March 6, 2023

2023 Academy Awards Nomination Breakdown: Best Makeup and Hairstyling

The Academy Awards are airing live on March 12, and for the first time, I have set out to break down every nominee in every category in order to assess, as accurately as I can, who and what has the best chance of winning. Today I will be discussing the nominees for Best Makeup and Hairstyling!

All Quiet on the Western Front

War takes a toll on a person, and All Quiet on the Western Front exemplifies that with both intense depictions of the battles themselves and the emotional and physical toll that comes with them. Aside from being a period piece — and, thus, obligated to accuracy when it comes to period styling — All Quiet commits to visualizing the descent of its central characters into very different versions of themselves as they endure more and more horrors of war. It’s terrifically effective, if a little terrifying in it of itself — it makes you wonder about how you yourself would be affected by a war like this, should you ever be so unlucky to fight in one.

The Batman

The Batman is my favorite nomination in this category — not in terms of overall quality (but I think it might crack that as well), but it’s largely because of the service it does for the superhero genre in terms of proving that technical prowess don’t need to be over-the-top to be excellent representations of their craft. In The Batman, Colin Farrell becomes the Penguin with flawless makeup and prosthetics that not only completely hide the actor’s identity, but make him fit in with the brutal, lived-in world of this Gotham City. Most of the other makeup and hairstyling is more under-the-radar, but if you want a better example of the great work that this team’s done, look up the deleted scene with Barry Keoghan’s Joker. Now that’s terrifying.

Read my review of The Batman here.


While All Quiet is a period piece that largely respects the stylings of the time in subtle ways, Baz Luhrmann’s Elvis is everything but subtle. Costumes and production design are another thing entirely, but makeup and hairstyling is how many characters are fully brought to life — from Austin Butler’s impeccable aging as Elvis Presley to Tom Hanks’ full-body transformation into Colonel Tom Parker, Elvis is further proof of Luhrmann’s love of bringing larger-than-life characters to the screen in a bold and audacious manner.

Read my review of Elvis here.

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever is inferior to its predecessor in almost every way, but the biggest improvement it pulls off is its exhibition of makeup abilities. This is largely helped by the introduction of the Talokan nation (led by classic comics character Namor), which features a host of new characters that bring a whole new unique visual angle to the film and the universe. Of course, every scene in Wakanda is flawlessly-executed as well (in regards to this category), with the tribe elders and Wakandan natives once again sporting impeccable style. Because of its continued focus on fleshing out the world visually instead of just narratively (with care and consideration on both sides of the camera), Black Panther continues to be the most visually interesting sub-franchises within the MCU.

Read my review of Black Panther: Wakanda Forever here.

The Whale

We all know why The Whale is nominated. Brendan Fraser stars as Charlie, a clinically obese online schoolteacher, who is brought to life with pounds of prosthetics that successfully transform Fraser into a 600-pound man. It’s not perfect, but it feels convincing and real, a feat that many films that attempt this sort of transformation are not successful in. Sometimes it can be difficult to look past the actor and see only the role that they are immersing themselves in, but Fraser is able to do just that — not just because of his acting abilities, but the makeup does wonders for showcasing his performance while also drastically differentiating the character from the man inside.

What Will Win: The Whale

What Should Win: The Batman

1 comment:

  1. One of the aesthetic categories and often considered "minor", being even excluded from the ceremony in previous years. But for true film lovers, this category is of transcendental importance, dating back to the era of MeliƩs' short films and often gives personality to the film, as is the case this year, since the impact of the story and the characters of the nominated films, is recharged in this art to achieve the desired effect on audiences.

    The visual immersion that "All Quiet" proposes, has in its makeup an important support. From the use of prosthetics to show the mutilations of the soldiers, to the variation of wounds and bleeding. But also the stylization of the characters, both those on the battle lines and those who are safe making the decisions of war. We can see through the make-up work the fatigue of the characters in the trenches, the unhealthiness of the trenches and how the mood is waning, while the wounds on the bodies increase and the mud invades all around.

    In "The Batman" the first thing that comes to mind is Robert Pattinson's iconic look, with the somber look given to the character from the dark shadow in the eyes. A second thought should lead us to appreciate the impressive characterization work that was done with the supporting characters, mainly Colin Farrell's stunning transformation into The Penguin, which is impressive, as it not only allowed the actor's look to be completely changed, but accentuated every facial expression in his performance. The entire imaginary world of Gotham City has a personality of its own thanks to the excellent makeup and hair styling work of the technical team.

    Each character in "Wakanda Forever" has details in their makeup and hairstyle that give them a distinctive personality. From those in the Kingdom of Wakanda, where the hairstyles of each character and the details in their makeup reflect the cultural and rank aspects. The creation of the Mayan and underwater universe includes significant silicon prosthetic work with several layers of makeup to achieve a realistic look in shades of jade. Even though this is a sequel, many new characters involved designing different personalities through character aesthetics.

    The styling around the figure of Elvis and being able to reflect his personal evolution through three decades, including his descent into depression and his weight gains. The finesse of the Hairstyling with the hairstyles of the eras they reflect, shine above even many performances. At times the characters feel caricatured, most notably Tom Hanks as his chubby manager, which included the actor's transformation.

    The practical makeup of Brendan Fraser's character in "The Whale" is impeccable. Beyond his character's facial prosthetics and the countless layers of makeup that were necessary, this character's body involved some impressive work. Every fold of skin was done with mathematical precision, allowing the movements to be captured accurately, an achievement that is no small feat, especially considering the amount of close-ups done on the character and the amount of screen time he has. The character design had in the makeup his best ally, giving the look repulsive but at the same time appealing.

    The film that wins in this category will probably repeat in the Best Actor in a Leading Role category (Fraser or Butler).