×
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

  • Midnight Traveler review

    Film Review: 'Midnight Traveler'

    Refugees rarely get to tell their own stories, which means their stories get told for them — often inaccurately and with undue hostility. Lack of resources is one issue, but a lack of stability is another: Asylum-seekers are in a frightening state of limbo, fleeing the imminent dangers of their native countries only to suffer [...]

  • WGA Authorizing Managers, Lawyers to Make

    WGA Authorizing Managers, Lawyers to Make Deals if Agents are Fired

    The Writers Guild of America has authorized managers and lawyers to negotiate deals for writers in place of agents — if the guild tells members to fire their agents on April 7. The guild’s negotiating committee notified members of the plans in a message Wednesday. The WGA and the Association of Talent Agents having made [...]

  • Gone With the Wind Screening

    Film News Roundup: 'Gone With the Wind' Sets Event Cinema Record

    In today’s film news roundup, “Gone with the Wind” sets a new record, “Fiddler: A Miracle of Miracles” is acquired, and Tracy Oliver signs with Topic Studios. EVENT CINEMA RECORD Related Kevin Costner on Oscar Netflix Controversy: 'Movies Are for Theaters' Lady Gaga Honors Longtime Hairstylist: 'If I Was on the Floor, He Was Right [...]

  • Made in Abyss - Journey’s Dawn

    Film Review: ‘Made in Abyss: Journey’s Dawn’

    It’s a Herculean effort to take a multi-volume manga like author Akihito Tsukushi’s “Made in Abyss,” adapt it into a popular anime television series, and then compress the show into a coherent feature (technically, two movies), but the folks at Sentai Filmworks have done just that. Part one, “Made in Abyss: Journey’s Dawn,” will screen [...]

  • HAF: 'Assassination,' 'Apprenticeship' Named Project Market

    HAF: 'Assassination,' 'Apprenticeship' Named Project Market Winners

    Eighteen prizes were presented on Wednesday afternoon at the closing ceremony of the Hong Kong Asia Film Financing Forum. The project market sits alongside FilMart as part of the Entertainment Expo in Hong Kong. “Wong Tai Sin Assassination” to be directed by Wong Hoi and produced by Derek Kwok Tsz-kin, was named the winner of [...]

  • Contract Placeholder Business WGA ATA Agent

    Writers Guild Makes Concession on Film Financing in Agent Talks

    The Writers Guild of America has made a concession in film financing in its negotiations with Hollywood talent agents — the second in six weeks of talks. WGA West executive director David Young said Wednesday that it had made a “significant move” toward reaching a deal with the Association of Talent Agents for a revamped [...]

  • Noah Centineo He-Man

    Noah Centineo to Play He-Man in 'Masters of the Universe' Reboot

    From a boy (who’s loved) to He-Man. Noah Centineo is in talks to take on the superhero in Sony Pictures and Mattel Films’ “Masters of the Universe.” Related Kevin Costner on Oscar Netflix Controversy: 'Movies Are for Theaters' Lady Gaga Honors Longtime Hairstylist: 'If I Was on the Floor, He Was Right There With Me' [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content