Does Time Spent In the Make-up Chair Equal an Oscar?

15 Feb

Fifth article in our 5 weeks series on Campaigning for an Oscar!

By Open Book

In 2011 we’ve seen Meryl Streep and Leo DiCaprio endure hours in the make-up chair to become J. Edgar Hoover and Margret Thatcher. This dedication to their craft has resulted in another Oscar nomination for Meryl Streep. Does time spent in the make-up chair equal an Oscar nomination?  Some believe (in Hollywood) to win an Oscar one must be willing to get a little ugly. Is that true? Well we want to challenge that theory and pose another one. Do moviegoers identify more with the less than attractive individual than not?

We know actors change their physicality like they change their socks. According to an article written by Dre Rivas entitled To Win an Oscar it, Pays to be Ugly illustrates,

Playing ugly helps both actors and actresses in nailing an Oscar, and if you’re a woman, the prettier you are and the more you can ugly up, the more the Academy will appreciate your efforts (see: Cotillard, Swank, Kidman, and Theron). Men, meanwhile, always have a better chance if they start out ugly, though both handsome men and ugly men will be recognized if they ugly up.[1]

Here are a few definitions of ugly from thefreedictionary.com[2]

  • Ugly – displeasing to the senses; “an ugly face”; “ugly furniture”
  • Unattractive – lacking beauty or charm; “as unattractive as most mining regions”
  • Awkward – lacking grace or skill in manner or movement or performance; “an awkward dancer”; “an awkward gesture”; “too awkward with a needle to make her own clothes”; “his clumsy fingers produced an awkward knot”
  • Displeasing – causing displeasure or lacking pleasing qualities.

Its no secret reality TV has changed the way we view entertainment. Today in order to make a story believable we want our flaws and beauty on display, to evaluate both sides of a coin. Meaning seeing the competition between imperfection and perfection appeals to a wider demographic. So what is realism? According to New World Encyclopedia it states,

  • “ In the visual arts it refers to a style of depiction that attempts to portray subjects as they appear in everyday life, without embellishment or interpretation. The term is also used to describe works of art which, in revealing a truth, may emphasize the ugly or sordid. Realist artists focused on that side of “reality” which had often been excluded in Romantic art, the unflattering truth of the underside of elite culture.”[3]

So what actors (who are considered sex symbols) took on a flawed character to win an Oscar?

  • 2010-Best Supporting- Christian Bale- The Fighter– (lost weight, endured some time in the make-up chair to look like a heroin addict).
  • 2006-Best Supporting-George Clooney- Syrianna– (Gained weight).
  • 2004- Best Actress-Charlize Theron- Monster– (Gained weight, wore make-up & wigs to play a serial killer with sun damaged skin and over processed hair).
  • 2003- Best Actress-Nicole Kidman- The Hours– (Wore an unflattering prosthetic nose).

As you can see, these actors have also graced the covers of GQ & Vogue magazines.  They have at one time been voted a sex symbol. Although, these titles can make an actor bring in women and men at the box office.  The “reality” is in Hollywood. If you want an Oscar you have to be willing to get ugly.

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91 Responses to “Does Time Spent In the Make-up Chair Equal an Oscar?”

  1. Comic Relief February 15, 2012 at 10:51 AM #

    Sorry: This is a very funny article.

    • Open Book February 15, 2012 at 8:26 PM #

      Thanks CR!

      I think one can be ugly both inside and out. Take for example Charlize Theron in “Young Adult” that character was so ugly inside that it made her outward appearance ugly without all the makeup. Unfortunately, it did not earn her an Oscar nomination. Now granted there was a lot of competition this year but I thought she was great.

      Why do u think this article is funny?

      • Comic Relief February 16, 2012 at 7:00 AM #

        Where should I start?

        Prior to the discussion, it is a surprise how honest it is.

        • Open Book February 16, 2012 at 6:32 PM #

          Hmm! Start wherever u like…. your always quite candid with your comments. Love it!!

