The Academy recently changed the name of the Best Makeup category to Best Makeup & Hairstyling but in truth hairstyling, wigs and whatnots have long been part of the diverse criteria for which Oscar voters are meant to reward Achievements in Makeup. But how does one define "achievement"? True to awards season in general (it's not just Oscar voters, mind you) the definition is usually "most=best". Sadly nearly almost all the golden statuettes in this category have gone to prosthetic effects -- werewolves, dwarves, you name it! It's the one category other than visual effects where genre films regularly lord it over more "noble-minded" efforts... (though strangely zombie pictures are the exception since they never even make the finalist list).
So, how refreshing would it be if the Oscar went to the Hair and Makeup team of Les Misérables this year? I was surprised to hear on the podcast that my co-conspirators were almost universally opposed to this particular nomination but I actually think it's the strongest nominee in this category. It's got a very consistent boldly stylized feel and a shit ton of traditional wigs and prosthetics work if you're also looking for "Most" in your "Best". They've aged Hugh Jackman and scarred him up, imagined really putrid diseased miserables of many sorts, made Cosette even prettier than usual, and even dipped Helena Bonham-Carter's wigs in coffee and tea for "more character" - though I suspect it's not the first time her head has been dipped in vats of dangerously hot liquids.
More traditional nominees can be found in The Hobbit and Hitchcock this year...
...wherein actors are heavily buried in prosthetics to appropriate the look of inhuman things: dwarves, orcs, master auteurs.
My advocacy for Les Miz might have a little to do with the fact that I love the film, but I do try and differentiate individual categories from overall feelings as much as I humanly can (as all awards voters should since great work is found in bad films and vice versa) but mostly it has to do with the actual achievement. And, as a bonus points, Les Miz also wins by virtue of my tiebreaker manifesto "Spread the Wealth!". I assume that The Hobbit is the frontrunner given voting habits in this category and yet I don't wish for the Oscars to become the Emmys and just hand the same statues to the same series each year as their small screen counterparts do. Given Peter Jackson's shameless story stretching for billions, this category could be tied up for decades if they keep handing Middle Earth Makeup Oscars (it's already won twice). Under the umbrella of "spread the wealth" it's also worth noting that the Les Miz team (Lisa Westcott & Julie Dartnell) is the only nominated team that has no Oscars among them*: Hitchcock's Howard Berger previously won the gold for The Chronicles of Narnia (as well as an Emmy for The Walking Dead); Peter King and Tami Lane on The Hobbit team both already have Oscars, his for this particular franchise and hers for The Chronicles of Narnia.
Q: Why does Lisa Westcott have no Oscars despite two nominations (Her Majesty Mrs Brown, Shakespeare in Love) prior to Les Miz?
A: Because she doesn't do werewolves or fantasy creatures.
Can we call a one year moratorium on dwarves, elves, monsters and prosthetic biopics in this category and give it to the zombie whores and scarred bread thieves for once !?!