Oscars 2019 Category Breakdown: Best Makeup & Hairstyling

Here’s how this works: every day leading up to the Oscars, I break down each of the 24 categories. The goal is to both familiarize everyone with the category itself (how it works, what its history is and how you go about figuring out what’s gonna win) while also making it easier to reference when I write my giant article with picks and everything. A lot of the leg work is already here. But really, the goal is to see if there’s anything to look for leading into Oscar night that could be a shortcut to me picking the category.

What we do is — I give you all the winners of the category throughout history, go over all the recent trends if there are any, discuss the precursors and whether or not they matter, and then we talk about this year’s category and how we got to it, and then just look at where we are and rank the nominees in terms of their likelihood of winning (at the current moment in time. Of course, things can and will change going into the ceremony). It’s all pretty simple. I’ve done this every year. Everyone should know the drill.

Today is Best Makeup & Hairstyling, which — guess what? They’re finally letting it eat at the adults table! Instead of three nominees they finally let it have five! Congrats. Now you have to talk politics and listen to Great Grandma ramble because no one else will talk to her.

Year Best Makeup Winners Other Nominees
1981 An American Werewolf in London Heartbeeps
1982 Quest for Fire Gandhi
1983 No award given. No category.
1984 Amadeus Greystroke: The Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the Apes


1985 Mask The Color Purple

Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins

1986 The Fly The Clan of the Cave Bear


1987 Harry and the Hendersons Happy New Year
1988 Beetlejuice Coming to America


1989 Driving Miss Daisy The Adventures of Baron Munchausen


1990 Dick Tracy Cyrano de Bergerac

Edward Scissorhands

1991 Terminator 2: Judgment Day Hook

Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country

1992 Bram Stoker’s Dracula Batman Begins


1993 Mrs. Doubtfire Philadelphia

Schindler’s List

1994 Ed Wood Forrest Gump

Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein

1995 Braveheart My Family, Mi Familia


1996 The Nutty Professor Ghosts of Mississippi

Star Trek: First Contact

1997 Men in Black Mrs. Brown


1998 Elizabeth Saving Private Ryan

Shakespeare in Love

1999 Topsy-Turvy Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me

Bicentennial Man


2000 How the Grinch Stole Christmas The Cell

Shadow of the Vampire

2001 The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring A Beautiful Mind

Moulin Rouge!

2002 Frida The Time Mahine
2003 The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World

Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl

2004 Lemony Snicker’s A Series of Unfortunate Events The Passion of the Christ

The Sea Inside

2005 The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe Cinderella Man

Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith

2006 Pan’s Labyrinth Apocalypto


2007 La Vie en Rose Norbit

Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End

2008 The Curious Case of Benjamin Button The Dark Knight

Hellboy II: The Golden Army

2009 Star Trek Il Divo

The Young Victoria

2010 The Wolfman Barney’s Version

The Way Back

2011 The Iron Lady Albert Nobbs

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2

2012 Les Misérables Hitchcock

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

2013 Dallas Buyers Club Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa

The Lone Ranger

2014 The Grand Budapest Hotel Foxcatcher

Guardians of the Galaxy

2015 Mad Max: Fury Road The 100-Year-Old-Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared

The Revenant

2016 Suicide Squad A Man Called Ove

Star Trek Beyond

2017 Darkest Hour Victoria & Abdul


2018 Vice Border

Mary Queen of Scots

This category used to be really easy — three nominees and you knew exactly what was gonna win, because most years you had a big acting transformation that clearly made it the favorite in the category. Other years it was ‘which film had the most green people’. Now, with five nominees, things might be different. Theoretically there are precursors and stuff, but they don’t really matter. Generally you can just eyeball this one and be good at it. The only difference now is that we’ve got two extra nominees to worry about. But I think they gave us an easy one to start out with, so it should go okay.

