Now that Warner Bros’ “Joker” has made the Oscar shortlist for Best Makeup and Hairstyling, it’s one of the front-runners to take home the Academy Award. The film’s artisans were responsible for physically transforming a well-known actor (in this case, Joaquin Phoenix) into someone else entirely, much in the same way the past few Oscar winners in this category have done. Think “Vice” (2018) transforming Christian Bale into veep Dick Cheney, “Darkest Hour” (2017) turning Gary Oldman into a dead ringer for Winston Churchill, and “Suicide Squad” (2016) making A-listers like Margot Robbie and Jared Leto into comic book villains Harley Quinn and the Joker.
Phoenix completely disappears into the role of the mentally deranged Arthur Fleck, aka the Joker, thanks in part to his over-the-top makeup and hair. The craft is also integral to the story, which is a key factor in winning awards as it will stick in voters’ minds as they go to mark their ballots. Phoenix’s character experiments with several different makeup techniques in the film, eventually settling on the now-iconic clownish white face paint, red faux smile, blue eye triangles and lime green hair.
The aforementioned “Suicide Squad” victory meant it was the second such Oscar victory this century for a film depicting the Joker, following Heath Ledger‘s posthumous Best Supporting Actor triumph in “The Dark Knight” (2008). Do Oscar voters simply have a soft spot for the DC Comics baddie? If so, that bodes well for “Joker’s” chances at the 2020 ceremony.
Many awards watchers thought “The Dark Knight” would make it into the Best Picture lineup in 2009. After all, it had a 94% score at Rotten Tomatoes and earned eight overall Oscar noms including — yep — Best Makeup & Hairstyling thanks mostly to Ledger’s impressive Joker getup. Following an outcry over its snub for Best Picture, the following year the Academy Awards doubled the number of Best Picture contenders in the hopes more box office-friendly films would earn recognition. Now, 11 years later, “Joker” could take advantage of that rule change as it comes in seventh place in Gold Derby’s racetrack odds for Best Picture.
The Makeup Artists & Hair Stylists Guild jump-started the Oscar derby last month when they announced their nominations for the 2019 calendar year. “Joker” walked away with two noms: period/character makeup and contemporary hairstyling. See Gold Derby’s racetrack odds for the MUAHS guild.
Be sure to make your Oscar nominee predictions today so that Hollywood insiders can see how their films and performers are faring in our odds. You can keep changing your predictions as often as you like until just before nominees are announced on January 13. And join in the fun debate over the 2020 Academy Awards taking place right now with Hollywood insiders in our film forums. Read more Gold Derby entertainment news.