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updated: 1/16/2014 4:51 PM

Hair stylists get brushed off in Oscar noms

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  • Supporting actress nominee Jennifer Lawrence demonstrates the power of hair to define a character in David O. Russell's "American Hustle," shut out of the hair and makeup category.

      Supporting actress nominee Jennifer Lawrence demonstrates the power of hair to define a character in David O. Russell's "American Hustle," shut out of the hair and makeup category.

  • Bradley Cooper, left, with permed ringlets, and Christian Bale's toupee showcase the importantance of hair styles in "American Hustle." Even so, the movie earned no Oscar nomination for hair and makeup.

      Bradley Cooper, left, with permed ringlets, and Christian Bale's toupee showcase the importantance of hair styles in "American Hustle." Even so, the movie earned no Oscar nomination for hair and makeup.

  • Video: "American Hustle" hair trailer

 
 

Not to split hairs, but the voters at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences got everything right in the Oscar nominations announced Thursday morning.

Except for the hair and makeup category.

Hair styles are practically characters unto themselves in David O. Russell's "American Hustle." They define the people under them, starting with Christian Bale's con man wearing a comb-over toupee, symbolizing how he presents himself as something he's not.

Yet, the 12 credited hair stylists and wig makers on "American Hustle" were given the brush off in Thursday's hair and makeup nominations.

So was J. Roy Helland, who supplied excellent makeup and hair for Meryl Streep's character in "August: Osage County." Streep's matriarch, suffering from the effects of chemotherapy, barely has hair of her own, so she spends a large chunk of screen time with an ill-fitting wig.

Maybe it's time for the Academy to think about splitting hair and makeup into separate categories so that the makeup part doesn't dominate the nominations, as it does this year.

Otherwise, the rest of the nominations proved to be an embarrassment of riches.

Many more actors deserved Oscar nods last year than the five allowed by the rules. Each nominee in this category is more than deserving. Still, the MIA list includes Robert Redford as a stranded sailor in "All is Lost," Tom Hanks as the titular "Captain Phillips," Hugh Jackman as the dad of a missing girl in "Prisoners" and Joaquin Phoenix as a lonely human heart in "Her." (One might imagine the late James Gandolfini would have earned a nod for "Enough Said," but Oscar voters are apparently not in a sentimental mood this season.)

MIA from the best actress category would be Emma Thompson's comically dramatic turn as Mary Poppins' creator in "Saving Mr. Banks," Brie Larson's galvanizingly transparent performance as a foster-care facility administrator in "Short Term 12" and Scarlett Johansson's voice-only character as a computer system in "Her."

In the documentary category, Gabriela Cowperthwaite's "Black Fish," a strong investigative work about mistreatment of killer whales at oceanariums, was unduly snubbed. It extensively used the Freedom of Information Act to obtain footage that made this report possible.

The Oscar voters showed impeccably good judgment in their nine best picture nominations, considering seven of them appeared on my top 10 list for 2013. (Two films on my list, "Short Term 12" and "The Stories We Tell," had no chance of Oscar nominations anyway.)

If you're calculating the odds of the nominees winning Best Picture, you can probably dismiss Martin Scorsese's "The Wolf of Wall Street." Ever since editing became an Oscar category in 1934, only nine films have won best picture without at least an editing nod. "Ordinary People" was the last one, and it came out 34 years ago.

Not a good sign for "The Wolf," snubbed in the editing category, despite a master craftsmanship job from 73-year-old Thelma Schoonmaker, winner of editing Oscars for Scorsese's "Raging Bull," "The Aviator" and "The Departed."

Wisely, Oscar voters ignored the highly overpraised "The Butler" (apparently shortened from its original title "Lee Daniels' The Butler") which further cements this year's nominations as the strongest list I've witnessed in the last four decades.

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