a theatre, film & pop culture review
Hitchcock, like last year’s winner The Iron Lady, has one major effect that prompted its nomination: the recreation of that famous Hitchockian profile. Howard Berger, Oscar-winner for The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, went the prosthetics route with Anthony Hopkins (unlike, say, Daniel Day-Lewis, who disappeared beautifully into the 16th President without prosthetics — yet Lincoln was snubbed here). Instead of an exacting recreation — that would impede the actor’s work (a la Leonard DiCaprio in J. Edgar) — Berger and team took a less-is-more approach. After crafting six different molds, they ended up trimming down the nose and ears and losing a set of dentures altogether. Despite this mere approximation, the master is all there: the droopy jowls, the big-lipped underbite. You don’t doubt Hopkins’s Hitch, physically, for a minute.
Unfortunately for Hitchcock, the other two films have not just one shining example of makeup artistry, but hundreds. At first glance, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey appears to have the most/best makeup and hairstyling. Tami Lane (also nominated as part of the team for Hitchcock) added so much red coloring to the dwarves’ skin that, on-set, they looked as though they’d spent too much time on the Jersey Shore. But due to the unforgiving 48 frames-per-second and 3D, which would make regularly-toned skin appear a sickly yellow, Lane rosied those cheeks to achieve the correct pallor. Her team also rocked out some nifty braided beards, pronounced dwarvian schnozes, and the pre-CGI makeup for the film’s most masterful creation, Gollum.
But with only three nominations, the Academy clearly was as disappointed as the rest of us with The Hobbit. And we all know how much they love a musical… And wouldn’t you know, the only aspect of Les Misérables that isn’t terrible — in fact, is actually quite good — is the hair and makeup. Director Tom Hooper recruited a star-studded BBC-trained team for his period epic, and Lisa Westcott and Julie Dartnell got it exactly right. For “Convict Val Jean,” they created scraggly extensions for Jackman’s natural beard, gave him some bloodshot and yellowed contact lenses, and some really classy yellowed dentures. When he got his act together and became “Mayor Val Jean,” he got a shave and a much more dignified (and perfectly gelled) hairpiece along with some swanky sideburns. “Dying Val Jean” saw the return of the scraggly beard in addition to some awesomely weathered skin and sad, drooping eyes. And this was only Val Jean — there’s an impressive number of yellow-teethed, nappy-haired urchins in this film, not to mention the powder-caked cheeks and red-lipped likes of the thieving Thénardiers. Everything about Les Mis is so over-the-top, but you have to admit: makeup-wise, they got it right.