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Awards Radar Oscars Shortlist Analysis: Makeup & Hairstyling

Ma Rainey's Black Bottom (2020): (L to R) Chadwick Boseman as Levee, Colman Domingo as Cutler, Viola Davis as Ma Rainey, Michael Potts as Slow Drag, and Glynn Turman as Toldeo. Cr. David Lee / Netflix

What do Click, Norbit, and The Hundred Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared all have in common? They all were Oscar nominated for Best Makeup and Hairstyling.

The Makeup & Hairstyling branch knows how to keep it interesting. More than any other branch, they eschew popular awards fare and will often nominate movies that are far out of the Oscar conversation. Judging by the shortlist for the 93rd annual Academy Awards category for Best Makeup & Hairstyling, the branch is on track for more interesting nominations.

See below for the ten films vying for the five slots in Best Makeup & Hairstyling:

  • Birds of Prey and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn
  • Emma
  • The Glorias
  • Hillbilly Elegy
  • Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey
  • The Little Things
  • Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
  • Mank
  • One Night in Miami…
  • Pinocchio

Each of these ten films will screen seven-minute reels to the Makeup & Hairstyling branch showcasing their work. Based on these excerpts, the branch will vote on the five nominees. Which five will prevail?

We looked at the Makeup & Hairstyling shortlists from the past ten years to find if there are any trends that could point us in the right direction.

Warner Bros.

Do Other Nominations Help In Securing a Makeup & Hairstyling Nomination?

Among films that made it onto the shortlist, Best Picture nominees were only slightly more likely than non-Best Picture nominees to earn Makeup & Hairstyling nominees (45% vs. 43% likelihood). This doesn’t exactly help elevate movies like Mank, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, or One Night in Miami… over those further removed from the conversation like Pinocchio or The Glorias.

What actually matters is whether or not a film is showing up in more craft categories. Films with other nominations in any category (mostly craft nominees) showed a much greater lift in likelihood to a Makeup & Hairstyling nomination compared to those without other craft nominations (56% vs. 32% likelihood). So what movies would this apply to? Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey showed up on three shortlists (Makeup & Hairstyling, Original Score, Original Song), while Birds of Prey is on two (Makeup & Hairstyling, Visual Effects). Emma, which has strong chances to show up in Costume Design and Production Design, would also fall under this categorization. 

Having a nomination in a major category, like acting, directing or writing, does help take a movie from the shortlist to a nomination (52% vs. 39% likelihood). Both Hillbilly Elegy and The Little Things (also on the Original Score shortlist) may show up in acting categories, which could help their cases here. It helps when the showy feat of makeup is related to the Oscar-nominated performance (see Meryl Streep in The Iron Lady, Glenn Close in Albert Nobbs, and Charlize Theron in Bombshell). 

HILLBILLY ELEGY: (L to R) Glenn Close (“Mamaw”), Amy Adams (“Bev”). Photo Cr. Lacey Terrell/NETFLIX © 2020

What Type Of Films Go From The Shortlist to a Nomination?

Multiple NomineeTotalNominatedSnubbed% Nom% Snub
Heavy Prosthetics76186%14%
Corsets & Gowns134931%69%
Real Person Impersonation2371630%70%

Looking at the type of makeup & hairstyling that impresses the guild is the most effective way to predict what will be nominated.

The makeup & hairstyling branch don’t often shortlist movies that rely primarily on heavy prosthetics or on war/injury/disease makeup. Thus, when they show up on a shortlist, they are likely to be nominated. This bodes well for the prosthetic heavy work in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, Hillbilly Elegy and Pinocchio

Among popular shortlisted types of films, Superhero or Genre films do much better than more traditional Corset/Gowns or Real Person Impersonation examples. The only superhero movie that made the shortlist this year was Birds of Prey. Harley Quinn was a good luck charm a few years back when Suicide Squad won this category. It could easily show up again. However, this stat also benefits Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey, which we’ve already established is a hit among other shortlists.

When it comes to makeup & hairstyling that tries to recreate a real historical figure, it helps if the actor being transformed is going to be nominated for acting. Among the seven films that received Makeup Oscar nominations, six had their key performer earn an acting nomination (Hitchock is the only exception). Movies that missed for both acting and makeup include Rocketman, Dolemite is My Name, Stan & Ollie, Black Mass, Concussion, Legend, Mr. Holmes, and Gainsbourgh: A Heroic Life. This means that Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, Mank and Hillbilly Elegy should still expect nominations. However, The Glorias may fall into trouble, as it is not factoring into any acting categories.

So What Will Get Nominated For Best Makeup & Hairstyling This Year?

  1. Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom
  2. Hillbilly Elegy
  3. Pinocchio
  4. Mank
  5. Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey
  6. Birds of Prey and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn
  7. Emma
  8. The Little Things
  9. One Night in Miami…
  10. The Glorias

What do you think will be nominated for Best Makeup & Hairstyling? Let us know in the comments below.


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Written by Chris James

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