  2. Littlebells February 16, 2012 at 12:16 AM #

    OB! I love this article. 🙂

    Honestly, I don’t look at how one is dumbed down in looks. The actors you mentioned who have been nominated–I honestly was impressed with their dedication to truly BECOME their character.To me it’s not “willing to get ugly” that should be earning an actor an Oscar nod. It should be their willingness to physically, mentally, emotionally bring to light the flaws, imperfections, and reality of a person. I didn’t love Bale in The Fighter because of just his looks. That amazing man took it upon himself to become Dicky Ecklund. Anyone can have a great make up artist transform their look, but it’s what comes from within that delivers the Oscar performance.

    • Open Book February 16, 2012 at 6:51 PM #

      LB-U Said: “To me it’s not “willing to get ugly” that should be earning an actor an Oscar nod. It should be their willingness to physically, mentally, emotionally bring to light the flaws, imperfections, and reality of a person.”

      OB: Like u said the willingness to physically submerge yourself into a role is more than just changing ones outward appearance with make-up. Theron portrayed a ugly person inside and it was just as compelling. Showing our beauty as well as our flaws humanizes us IMO!!

  3. Francesa February 16, 2012 at 5:31 PM #

    Do you think that maybe when an actor does ugly down, that it strips them down as a person and therefore a oscar worthy performance is born?

    • Littlebells February 16, 2012 at 7:04 PM #

      Hi Francesa!

      Great question! I would absolutely think so..

    • Open Book February 16, 2012 at 7:07 PM #

      Hi Francesa,

      Yes! Yes! Yes! To that great answer. I think it makes the performance more believable as well. Audiences today are so cynical and will quickly point out if a person’s behavior, look etc… is artificial.

  4. Open Book February 16, 2012 at 7:08 PM #

    Hi Everyone!

    Welcome to our discussion tonight. Please feel free to jump in.

    • Littlebells February 16, 2012 at 7:12 PM #

      Hi OB! 🙂

      How are you doing today? I just woke up from a 1.5 hour nap and feel GREAT! hahaha!

      • Open Book February 16, 2012 at 7:24 PM #

        Hi,

        I feel good. I was listening to Whitney songs on the site everyone posted.

        “My love is your love”…… la la la la…LOL!!

        • Littlebells February 16, 2012 at 7:26 PM #

          I hope you sung fool out. That’s the only way to do it! 🙂

          • Open Book February 16, 2012 at 7:34 PM #

            LOL!!

            • Littlebells February 16, 2012 at 7:56 PM #

              “sang” and “full”. oh my gosh I can’t even WRITE correctly. Good grief!

  5. Open Book February 16, 2012 at 7:12 PM #

    Q: Many filmmakers are making films look like a documentary. Do u think it makes the performances look more realistic?

    • Littlebells February 16, 2012 at 7:14 PM #

      My brain is on a slow burn, can you give me some film titles?

      • Open Book February 16, 2012 at 7:21 PM #

        Sure! Sorry…… Bad brain. LOL!!

        The film “Young Adult” had a bit of a doc. look to it.

        The film “Hurt Locker” very doc. look.

        The film “Green Zone” very doc. look

        • Littlebells February 16, 2012 at 7:24 PM #

          Thanks! yes, then to your question. When they make documentaries/films that look like documentaries, are camera angles and lighting different?

          • Open Book February 16, 2012 at 7:27 PM #

            Yes! The camera looks like it’s being hand carried. A lot of shaking etc…

            • Parisienne February 16, 2012 at 7:34 PM #

              Hi Everyone!

              i completely agree with Francesa. However, I do have to say I’ve been “uglied” up before and the make-up helped to enhance my performance. I was able to get into the character better, if that makes sense.

              • Littlebells February 16, 2012 at 7:35 PM #

                I was going to mention that. But again I think it’s the talent of the actor who is able to use the make up as an enhancement. some people will never be able to act whether dolled up or “uglied” down.

                • Parisienne February 16, 2012 at 7:36 PM #

                  ITA.

