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Oscars 2020: Best Makeup and Hairstyling Predictions

In a season of iconic transformations it's "Bombshell" versus "Rocketman."

John Lithgow

John Lithgow in “Bombshell”



“Darkest Hour” winner Kazu Hiro led the shortlist for this season’s Best Makeup and Hairstyling Oscar on Monday for his amazing prosthetic work on “Bombshell,” transforming an unrecognizable John Lithgow into late, disgraced Fox News CEO Roger Ailes and producer/star Charlize Theron as former anchor Megyn Kelly.

Other contenders included the stunning transformations of Taron Egerton as Elton John in the “Rocketman” musical fantasy, Renée Zellweger as middle-aged screen legend Judy Garland in the “Judy” biopic, Oscar favorite Joaquin Phoenix as Arthur Fleck/Joker in “Joker,” and Eddie Murphy as blaxploitation performer Rudy Ray Moore in “Dolemite Is My Name.” Rounding out the shortlist were “Downton Abbey,” “Little Women, “Maleficent: Mistress of Evil,” “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood,” and “1917.” The most glaring omission was the makeup/hairstyling of the octogenarian Frank Sheeran in Martin Scorsese’s “The Irishman,” probably due to the complications of ILM’s innovative VFX de-aging.

All members of the Academy’s Makeup Artists and Hairstylists Branch will be invited to view seven-minute excerpts from each of the 10 shortlisted films on Saturday, January 4, 2020.  Members will vote to nominate five films for final Oscar consideration.

Taron Egerton as Elton John in Rocketman from Paramount Pictures.


David Appleby/Paramount Pictures

Said Lithgow: “There are six pieces put together: two jowls, one huge double chin, a different nose, and two fat earlobes, and it blends so completely with my own face … I would wrinkle my face and the wrinkles in the prosthetic would cohere with the wrinkles on my face. I don’t know how they do this magic.”

Makeup/hairsylist Lizzie Yianni-Georgiou achieved a grounded, recognizable look for Egerton’s John in “Rocketman.” “Elton gave Taron and [director] Dexter [Fletcher] carte blanche to not copy him or make a caricature,” she said. “I wanted the makeup to be the essence of Elton and I think it went further than that just because of the way it was put together with the sets and the costumes and Dexter’s direction. When we had the younger stuff, I took away blemishes, made him clean shaven and gave him fine eyebrows, eye shadow, the sideburns, and the shorter hair wig.”

For Todd Phillips’ “Joker,” makeup designer Nicki Ledermann teamed up with hair designer Kay Georgiou to re-imagine the DC super-villain. They started with an image of Cesar Romero’s high-camp ‘60s TV Joker and broke it down using the terminally depressed, mentally unstable, bullied clown Fleck as the center piece, Ledermann made the classic white mask meticulously messy, smeared, untidy, and imperfect. Georgiou took a similar approach with Fleck’s pageboy haircut. Phoenix arrived on set with very long hair, and they imagined Fleck cutting his hair next to a mirror with kitchen shears.



Niko Tavernise/Warner Bros.

For the unrecognizable Renée Zellweger as middle-aged screen legend Garland, who took London by storm one last time in 1969, makeup and hair designer Jeremy Woodhead had to redo the actress’ face. He began by adding a tip to her nose, gave her cheekbones a gaunt look while adding frown lines, dark circles, and crow’s feet with paint. To top it off, he gave her Garland’s trademark false eyelashes.

Contenders listed in alphabetical order. No film will be considered a frontrunner until we have seen it.

“Dolemite Is My Name”

“Downton Abbey”
“Little Women”
“Maleficent: Mistress of Evil”
“Once Upon a Time in Hollywood”

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