At the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in Beverly Hills on Jan. 10, seven distinct films were presented for consideration for a best makeup Oscar nomination amid a who’s who crowd of top makeup artists and hairstylists. The films were unique from each other in both genre and makeup conceptualization, and were represented by two-to-three artists who were posited for nomination by members of the Academy’s makeup branch. Three of the films will then be formally nominated and later considered for an Oscar by the general Academy membership.
Presiding over the events was makeup branch governor Leonard Engelman who presented each project and meticulously interviewed artists onstage after a montage of carefully edited clips of each film was screened to best reflect the makeup and hairstyling artistry inherent to the movie.
The Amazing Spider-Man 2 was the first film up during the official presentation. Represented by Oscar winner Howard Berger, co-proprietor of KNB EFX Group, a special makeup effects studio, Spider-Man 2 offered a host of prosthetics-based characters, the most elaborate of which was Jamie Foxx as Electro. Berger explained how Norman Cabrera at KNB sculpted a detailed makeup for Foxx which was applied 35-40 times, including five days in which the actor wore a full-body prosthetic makeup. Foxx’s prosthetic appliances were intrinsically colored with veins sculpted into them which were then enhanced by visual effects supervisor Jerome Chen’s team of computer-based artists at Sony Pictures Imageworks. Makeup artists including John Caglione, Jr. (makeup department head) and Peter Montagna worked on makeup application during the six-month production period in New York City. Josh Turi and Tami Lane handled additional special makeup duties on the project. Named on the ticket with Berger but not present at the bakeoff was Sarah Rubano who has worked on sets supervising makeup for KNB on several notable films. On Spider-Man 2, she handled the Green Goblin makeup on actor Dane DeHaan.
Foxcatcher was the second film in the proceedings, represented by makeup department head, Oscar winner Bill Corso, and key makeup artist Dennis Liddiard. They each explained how realism was key to director Bennett Miller’s mandate, unveiling the world of competitive wrestling in the late 1980s and early 1990s. As such, one noted goal of the film was to flatten the faces of stars Channing Tatum and Mark Ruffalo who play the wrestling Schultz brothers. Hairlines were changed and prosthetics applied to both actors to create the bruised and battered appearances, the result of the full-contact wrestling which is portrayed in the film. Corso also explained how the director held on long closeups of the makeups, requiring that he took tightly-framed stills of the actors for every shot in the film prior to them going to camera. (For more information, visit Contender – Makeup Artist Bill Corso, Foxcatcher).
Third was Grand Budapest Hotel, represented by makeup/hair/prosthetics designer Frances Hannon and prosthetic makeup designer Mark Coulier. On a relatively low budget of $23 million, Budapest had numerous makeup challenges, not the least of which was director Wes Anderson’s penchant for including a host of special characters in his ensemble. Coulier named Duncan Jarman as a key prosthetic appliance sculptor on the project which included aging Tilda Swinton to 83-years-old, achieved with applying 11 prosthetic pieces plus old-age stipple to the actress’s face and hands. Elaborate five-piece wigs and false teeth were added to Swinton’s final look, which took over four-and-a-half hours to create. Further complicating the tasks on the film was Anderson’s insistence on keeping makeup people off of the set proper, meaning when the actors left the makeup chair, their look was final. Most of the male cast featured moustaches on the film, 45% of which were handcrafted by the makeup team. Some scenes included up to 200 total cast members. Willem Dafoe, Harvey Keitel, Jeff Goldblum and lead actor Ralph Fiennes all had their appearances altered with various iterations of wigs, baldcaps and false teeth. On set, often in frigid temperatures in the hotel and prison locations, a key collaborator named by the team was special makeup effects artist Josh Weston.
For Guardians of the Galaxy, hair designer/makeup department head Lizzie Yianni-Georgiou and special makeup effects designer David White described how they created a stylistic bible for every one of their characters, many of whom were intensively specialized in terms of their makeup and hair. To create 21 characters for the main cast with 30 additional supporting characters, Yianni-Georgiou and White enlisted a team of 30 prosthetics artists in London. Using a fusion of techniques, many key characters, such as Zoe Saldana as Gamora, were realized with full-body makeups in pastel colors. For Dave Bautista as Drax, his entire body was covered in keloid scars and an 18-piece prosthetic breakdown, requiring a five-hour makeup test, eventually brought down to two-hours-and-forty-seven minutes for principal photography. For the character of Nebula, played by Karen Gillan, her head was shaved and a five-piece silicone makeup was applied to her face which covered her facial area down to her jawline. Additional painting was required for her neck and other body parts which required stencils to complete. Nebula also included a foam mechanical arm to communicate her bio-mechanical structure.
The three named artists were present for Maleficent – special makeup effects artist and seven-time Oscar winner Rick Baker, special makeup effects artist Arjen Tuiten and special makeup effects artist Toni G. To create Angelina Jolie’s titular character, Baker noted that working with a major star had its special challenges, especially with Disney actively involved in the project. Baker noted that Jolie wanted to wear prosthetics to help her create the character, which was designed in several pre-production incarnations at his facility and tested twice. Eventually, the Maleficent makeup included prosthetic cheeks, ears, a nose and removable lightweight urethane horns. On set, Tuiten and Toni G applied the makeup to Jolie 70 times. Often trading off and tag-teaming, the two artists approached the character as a classic old-Hollywood angular star and asked cinematographer Dean Semler for a 1930s lighting scenario to enhance the makeup. In one example, Tuiten would be applying a cheek piece while Toni G would make up Jolie’s eyes. After the prosthetic pieces were attached, a foundation and beauty makeup painting scheme would be applied. A finishing touch to the final makeup was a red liquid lipstick with gloss that dries, specifically chosen by Jolie.
For Noah, makeup department head Judy Chin, hair department head Jerry Popolis, and makeup effects department head Adrien Morot were on hand to discuss their work which often had to perform with 60-80 rain towers operating at all times. To fashion Anthony Hopkins as Methuselah, the team requisitioned Hopkins’ lifecast from KNB, used on the film Hitchcock, to create the makeup. For the Iceland-based location shoot, Noah’s artists shaved Hopkins’ head, but for reshoots eight months later, they utilized a baldcap. To create the lead character of Noah on star Russell Crowe, his own beard was utilized which included aging to reflect the six-to-nine-month period of time the character spent on the ark. Ray Winstone, playing Tubal-cain, included a look with scarring, a wig, hair work, and prosthetic transfers. In addition to the flooding sequence, Noah featured battles with hundreds of extras.
Lastly, The Theory of Everything was presented by makeup department and hair designer/prosthetics designer Jan Sewell and prosthetics makeup supervisor Kristyan Mallett. To portray the aging and degenerative motor-neuron disease which befalls Eddie Redmayne as Stephen Hawking over the period of 1963-1989, Mallett explained how encapsulated silicone pieces were developed for Redmayne’s cheeks and ears, enhanced with old-age stipple. Sewell noted that she chose subtlety for Redmayne’s makeup stages, which also included dentures and dental plumpers made by Chris Lyons. Additional prosthetic pieces were made for Redmayne’s body, including shoulder, elbows, knees and hands. Sewell also integrated exaggerated scale and contortion to the various aspects of the makeup so to convey the disease, which has increasingly stricken Hawking through the story. (For more information, visit Contender – Makeup Artist Jan Sewell, The Theory Of Everything).
Following the elaborate three-hour event, many in attendance were able to vote for the three films which they deemed most worthy of an Oscar nomination for best makeup of 2014. The Feb. 22 ceremony will be the 33rd time that makeup has been an official Oscar category at the Academy Awards.