For all the attention focused on the ‘mistakes’ made by BAFTA in yesterday’s nominations, there’s one genuine mistake that’s being regrettably overlooked. This may be rather long winded, but stick with it and perhaps we can help right a wrong.
Hands up if you’ve seen The Iron Lady? If not you, then probably your parents have. It’s done well enough at the UK Box Office coming in at Number One over the weekdays and now it’s finally expanding in the US it’s open to a few more eyes. Regardless on your opinions on the film (and I definitely have mine), one thing that can’t be argued is the outstanding quality of the make-up work.
Even before getting into specifics, this is a film that spans almost 70 years of British History. As the film progresses, each successive flashback can sometimes depict a different era to the one before it. Hairstyles and make-up trends change, and the film navigates it triumphantly. Thatcher’s cabinet had to be effectively recreated right down to Heseltine’s unruly blond mane, while the majority of the cast had to be aged appropriately.
All of that can be taken for granted, especially when there’s attention-grabbing prosthetics on show. And in the case of The Iron Lady, those prosthetics are second only to Streep as a talking point. Not only is Streep transformed into Margaret Thatcher, but she has to convincingly portray her from her mid-30′s right through to her early 80′s. Although no one could ever accuse Meryl Streep of ageing ungracefully, for a 62 year old woman it must still present a challenge.
Marese is the Make Up & Hair Designer on The Iron Lady; a wonderful and incredibly hard working designer who designed for a cast of 70+ members. As you can see though, her’s is the only name listed and this is unacceptable. What you should be seeing is Marese Langan, J. Roy Helland and Mark Coulier listed alongside that nomination.But it’s not the quality of the work that’s under contention, it’s those being awarded for it. If you were to look at the BAFTA Nominations list released yesterday (Tues 17th Jan) you’ll see that next to The Iron Lady’s nomination for Make Up & Hair one name is listed: Marese Langan.
J. Roy Helland is Meryl Streep’s personal Hair & Make-Up Stylist, having worked alongside her for the better part of 29 years, pre-dating Sophie’s Choice and was integral to the work… but his name is nowhere to be seen.
Although far and way the biggest offence, is BAFTA’s failure to mention Mark Coulier, the Prosthetics Designer. Having worked on Harry Potter, Sunshine, Coriolanus, World War Z and many more, Mark Coulier was responsible for the incredible work which transformed Meryl and Alex into Maggie, Jim into Denis and Olivia into Carol. What those who haven’t seen the film wouldn’t know, is the incredible job that’s been done in turning Meryl into an 83 Year Old Margaret Thatcher, Old Age make-up which puts J. Edgar to shame. Although the scenes in the present day takes up the majority of the run time, they’ve understandably been hidden from audiences in attempt to reach a broader demographic but the work is undeniably impressive.
Although very few would likely own up to it, it’s not hard to assume that many Academy Voters will primarily judge a film’s make-up by the level of it’s prosthetics work, and in the case of The Iron Lady it’s pretty hard to miss. So it goes without saying, the majority of votes cast for The Iron Lady’s make-up will be a vote in favour of the work Mark Coulier accomplished alongside Marese Langan, J. Roy Helland and the rest of their teams. It’s hard to exaggerate the amount of work put into this film by all three of these artists, Coulier specifically and to reward one and not the other is absolutely criminal.
It’s not as simple as recreating Margaret Thatcher. This Make-Up Team had to strike a balance: One look at an image/poster for The Iron Lady and you need to be able to see both Margaret AND Meryl simultaneously. Many concepts were tested and thrown out because one would look too much like the other, and it was Mark Coulier who was able to successfully bridge the gap.
If Meryl Streep wins the Oscar and/or BAFTA for Best Actress it’ll be in some-way a win for Mark, Marese and J.Roy as well. The make-up informs her performance as much as her performance sculpts the make-up and if they’re also fortunate enough to win for Make-Up the right people deserve to take home their statues.
As it stands, both BAFTA and AMPAS only allow a maximum of two nominees on the ballot for Make-Up, so even if all three were submitted only two would be allowed to collect an award at the end of it. Now, a letter was written to BAFTA to appeal this regulation but as it stands it hasn’t been approved. It wasn’t even taken into consideration. Can someone explain how this is in any way correct, let alone fair? If three, four, five people can be nominated for an individual screenplay, visual effects or sound why can’t it be the same for Make Up? A Craft is a Craft and if it’s deemed to be done well enough as to be award worthy, than the right people should damn well be awarded.
By all means, correct me if I’m wrong on any of this… but there’s definitely something fishy about it all… Whether or not you believe the work is deserving is irrelevant, but at the very least the right people should be in the conversation.