Along with Best Animated Feature Film, Best Makeup is the smallest category at this year’s Academy Awards. Unlike my decision for the former, however, the latter is not as clear-cut an issue.
“The Way Back” is probably the most unexpected of the three contenders, so much so that many people don’t even realize how much went into the film’s makeup. The story of escaped prisoners traveling four-thousand miles to freedom lends itself as more of an adventure/drama than the period pieces and fantasy flicks that normally make up this category. If you pay attention, the detail and craftsmanship that went into creating the weathering and elemental damage will pop out. You just have to know what to look for.
Edouard Henriques has been nominated for an Oscar before, and his makeup has been respected as early as 1979 when he was nominated for a Saturn for “Invasion of the Body Snatchers.” His impressive resume got him his nomination, but “The Way Back” didn’t get the attention that “Barney’s Version” received and Henriques resume, as stunning as it is, can’t compete with Rick Baker’s.
“Barney’s Version” is the obvious choice for makeup gold. The movie itself played well with audiences and critics, and the makeup helped us connect with characters that lived full lives. It’s Morot’s first Oscar nod, but he’s got a respectable body of work and the fact he’s attached to the category’s most respected movie will send him home a winner.
My vote goes to “The Wolfman”‘s Rick Baker. He already has three Oscars under his belt, but the skill he showed us in werewolf creation stood out as the most impressive makeup work of the year. He has a history of making wolf-men (The Howling, Werewolf, Wolf, An American Werewolf in London) and it culminated in a great old-school monster movie that was overlooked because of its decided lack of vampires. I do think that “Barney’s Version” was the best movie of the three presented here, but this is an award strictly for one aspect of a movie and it’s there that Mr. Baker did the best job.
What do you think?
Read the rest of my Oscar predictions here.