Why only three nominees for Best Makeup and Hairstyling?

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After 1980’s The Elephant Man was overlooked for its jaw-dropping makeup effects, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences were influenced to create a new category to honor the film industry’s unsung makeup artists. Hairstylists were eventually included in this category as well. Over the years, however, members of this branch have only been able to nominate somewhere between two and three films. The one exception was in 1999 when four films got in (Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me, Bicentennial Man, Life, and eventual winner Topsy-Turvy). Yet, five nominees have never been able to break through.

There are a few other Oscar categories that only had about three nominees for a while, i.e. Best Animated Feature, Best Visual Effects and Best Sound Editing. In recent years, though, those categories have all packed in a total of five nominees. So why is the Academy constantly limiting Best Makeup and Hairstyling? Year after year, numerous movies have gone unrecognized in this category, such as Cloud Atlas, Deadpool, Into the Woods, Sin City, Alice in Wonderland, etc. 2017 has been another strong year for makeup artists and hairstylists, but many of them aren’t going to have their names called on Oscar morning.

Logan transformed Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine from an unstoppable badass into a frail, old man. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 created a whole universe of distinctive alien creatures, as did Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets. Dunkirk had hundreds of extras, meaning the hair and makeup people had their work cut out for them. Even The Mummy featured some Oscar-worthy makeup effects, despite not being a very good movie overall. The same can be said about last year’s Suicide Squad or 2010’s The Wolfman.

So there you go. That’s five movies that should be recognized in this category, but for some reason the Academy thinks three is enough. Plus, those are just movies that have come out so far this year. Simply based on the trailers, Bill Skarsgård looks petrifying as Pennywise in It, Gary Oldman is the spitting image of Winston Churchill in Darkest Hour, and the makeup effects on little Jacob Tremblay look particularly authentic in Wonder. The list goes on with titles like The Greatest Showman, The Shape of Water, and Star Wars: The Last Jedi all in contention. Unfortunately, the makeup and hair branch is required to whittle this extensive lineup down to a shortlist and then vote on three nominees.

What makes this especially baffling is that other major awards have made room for five nominees in the Best Makeup and Hairstyling category. The Critics’ Choice Movie Award nominates up to five films here every year. The Primetime Emmys has multiple awards for both makeup and hair, regularly nominating five in each. Considering all of the worthy contenders this year, there’s no reason why the Oscars should snub two deserving films.

The Best Original Song category went through a revamp after only two movies got nominated in 2011. Since then, five films have been recognized in this category, excluding 2013 when the title song from Alone yet Not Alone was disqualified. The rules for Best Makeup and Hairstyling need to be altered as well, guaranteeing five movies can make the cut. In an age where up to ten films can be nominated for Best Picture, the makeup artists and hairstylists deserve to get their due.

Be sure to check out our roundup of all of the articles we’ve written on subjects pertinent to the Oscars 2018.

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About Nick Spake

Nick Spake has been working as an entertainment writer for the past ten years, but he's been a lover of film ever since seeing the opening sequence of The Lion King. Movies are more than just escapism to Nick, they're a crucial part of our society that shape who we are. He now serves as the Features Editor at Flickreel and author of its regular column, 'Nick Flicks'.

One comment on “Why only three nominees for Best Makeup and Hairstyling?

  1. James

    Does this smack of sexism? Is hair and make-up not dignified enough to be treated equally by the Academy? At best it is arbitrary, and the fact that other categories have expanded from three to five nominees makes this a real head-scratcher (pun intended).

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