Thursday, August 5, 2021

Thursday Movie Picks: Oscar Edition-Best Costume & Best Make-up & Hairstyling


Oscar Time and Wandering Through The Shelves chose The Costumes and Make-Up/Hairstyling for this this Month at the Oscars. It's a long one so let's jump right in... 

1. SABRINA-1953

Edith Head, the Queen of the Costume Dept, at Paramount was nominated 35 times and won 8 Oscars during her career. She "created" the famous sarong for Dorothy Lamour as well as the beautiful gown that Grace Kelly wore when she won the Oscar for lead actress in "A Country Girl." Now, that being said, The famous outfits you see Audrey wear in this great film (even if Humphrey Bogart was miscast, in my humble opinion, as the grouchy romantic lead) were mainly created by Hubert De Givenchy starting a beautiful friendship between the star and the clothing guru. Audrey ended up almost always wearing his clothes in films and in personal life. Unfortunately, since Paramount was the studio behind the film and Edith Head was head of the Costume Dept., she got the Oscar which she accepted not ever recognizing Givenchy as the main reason Sabrina Won. The film is about Sabrina(Hepburn), a daughter of a chauffeur, who saved enough money to send her to Paris. When she comes back, she is very sophisticated with clothes to match and has attracted the attention of the younger brother of the rich family her father works for. She is happy because she feels she is in love with this younger brother but  is she? All eyes are on Hepburn especially when she wears this black dress, near the end of the film, for the unique cut of the neckline. It became famous as the Sabrina neckline.


Irene Sharaff won the Oscar for this slog of a film known more for the backstage antics of Lizzy & Ricky than for the actual film. It is a long film and there are some interesting bits but it is a long one about how Cleo(Elizabeth Taylor) meets Julius Caesar(played by Rex Harrison) wrapped in a Persian carpet to her famous affair with Marc Antony (Richard Burton) and eventual death at the hands, er...fangs of an Asp (not Ass, that would be Eddie Fisher). The costumes are amazing even daring for the time with the most famous being the gold outfit she wears when entering Rome. Irene Sharaff won 5 Oscars and was nominated 12 times in total but also won a Tony Award for The King & I. I think part of the success of An American In Paris are the costumes because I don't think that film would have won best picture without her. 


The Oscars, for that year, were one of the most boring, not just because of the usual boringness of it but the utterly boring outfits all the stars wore except for one...the co-winner of this fun film, Lizzy Gardiner  and here's why...

Yes, this dress is made up of expired American Express cards and it is...not the nicest and must have been a bitch to sit in but people still talk about it today. Now, Lizzy gets all the looks but her co-Oscar winner was Tim Chappel who both came up with the amazing frocks that Terence Stamp, Hugo Weaving and Guy Pearce wore as Drag Queens crossing the the Australian Outback meeting a variety of interesting and some dangerous folk along the way. You quickly learn that Terence, once a famous Drag Queen is now Transgender who decides to go with his fellow performer and friend, Hugo, to do a gig in a small town. Also along for the ride is young upstart Guy. It is a heartwarming movie with some good tunes(ABBA) and offers some very heartwarming moments. 

Best Make-Up and Hairstyling...

1. MASK-1985

Michael Westmore(famous for many, many Star Trek make-ups) and Zoltan Elek won the Oscar for this film about a young boy suffering from the Elephant Man's disease or Craniodiaphyseal Dysplasia, a very rare bone disorder. Cher plays the mother who is a drug addled mom who hangs around bikers with the lead biker, played by, be still my heart, Sam Elliott, the father of her boy. One thing this mom has is her profound love she has for her son as she will walk through fire to help him through anything and everything. Cher gave a fantastic performance as did Eric Stolz who played the son. 


OK I could have chosen this for Best Costume as well since the outfits are amazing in this film created by Eiko Ishioka who won the Oscar that year but the make up was also excellent when you see Good ole Drac a few centuries old. The 3 make up artists who created the looks in the film are Greg Cannom (he also did Mrs. Doubtfire and has won 5 Oscars), Michele Burke (she won 2 Oscars) and Matthew Mungle (won for this film but won many Emmy's). I love this film, despite Keanu Reeves who I like better than most people do but he is the weak link in an otherwise great film. The big bat sequence is amazing fior the make-up as well and now, they would probably CGI it which would take away from the film. We know the Dracula story but this film brings in a love story and even reincarnation as a major theme. The acting of Gary Oldman is excellent and I love the music.


