They use to disqualify movies from this Oscar if they used too much computer enhancement (see The Hours) and always wanted their makeup effects practical (like American Werewolf in London). But nowadays computer enhancements seem to be a non-issue (see several recent winners and one of this year's nominees Guardians of the Galaxy). There are four indisputable truths about this relatively young category and this Oscar branch and they are like so:
• They love old age makeup
• They worship werewolves and love fantastically weird creatures, but hate zombies
• Hairstyling was recently added to the official category name but usually the wig heavy movies lose to films that are more prosthetically-focused
• There should be five nominees like every other category since literally every live-action film employs makeup and hair. Not every film requires visual effects or original songs or even original scores and those categories all have 5 nominees.
Foxcatcher - Bill Corso & Dennis Liddiard
Grand Budapest Hotel - Frances Hannon & Mark Coulier
Guardians of the Galaxy - Elizabeth Yianni-Georgiou & David White
Corso and Coulier previously won Oscars (for Lemony Snicket and The Iron Lady respectively) but the other four nominated artists are Oscarless. All three nominated films have a lot going for them but Foxcatcher would be a longshot since the recreation of existing people's looks via wig, hair and prosthetic enhancements generally has to settle for a nomination. But will they go with Guardians or Grand Budapest? It's tough to say. Guardians is well-loved -- I even talked to a voter who had it at #1 on his Best Picture ballot during the nomination round -- and very showy what with its rainbow of skin colors (blue, green, red you name it) and sci-fi hairdos and scarring. It wouldn't surprise me to see it win. But Grand Budapest Hotel has just about everything they love in this category: old age prosthetics, elaborate hair, memorable hideousness. And who can forget Tilda Swinton's glaucoma-plagued eyes, silver wigs, and old lady liver spots?
Will Win: Grand Budapest Hotel
Could Win: Guardians of the Galaxy
Should Win: Grand Budapest Hotel
My ballot for this category (Hint: I'm thinking of renaming it "The Tilda Swinton Styling" Award)