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Oscars 2020: Best Makeup and Hairstyling Predictions

In a season of iconic transformations, "Bombshell" is the frontrunner over "Joker" and Judy." Updated 1/22/20.

John Lithgow

John Lithgow in “Bombshell”



After dominating the sixth annual Makeup and Hairstyling Guild Awards, “Bombshell” is the Oscar frontrunner for transforming an unrecognizable John Lithgow into late, disgraced Fox News CEO Roger Ailes and producer/star Charlize Theron as former anchor Megyn Kelly. Oscar winner Kazu Hiro (“Darkest Hour”) once again does amazing work (in collaboration with makeup and hair heads, Vivian Baker and Anne Morgan).

Yet the challenges and obstacles were so great that Hiro and the team were required to push the limits of their craft. That’s because Lithgow and Theron don’t very much resemble Ailes and Kelly. And while the strategy for transforming Lithgow was not a precise recreation, Theron wanted to look as much like Kelly as possible. The best solution for Lithgow involved individual pieces for the neck, cheeks, nose, and earlobes. Hiro also shaved the hairline back for Morgan to take over with necessary coloring and alteration. For Theron, a nose plug and tip were important, and, additionally, jaw and chin pieces helped reshape Theron’s round face to Kelly’s square shape.

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.

For Sam Mendes’ continuous-shot “1917,” prosthetics designer Tristan Versluis created nearly three dozen corpses and dead horses (in collaboration with makeup and hair heads, Naomi Donne and Rebecca Cole). Full corpses were required instead of individual body parts for the demands of the 360-degree, continuous action.

The final five contenders are listed in alphabetical order. No film will be considered a frontrunner until we have seen it.


“Maleficent: Mistress of Evil”

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