I love this film which is part fairy tale, part horror story and part dreams. The sad thing is that the horror part is not that evil looking eye thing but the reality the young girl has to live in. Her mom marries a nasty Spanish Franco following Captain and they travel to his home in the country. There the young girl meets fairies whom she follows into the forest where she meets this fawn-like character who states she needs to do certain deeds if she wants to reclaim her throne. We follow her through the fantasy and the reality hoping the fairy tale will have a happy ending. The looks of the fawn and that evil looking thing with one eye, is downright creepy and quite memorable were created by David Marti and Montse Ribe. CGI is used here in certain ways to enhance a scene but not rule it which is what I always prefer. 

Now, I have to mention 2 amazing make-up people who not only created the works but were the only ones to make  these works which, nowadays, there is a whole department even if only one or 2 people get the Oscar. 

LON CHANEY-1883-1930

He was known as the man of a Thousand Faces and created some many iconic scenes that we see but have no idea what actual pain he went through to achieve the effect. In Fact, for the "Encyclopedia Britannica" he wrote the introduction to make up in an early edition. I copies and pasted what Chaney did for his make-up for his role as the Phantom. He loved what he did..."He raised the contours of his cheekbones by stuffing wadding inside his cheeks. He used a skullcap to raise his forehead height several inches and accentuate the bald dome of the Phantom's skull. Pencil lines masked the join of the skullcap and exaggerated his brow lines. Chaney then glued his ears to his head and painted his eye sockets black, adding white highlights under his eyes for a skeletal effect. He created a skeletal smile by attaching prongs to a set of rotted false teeth and coating his lips with greasepaint. To transform his nose, Chaney applied putty to sharpen its angle and inserted two loops of wire into his nostrils. Guide-wires hidden under the putty pulled his nostrils upward. According to cinematographer CharlesVan Enger, Chaney suffered from his make-up, especially the wires, which sometimes made him "bleed like hell."

JACK PIERCE-1889-1968

This man was head of the make up dept at Universal but, being a perfectionist, he was a true hands-on master and liked to work on the stars himself for the most part. Even though poor Boris Karloff had to endure hours in the make up chair with make-up that actually left scars, he got along well with Pierce. The same can not be said with his relationship with Lon Chaney jnr who played the Wolfman. I used this short clip because Rick Baker, another classic make-up artist, talks about Jack Pierce. Who can ever forget not only Frankenstein's monster but his Bride.  Oh, funny anecdote, Boris was a gentle man who loved gardening. When he was at his home, in full make-up, watering his flowers, the cops pulled up to arrest him because someone called in saying there was a monster running about. Poor Boris!

Which Costumes made you swoon? Which make-ups made you gasp at?


  1. Hi, Birgit!

    I applaud you for covering this topic so thoroughly, dear friend. When it comes to motion picture costumes, make-up and hair styling, I am the weakest link, unless we are talking about horror make-up, which I see that you discuss later on.

    I enjoyed seeing and learning about all of these iconic award winning looks. Audrey Hepburn remains to this day a symbol of elegance, quiet sophistication and class. I well remember Lizzy in her low-cut gowns in Cleopatra.

    I can hear the voice of Karl Malden admonishing, "The American Express card dress... don't leave home without it." The name Hugo Weaving immediately popped out at me, because the first film I saw him in was also the film debut of one of my favorite actresses, Naomi Watts. Weaving and Watts were both in the cast of the 1986 period romance For Love Alone, a movie that I, as a Naomi Watts completist, own on VHS. I have seen Weaving in several other films including Proof (1991) and Strange Planet (1999), the latter another film made by Naomi Watts before she became a major star.

    I saw M.A.S.K. and enjoyed it. Cher was a force. I am often mistaken for Sam Elliott at the mall. Hijinks ensue.

    Whenever Bram Stoker's Dracula is mentioned around the water cooler..... I am not aware of it, because I am not at work... I'm at home reading BB's blog. But I digress. I was going to say that, #1 - it is the scariest, most disturbing Dracula film I have ever seen and, #2 - Winona Ryder was at her most beautiful in the female lead role of "Mina" Harker. Her gowns, make-up and hair were stunning.

    Pan's Labyrinth looks good. I haven't seen many Spanish-Mexican dark fantasy war films. Maybe the time has finally come.

    I studied the films of Lon Chaney senior in my college course. It's amazing the discomfort and even self-torture he endured for the sake of realism in his roles. How many of today's pampered celebs would be willing to do the same? I also enjoyed Rick Baker's discussion of the make-up FX used by Jack Pierce on Boris Karloff in Bride of Frankenstein. I have read several Rick Baker interviews over the years in issues of the horror fanzine Famous Monsters of Filmland.

