The Lamb Devours the Oscars 2021 – Best Makeup & Hairstyling

by Rob · April 26, 2021 · LAMB Devours the Oscars, Periodic Features · No Comments

Every day until the Oscars ceremony we’ll be highlighting a different category or movie here on the LAMB! Here’s a link to all the posts written so far:

Today, Jeanette Ward of The Mundane Adventures Of A Fangirl is here to look at the nominees for Best Makeup and Hairstyling.

Thanks Jeanette!

2021 LAMB Devours the Oscars: Makeup and Hairstyling

The Academy Award for Best Makeup and Hairstyling is actually a fairly new addition to the list of awards given.  It became regularly award in 1981 as previously hair and makeup achievements had only been nominated through special recognition.  Legendary artist Rick Baker holds the record for most nominations and wins. The five nominees this year do not include anything on the level of the monsters and creatures that Rick Baker would create. Instead they are mostly period pieces and more subtle work that enhances the story.

Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (Mia Neal, Sergio Lopez-Rivera, Jamika Wilson)

Viola Davis encouraged the hair and makeup team on Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom to go all out. Because less than 10 actual photographs of the real Ma Rainey exist, the team had to rely on the versions of the makeup for August Wilson’s play and what research they could find. They created horse hair wigs by hand and developed a makeup look that would reflect the vaudeville-style performance traveling life that Rainey would have had with little to no access to professional services.

The hair and makeup in this movie help complete the look and feel of the scene and are integral to transporting the audience to the 20 era story.

Pinocchio (Mark Coulier, Dalia Colli, Fancesco Pegoretti)

This entry features the most fantastical hair and makeup creations in the group of nominees.  All the characters, including the wooden boy and other puppets, aging father, fairy, cat, fox, and talking cricket, are human performers in prosthetics, makeup, and hair.  The look changes the lead human actor into a wooden boy and is an incredible effect.

The look on the animal characters include wigs that mixed human and animal hair combined with extensive makeups to complete each character. 

Of all the nominees, this one is not recreating a look or blending into the story – it is helping to create the fantastic world of the story.

Emma (Marese Langan)

The hair and makeup in Emma are wonderful, but with so many adaptations of this story in existence, it is hard to find anything about them that stands out. The team analyzed portraits and images from Regency era England to inform their designs, but this is something that has been seen several times before.

The makeup was shifted for the lighting in various scenes and certainly fits the overall look of the film, but it is really hard to feel like a win would be justified for this when it seems a movie like this or set in a similar time frame is nominated every year.

Mank (Kimberley Spiteri, Gigi Williams)

In a similar way, it is hard to get excited about the hair and makeup in Mank, even though it is executed at an extremely high level.  The movie is set in 30s era Hollywood, and the team worked diligently to recreate the extravagant looks of the time.  The black-and-white final version of the movie did mean the makeup team had to take that into consideration when creating looks. They had to consider how various colors would read in no-color and what would and would not be reflective.

There was plenty of research and photographs for the team to use as inspiration to create the looks that would fit David Fincher’s vision.

Hillbilly Elegy (Eryn Krueger Mekash, Patricia Dehaney, Matthew Mungle)

The hair and makeup in this movie is used to reflect the tough background of the characters.  Glenn Close’s Appalachian grandmother Mamaw Vance is an example of the hair and makeup working with the actor’s performance to create the character.  The movie certainly had a mixed reception, but the work on Close’s character is certainly impressive. The hardships and poverty of her life is reflected in her look.

Will Win: Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom

Ma Rainey has been winning a lot of the technical awards this season and is expected to clean up again on this award. The overall look of the movie is impressive, and the hair and makeup rounds out the feel of the film.

Should Win:

Of these nominees, I am pulled towards giving the award to the team from Pinocchio as they created entirely new and fantastical looks. Hair and makeup that recreates period pieces is impressive work, but I am always personally more drawn to work that creates something entirely new and not based in reality.  

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