This article contains IndieWire’s preliminary Best Makeup and Hairstyling predictions for the 2024 Oscars. We regularly update our predictions throughout awards season and republish previous versions (like this one) for readers to track changes in how the Oscar race has changed. For the latest update on the frontrunners for the 96th Academy Awards, see our 2024 Oscars predictions hub. 

The State of the Race

It’s a makeup and hairstyling Oscar race between “Maestro,” “Poor Things,” “Oppenheimer,” “Golda,” and “Society of the Snow,” with the first four also nominated for the Make-Up Artists and Hair Stylists Guild Awards (to be held February 18 at the Beverly Hilton Hotel).

Bradley Cooper’s “Maestro,” which dominated the MUAHS with three nominations, is the Oscar favorite for Kazu Hiro’s remarkable transformation of Cooper as legendary conductor/composer Leonard Bernstein. This marks a personal milestone for the multiple Oscar-winning prosthetics guru (“Bombshell” and “Darkest Hour”), who has wanted to recreate Bernstein’s face since he was 19. Cooper’s transformation spans five decades and involved five stages (both in color and black-and-white). This required the actor-director to be made up at 1 a.m. every morning, taking two to six hours, depending on the stage. The work, in collaboration with makeup head Sian Grigg, hair head Kay Georgiou, and Lori McCoy-Bell (Cooper’s personal hairstylist), includes prosthetic makeup for the body, face, neck, arms, and hands.

Yorgos Lanthimos’ “Poor Things,” the twisted “Frankenstein” gender-bender, offers work led by makeup and hair artist Nadia Stacey, Oscar-winning prosthetics makeup designer Mark Couler (“The Grand Budapest Hotel” and “The Iron Lady”), and prosthetics supervisor Josh Weston. While the work on the re-animated Bella (Best Actress nominee Emma Stone) is very nuanced, the highlight is the prosthetics work on unconventional scientist Baxter (Willem Dafoe), whose deformed face was influenced by the paintings of Francis Bacon. It took up to six hours each day to apply all of the pre-made pieces and make them seamlessly fit. In addition, Kathryn Hunter’s Madame Swiney, who runs the Parisian brothel, is covered with more than 100 tattoos and has skin that looks bruised.

Willem Dafoe in "Poor Things"
Willem Dafoe in “Poor Things” screenshot

Christopher Nolan’s “Oppenheimer” boasts impressive work for aging the ensemble cast, but especially Best Actor nominee Cillian Murphy as J. Robert Oppenheimer, the “father of the atomic bomb,” and adversary Admiral Lewis Strauss (Best Supporting Actor nominee Robert Downey, Jr.). This is a film about the landscape of faces in IMAX (in both color and black-and-white), and Downey looks quite distinguished aged up with white hair and makeup embellishment. The team was supervised by the director’s go-to head of makeup Luisa Abel and hair lead Jaime Leigh McIntosh. There’s also a strong prosthetic component when Oppenheimer imagines the impact of the radiation fallout on the faces of his Manhattan Project colleagues.

For “Golda,” Helen Mirren underwent extensive prosthetic makeup and wore a body suit to become Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir during the Yom Kippur War in 1973. The team of makeup and hair designer Karen Hartley Thomas, prosthetics designer Suzi Battersby, and prosthetic makeup artist Ashra Kelly-Blue applied contact lenses, a custom-made wig, eyebrows, fake teeth, silicone eye bags, a fake nose bridge, and a fake neckpiece. 

With “Society of the Snow,” J. A. Bayona’s true-life survival thriller about the 1972 plane crash in the Andes with the Uruguayan rugby team, the challenge was obviously dealing with freezing temperatures. The team led by makeup designer Ana López-Puigcerver, hair stylist Belén López-Puigcerver, and Oscar-winning special makeup effects designers David Marti and Montse Ribé (“Pan’s Labyrinth”) embraced a combination of reality, prosthetics, and digital. The primary work involved the progressive deterioration of the survivors, who were young men affected in different ways by fear, cold, hunger, fatigue, and sickness. In addition, crafty prosthetics were used to recreate fake corpses constructed with silicone using molds of the actors.

Nominees are listed below in order of likelihood they will win.


“Maestro”(Kazu Hiro, Kay Georgiou and Lori McCoy-Bell)
“Poor Things” (Nadia Stacey, Mark Coulier and Josh Weston)
“Oppenheimer” (Luisa Abel)
“Golda” (Karen Hartley Thomas, Suzi Battersby and Ashra Kelly-Blue)
“Society of the Snow” (Ana López-Puigcerver, David Martí, and Montse Ribé)

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