as it did admirers, with this reader falling flat in the middle. Sometimes it worked, and other times it didn’t, so it appears the less believable reincarnations of characters didn’t chide with the Academy. As far as what did make the inclusion, there was little subtlety in the films which leveled up, the closest thing to an exception being Rian Johnson’s Looper, which drew some mixed reactions to Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s prosthetics to turn him into a young Bruce Willis, though his gradual transformation onscreen into the older Bruce Willis was quite the intriguing sight to see. Not to mention the effect of slowly butchering a man sent back from the future. With Holy Motors out, Looper could end up as that wild card.
Three films fill out the fantasy of the list, which is more than likely to take up at least one slot. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is perhaps a no-brainer, whose sizable makeup job rendered the dwarves, elves, wizards, and… well, hobbit, with distinct visual silhouettes, which was likely the main reason to tell any of them apart. Also with plenty dwarves in its company is Snow White and the Huntsman, though the most intriguing work of that project was honestly done upon Charlize Theron’s reluctantly withering queen, and even Kristen Stewart’s malnourished but perky complexion. Either of those is just slightly more probable to make the nominations than Rick Baker’s massive, distinct, and just plain fun work on Men in Black 3. “If you’ve seen one alien, you’ve seen them all, but with Rick that’s really not the case,” said an admiring Tommy Lee Jones. In my opinion, he’s certainly not wrong.
The last three are more grounded period work, and thus rather more likely to be included in the Academy’s favor. Both Lincoln and Les Miserables are almost certainties, the former for dutiful work on several historical figures, arming its vast ensemble with an array of beards and mustaches. I admit though, Tommy Lee Jones’ wig does not flatter him in the slightest. When it comes to Tom Hooper’s film, the work there is more accentuate the grime in the characters onscreen, as well as Hugh Jackman’s tattered prisoner look. If it makes the cut, it’s not for more excellent work, but because of wider Academy favoritism.
That leaves Hitchcock, whose sole incarnation is Anthony Hopkins’ rather blubbery Alfred Hitchcock impersonation. If there’s one to be left out in favor of fantasy, it’s this. As impossible it is to guess who will eventually make the cut, my expectations go to Les Miserables, Lincoln, and a relative surprise in Snow White and the Huntsman. Feel free to take a look at the whole list below, courtesy of In Contention, and comment below on your own predictions.
- The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
- Les Misérables
- Men in Black 3
- Snow White and the Huntsman