Best Makeup & Hairstyling





Maleficent: Mistress of Evil

They gave us a shortlist of ten. The ones on that shortlist that weren’t nominated were Dolemite Is My Name, Downton Abbey, Little Women, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood and Rocketman.

Little Women was the only one that wasn’t nominated anywhere in any of the nominal precursors, so you figured that stood no chance. Dolemite got some nominations, but you never really figured they’d go there, with the film not landing at all anywhere. Downton got blanked at BAFTA (which was really the only place you figured it would get nominated) and it never really made much of a splash here, so you figured that was probably off. Once Upon a Time is a minor surprise, given all those 60s hairstyles and stuff, but I kinda get it. And Rocketman… that was a choice. So sure.

Instead, we got Joker, and I guess greasy hair and face paint. Sure. Maleficent… don’t get it, just gonna move on. 1917 is war effects. Understandable. Judy is Renée Zellweger looking like Judy Garland, and Bombshell has Charlize as Megyn Kelly, Nicole Kidman as Gretchen Carlson and John Lithgow as Roger Ailes. Makes sense.

There are nominal precursors here, which I’ll tell you about, but I think you can guess what’s gonna win just by looking at that, can’t you?

First we have the guild, which gives out five awards. Best Contemporary Makeup, Best Contemporary Hair and Best Special Makeup Effects all went to Bombshell. Joker won for Period/Character Makeup and Downton won the other award for Period/Character Hair, which is irrelevant to us right now. Bombshell also won BFCA Makeup.

Oh, and the BAFTA category is 1917, Bombshell, Joker, Judy and Rocketman. So I think you’ve got a pretty good idea of this one, don’t you?



5. Maleficent: Mistress of Evil — A nomination is one thing. Do you really think people are gonna vote for this in this category? If you gave me an entire Oscar ballot, in every single category and separated each of the nominees and asked me which nominee was going to get the least number of votes? I’d say this one. It’s the fifth choice.

4. Joker — 11 nominations is one thing. But one thing I’ve learned over the past five years is that no matter how much support a film has, they only really vote for it in the categories that make sense. The Shape of Water lost the Sound categories, is what I’m saying. This… it’s just clown makeup. There’s not much more. You’ve gotta have people blindly voting for this across the board to think it can win here. Absent a precursor, I just can’t see it. Now, come Oscar night I will probably amend this list and have this third, just to cover my own ass in the event that they make some dumb decisions. But I don’t see this one happening. In the end, maybe that one random guild win becomes the second-most precursor wins in the category. Who knows. I think it’s all window dressing, because we all know what’s winning this.

3. 1917 — It’s war effects. Maybe it wins BAFTA and becomes the second choice. I dunno. I’m thinking war effects and 1917’s actual win possibility puts this above Joker in this category. I struggle putting it higher than this at this juncture though, absent a precursor win and the factors the other two nominees have going for them.

2. Judy — At first glance you look at this and go, “Fourth choice, easy. This won’t have support.” And that’s the easy move to make. However… sure looks like Renée is gonna win for this. And a lot of times those makeup people tend to come along. Or at least get paired in the voting. Not gonna say this is gonna win at all, and in the end, maybe it’s a third or even fourth choice. Just saying that right now, you gotta give it respect. I assume BAFTA will go where everyone else did with this, but I feel like this, of anything else, has a shot at BAFTA. And I don’t know why. But we’ll see. I think we all know what the frontrunner/presumed winner is here, though.

1. Bombshell — If it was just Charlize as Megyn Kelly and Nicole as Gretchen Carlson, I’d still probably call this the favorite but be looking for something to overtake it. But Lithgow as Ailes… how do they pass that up? All around, how do you pass this up? And it doesn’t seem like they will. It basically swept the guild, won BFCA, and when it wins BAFTA, it’s gonna be hard to argue this as a winner. If something else wins BAFTA, then we can talk. But even then, you gotta consider this the favorite. For now, it’s the automatic winner. Maybe that can become a conversation, but until then, nothing else should remotely be in your consideration for winning this one.

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