Saturday, June 22, 2024

Chasing The Gold: This Year’s Hair and Makeup and a Multiverse of Freaks

With every awards conversation comes the inevitable question: Where will this film go? Where will film institutes and guilds place it? What is its most striking aspect? 

Hair and Makeup award recognition is a frustrating category. For one, you have the likes of Dune: Part Two or Sasquatch Sunset, where actors spend hours in the makeup chair, wearing a full-body suit or foam latex prosthetics to enable their movement but also enhance their performance as freaks, creatures of unearthly worlds and spaces.

Or is it Challengers? It is a film that uses the hair of its characters to make bolder statements on their age, power, and social status while manipulating sweat beads to intensify the action on the court and heighten the sexual tension. Would Abigail be a player in the game? An ancient vampire, prosthetic teeth, and contacts that bring out the scariest Evil Seed-like vampire child? The hair and makeup teams take viewers to extremes, from athletic skin and hair to bloody faces and greasy locks. In a heated year boasting thousands and thousands of bloody faces and knuckles, actors grossing people out with all kinds of fluids covering them from head to toe, how deserving is a film to enter the conversation?

Scanning past Academy Award nominees and winners, some notable wins include The Fly in 1986, and with Love Lies Bleeding entering the game, one can see how the wonderful transformation of Jena Malone’s character alone may garner award buzz. The characters in Rose Glass’s lesbian erotic bloodbath go through all kinds of disfigurements, their faces and features distorted by fluids and bruises. Makeup artists enjoy having actors’ faces as their tapestry on which they place their most creative, gruesome works of art.

The Hair and Makeup category may also recognize the more traditional role of an actor transforming into multiple characters using different hairstyles and prosthetics. Among those films will be Hit Man, starring the new Hollywood square-jawed leading man Glen Powell. Here, hair and makeup work is only elevated by the actor’s natural ‘rizz’ or suave movie star aura. 

Some films will walk the fine line between realism and fantastical. Evaluating the Hair and Makeup work will be insane and unbelievably complex for movies on polar ends. Surely, a film like Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes is a favorable contender, but what about In a Violent Nature? How are they comparable or on a familiar scale of assessment? It seems unfair that work on a film starring everyday people can be placed on the same pedestal as a biopic or a period piece. -shudders-

Hair and makeup nominations seem like a foregone conclusion for many 2024 titles already released. But, with the exemption of Dune: Part Two and Love Lies Bleeding, the hair and makeup work on many of those films haven’t caught my attention. I say this with apologies to the likes of Monkey Man, Atlas, Immaculate, Back to Black, and Abigail. The meat of this category lies in the second half of the year, when Furiosa, Nosferatu, Joker: Folie à Deux, The Crow, and MaXXXine will be released in cinemas. It’s a year with an obvious knack for the theatrics, and one can only expect more from films released later. But as far as an award race goes, lights are dimmed, and expectations are subdued, as that spark of a visually exciting, stunning, and sensual film is yet to be seen by hungry cinephiles and film critics alike.

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