×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

How Hair and Makeup Oscar Nominees Sculpted Their Films’ Distinctive Looks

Just what constitutes an Academy Award nomination in the hair and makeup categories is a strange alchemy — nominees can be both department heads and individuals; prosthetics and mechanical devices count just as much as old-school color, light and shading. And all three styles ended up represented in this year’s selection of films: “Victoria & Abdul,” “Darkest Hour” and “Wonder.”

For “Victoria and Abdul,” hair and makeup artist Daniel Phillips and co-hair designer Loulia Sheppard traveled a traditional route, in showing how elderly Queen Victoria’s friendship with servant Abdul Karim helped put color — literally — back in her life. They first emphasized facial creases and eye folds; Victoria’s long life was meant to seem monochromatic and heavy. Even her wig was a cold, washed-out gray. But as her personality warmed, her wig took on a softer tone, and gentle color was introduced again as she visually and emotionally warmed up. Meanwhile, key actors’ beards were created or enhanced with a daily layered-on technique — virtually a requirement for 4K images.

Darkest Hour” took a man who didn’t much resemble Winston Churchill — Gary Oldman — and transformed him with a full body suit, facial and neck prosthetics, all topped off by careful makeup application for those extended, extreme close-ups. Kazuhiro Tsuji was the only one Oldman would work with to create the transformation; David Malinowsky supervised the prosthetics while Lucy Sibbick served as prosthetic hair and makeup artist.

They worked like three sculptors. The facial prosthetics and makeup had to be both smooth and mobile: Churchill was a man in motion, with expressive facial gestures, glasses that sometimes needed to be torn from his face — and there could not be a seam visible. Meanwhile, he wore a wig made of baby hair, but the piece was so fragile it had to be remade every 10 days.

Special makeup designer Arjen Tuiten was the only one to be nominated from “Wonder,” but it’s easy to see why: During the 40-day shoot he also had to transform a 9-year-old boy (Jacob Tremblay) who had to reasonably look as if he had a rare facial disease — without letting his strings show.

Tuiten created a complete silicone cover for Tremblay’s head and neck, installed prosthetic teeth to make them crooked, and rigged a wire system on his eyes to be able to make them droop (or rise) as needed. The contraption was hidden under his wig, and was so seamless that he’d received comments from doctors experienced with the condition who thought the actor actually did have the condition. But he also had a different challenge in that “Wonder” is not a movie of atmosphere and shadow — Tremblay’s Auggie had to seem real alongside non-afflicted children, in full clear daylight while still appearing to wear no makeup at all.

All of which emphasizes the truth of all of these nominees’ art: If any of what they do calls attention to itself, they have not succeeded in their ambitions. At the same time, there’s clearly more going on under the skin, the hair and the powder than any average viewer can possibly take in.

More Film

  • Sean Penn

    Sean Penn to Direct, Star in 'Flag Day' With Daughter Dylan Penn

    Sean Penn is set to direct and star in the conman drama “Flag Day” alongside his daughter Dylan Penn, his son Hopper Penn, Josh Brolin and Miles Teller. The cast includes two-time Tony Award winner Norbert Leo Butz (“Fosse/Verdon”), Dale Dickey, Eddie Marsan, Bailey Noble, and Katheryn Winnick (“Vikings”). Jez Butterworth (“Edge of Tomorrow”) wrote [...]

  • China Film Group chairman La Peikang

    Shanghai: China Film Group Announces 28 Title Lineup

    China Film Group announced a line-up of 28 films at a large event on the sidelines of the Shanghai International Film Festival that feted both the mainland’s main distributor and the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China. “Nearly a thousand film industry people wished the motherland a beautiful and happy [...]

  • Avengers: Endgame

    Disney Re-Releasing 'Avengers: Endgame' in Effort to Beat 'Avatar' Box Office Record

    If “Avengers: Endgame” doesn’t beat “Avatar’s” all-time box office record, it won’t be for lack of trying. Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige told numerous publications that “Avengers: Endgame” will be re-released in theaters with extended footage that didn’t make it into the initial film, which already clocks in at a butt-numbing three hours and one [...]

  • Soul Pixar

    Disney Unveils Pixar Movie 'Soul' With 2020 Summer Release Date

    Disney has unveiled “Soul” as an upcoming original Pixar film, which will debut on June 19, 2020. “Soul” will be the second original Pixar film next year after “Onward,” which opens on March 6. The studio announced Wednesday that it had dated the film. While plot details are scarce, Pixar did release the tagline for [...]

  • Riverdale Alladin Avengers Endgame

    'Avengers: Endgame,' 'Riverdale,' 'Aladdin' Top 2019 Teen Choice Award Nominations

    The nominations for the 2019 Teen Choice Awards have been revealed, and voting has opened for the top movies, TV shows and music that has dominated the last year. “Avengers: Endgame” and “Aladdin” are the top contenders in the movie category with nine and five nods, respectively. In TV, “Riverdale,” “The Flash” and “Shadowhunters” each [...]

  • 'Toy Story 4' Box Office: Pixar

    Box Office: 'Toy Story 4' Building to $140 Million-Plus Debut

    After a lackluster few weeks at movie theaters, it’s Woody and Buzz Lightyear to the rescue. The dynamic duo is returning to multiplexes for Disney and Pixar’s “Toy Story 4.” The fourth installment in the CGI series is expected to earn north of $140 million when it opens in 4,500 theaters across North America. If [...]

  • Yu Dong, Andrew Lau, Han Han,

    Shanghai Party: Red Carpet Rolled out at Bona Film Group 20th Anniversary Event

    No deal announcements. No talk of the Chinese film industry’s ongoing winter of discontent. Instead the parade of talent on stage Wednesday night at Shanghai’s Wanda Reign hotel put their troubles aside for a moment and celebrated the 20th anniversary of producer-distributor-exhibition company Bona Film Group. At regular intervals, Bona’s founder and chairman Yu Dong [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content