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Thursday, January 30, 2014
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2014 Oscar Primer: Makeup and Hairstyling

By Terence Johnson
Managing Editor

Dallas Buyers Club, Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa and The Lone Ranger. Raise your hand if these were the films you had pegged throughout the year to be named Best Makeup and Hairstyling by the Academy. Not many, I imagine, would have even considered these to make the shortlist. But does Dallas Buyers Club have the edge because it’s a Best Picture nominee?

In the history of this category (1981-now), Best Picture nominated films have accounted for 20 nominations and 8 wins. That averages out to 2 nominations every 3 years and a win every four years. Not a terrible percentage for a category whose nominees have to contend with a branch that is more adventurous than the others. Over the years, I’ve come to appreciate that this is a branch that is unafraid to honor every type of makeup and hairstyling, regardless of genre or film quality. There’s period piece winners like Les Miserables and Amadeus, prosthetics like The Nutty Professor, and any type of Rick Baker film from An American Werewolf in London to Men in Black (Fun Fact: the only tech Titanic lost in its 11 win campaign was Makeup to Men in Black). So when it comes to predicting this category, there are many ways one can go when trying to figure out who will win.

Genre films are the winningest films in this category and Rick Baker has taken home the most prizes, but neither element is in contention this year. Here are the films in contention and what got them there:

Dallas Buyers Club – Best Picture nominee, period piece, AIDS makeup, transgendered makeup, dying characters

As the only Best Picture nominee in this field, it would seem that this film has the upper hand in this category. It’s got a lost of showy elements from Jared Leto’s transformation into Rayon and the characters dying of AIDS. This film is also a period piece, which should give it some added heft.

Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa – Old age makeup

I’d consider this the Norbit slot, in that the old age makeup they use for Johnny Knoxville is just so over the top that they could help but vote for it.

The Lone Ranger – Old age makeup, period piece, Native American makeup

Despite the critical feelings about The Lone Ranger,  the movie did manage to get more nominations than Saving Mr. Banks, Inside Llewyn Davis and Lee Daniels The Butler and finds itself in serious contention here. This is a film that calls back to the old westerns, it’s got Johnny Depp as a 100 year old Native American and with a bird on his head, and plenty of crazy period piece hair.

In terms of who has the edge, Dallas Buyers Club should be firmly in the first spot. Not only is the film a Best Picture nominee, but the movie is immensely well liked. There haven’t been many The Iron Lady type wins, ie. people actively dislike the film and it wins here, which means that even when the makeup isn’t in a Best Picture nominee, it still has to be respected. However, history has shown us that this category is much more likely to go to a non-Best Picture winning film (it’s happened 9 times) so you could easily see The Lone Ranger swoop in and take this award.

What do you think had the best makeup and hairstyling? Is Dallas Buyers Club the frontrunner?

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  • dgapa

    I feel like the Academy would not be willing to give an Oscar to Bad Grandpa, because of the content. Lone Ranger may have been despised but they will feel better on giving it the win. “At least Norbit did have great prosthetic work” type of win. I don’t think Dallas had enough of “wow” makeup and hair.