Last year, when The Iron Lady’s Mark Coulier and J. Roy Helland stole the makeup trophy from the team behind Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2, the win not only hinted at Meryl Streep’s eventual semi-shock of a Best Actress victory, it affirmed that one needn’t be the flashiest comer to claim this award. In the recent past, the Oscar here has gone to The Wolfman, Star Trek, and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, but it’s also been bestowed on Frida and La Vie en Rose, proving biopic metamorphosis can out-putty the extreme and the fanciful (the latter film beat out Norbit and Pirates of the Carribean: At World’s End). Such is good news for Howard Berger, Peter Montagna, and Martin Samuel, the trio of nominees who swelled Anthony Hopkins to twice his form for Hitchcock. Opinions of Hopkins’s transformation have been largely varied, with some hailing it as the suspense master’s resurrection and others finding the whole thing rather gross, but what’s certain is that the actor is all but gone beneath the makeup, which voters may see as a win-worthy feat.
But, then, Hitchcock itself proved a near-complete awards failure, entering the season with oodles of confidence from distributor Fox Searchlight, only to be eaten alive by critics with the same gluttony Hitch displays when wolfing down foie gras at midnight. With Helen Mirren rightly knocked out of Best Actress contention, this category yielded the movie’s only Oscar bid, which surely suggests an overall lack of popularity. Les Misérables, on the other hand, achieved the expected and transcended its negative ink, scoring eight nods across an array of disciplines. If Anne Hathaway’s impending joygasm is to be paired with another Les Miz win, Sound Mixing is likely the stronger candidate, but one shouldn’t count out a gushing speech from makeup artists Lisa Westcott and Julie Dartnell. After all, those dream-dreaming Hathaway cheeks didn’t dirty up themselves.
All told, though, an award for makeup may be just the thing with which to bless Peter Jackson’s return to Middle-earth, where orcs, dwarves, and the like still sport faux fur and latex like nobody’s business. In 2002 (the year Frida prevailed), The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers couldn’t even muster a makeup nomination, but we’ll just chalk that up to a sophomore slump. The Fellowship of the Ring and The Return of the King both counted this trophy among their wins, and neither of those films had nine bearded dwarves front and center. So, we’re thinking The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey’s Peter King, Rick Findlater, and Tami Lane collect the metal here, for reasons of nostalgia, excess, and ample false noses, all of which Oscar lives for.
Will win: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
Could win: Les Misérables
Should win: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey