2018 Oscar Circuit: Best Makeup and Hairstyling

Just as costume design, music, or a good script, makeup and hairstyling play an essential part in helping to create a character. No matter how talented an actor, the wrong makeup can distract the audience and take away from a performance. On the other hand, good makeup art should almost be unnoticeable. No matter how vivid or involved it actually is.

When it comes to the Oscars®, the Makeup and Hairstyling branch are known for selecting and rewarding film that would otherwise not take home gold. After narrowing down all of the eligible contenders to a shortlist of seven, the branch proceeds to nominate only three. In order to be considered for the shortlist, makeup artists and hairstylists are required to provide written descriptions, detailing their work and how they accomplished it.

This year’s nominees for Achievement in Makeup and Hairstyling are:

“Darkest Hour”
Kazuhiro Tsuji, David Malinowski, and Lucy Sibbick

“Victoria & Abdul”
Daniel Phillips and Louis Sheppard

“Wonder”
Arjen Tuiten

Darkest Hour

Even with his powerful performance as Winston Churchill in “Darkest Hour,” Gary Oldman succeeded in part because of the stunning makeup artistry involved. To turn the actor into the older man, overweight from years of excess in food and drink, required much more than a bit of paint. Oldman himself has acknowledged as much through his precursor acceptance speeches. Prosthetics and padding aren’t new to physical transformations. But the level of realism displayed here has had many proclaim they had no idea Gary Oldman was Winston Churchill. He vanishes into the role, leaving nothing behind except his eyes. The artists nominated here specifically worked to achieve Oldman’s look, and not the full cast.

The nomination for “Victoria & Abdul” was met with a bit of surprise, particularly considering some of the other films that did not even make it to the shortlist. But this film is a perfect example of makeup that is deceptively easy to underestimate. However, great care is taken to showcase the sadness and profound weight that Judi Dench’s Queen Victoria carries with her. Men wear beards that are believable and period appropriate. The women are displayed with little or no makeup, which, of course, requires makeup for the screen. And the film courses through ten years in the lives of the character, requiring very subtle aging. In fact, the only markers of the passage of time in the film come through the makeup and hair styles on the actors.

In the film, “Wonder,” Jacob Tremblay plays Auggie Pullman, a boy born with mandibulofacial dysostosis. It is better known as Treacher Collins Syndrome. The film is based on a novel, but the condition is real and causes malformities of the facial bones. For the film, makeup artist Arjen Tuiten designed special prosthetic makeup to create Auggie’s unique look. At the point in which we catch up with his story, the boy is entering fifth grade and has had multiple surgeries over his life to correct his condition. Tuiten incorporated both Auggie’s natural look, along with the inherent effects of growing and of surgical correction. As was the case with “Darkest Hour,” Tuiten is nominated specifically for his design of Tremblay’s makeup, and not for the makeup and hairstyling of the cast at large.

All in all, it feels safe to say that “Darkest Hour” seems like the likely winner. It is a Best Picture nominee, and its leading star, for whom the makeup was nominated, is the frontrunner for Best Actor. But then, this is the guild that turned “Suicide Squad” into an Academy Award-winning film. So nothing is a sure bet here. Most guilds and critics groups do not have a category for Makeup, so there isn’t much to go on with the precursors. The Makeup and Hairstyling Guild holds their awards this weekend, where “Darkest Hour” and “Wonder” are tied with three nominations each.

Will Win: “Darkest Hour”
Should Win: “Darkest Hour”
Could Win: “Wonder”
Should have been nominated: “I, Tonya”
Should have made the shortlist: “It”

CLICK THE CATEGORY TO SEE THE OSCAR PREDICTIONS:

MOTION PICTURE | DIRECTOR |
LEAD ACTOR | LEAD ACTRESS | SUPPORTING ACTOR | SUPPORTING ACTRESS | 
ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY | ADAPTED SCREENPLAY | ANIMATED FEATURE |
PRODUCTION DESIGN | CINEMATOGRAPHY | COSTUME DESIGN | FILM EDITING | MAKEUP & HAIRSTYLING | SOUND MIXING | SOUND EDITING | VISUAL EFFECTS |
ORIGINAL SCORE | ORIGINAL SONG |
FOREIGN LANGUAGE | DOCUMENTARY FEATURE |

ANIMATED SHORT | DOCUMENTARY SHORT | LIVE ACTION SHORT |