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‘Elvis’ and ‘The Whale’ Take the Lead in Best Makeup and Hairstyling After Oscar Nominations

With nominations out, the race comes down to "Elvis" versus "The Whale."


Austin Butler in “Elvis”

Warner Bros.

 IndieWire The Craft Top of the Line

This article contains IndieWire’s past Best Makeup and Hairstyling predictions for the 2023 Oscars. We regularly update our predictions throughout awards season, and republish previous versions (like this one) for readers to track changes in how the Oscar race has changed. For the latest update on the frontrunners for the 95th Academy Awards, see our 2023 Oscars predictions hub.

We will update all our Oscar predictions throughout the season, so keep checking IndieWire for the latest news from the 2023 Oscar race. The nomination round of voting will take place from January 12 to January 17, 2023, with the official Oscar nominations announced on January 24, 2023. The final voting is between March 2 and 7, 2023. Finally, the 95th Oscars telecast will be broadcast on Sunday, March 12 and air live on ABC at 8:00 p.m. ET/ 5:00 p.m. PT.

See our initial thoughts for what to expect at the 95th Academy Awards here.

The State of the Race

“All Quiet on the Western Front,” “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever,” “Elvis,” “The Batman,” and “The Whale” were nominated for the Best Makeup and Hairstyling Oscar on Tuesday. All but “All Quiet on the Western Front” were also nominated for the 10th MUAHS Guild Awards (to be held February 11 at the Beverly Hilton).

Shortlisted omissions also nominated for the MUAHS Awards included “Amsterdam,” “Babylon,” “Blonde.” Among the other no-shows were “Crimes of the Future” and “Emancipation.”

Now it becomes a race between “The Whale” and “Elvis,” bolstered by Best Actor nominations for Brendan Fraser and Austin Butler, with the late surging “All Quiet on the Western Front” becoming the wild card, thanks to its Oscar momentum — tying “Elvis” for crafts leader with six noms apiece.

Looking at the MUAHS Awards, “Elvis” scored the most nominations with three (tied with “The Batman”) for period makeup and hairstyling and special makeup effects, with “The Whale” earning its nomination for special makeup effects.

In transforming Butler into the King of Rock, Shane Thomas (hair and makeup designer), two-time Oscar winner Mark Coulier (prosthetics designer), and Jason Baird (prosthetics supervisor) did a slight progression from the ’50s through the ’70s. The key was getting the iconic pompadour right: Although they colored the actor’s hair for the early ’50s, wigs were used for subsequent eras, going higher and higher. Facial prosthetics were applied and became more chiseled as Presley got older and his jawline hardened. Dreamy eyelashes and eye makeup completed the look.

The most innovative work, though, occurred in Darren Aronofsky’s “The Whale,” which is why it’s the frontrunner. Fraser was transformed into the 600-pound English teacher through the first-time use of all-digital prosthetic makeup for a major feature, pioneered by prosthetic makeup designer Adrien Morot. This pushed Fraser’s weight to the severest extreme without covering his face and obfuscating his emotional range of expression.

“All Quiet” makeup and hair designer Heike Merker immersed herself in the fine details of applying mud and blood to Paul (Felix Kammerer) and his fellow soldiers on the rain-soaked battlefield. She helped convey their journey into becoming sludge-caked, weary, demoralized soldiers. This entailed an assortment of wigs and lots of facial hair, and keeping track of the evolution of the war makeup and hair (especially since scenes were not shot in order).

However, the most unrecognizable work can be found in “The Batman,” courtesy of prosthetic makeup artist Michael Marino, who provided a total transformation for Colin Farrell as low-level gangster Oz/Penguin, without being inhibited at all in delivering his funny, volatile performance.

While “Wakanda Forever” failed to match the historic craft nominations of “Black Panther,” it broke through in makeup and hairstyling for Oscar-winning makeup artist Joel Harlow and hairstylist Camille Friend. They accomplished two tasks with Ryan Coogler’s sequel: The first was expanding the Wakandan looks based on various African cultures (especially for Angela Bassett’s Oscar-nominated Queen Ramonda — a first acting nom for Marvel), and the second was developing looks for the underwater Talokans based on Mesoamerican tribes and cultures (particularly their worship of the sun and moon).

Below are the nominees ranked in order of likelihood to win:

“The Whale” (A24)
“Elvis” (Warner Bros.)
“All Quiet on the Western Front” (Netflix)
“The Batman” (Warner Bros.)
“Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” (Marvel/Disney)

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