MUAHs Awards Favor Transformations Will Oscar Follow?

Awards voters love a transformation: Gary Oldman in “Darkest Hour,” Jessica Chastain in “The Eyes of Tammy Faye” and Christian Bale in “Vice” are just some of the recent winners who disappeared into their roles. And the recent Makeup and Hairstylists Guild (MUAHS) nominations seem to be an indicator of the trend continuing this year.

Among this year’s MUAHS nominees are “The Batman,” which, despite being released in March 2022, has shown up on numerous guild honors lists including American Society of Cinematographers (ASC), Motion Picture of Sound Editors (MPSE).

THE BATMAN, Colin Farrell, as Oswald Cobblepot / the Penguin, 2022. © Warner Bros. / Courtesy Everett Collection
Courtesy of Warner Bros/Everett Collection

The transformation in the film belongs to Colin Farrell, who plays Oswald Cobblepot, the scarred and pudgy midlevel Gotham City gangster with the (unwelcome) nickname of “the Penguin.”

Prosthetic makeup artist Michael Marino designed the look. Director Matt Reeves cites John Cazale, Sydney Greenstreet and Bob Hoskins as inspirations for the role. “I saw him as being almost like a throwback Warner Bros. gangster,” Reeves says. After four hours in the makeup chair, Farrell became the Penguin.

Blonde, behind the scenes Ana de Armas as Marilyn Monroe, Tina Roesler Kerwin (Dept. Head Makeup). Cr. Matt Kennedy / Netflix © 2022
Matt Kennedy/NETFLIX

MUAHS nominees Tina Roesler Kerwin, Elena Arroy, Jamie Leigh McIntosh and Cassie Lyons led the transformation of Ana de Armas into Marilyn Monroe for “Blonde” with the help of wigs, false eyelashes and blue contact lenses.

THE WHALE, Brendan Fraser, 2022. © A24 / Courtesy Everett Collection
Courtesy Everett Collection

Another transformation that left many in awe was Brendan Fraser in Darren Aronofsky’s “The Whale.” The film follows Charlie, a 600-lb. teacher who hides behind a computer screen — camera off — as he tries to salvage a relationship with his estranged daughter.

Prosthetics makeup designer Adrien Morot enhanced Fraser’s appearance after the actor gained weight for the role, using body parts created with a 3D printer. The application process initially took six hours. During filming, it was whittled down to four. Morot’s challenge was the pandemic. He didn’t have access to the actor in the way he normally would in order to take measurements. This is where technology came in handy. A producer went to Fraser’s house, and using an iPad, laser imaging scan of the star to capture the data. Once Morot had exact measurements, he used that data to build what he needed.

Morot says, “In the digital world, I could blow the eye bag up on a giant monitor and texture map everything to add in all these details.”

The 45-day shoot meant daily printing of pieces, but as Charlie’s health deteriorated in the story, Morot had to make changes in how the prosthetics looked to reflect that downward spiral.

Baz Luhrmann’s “Elvis” landed three MUAHS nominations including hair, makeup and special effects. This past weekend, it took home the Critics Choice Award for best hair and makeup.

The film follows a young Elvis, inspired by gospel music and the blues, to the 1970s Las Vegas performer. Austin Butler disappears into the role of Elvis Presley while makeup and hair work in unison with costume design to reflect the changing eras and Presley’s iconic hair.

Prosthetics helped give Butler a more pronounced jawline.

Shane Thomas and Louise Coulston started off using Butler’s real hair for the early ’50s scenes, but six wigs were used to get his hair as high as possible. Thomas and Coulston paid extra attention to the sideburns, particularly during Presley’s Vegas era.

The makeup team kept prosthetics to a minimum for the younger Elvis, but as Presley
aged, Butler was given jaw and chin pieces. By his last performance in 1977, Luhrmann shows Elvis sitting down at a grand piano performing “Unchained Melody.”

Editors Matt Villa and Jonathan Redmond seamlessly cut to Presley. That transformation to his last days required Butler to don a fat suit and wear full face, chest and neck pieces, which made audiences question “Is that Elvis or Austin?”

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