              • Open Book February 16, 2012 at 7:37 PM #

                Hi Paris,

                Yes! Makes a lot of sense. How are u?

                • Parisienne February 16, 2012 at 7:39 PM #

                  Alive. The wheel bearings and tire rods shot out on my car.

                  Other than that, I’m great!

                  • Littlebells February 16, 2012 at 7:47 PM #

                    Argh!!!

                  • Open Book February 16, 2012 at 7:47 PM #

                    Oh! My gosh!! Are u serious? I’m glad your o.k. That had to be scary.

                    • Parisienne February 16, 2012 at 7:48 PM #

                      yes. thanks.

                • Parisienne February 16, 2012 at 7:41 PM #

                  how are you?

                  • Open Book February 16, 2012 at 7:53 PM #

                    Good! Thank U!!

          • Parisienne February 16, 2012 at 7:36 PM #

            think Paranormal Activity, Blair Witch Project.

            • Open Book February 16, 2012 at 7:39 PM #

              yes, excellent!! How do u like this type of filmmaking? Do u think it enhances the realism or takes away from the performance?

              • Parisienne February 16, 2012 at 7:40 PM #

                honestly, i can’t stand it. If i wanted to watch a film shot like that. I’d watch my own home videos.

                • Open Book February 16, 2012 at 7:46 PM #

                  LOL!! ITA.

                  • Littlebells February 16, 2012 at 7:48 PM #

                    I like it to an extent. I think some scenes the moving around can have more of an effect. Other times, just stand still camera man.

                    • Open Book February 16, 2012 at 7:58 PM #

                      What about in Eclipse the shaking camera by David Slade?

                    • Littlebells February 16, 2012 at 8:08 PM #

                      Honestly I didn’t even notice.

                    • Parisienne February 16, 2012 at 8:12 PM #

                      what shaking camera in Eclipse? What scenes?

                    • Open Book February 16, 2012 at 8:20 PM #

                      The nightmare scene when Bella is dreaming about Jasper.

  6. Open Book February 16, 2012 at 7:31 PM #

    Q: Do u think reality TV has influenced the way we look at films? Meaning we have a low tolerance for formulaic performances, plots etc…

    • Littlebells February 16, 2012 at 7:38 PM #

      A: Reality TV is the biggest waste of television brain cells. They have actually made me appreciate quality work MORE that comes to the theaters and gives me hope that there are still directors, producers, actors, etc…who want to give us substance in our viewing pleasure.

      And I was being kind in my first sentence. 🙂

      • Parisienne February 16, 2012 at 7:41 PM #

        ITA LB

      • Open Book February 16, 2012 at 7:43 PM #

        LOVE IT!! LOL!! Take a bow. I guess we can thank Reality TV for some things. LOL!!

        ITA! Most people don’t think Reality shows aren’t scripted. They are sooooo formulaic and predictable. My brain cells are reducing just thinking about it.

        • Littlebells February 16, 2012 at 7:49 PM #

          The only reality TV shows I watch are clips on The Soup and So You Think You Can Dance.

          • Open Book February 16, 2012 at 8:00 PM #

            I use to like watching “The Amazing Race” but after the third season I stopped.

  7. Open Book February 16, 2012 at 7:52 PM #

    Q: Can u list some actors performances who are considered sex symbols who’s performance really moved u? Did their look and or performance earn your admiration?

    • Open Book February 16, 2012 at 7:56 PM #

      I’m sorry actors who are sex symbols who “uglied up.” Name the actor, film and character they portrayed. Does that make sense?

      • Littlebells February 16, 2012 at 7:59 PM #

        Hmmm…I’m thinking. I already mentioned Bale as Dicky. Let me think of another.

      • Parisienne February 16, 2012 at 7:59 PM #

        yes and the only one i can think off who actually de-aged was brad pitt in the curious case of benjamin button.

        • Littlebells February 16, 2012 at 8:08 PM #

          Yeeeeeeeeeeeeeessssssssss!!!! OMG I friggin cry at the end every single time.

