When making Avatar James Cameron insisted that his goal was never to replace actors with his technology so much as it was to replace spending hours upon hours in the makeup chair each morning, and in many ways his vision seems to be coming to fruition, but there are still enough movies being made where traditional makeup effects are in play to keep categories like this necessary.
- Deadpool: Deadpool is a character whose costume completely covers his face. Unlike Spider-man, who covers his face to hide his identity, Deadpool covers his face because he’s one ugly motherfucker. Having been left with massive burning after his wacky origin the character is covered head to toe in unsightly skin problems. What’s interesting about this makeup job is that it’s actually one of the restrained elements of the movie and actually looks more like an actual disfigurement than a movie effect.
- Green Room: Gore effects. Pretty much every year I have a selection for a movie that’s most able to convey the look of human dismemberment most effectively and Green Room definitely delivers on that front. Between effectively ripping one character’s arm off, having a dog nibble away on someone’s face, and blowing someone’s head in with a shotgun this movie definitely has a vision for killing people in interesting and graphic ways and the makeup artists were able to bring that vision to fruition.
- Star Trek Beyond: Aliens have long been the bread and butter of the prosthetic alien makeup effects and for good reason. That remains the case as evidenced by the makeup work on Star Trek Beyond which is almost effortlessly awesome. The most obvious examples of this are the Sofia Boutella and Idris Elba characters but there are a whole lot of other random aliens in the movie with cool looking makeup.
- Suicide Squad: While most of these makeup nominees focus their makeup work on one or two elements of the film Suicide Squad required the makeup artists to do a whole lot of different things. The most obvious is the creation of the Killer Croc character but it also needs to cover Jay Hernandez in skeletal tattoos and make The Enchantress look like the goth prom ghost (the two forms of that character are remarkably different) and make Harley Quinn look like the Bratz doll from hell.
- Swiss Army Man: Given that the movie Swiss Army Man is a movie that’s (sort of) about a re-animated corpse you’d think that it would be quite the showcase for elaborate makeup but its triumph is that it actually keeps much of the makeup work subtle. In fact I worry that I might be completely off on this and that the lions share of the credit for making Daniel Radcliff look like a corpse belongs to Deniel Radcliff, but there is clearly some work going on to make his skin paler than usual and to add marks to his face. Whatever the cause this effect really works.