Makeup artistry is a huge part of movie-making. In recent years the Academy Awards Board has elected to broadcast the category of Best Make-up live. The category of Best Make-up has gone largely underappreciated and under celebrated. An amazing oversight when you consider what make-up can do for a film. Would we really have gone to see "Edward Scissorhans" minus the special effects makeup? I do not know how many audiences would felt for that character had he not been so visually appalling. That being said, the marriage between make-up application, as well as the performance of the actor is what sets the tone for a believable story line.
Make-up artists have become an invaluable tool for the production staff on any major movie set. Make-up not only helps to convince and convey characters to an audience, as much as it helps to embody the physical manifestation of any given character. Make-up artistry serves as a visual and emotional need in the world of make believe. Now let's examine why each the previous 3 Academy Award winners were chosen, and the nominees are?
In 2005 the Academy chose "The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe" as winner of the Best Makeup category. This was the first award for special effects makeup artist Howard Berger, who worked alongside former winner Tami Lane. Lane had seen previous success with the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy. The two created the amazing creatures from the Narnia books. The fawn, the queen, the children, every aspect of the characters looked realistic and the attention to detail makes seemingly mythical creatures appear life-like, as if this world could exist somewhere in the back of anyones closet. Utilizing both prosthetics and CGI really worked in synchronism to balance the look of the world of Narnia. Not only did these two win over the American Academy, they also earned the 2006 BAFTA award for best Makeup.
Not every award that is given by the Academy is recognized in the entire industry, a really tough win for any artist is to gain the accolades of the Academy as well as The Academy of Science, Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror Films, but in 2005 the "Chronicles of Narnia" won the Saturn Award and the Academy Award for best makeup.
The fantasy realm of "Pan's Labyrinth" in 2006 straddled the worlds of reality and imagination. A look into war and its harsh after affects, a young girl wants to escape and finds the scary realm of the unknown. Special Makeup Effects Artists David Marti and Montse Ribe were rewarded for their efforts in Mexico at the Ariel Awards and received a Silver Ariel award for Best Makeup, as well as an Oscar in the US. It is no wonder the Academy chose to acknowledge this film, these artists put creatures on screen without the aide of CGI to present such striking visual representations of the creatures from the script. Incidentally, both artists have collaborated again for 2008's "Hellboy II," an exciting piece for such inventive artists.
Most recently the Academy acknowledged 2007 film "La Vie En Rose," which won Best Make-up Artist. Didier Lavergne the head make-up artist on set turned Marion Coittard into the famous Edith Piaf with fabulous hairstyling from Jan Archibald. That same year Best Make-up Artist was awarded to Lavergne at the BAFTA awards. Lavergne is no newcomer to the make-up world, his work can also be seen in "The Pianist," "Le Divorce" and "Oliver Twist" to name a few. Just take a look at a photo of the real Edith Piaf and place it next to the actress Marion Coittard, it is easy to see why these two deserve the award. It is no easy task to turn one woman's facial anatomy to not only resemble but embody someone else's. No CGI tricks aided this duo, but rather true artistry and some well created prosthetics.
Whether creating a non-fictional character to a character plucked from the pages of a children's novel to creating other- worldly mythical creatures, the Academy in their wisdom have shown us why these artists are so influential in film today. Make-up has the ability to take audiences to places they have never thought could exist in the physical form. It takes a great deal of patience, planning, experience and expertise to be the kind of artist worthy of an Oscar. These men and women are innovators that have given the world something to be appreciated for years to come.