Hello everyone and welcome to the Century Awards! I’ve decided that the best way I can simulate the tension and ceremony of the Oscars is to post one award per hour, building up to the Best Picture of 1914 late tonight. So, get ready, here we go!
Faces are the raw material for movies, especially when dialogue is limited to intertitles and music is not reproduced the same way in different venues, as was the case during the Nickelodeon Era. The appearance of a performer may be radically altered by makeup and hairstyling: a young person can be made old, or a healthy person appear deformed. The audience’s experience of a film is subtly influenced by the work of preparation that takes place before they enter the camera’s stage.
Each of the nominations this year honors a film that made good use of that prep time. From Mary Pickford’s elaborate locks as the fairy tale queen “Cinderella” to the makeup that turned lovely Violet MacMillan into a boy and Pierre Couderc into the “Patchwork Girl of Oz,” from Henry B. Walthall’s frightening turn as Holofernes to Sessue Hayakawa’s convincing transformation into a Native American in “Last of the Line,” each of these makeup artists has contributed outstanding work to the history of film. And, of course, we can’t forget the little mustache and curly mop of hair that defines the “Little Tramp” for us.
The nominees for best makeup and hairstyling for 1914 are:
- Judith of Bethulia
- Patchwork Girl of Oz
- Kid Auto Races at Venice (Charlie Chaplin)
- Last of the Line
And the winner is…”Patchwork Girl of Oz!”
This was tough, but I ultimately decided that the “Little Tramp” is more significantly defined by costume than makeup – you can pull off a Charlie Chaplin imitation without the hair, but not without the right clothes – which left me examining the others to see which really made the most impressive use of makeup and hairstyling. Pickford’s “Cinderella” was a serious contender, but apart from her and the brief visit to the witch, there wasn’t all that much going on there. “Patchwork Girl of Oz” is disappointing in terms of special effects, but quite advanced in makeup and hair. Almost every character (except those whose costumes covered their faces) has some work going on to make them seem more bizarre and fantastic.