January 31, 2013
The Academy Award for Best Makeup and Hairstyling sounds like the least masculine of all the categories, but men have earned about 72% of the nominations over the last ten years.
It turns out that the nominations tend to go less to romantic comedies where the makeup and hairstyling challenge is to make the 41-year-old leading lady look 29 and more to sci-fi, horror, and fantasy movies that employ nerdier boy genius inventor types.
The category wasn't regularized until 1981 following the impressive prosthetic work by Christopher Tucker for David Lynch's The Elephant Man. Before then, it had only been given out twice on a special recognition basis. The current movie Argo celebrates John Chambers (played by John Goodman) who won a special Oscar for Planet of the Apes. Chambers also had a long working relationship with CIA agent Tony Mendez conjuring up disguises for American spies. (Ironically, the dark, unobtrusive master-of-disguise Mendez is played, in something of a non-triumph of movie non-magic, by tall golden boy Ben Affleck.)
The most honored make-up artist is Rick Baker with seven Oscars, starting with An American Werewolf in London and including Men in Black. The target demographic for his creations are, roughly, 12-year-old boys.