2012 Oscar Nominees for Best Makeup: The Iron Lady

The movie title, The Iron Ladydescribes the former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, played by Meryll Streep.

Nominated for an Achievement in Makeup Oscar on January 24 were J. Roy Helland, an Emmy award winning makeup artist/hairstylist for Angels in America and prosthetic designer Mark Coulier, who won Emmy Awards for Arabian Nights and the 1998 Merlin.

It required an old age makeup to 86 years. To do so as perfectly as Mark’s team did, they used PlatSil gel 10 silicone prosthetic pieces made with Smith’s theatrical deadener at 170% softener.

The neck appliance had to be soft enough to get a good stretch but compressed without buckling, which is all about putting the edges in the right place and painting into the skin in the right way, getting the right softness of silicone.

The pieces were sculpted by Barrie Gower who helped apply the makeup everyday filming, run by Leon Smickle and pre-painted by Zoe Marsden with oil colors and silicone.


The makeup also included a gelatin nose piece, which was also used in the younger Thatcher scenes, since gelatin is slightly firmer and would be more appropriate for that part of the brow. Silicone moves and wrinkles.

The forehead was free of prosthetic and stipple but instead did a lot of painting in Skin Illustrator. Bondo appliances were used to age underneath the eyes, wig roots are dyed slightly grayer, and old age stipple was used on the hands.

The process took 2 hours and 20 minute applied 46 times: the old age makeup 23 times, young 23 times.


2012 Oscar Nominees for Best Makeup: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows part 2

The eighth and final installment of the Harry Potter series is particularly known, in all installments for Ralph Fiennes‘ unrecognizable transformation into Lord Voldemort who, in this movie had to deteriorate as the Horcruxes containing his soul was destroyed. Mark Coulier did it very carefully so  as not to look like the makeup was an edge of a prosthetic piece applied feebly.

Along with other creature effects, animatronics, loads of special effects, injuries, scars, movie dirt, grime, blood and intricate hairwork, it was a sure nomination.

But what caught the attention of makeup critics everywhere including myself was the beautifully designed silicone prosthetic pieces that made up the Goblins in Gringotts Bank. The characters wore full head, multi-piece silicone appliances, black lenses, fake nails, punched eyebrows and hairline, one of which made the creature cover for makeup artist magazine issue 92 where I did most of my research.

The team had the daunting task of 40 prosthetic makeups & 20 background heads shot simultaneously over more than two years. Each shooting day had new appliances so the team had quite a number of perishable pieces in storage.

With 15 different nationalities of makeup artists it was essential to keep the team organized and that they did so by setting aside days for application demos, trials to see what kind of problems could arise until they got the application time down to 4 hours.

It was Katy Fray who suggested to have a set color palette which limited where they could go. They also used the same glue and removers making it unified. Creature designer Nick Dudman says, “We were very disciplined about it. On the first test day, people would come up and say, ‘Can I use my own palette…or this or that?’ but we had already photographed what each makeup looked like, we knew what the tones and colors looked like and each piece had been pre-painted, so I didn’t want anybody painting over them just because they had a better idea. I did wonder what would we would get if I let some of these people loose, but I just didn’t have that luxury. They had all been hired for their skill in applying these makeups neatly and accurately, as well as their ability to take instruction, and they were all brilliant.”

Receiving 14 BAFTA nominations for their work are creature effects/make-up effects designer Nick Dudman, make-up department head Amanda Knight and hair designer Lisa Tomblin.

Photos courtesy of Make-up Artist Magazine.

2012 Oscar Nominees for Best Makeup: Albert Noobs

Albert Noobs, played by actress Glenn Close, struggles to survive in late 19th century Ireland, where women aren’t encouraged to be independent.

She poses as a man, so she can work as a butler in Dublin’s most posh hotel, then meets a handsome painter and looks to escape the lie she has been living.

Turning a woman to a man or vise versa is always tricky especially since the storyline is a full-fledged, period drama. Our minds are trained to find ridicule in such transformations.  

Responsible for the subtle yet realistic makeup designs for Albert Noobs was Matthew Mungle, a special effects artist known for his work in 1992 for Dracula. He designed a prosthetic nose tip and nostrils made of PlatSil (platinum silicone) at a 100% deadener. This part of the nose doesn’t move too much so the harness of the silicone is perfect.

Gelatin prosthetic earlobes were also applied which extended to the outside of the ear for a wider and longer ear making them look more masculine. Ear plumpers were applied behind the ears to push them out, which gave a more endearing look.

Dental plumpers made onto a VacuForm of the actual teeth pushed the cheeks out slightly. She wore very light makeup, matching the prosthetics to her skin.

Hair was tied tightly to her head, matching the wig part to her real hair partition, a technique used by Martial Corneville, making it look real and giving it natural movement. Another technique Martial did was to dye the bottom inch of the actress’ hair to match the wig perfectly. These subtle techniques are note worthy for an incredibly natural effect.

Lynn Johnson, a local from Dublin, who applied the makeup everyday on location for her meticulous technique, was picked out personally by Mungle who could not be on location to shoot. It stood the test of outdoor lighting and an Oscar nomination.

I have a confession.

An ode to the geekiest video game series I ever played too much of: Final Fantasy. No video game overplaying is completely exhausted until you find yourself updating your sphere grid, acquiring anything from gil to ether, casting haste or reflect while summoning an Aeon in battle. All in your pajamas at 4pm, walkthrough print out in tow.

Oh to have the time is such a luxury now, but there will always be a special controller-shaped place in my heart for gaming and geek speak. Respect to Michelle Phan for making this makeup look so easy to do! This particular look is from Final Fantasy XIII-2.

Ursides by Nadia Wicker

At first glance the photos look like captured firework displays and after a while your eyes find the face. Its a great play of light and color. Certainly makes interesting photos.

When asked what inspired her in an interview with MyModernMet.com, makeup artist and photographer Nadia Wicker says about the Ursides series,

My love of makeup! The possibilities of creation and metamorphosis are infinite with makeup! With Ursides, I wanted to show myself differently and I wanted to get a result which does not inevitably remind one of a photo.

To know more about Nadia Wicker and Ursides, visit NadiaWicker.com