Makeup can be an odd mistress, in prestige awards it’s a category that seems to be evenly split between dainty period pieces and gory horror movies. Given the types of movies I see and the way I tend to judge them, my nominations tend to lean towards the later. It can sometimes be hard to tell where makeup ends and special effects begin, but I try my best with the knowledge I have.
- Black Swan: This might be a ballerina movie, but its visuals have a lot of ties to body horror, a heavily makeup dependent genre that was pioneered by David Cronenberg in the 80s. As Nina takes a decent into madness we see her visual hallucinations in which she begins to take the attributes of a swan in weird and kind of disturbing ways. In a movie with this kind of gritty tone, bad makeup would be jarring, which is why this team needed to make it work.
- The Crazies: Zombie makeup is done pretty often, but we shouldn’t take the challenges of this work for granted. This is a bit different from most zombie movies in that these people aren’t dead and they also aren’t quite as hyper as the 28 Days Latter “zombies.” So they need to make more of a minimalist approach adding some blood here and some rashes there, making them look just off enough to be distinctly different from the survivors.
- Inception: This is not a movie that comes to mind right away when you think about makeup as it isn’t really prominent through large portions of the movie. However, there is one scene that really shows off makeup process in which Ken Watanabe is seen wearing heavy old age makeup. This must have required heavy latex or something, but they pull it off. At the end of the day quality is more important than quantity.
- The Killer Inside Me: This is another movie that isn’t awash in makeup effects but which uses it in one key scene very effectively. Gore effects are common in cinema, but they are rarely used to quite the effect that they are in one of this movie’s murder scenes in which an actress is beaten to death and her face seems to just fall apart with each punch. It’s a visceral and disturbing scene and this could go down as one of those great underground gore moments.
- Splice: Makeup in science fiction has a long and often not-so-illustrious legacy. We all know about those old B-movies with fake looking monsters and how much that can detract from the experience. That’s not a concern here as this movie has some really cool monster effects that look very realistic and also really fantastical. The creature is meant to be a hybrid of human and animal DNAs and what makes it work so well is that they were willing to make the creature really human, but… not.