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2020 Oscar Circuit: Makeup and Hairstyling

makeup hairstyling

OSCAR PREDICTIONS: The Oscar nominees this year for achievement in Makeup and Hairstyling come from five distinct films. Although each film is vastly different from the next, the artists responsible for hair and makeup have all managed to achieve true greatness. The actors are their canvas, and each nominee has beautifully fashioned characters for the audience to gaze upon and believe in.

And the nominees are…

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Benedict Cumberbach in Sam Mendes’ “1917”


Naomi Donne, Tristan Versluis, and Rebecca Cole are nominated this year for their supremely visual take on World War I. With each scar and cut, with each bit of blood and dirt that marks the face, these artists help transport the audience to another time. The heartache and hardship of war are evident on every man’s face throughout the picture.

1917” is elevated by the work of these artists, who have taken every lead and every extra and created a man amid battle. There work here may not be as glamorous as the other nominees, but with such detail on a massive scale, this is a worthy nomination. The chances of winning this award seem slim, but if “1917” has a strong night, hair and makeup may be able to piggyback.

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Charlize Theron and John Lithgow in Jay Roach’s “Bombshell”


Fresh off his Oscar win for “The Darkest Hour” (2017), prosthetic makeup designer Zazu Hiro seems destined to take home the gold again. This year, Hiro, along with hairstylist Anne Morgan and makeup artist Vivian Baker, was tasked with transforming the cast of “Bombshell” into a Fox News team. The majority of the main characters in this film are based on real people. Megyn Kelly, Roger Ailes, Gretchen Carlson, and Chris Wallace are (or in Ailes’ case, were) staple news figures in many American households.

This team of artists was responsible for taking well-known actors and morphing them into well-known journalists. And the transformations, especially that of Charlize Theron and John Lithgow, are nothing short of masterful. Lithgow’s long, oval face has been made round and jowly to accentuate Roger Ailes’ girth. And Theron’s already chiseled features are even more prominent. The nose, the cheeks, and the chin are all in line with that of Megan Kelly’s. These are uncanny transformations indeed, and a nomination at the top of the this year’s contenders.

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Joaquin Phoenix in Todd Phillips’ “Joker”


This icon character gets another makeover in Todd Phillips’Joker” (2019). In the past, the Joker has been presented as pretty clean cut, as with Jack Nicholson’s portrayal in “Batman” (1989). In “The Dark Knight” (2008), Heath Ledger’s Joker was more of a disheveled mess. And in “Suicide Squad” (2017), the Joker gave off a punk rocker vibe with the help of Jared Leto. This time out, Joaquin Phoenix’s Joker lands somewhere in the thick of them all.

Makeup artist Nicki Ledermann and hairstylist Kay Georgiou have visually created a complex Joker. A man with strong desires for a clean and purposeful life, who ultimately “looses” control of his sanity and “gains” control of his image. How clean the Joker looks is in direct correlation to his mood and state of mind.  The green hair and clown makeup with the largemouth are still there, but that image morphs throughout the film. Academy members will have to decide if this new Joker face is the next chaotic icon.

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Renée Zellweger in Rupert Goold’s “Judy”


Renée Zellweger is Judy Garland in Rupert Goold’sJudy” (2019). No one can deny that Zellweger’s performance is remarkable. She inhabits this icon with every gesture, line, and song. But hair and makeup lead, Jeremy Woodhead must be given enormous credit for bringing Ms. Garland to life.

The bright and perky Zellweger is nowhere to be seen. Instead, the audience feasts upon the tired and remote Garland. Woodhead has sculpted a short, dark brown head of hair that tightropes between bedhead and overtly styled. The makeup is caked on, adding years to a face that is desperate for a time passed. Zellweger’s performance, however, may outshine the makeup and hair she adorns. With Zellweger looking to win the Best Actress Oscar, will her inevitable gold hurt or help Woodhead’s chances to be recognized for his part in her transformation?

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Angelina Jolie in Joachim Rønning’s “Maleficent: Mistress of Evil”

“Maleficent: Mistress of Evil”

The sequel to 2014’s “Maleficent” finds itself in grand company with its nomination for hairstyling and makeup. Launching off of the original, Paul Gooch, Arjen Tuiten, and David White have managed to make the women of the Moors as stunning as ever. The golden locks of Michelle Pfeiffer and Elle Fanning are gathered to catch the light and the air. Their soft features are put in direct contrast to those of Angelia Jolie. Jolie’s grand headpiece and jagged cheeks create a chilling villain, but ultimately one we’ve seen before. A win here seems unlikely given the mixed reviews this “second time around” film received.

Who Will Win: “Bombshell”

Who Should Win: “Judy”

Who Should Have Been Nominated: “Dolemite is My Name”

Who do you think will win the Oscar for Makeup and Hairstyling? Leave your comments below!

What do you think?

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Written by Jessica White

Jessica White studied film and theater at California State University, Sacramento graduating in 2009 with a B.A.. Upon graduation, she shifted her focus towards healthcare and became a dentist, graduating from the Oregon Health and Science University in 2017. She is actively serving in the United States Navy overseas, but continues to feed her passion for the visual arts, her first love.


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