    Have a happy Thursday and enjoy the rest of your week, dear friend BB!

    1. I am so glad you enjoy reading my blog about the movies. To me, Karl Malden will always be in my mind with American Express. In Dracula, when he becomes a big bat, that was scary and the makeup, brilliant. I know you will really like Pans Labyrinth so. Hope you see it. Audrey Hepburn is in a class unto its own as she was beautiful inside and out. I hope you have a beautiful days and weekend.

  2. Some excellent picks there. Pan's Labyrinth was amazing although I don't think I can ever watch it again - most depressing movie in the world.

    1. Pan’s Labyrinth is so great but, yeah, the ending made me cry.

  3. Some great films Birgit. I love costumes and Edith Head was responsible for many fabulous outfits. Audrey Hepburn was absolutely stunning whatever she wore, and I believe that she was as beautiful inside as well as out, Kate x

    1. She was, which made this lady even more Incredible. Her and De Givenchey started an incredible partnership and friendship when they met on the set of Sabrina. Edith Head has done so many great costumes.

  4. I think Priscilla is the only one of these I have seen - I really liked it.

  5. You have some excellent picks. This is so specialized to me that I had to look up past winners. Sorry, these technical categories are something I don't keep up with and I barely know the more mainstream categories like best picture or actors.

    Looking it up I came up with two Oscar winners that caught my attention:

    Rick Baker (several wins) but I'll pick An American Werewolf in London because I really liked that film.

    Stan Winston who has a lot of hit films in his resume with one win for make-up in Terminator 2: Judgement Day (love that series!).

    I pick them because I visited both of their studios years ago when I was in the costume business. Baker gave us a personal tour of his fx studio and provided us with some very interesting background about his life and work. Stan Winston was not available, but one of his associates gave us a nice tour where we got some up close views of some of his dinosaurs from Jurassic Park series.

    Best Costumes I always think of Edith Head though none of her wins are films that stand out for me.

    Looking through the Best Costume winners I guess I'd have to go with many of the period pieces like A Man for All Seasons costumes by Elizabeth Haffenden and Joan Bridge.

    When I was in the costume business it was mainly for Halloween costumes so I never kept up with entertainment industry costuming so much.

    Arlee Bird
    Tossing It Out

    1. I looked it up too and I had to pick an Edith Head film since she is a legend in the costume department. I’m glad you picked an American Werewolf because it was the first to win in this new category. Why it wasn’t in sooner, I have no clue. I still have to see this film because it looks so scary.

  6. This isn't exactly my bailiwick, so I don't have much of anything to contribute.

    Although it didn't win an Oscar, I guess one of my favorite "costumes" would be the one that Debbie didn't wear in 'Debbie Does Dallas'.

    As for make-up, the first movie that popped into my mind was 'The Elephant Man'. I imagine it MUST have won an Oscar for Make-Up, but I'm not entirely sure about that.

    ~ D-FensDogG

    1. Yes, Debbie would need full body makeup and hairstyling in all the places. Actually The Elephant Man did not win an Oscar for this because Best Makeup wasn’t around yet, there was such a clamour for it to win that thousands wrote in to have this a category. Alas it didn’t happen for this film but then they execs saw the error of their ways and established it the following year.

  7. Pan's is such a great choice. I remember watching Mask a fair amount when I was a kid. We had it taped on VHS.

    1. Pan is great and so glad you saw Mask. It is such a good film.

  8. Fab choices as always Birgit!!

    Audrey in Sabrina is just next level glamorous, effortlessly pulling off a chic that would take most people years to even attempt to achieve. I agree Bogie is miscast, at least he had to good sense to feel so too. Bill Holden's character is an overgrown, irresponsible child but even with the blonde hair he was so good looking he fit the role well (he was unhappy about his part as well feeling he was doing box office duty but he was under contract so had little choice)

    Cleopatra has its moments but it can be a chore. However the costumes are a marvel.

    We match on Priscilla! I thought we might. :-) The narrative is a trifle lumpy at times but WOW those outfits are amazing.

    Great picks on the make-up front. Mask is so moving, a great deal of that is the performances but Eric Stoltz's transformation really makes you feel Rocky's plight.

    I didn't love this version of Dracula but can't fault the cosmetic work.

    Pan's Labyrinth is a staggering achievement visually.

    Love that you took special mention of those two men who contributed so much to the craft of makeup, especially Lon Chaney.

    I wasn't as ambitious as you, I only focused on costume.

