With the sole exception of Rick Baker’s 2010 win for The Wolfman, which was really a veiled excuse to pay tribute to the first and most frequently awarded artist to win this category, the victors in makeup and hairstyling have recently tended to come in two distinct strains. First and foremost, the Academy uses it to reward movies that it has a clear affection for outside of the category in question—your Dallas Buyers Clubs, your Benjamin Buttons, your Amadeuses. In the absence of a “best movie that happens to have some discernible applique of powder or epoxy” candidate, Oscar will next defer to whichever blockbuster garnered the least embarrassing reviews—Star Trek, The Lord of the Rings, Beetlejuice. Unfortunately for us, this year boasts three nominees that fall safely within one of those categories, though one does appear to be bringing up the rear. (Yes, gay panic-prone Mark Schultz, that was a joke at your expense.)
Foxcatcher, which nearly everyone had down for the count, managed nominations in virtually every category it could’ve conceivably competed, including and surely not limited to that Carol Burnett Show sketch-worthy schnoz Steve Carell is forced to hoist in the air throughout the film. Voters won’t be able to hang their votes on much else beyond that and Channing Tatum’s cauliflower ears, but if Jared Leto’s busted, Magnolia Crawford-level contouring and KS lesions are enough to merit the award, then Foxcatcher can’t be totally out of the running. Still, this one looks to be a showdown between the category’s highest-grossing, highest-rated blockbuster Guardians of the Galaxy (91 percent on Rotten Tomatoes), and the movie with the most nominations and, presumably, the most widespread affection, The Grand Budapest Hotel. But Galaxy’s most whimsical creations are more the product of the VFX team, and even though everyone’s taking it for granted that Tilda Swinton’s saggy old-age makeup is what earned the film a pass here, in actuality nearly everyone’s coiffed to Wes Anderson’s exacting standards.
Will Win: The Grand Budapest Hotel
Could Win: Guardians of the Galazy
Should Win: The Grand Budapest Hotel