Last Updated February 22: The results of the ninth annual MUAHS Awards on February 20th stunned most observers with “Cruella” (Disney) “Being the Ricardos” (Amazon), and “Coming 2 America (Amazon) victorious over “Dune” (Warner Bros.) “House of Gucci” (MGM/UA) and “The Eyes of Tammy Faye” (Searchlight/Disney). “Cruella” and “Being the Ricardos” (which isn’t an Oscar nominee) split period makeup and hairstyling, while “Coming 2 America” took contemporary makeup, hairstyling, and makeup effects.
This certainly shakes up the Oscar race, with “Cruella” now the favorite and “Coming 2 America” suddenly a stronger contender. However, period pieces tend to get greater recognition than contemporary films.
Makeup and hair designer Nadia Stacey did a bit of reverse engineering for creating Emma Stone’s ’70s punk look in the “Cruella” origin story. The idea was to work toward the eventual iconic two-toned black-and-white hairdo, black eyeshadow, liner, and red lips. Stacey began by going beyond the black-and-white hair and a dash of makeup for Cruella’s coming out party in the stunning red dress (from Oscar-nominated costume designer Jenny Beavan). She built a mask using jewels and makeup as a deception. But Stacey’s most inspired punk look was “The Future” mask stenciled in black on Stone’s face, coupled with sparkly red lipstick, riffing on the Sex Pistols’ legendary album cover, “Never Mind The Bollocks.”
The “Coming 2 America” team of Mike Marino, Stacey Morris, and Carla Farmer perfectly complemented the Afro-punk vibe introduced by Oscar winning-costume designer Ruth Carter in updating Prince Akeem (Eddie Murphy) and Semmi (Arsenio Hall) and the other characters. Murphy’s Prince Akeem benefits from red cheeks and lips, smoky shadows, and an abundance of lashes. While the Nextdorian tribe of the younger generation are the trend setters, adorning their hair in artistic ways. In terms of makeup effects, the team did a fine job of aging Akeem and Semmi.
Yet there’s still hope for “House of Gucci,” “Dune,” or “The Eyes of Tammy Faye” taking the Oscar because they all boast complex transformations. In Ridley Scott’s “House of Gucci,” Oscar-nominated prosthetics designer Göran Lundströn (“Border”) got creative transforming the unrecognizable Jared Leto into the balding and chubby would-be fashion designer Paolo. He and his team of Anna Carin Lock and Frederic Aspiras did some reverse engineering to obliterate the look of the long-haired, thin actor (who wore a fat suit), with a three-piece bald cap, a wig, more than half a dozen prosthetic pieces, and a tweaked mustache. But to arrive on set ready to perform as Paolo, Leto had Lundströn apply his tour de force prosthetics elsewhere, hidden from the rest of the cast.
With the sci-fi “Dune,” director Denis Villeneuve was free to reinvent the look of Stellen Skarsgård’s Baron by riffing on Marlon Brando’s fierce, gorilla-like Kurtz from “Apocalypse Now” with go-to designer Donald Mowat and the Swedish team of prosthetics artists Love Larson and Eva von Bahr. The complex fat suit required a lot of engineering, with loads of silicone and plaster bandages to support the frame and maintain the shape, and separate work for the head and shoulders. Additionally, separate pieces were done for the neck, head, chin, cheeks, earlobes, and hand prosthetics over the knuckles.
Finally, “The Eyes of Tammy Faye” is a contender by virtue of Jessica Chastain’s Best Actress nomination. To recreate Tammy Faye Bakker’s iconic features, hair, and unique style, makeup artist Linda Dowds, hairstylist Stephanie Ingram, and prosthetics designer Justin Raleigh worked in tandem. Raleigh and his team at Fractured FX designed the prosthetics that changed the overall anatomy of Chastain to closely match the real Tammy, along with continuity in the actor as she physically aged throughout the film. Ingram custom-made 10 wigs for Tammy’s various looks, which involved elaborate combinations of different wigs to create Bakker’s trademark multi-layered, highlighted fluff.
Below are the nominees ranked in order of likelihood to win:
“Coming 2 America”
“House of Gucci”
“The Eyes of Tammy Faye”