  8. Parisienne February 16, 2012 at 8:00 PM #

    Marion Cotillard, La Vie en Rose, Edith Piaf

    • Parisienne February 16, 2012 at 8:01 PM #

      although i wouldn’t consider marion cotillard a sex symbol.

      • Open Book February 16, 2012 at 8:07 PM #

        True!

  9. Open Book February 16, 2012 at 8:05 PM #

    Q: Do u think it’s a positive or negative thing to be labeled a “sex symbol” in HW if u want to be a serious actor?

    • Littlebells February 16, 2012 at 8:09 PM #

      Mmm, Idk. I think depending on the personality and quality of the person and their talent, it won’t matter.

      • Parisienne February 16, 2012 at 8:10 PM #

        LB,

        I totally agree!

  10. Francesa February 16, 2012 at 8:06 PM #

    Hello-

    I am not sure if they performance moved me, but what about Colin Farrell in Horrible Bosses. I did not even recognize him

    • Open Book February 16, 2012 at 8:09 PM #

      Hi Francesa,

      Yes! He was quite ugly and funny. LOL!!

  11. Francesa February 16, 2012 at 8:08 PM #

    OB-

    Sex symbol is all in the eye of the beholder. I think that “term” is to widely used in today’s HW. When I think of sex symbols I think of Marilyn Monroe, Jane Mansfield. There is nothing left to the imagination any more and I feel as though they just oozed sex. Does this make sense

    • Littlebells February 16, 2012 at 8:11 PM #

      You said, “There is nothing left to the imagination any more and I feel as though they just oozed sex.”

      There is ABSOLUTELY NOTHING left to the imagination. IMO those that I would label sex symbols are those who dress modestly, act modestly, are genuinely kind and honest, have manners and style, are positive personalities, and treat their fans wonderfully.

      • Open Book February 16, 2012 at 8:15 PM #

        Ahh! I love u LB!! Wonderfully put!!

    • Open Book February 16, 2012 at 8:14 PM #

      Francesa,

      I applaud u for saying this. Yes! Today there is NO mystery. People think they have to show everything. I HATE that. What’s the problem with using your imagination. People have become so short handed with everything. Even SEX!! It’s horrible. I digress!!

  12. Parisienne February 16, 2012 at 8:10 PM #

    Hi Francesa!

    How are you?

  13. Francesa February 16, 2012 at 8:11 PM #

    I am well Parisienne. Back to somewhat of a normal life. Yeah

    • Littlebells February 16, 2012 at 8:12 PM #

      it’s so great to see you on here. 🙂

    • Parisienne February 16, 2012 at 8:13 PM #

      That’s good. Its good to “see” you again. 🙂

  14. Francesa February 16, 2012 at 8:17 PM #

    ITA LB…I think that society on a whole confuses the two. You cannot be a sex symbol without sex. But as you said it is much more layered than that.

  15. Littlebells February 16, 2012 at 8:17 PM #

    Ladies,

    I need to go for the evening but I look forward to checking back in. Again, thank you for the wonderful article OB. 🙂

  16. Parisienne February 16, 2012 at 8:19 PM #

    Everyone,

    I’m going to go as well. Take Care and great article, OB!

    • Open Book February 16, 2012 at 8:22 PM #

      Thanks LB & Paris.

      Goodnight!.

  17. Francesa February 16, 2012 at 8:23 PM #

    I think of about Halle Berry and her performance in….I can’t think of the name, the one where she won the academy award. Anyway, IMO her performance was okay, not oscar worthy, just okay. But since she showed a lot of herself, and there was a big deal put on that. Did that help her chances of getting the award

    • Comic Relief February 16, 2012 at 8:27 PM #

      Ya, know I’m not sure I saw that performance.

    • Open Book February 16, 2012 at 8:32 PM #

      Oh! Monster Ball.

      ITA her performance did not blow me away either. I think she did not show the full range of emotions. IMO!!

