Wednesday, September 23, 2015

OVP: Makeup & Hairstyling (2014)

OVP: Best Makeup & Hairstyling (2014)

The Nominees Were...

Bill Corso and Dennis Liddiard, Foxcatcher
Frances Hannon and Mark Coulier, The Grand Budapest Hotel
Elizabeth Yianni-Georgiou and David White, Guardians of the Galaxy

My Thoughts: All right, a bit more delayed than I initially suspected, but let's start in on the 2014 Oscar Viewing Project, and like always we begin with Makeup the category that for some reason Oscar doesn't feel deserves five nominees despite literally every film having makeup as a component of it (Visual Effects and Sound Editing both got expanded, and neither of those is in literally every movie, after all).  The field here is an intriguing mix of superhero and perhaps the category's most beloved of tricks, making beautiful and iconic movie stars look completely different.  We'll start with that, since she's staring me right in the face and Tilda Swinton will not be denied.

Tilda Swinton is already a bit of an exotic creature, but in the hands of Wes Anderson she feels like the muse he always dreamed of (sorry Anjelica).  Swinton's aging grand dame is marvelously structured, to the point where you spend a good chunk of her first scene saying "wait, is that Tilda Swinton?"  This is occasionally distracting (I remember thinking the same thing for Looper) but overall (like Looper) I found the Makeup a joy.  The rest of the film isn't quite up to the snuff of Swinton, as the Saoirse Ronan giant birthmark feels at time to have been added to go to the wrong side of Anderson's twee-infusion in his movies, and none of the other hairstyles stand out in a particularly grand way, but Swinton is a the sort of creation that deserves Oscar recognition.

The moment I saw Foxcatcher, I knew it would be nominated for an Oscar.  Transforming identifiable movie stars like Steve Carell and Channing Tatum into oddly formed creatures for the screen is the sort of prosthetic work that usually resonates in this category.  However, while I found the work very lifelike (particularly the cauliflower ears that Tatum sports), I couldn't help but feel like it was almost too much, particularly when the script and Carell himself rely so heavily upon it.  Some of the choices for hairstyling (like Tatum's frosted tips) feel extra since the script is too subtle about the implied homosexual relationship between Carell's du Pont and Tatum's Mark, and the film seems to try too hard to imply a nastiness in Carell simply because he's ugly and not because he's sociopathic.  This isn't necessarily the makeup artist's fault (it's far more on the actors and the writers), but it's worth noting that it downplays the work of Corso and Liddiard, who manage to make a very realistic turn for Carell, Tatum, and Ruffalo in how they appear compared to reality.

The final nomination is less-concerned with reality, and of course it's Guardians of the Galaxy, a bit of a surprise nomination in some regards in the sense that Makeup rarely gives us a nomination when the film is overrun with visual effects.  However, you can clearly tell with several characters (such as Zoe Saldana's Gamora and Dave Bautista's Drax the Destroyer) that makeup work was very much on-display here.  I thought the look for Benicio del Toro's Collector was oddly mesmerizing, even if it felt like he was plucked out of a Guillermo del Toro film, but Saldana and Bautista's work was pretty banal, and in the case of Saldana I found a little insulting (this gorgeous woman is always covered in some random color-why can't she just be herself in one film?).  Then there's Lee Pace, whose makeup work is about as boring as his actual character.  In fact, with the exception of del Toro, I feel like this is one of those Oscar cases where "most" was replaced with "best."

Other Precursor Contenders: BAFTA smartly nominated five films, but didn't have time for the very-American Foxcatcher, instead siding with Into the Woods, Mr. Turner, and The Theory of Everything (Grand Budapest won).  The Saturn Awards had a slightly different idea, going with Guardians of the Galaxy as its victor and none of the other Oscar nominees, picking Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, Dracula Untold (yes, this is the one with Luke Evans), The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, Into the Woods, and X-Men: Days of Future Past.  And of course since Makeup has a bakeoff period, we know that The Amazing Spider-Man 2, Maleficent, Noah, and The Theory of Everything were the other contenders.  I honestly wonder, despite Maleficent having Rick Baker (an Oscar perennial) behind it, if Theory of Everything was closer than we anticipate.  It scored at BAFTA, had lots of old-age makeup, and was a Best Picture nominee.  I'd still postulate for Maleficent, but will not deny the validity of someone who'd want to make the case for Theory in the comments.
Films I Would Have Nominated: I'm going to vouch almost certainly for that other Tilda Swinton creation from Snowpiercer, where she also plays someone unrecognizable but unlike Carell actually rises above the makeup to create something deeply compelling onscreen.  I also would have rewarded The Hobbit, which continues to inspire me in this category-consistently great work doesn't necessarily need to be ignored.  I'm a fan of the period-specific work being done on Selma (it always feels like hair-styling is incidental to this category, but it's in the title now so they should keep that in mind with handing out the trophies).  And I would probably finish off with the wonderfully-styled hair of A Most Violent Year-so much of the work there reflects the personalities of the characters, and in particular Oscar Isaac and Jessica Chastain have looks that seem custom-made for their performances.
Oscar’s Choice: The Grand Budapest won one of its many "let's honor Wes Anderson's team" Oscars, besting Guardians in its likeliest shot at a trophy.
My Choice: An easy decision for Grand Buadapest-Tilda Swinton may be my favorite onscreen makeup creation since Heath Ledger's the Joker.  I'd probably go with Foxcatcher in second, followed by Guardians.

And those are my thoughts-what are yours?  Are you with the consensus here for Grand Budapest, or are you going with the rag-tag Marvel team?  Do you ever feel like the Makeup work results in lazy performances?  And which Tilda incarnation (Grand Budapest, Snowpiercer, or Only Lovers Left Alive) did you enjoy the most?  Share in the comments!

Past Best Makeup Contests: 200820092010201120122013

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