Thursday, June 02, 2016

OVP: Makeup (2007)

OVP: Best Makeup (2007)

The Nominees Were...

Didier Lavergne and Jan Archibald, La Vie en Rose
Rick Baker and Kazuhiro Tsuji, Norbit
Va Neill and Martin Samuel, Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End

My Thoughts: The Best Makeup category usually has at least one stinker in its bunch, based on the branch's weird penchant for finding the absolute worst movie it can find with garish makeup and then forcing me to sit through it for some reason as punishment for my Oscar love.  2007, though, truly outdid itself as I got to see one of the worst films I have ever had to see.  I already reviewed it up-top (there are links to past Best Makeup contests on the bottom for anyone new to this project), so let's get this horrible nightmare of Norbit out of the way so we may never speak of it again.

I've seen a lot of horrible movies in my time, but Norbit has to be in the Top 10, to be honest.  Never before have I been subjected to a modern movie that is so blatantly racist, sexist, and deeply, deeply offensive.  The fact that this was (contrary to popular opinion) a relatively big hit (it neared $100 million) and was arguably the last high-grossing, non-animated film of Murphy's career to date is even more depressing.  The makeup work is by Rick Baker, so you can expect an impressive fat suit though here we have one that's more gelatinous cartoon than realistic skin on a woman, and the rest of the makeup work just doesn't stack up, particularly the Charlie Chan-style racist homage where Murphy does his extremely dated stereotypical Chinese man impression.  It's a horrible, awful movie, and once this article is done let us never speak of it again.

By comparison both of the other films are much better, though that's hardly a comparison and quite frankly I didn't care for La Vie en Rose that much as well.  We'll get into the whys when we examine the Best Actress winner a bit later in the write-ups, but the makeup itself is just okay.  I get the point that the makeup artists want to make Cotillard, one of the great beauties of modern cinema, look as garish as possible, but there are moments where, especially in her younger years, it feels like she's abandoned Edith Piaf and is simply already her ghost. The clown makeup may mirror reality, so I'm not going to knock it too hard, but it does feel like it's a combination of both old age work and Piaf trying to recapture her youth through cosmetics, and that juxtaposition isn't quite as balanced as one would hope it would be.

The Pirates movies have a weird situation where a lot of the most impressive effects, particularly those of Davy Jones and his crew, are actually relying more heavily on CGI than they are makeup effects, which is usually a death sentence for anyone nominated in this category.  That said, particularly when it comes to what is being done to Stellan Skarsgard's face, with the barnacles littered across his mug, we actually get some really cool and realistic effects.  The rest of the cast, it should be noted, looks properly tanned and the hair (though it wasn't technically under consideration in 2007 as an official aspect of this category) remains realistically sun-kissed while still looking luxurious on romantic leads like Keira Knightley and Orlando Bloom.  All-in-all, a solid nomination even if it's aided more by Visual Effects than I'd like to see for Best Makeup.

Other Precursor Contenders: It's worth noting back in the day that hairstyling was a part of the BAFTA Awards long before the Academy Awards, which may explain how Atonement, Elizabeth: The Golden Age, Hairspray, and Sweeney Todd all gained favor there (the eventual victor was La Vie en Rose) while AMPAS left them alone.  The Saturn Awards are always good for some creative thinking (they don't just limit themselves to Oscar films with makeup...and have the good sense to preclude Norbit), and though they sided with an Oscar nominee for their victor (Pirates of the Caribbean), they did find time for 30 Days of Night (I don't remember it either, but it made almost $80 million so some of us saw it), 300, Grindhouse, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, and Sweeney Todd.  And though I suspect it's going to get harder the earlier we go in the internet's history, we do have the bake-off contenders for this year, so know that The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Sweeney Todd (the clear fourth place), and 300 were all very close to the sun here.
Films I Would Have Nominated: Umm...anything but Norbit?  I know you aren't supposed to judge a film based on its quality in the OVP, but rest assured the makeup work is kind of bad too so it's not like I'm ragging on a strong element in a bad movie.  I want to include something like Atonement, but hairstyling wasn't part of this category yet so I feel like cheating in including it.  Surely Sweeney Todd deserved a nomination and I can't believe it didn't manage to pull it off considering it did quite well in other categories, while Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix has impressively realistic looks at the magical world and at this point had never actually won a nomination in this category.  I guess those two, and start petitioning to include hairstyling?
Oscar’s Choice: The Academy chose the one film with good reviews (as is its wont in this category) and slipped the Oscar to Edith Piaf.
My Choice: I'm going to start off contrarian and go with Pirates, a more impressive option in my opinion and one that better utilizes makeup in its film.  I'll follow that with La Vie en Rose and then Norbit.

And those are my thoughts-what are yours?  Are you on my team saying the last bout of Pirates anyone remembers was the obvious choice or were you Team Little Sparrow?  This is your last chance ever on this blog to discuss Norbit, so make it count if you want to get in two words.  And how do you think Sweeney Todd missed here, since it was a clear victor had it been included?  Share your thoughts in the comments!

Also in 2007: Previously in 2007

Past Best Makeup Contests: 200820092010201120122013, 2014

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