    • Open Book February 16, 2012 at 8:39 PM #

      Francesa,

      I honestly think HB ran a smart campaign that got her the Oscar. She caught people by surprise. Voters really didn’t have a chance to evaluate her performance because the film was submitted so late.

  18. Comic Relief February 16, 2012 at 8:24 PM #

    Hi. Wow, missed Paris and LB.

  19. Comic Relief February 16, 2012 at 8:25 PM #

    Hi Francesa and OB.

    • Open Book February 16, 2012 at 8:28 PM #

      Hi CR!!

      How are u?

  20. Open Book February 16, 2012 at 8:27 PM #

    I thought Michele Williams portrayal of Marilyn Monroe was quite amazing. Did anyone see her performance? Given she did not ugly up she still gave a great performance.

    Given this fact. Do you think Williams or Meryl Streep will win the Oscar?

    • Comic Relief February 16, 2012 at 8:38 PM #

      Nothing wasn’t wrong with Michelle Williams performance. She was great. I went to the theater exhausted and missed a great deal of the movie because I was asleep. What I saw was really great.

      • Comic Relief February 16, 2012 at 8:44 PM #

        ######## Mild embarrassment ###########

      • Open Book February 16, 2012 at 8:44 PM #

        LOL!! So great u went to sleep….. U know this is not a good endorsement.

  21. Comic Relief February 16, 2012 at 8:45 PM #

    [Bear with me, the second paragraph is better]

    Being one from the visuals category of artists, I frequently admire my cousins in the musical camp. There are many different kinds of musicians as there are artists. Yet like us they are admired for their mastery of aesthetics. Like us they frequently deliver content to our audiences. Yet also like us it is difficult to deliver that subject matter to our audiences if they are disturbed by the way we do it.

    Using a completely different skill set, actors are a completely different strain of cousin. Using their entire bodies, their expression frequently addresses human psychology and behavior. Like us (visual artists) they frequently provoke admiration by visually representing the world we see around us. But the reason I am awed by actors is I frequently see them as astronauts. When they travel into different philosophy, politics, personalities, and periods, they essentially take us to places many of us can’t go. Though I did not believe some of historical information that was delivered in “J. Edgar” and “Iron Lady”, I still was floored by their attempts to pull off their efforts.

    • Open Book February 16, 2012 at 8:51 PM #

      CR! This is great and ITA with this statement.

      “Though I did not believe some of historical information that was delivered in “J. Edgar” and “Iron Lady”, I still was floored by their attempts to pull off their efforts.”

      I think Leo. Dicaprio performance was great and his efforts sabotaged by overdone make-up and poor direction. IMO!!

  22. Open Book February 16, 2012 at 8:47 PM #

    CR- Who do u think deserves the Oscar. Streep or Williams?

    • Comic Relief February 16, 2012 at 8:50 PM #

      I’m scared. I don’t know.

  23. Comic Relief February 16, 2012 at 8:47 PM #

    I think too many acting artists; get their image mixed up with their character’s. I wish they were more like India Arie in this video.

    • Comic Relief February 16, 2012 at 10:52 PM #

      Sorry.

      Meaning if an actor takes a new role she or he should be willing to change their look to inhabit a new character.

      When Arie claims she is not her hair she is claiming the real her is inside.

      As an actress she would have no difficulty shedding what people might think is her (be it her nose, eyes, or hair), in favor of what she really is.

      • Comic Relief February 16, 2012 at 11:14 PM #

        Pink’s version is really cool too.

      • Open Book February 16, 2012 at 11:59 PM #

        CR-

        Exaaaaaaaactly!! I love this song!! Both versions are great! Now I’m dancing and singing……..

        ITA with your statement and examples here.

  24. Comic Relief February 16, 2012 at 8:49 PM #

    Unfortunately, I need to go. Nice talking to you again Francesa. See you OB.

    Bye.

    • Open Book February 16, 2012 at 8:53 PM #

      Bye CR.

      I’m going to go as well. Francesa nice to see u again.

      I will check back later if u have more comments.

      Thanks for joining me.

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