What a difference 365 days make. Last year, the makeup and hairstyling category legitimized the phrase “the Oscar-winning Suicide Squad.” Now, the category’s second Trump-era Academy Awards slate is dominated by fusty prestige pictures, and to an extent that we haven’t seen since 1998, when Elizabeth bested Shakespeare In Love. In the midst of a four-alarm idiocracy, any move toward respectability, no matter how hollow, has to be commended.
To look back at the category’s history reveals that it has swung back and forth between monster latex and regal lace fronts as widely as the nation’s own political pendulum, and voters do in fact have more than just a passing affinity for the monarchy. This is not the first time that Judi Dench’s powdered mug as Queen Victoria has earned a nomination here. But Dench failed to crack the best actress lineup for Stephen Frears’s Victoria & Abdul, despite her SAG nomination and the fact that the Academy’s enthusiasm for Steven Spielberg’s The Post (for which Meryl Streep claimed a nod) was clearly dim.
And, in much the same way that the cinematography trophy has increasingly become an extension of visual effects, it seems likely that Oscar thinks highly enough of Gary Oldman’s performance in Joe Wright’s Darkest Hour (which is nominated for six awards) to, in effect, award it twice. And though Arjen Tuiten’s work on Stephen Chbosky’s Wonder is worthy of comparison to previous Oscar-winner Mask, the specter of Suicide Squad can only be exorcised by the most Masterpiece Theater candidate in the room.
Will Win: Darkest Hour
Could Win: Wonder
Should Win: Wonder