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« Contest: mother! | Main | 35 days til Oscar nominations. 35 years of Make-up »

7 Makeup & Hairstyling Finalists. Where is _____ ?

by Nathaniel R

We can't be constrained by the now! Yesterday the Academy announced the 7 finalists hoping to nab one of the 3 nomination spots for Best Makeup and Hairstyling but we were too busy listing the past 35 (no 37) winners of this category to mention it. So here we are a day late without a stitch of makeup on to share / discuss and grouse about the exclusions. Join us after the jump won't you?

This remains a perpetually perplexing Oscar category. It's the only category with less than 5 nominees though every single film made (other than animated films and documentaries one could argue) includes a makeup and hairstyling department so the numbers just don't add up; many categories with 5 nominees like Visual Effects or Foreign Film or Original Song don't have EVERY MOVIE MADE IN A YEAR among their eligibility pool, you know? Makeup totally deserves 5 nominees (and a larger finalist list to boot), and we'll keep saying that until Oscar listens. 

The finalists
The makeup branch will watch 10 minute highlight reels and then vote on January 6th to determine the 3 nominees for the 90th Oscars


  • Bright
  • Darkest Hour
  • Ghost in the Shell
  • Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
  • I, Tonya
  • Victoria & Abdul
  • Wonder


A literal of everything is included here: heavy genre-film prosthetics, biographical transformations, sci-fi and superhero oddities, comic personality enhancements, period finery. Given the confines of this small finalist list, though, it seems unlikely that Darkest Hour can lose this. 

Notable Omissions
As usual many films with noteworthy makeup & hair work were left out. We're left wondering how on earth they were deemed inferior to some of those seven films above. We're talking:  Atomic Blonde, The Bad Batch, Battle of the Sexes, The Beguiled, Blade Runner 2049, Lady Bird (Saoirse's skin alone -we've never seen teenage blemishes look that real when the actress in question has the most flawless porcelain skin imaginable in real life), mother!, Mudbound, My Cousin Rachel  and The Shape of Water.

Two genres this category seems made to honor yet is perpetually disinterested in are horror (no It, really?) and superhero action. The latter genre includes a worthy option in Logan 's aging, scarring, and mutations but they could have also thought to honor Thor Ragnarok's pop aesthetic or Wonder Woman's engaging combo of glamour, grotesqueries, and period work. And if you take a less than charitable view of the category's history and deem this prize "Most Makeup"... you might wonder why Murder on the Orient Express and Power Rangers weren't in the finals either.

Who do you think will be nominated? What exclusion bugs you the most?

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Reader Comments (23)

This Oscar season has me throwing at least one of my predictions out the window every week. 2 of my picks did not make this finalist list, so I guess I'll go with Darkest Hour as the one I think will be nominated for sure.

December 20, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterV.


December 20, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterSam

How is VIctoria & Abdul a nominee? Was there obscene amounts of makeup used and I'm not just not seeing it?

December 20, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterDAVID

Darkest Hours
I, Tonya

December 20, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterCraver

Seems as if Wonder Woman will be completely shut out come Oscar nomination morning.

December 20, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterReady

I agree with Craver that the nominees will be Darkest Hour, I Tonya, and Wonder. While I agree with Nathaniel that Darkest Hour should be the heavy favorite, I think Wonder might have a small chance. It's been very successful at the box office, people (including critics) seem to really like it, and there is the precedent of Mask winning Best Makeup in 1985 for a somewhat similar use of makeup.

December 20, 2017 | Unregistered Commentergwynn1984

The category renamed itself a few years ago to acknowledge that hairstyling has always been a consideration in the nomination process. Huge period films like Victoria & Abdul get nominated for the elaborate recreations of period hairstyles.

With that said, I'm excited to see Ghost in the Shell make the bakeoff. The film was not good. I know that. The quality of makeup created by Weta Workshop is unmatched (except by their equally excellent yet ignored work in Thor: Ragnarok) in blockbusters this year. I highly doubt they're going to make the cut for costuming (they made all the body suits and headpieces for both of those films this year), but I really could see the sheer level of skill and variety of techniques used leading to Ghost in the Shell going head to head against easier gets like the full face historical figure recreations of Darkest Hour and, say, I Tonya or Victoria & Abdul) for the wonderful wig work (and I, Tonya getting that love it or hate it digital composing boost for Margot Robbie to appear in full face over a figure skater's body). Mask II: Elementary Years Wonder could get in for the most makeup nomination that sometimes makes it in.

December 20, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterRobert G

I, Tonya needs the additional nomination in this category. I want Janney to defeat Metcalf, but in all likelihood the best I can hope for is McDormand and Oldman defeated in their lead categories.

December 20, 2017 | Unregistered Commenter/3rtful

I research last night why the Make Up and Hairstyling only have three nominees each year and that is because...

"Makeup refers to any change in the appearance of a performer’s face, head, or body created by the application of cosmetics, three-dimensional materials, prosthetic appliances, or facial hair applied directly to the performer’s face, head, or body. Hairstyling refers to any change in the appearance of a performer through hairstyling, wigs or hairpieces applied directly to the performer.


Makeup Artists and Hairstylists Branch members of the Academy shall attend meetings to review a Reminder List of all eligible motion pictures. Selected credited makeup artists and hairstylists of the motion pictures under consideration for the Makeup and Hairstyling award shall be required to provide the committee with written descriptions explaining the procedures used to create the makeup and hairstyling achievements, and the names and titles of the primary individuals – not to exceed three in number – directly involved with, and principally responsible for, the makeup and hairstyles achieved."

( page 20)

So, considering that, the works considerated to nominations are the only one who the job of the make up and hair styles provide chances on the skin and body of the performers.

If the actor has a different skin because of the light, work will be not considerated. This was a example.

Knowing that, now I understand a little bit why we have so few nominees on this category. But, in some years, we shuold have five nominees.

My thoughts on this year nominees:


December 20, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterJon

Interesting about the ten-minute highlight reel. It makes me want to see those. I would imagine a fair amount of strategy goes into making them: music choices, editing, directorial flourishes, order of makeup feats, etc. This really is one of the strangest categories.

December 20, 2017 | Unregistered Commentercatbaskets

Exclusions that bug me: Thor: Ragnarok and Atomic Blonde.

December 20, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterScottC

And I get (well not really) just having 3 nominees, but why not add 3 more to the shortlist for an even 10? What, they don't have 30 minutes to see 3 more presentations? 7 is such an arbitrary numbers.

December 20, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterRyan T.

I don't know if I'd laugh or cry if Ghost in the Shell ends up getting nominated and wins the thing. After Suicide Squad last year, you never know...

December 20, 2017 | Unregistered Commenterajnrules

The miss that most confuses me is The Shape of Water - did they consider Doug Jones's fishman character's look a costume? Because that character work was flawless, from both makeup team and actor.

The fact that they also neglected It just goes to show that Warner Bros. didn't campaign properly - given the competition, Hair & Makeup and Adapted Screenplay could have been easy gets given how well the film was received.

December 20, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterDancin' Dan

@Nathaniel: I actually heard Ronan say in an interview that the acne is her own. Apparently she’s always had good skin but between the Brooklyn campaign maelstrom and her Broadway run with The Crucible the stress had actually taken its toll on her skin by the time production of Lady Bird was due to start and they just decided to leave that in.

December 20, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterCarlos

HILARIOUS! While watching Lady Bird, I straight-up thought Ronan had bad skin. Unless what Carlos above says is true, the makeup was truly remarkable. If the acne is her own, then her personal makeup artist deserves praise because her skin always appears flawless!

December 20, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterElias

I wonder if VICTORIA & ABDUL musters a nomination, ala MRS. BROWN?

December 20, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterAndrew Carden

I'm sort of with the large chorus for Darkest Hour, I Tonya, and Wonder being our final three, but Suicide Squad getting in alone makes me worried about Bright. And Guardians has history here, plus Kurt Russell's gorgeous flowing locks.

@Dancin' Dan - Abso-goddamn-lutely. How It is just not contending in these watery fields that it's utterly worthy of attention for is beyond me. Genre bias is one thing, poor campaigning is another. It deserves so much better.

December 20, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterNick T

No Logan, The Beguiled, or Blade Runner 2049? This list is shit.

December 20, 2017 | Unregistered Commenterthevoid99

I feel Darkest Hour is winning, one of I Tonya and Wonder and another one of the shiny, more obvious examples like Guardians or Bright.

I'm actually happy to see Victoria & Abdul here! Not just for the hairstyle but the subtle yet highly effective ageing makeup on Dench to make her look older.

December 20, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterAlexD

Carlos & Elias -- i dont know what to tell you. I ordered a drink next to Saoirse at a party a couple of month ago and she had the most flawless skin i've *ever* seen up close with the possible exception of Julianne Moore in her heyday

December 20, 2017 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

:Lady Bird (Saoirse's skin alone -we've never seen teenage blemishes look that real when the actress in question has the most flawless porcelain skin imaginable in real life)"

Saoirse has talked about how she decided not to cover HER OWN acne with make-up for "Lady Bird" .

December 21, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterDg

In The Shape of Water, was the Amphibian Man's makeup augmented by CGI? Like when he blinks. That would have shot its chances here.

December 21, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterKirby

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