*With Oscar voting in full swing and the ceremony less than two weeks away, I'm taking this week to spotlight a handful of nominees in the technical categories. These are not frontrunners in their category, but they are worthy of our consideration. Welcome to FYC Week.*
As noted in my discussion of the Best Visual Effects category last week, "best" usually means "most" at the Oscars. Oscar pundits and cinephiles alike will often bemoan this fact, arguing that nuanced work is far superior and lamenting the go-for-broke nominees who end up taking home statuettes. But bigger isn't always a bad thing. In fact, sometimes "most" actually is "best."
Take, for example, the makeup in Guardians of the Galaxy. Marvel's sci-fi superhero film utilizes far more obvious makeup than either of the other two, more prestigious nominees in Best Makeup and Hairstyling (Foxcatcher and The Grand Budapest Hotel). Most of it is in turning actors into aliens, such as Zoe Saldana's green-skinned assassin Gamora, Michael Rooker's blue-toned bounty hunter Yondu, or Lee Pace's lighter-blue-complexion villain Ronan the Accuser. Similarly, in terms of hairstyling, the wild, untamed white mane of Benicio Del Toro's mysterious Collector immediately comes to mind, as does Glenn Close's future-chic coif as galactic leader Nova Prime.
The important distinction is that the sheer volume of the makeup effects in the film aren't just massive, but also memorable. Director James Gunn could have easily opted for computer effects in creating most of these looks, but instead he utilizes outlandish makeup to create the characters. The result is that characters like Gamora, Drax (Dave Bautista), and Nebula (Karen Gillan) all occupy real space, a feat that is difficult to recreate with pixels in post-production. The characters have weight onscreen, which is valuable to the film's overall effect; the audience senses that these characters are real, allowing us to invest more in them.
Certainly, The Grand Budapest Hotel has some fabulous old-age makeup and Ralph Fiennes' impeccable mustache, and Foxcatcher is most notable for Steve Carell's prosthetic nose. But with Guardians of the Galaxy, the most makeup really is the best.