    Les Girls (1957)-Lady Sybil Wren (Kay Kendall) writes a memoir of her time as a dancer in the Les Girl troupe headed by Barry Nichols (Gene Kelly). Upon publication she is sued for libel by Angele Ducros (Taina Elg) who along with Joy Henderson (Mitzi Gaynor) was also in the group. As the story unfolds Rashomon style it raises questions of what the truth is as both women and Barry present their versions all set to the music of Cole Porter. Nominated for three Oscars (Costume Design, Art Direction and Sound) this won Orry-Kelly the second of his three Oscars (out of four nominations) for his dazzling and stylish work.

    Anne of the Thousand Days (1969)-Chronicle of the rapid rise of Anne Boleyn (Genevieve Bujold) to become Henry VIII’s (Richard Burton) second queen, nearly tearing the English Kingdom apart in the process and equally precipitous fall. Beautifully appointed and fiercely acted by the leads this received 9 other Oscar nominations (Picture, Actor, Actress, Supporting Actor, Adapted Screenplay, Cinematography, Production Design, Score and Sound Mixing) besides Margaret Furse’s (her only prize out of 6 nominations) well deserved win for Costume Design for her elaborately intricate costumes which inform and enrich the characters rather than just being wardrobe.

    Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert (1994)-Sydney based drag queen Anthony (Hugo Weaving) accepts a gig in far off Alice Springs inviting fellow cross-dresser Adam (Guy Pearce) and transsexual Bernadette (Terence Stamp) to tag along. Decked out in one jaw dropping ensemble after another the trio undertake an odyssey across the Australian Outback in their lavender bus, Priscilla encountering both friend and foe along the way. Tim Chappel and Lizzy Gardiner won the film’s sole nomination for their memorably over the top costume designs.

    1. Thanks Joel and so glad we match with Pricilla which is so great with those costumes. I believe William Holden wanted to play the Bogie role which would have been better but, alas, he had no say. This is the film where Holden met Hepburn and they fell in love but when she found out he had a vasectomy, she stopped the affair since she wanted kids badly. Decades later, when Johnny Carson asked which woman could he say he loved with all his heart, without any pause, Holden said Audrey Hepburn. I remember that and felt so sad for the actor. I love this version of Dracula despite the flaws and glad you like my pick of Pan. I had to mention Chaney and Pearce because we wouldn’t have the great make up people without these early greats.
      I’m so glad you chose Les Girls which I need to see again. It is an under-rated film. I have not seen Anne yet but I know how gorgeous the costumes are. So..which make up films would you choose? Let’s say, make up was around back at the beginning?

    2. Hmmm....well on short notice I think I'd go with Albin Grau for his work on Nosferatu, Lon Chaney for any of his films but most probably The Phantom of the Opera and Wally Westmore (though all the Westmore brothers should have received Oscars throughout their careers) for Lady in the Dark, if just for the circus scene alone. I'm sure there are others but those are the first I thought of. :-)

  9. We share two picks with both Bram Stoker's Dracula and Pan's Labyrinth.

  10. I have never seen Cleopatra or Pan's Labyrinth. I saw Mask, Pricilla, and Dracula in the theater. Pricilla was a strange movie, but interesting. I liked it.

  11. I still haven't seen any of your picks for best costume but I've seen pictures and they do look amazing. As for the makeup category, those are some great picks!

  12. Birgit,

    That dress made of credit cards looks terribly uncomfortable. I prefer to dress for comfort instead of fashion any day. I always thought the work of makeup artists interesting and how cool it is to see the transformation. Do you recall in the old werewolf movies with Leon Chaney how they'd do time lapsed photography to show his character going from human to werewolf? I thought that was super cool when I was a kid.

  13. Great choices. Thank you for celebrating Priscilla, especially.

    For costumes, My Fair Lady is my all-time favorite. If you love hats, it's the greatest movie ever made. Check the list and it's obvious Audrey Hepburn was the ideal model for anyone in this category.

    For my other two, I'll take The Sting and, of course, Star Wars.

    A couple that would have won if the category had existed early enough: The Wizard of Oz and Meet Me in St. Louis.

    Makeup/Hair: I'll take the two LOTR movies and... Suicide Squad. For the most part, that film was underwhelming but it was visually stunning. It deserved the award for the Joker and Harley Quinn alone.

  14. I have heard of Edith Head, but had no idea she took credit for designs she didn't create. Too bad that isn't widely known.

    I've never seen any of the films you featured, but I sure enjoyed your take on them.

  15. I had wanted to pick Dracula too both for makeup and hairstyling and costumes since it won for both. I don't remember the music from the movie at all though.