Who Picks the Oscar Nominations for Hair & Make-up and How
She is not likely to toot her own horn so MODERN will. Linda Flowers, inventor of the Top Styler, has enough Hair Department Head credits to her name in substantial, Oscar-worthy films including The Hunger Games, Catching Fire, The Social Network, There Will Be Blood and so many more, that she is a voting member of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences and one of the expert eyes fixed on the Oscar race. Flowers and other voting members of The Academy determined the nominees for the 2014 Achievement in Makeup and Hairstyling Oscar. They are:
Dallas Buyers Club (make-up and hairstyling for the film in its entirety): Robin Mathews and Adruitha Lee
Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa (make-up and hairstyling for the Irving Zisman character): Steve Prouty
The Lone Ranger (make-up and hairstyling for the film in its entirety): Joel Harlow and Gloria Pasqua-Casny, Make-up department head
The process of determining these nominees involves time, review and intimate understanding of the process of designing hair and makeup looks for film. Flowers took time to speak to MODERN about how it’s done.
“There is a committee made up of a handful of Academy members who review all the films and then narrow it down to seven films they feel are Oscar-worthy,” explains Flowers. “They arrive at that number after hearing the hair and makeup teams present their movies. They come, bring a book, and talk about what went into creating the looks. Then we go through a process of elimination and at the end of the day, we pick our favorite seven. Then they announce a week later and those seven are invited to go to, what we call, the Bake Off. This happens in a theatre, where they play clips of the seven films, and they present again to The Academy and talk about their film. Then, we vote and narrow it down to the three. Dallas Buyers Club really shined at the Bake Off because their story is so emotional and I think The Academy voted for the underdog. The film was made in four weeks and the hair department had a budget of $250.00. It was Kamikaze-style student filming. Mathew (McConnaughey) lost 45 pounds and it was a big discussion with the people that vote on whether the transformation was makeup or just a weight loss. The girls that did it had a chance plead their case in front of us at the Bake Off. They changed his hair, did a lot of contouring, and used old-school techniques like using oatmeal to make his face look dry and cracked.”
There was some online chatter and disbelief over American Hustle being overlooked when the Hair and Makeup Nominations were announced and Flowers explains it this way.
“A lot of the people who have gotten into The Academy have been recognized for their special effects skills. Movies heavy on prosthetics get a lot of attention because it takes skill, artistry, knowledge of chemicals, and products. So The Academy loves special effects; very rarely will a movie get voted in for just pretty makeup. The hair was fantastic in American Hustle but the Academy favored aging makeup this year. If the award was just for hair, they would have gotten in but it is hair and makeup taken together.”
The Lone Ranger was nominated, specifically for Johnny Depp’s makeup as Tonto. “Johnny’s aging makeup was brilliant,” says Flowers. “They aged his whole body. The Academy loved it.”
Flower’s film Catching Fire made it to the Bake Off because, she says, she and her team made the wigs like Effie’s gold wig. But, in the end, “I’m not sure they knew what to make of it because it couldn’t be slotted into a specific genre. It’s not a period film, it wasn’t heavy on special effects, but it was intense hair and makeup.”