Best of 2011: Makeup
Contagion (KATE BISCOE & FRIĐA ARADÓTTIR)
... for nailing gradations of disease and of bureaucratic fatigue, defamiliarizing stars, and making early, horrifying close-ups count for a lot;
Crazy, Stupid, Love. (DEBORAH LA MIA DENAVER & PETER TOTHPAL)
... for acing the lost art of making stars look casually fabulous but also making nuances of grooming pay off as key story and character beats;
A Dangerous Method (STEPHAN DUPUIS & ULRICH RITTER)
... for Jung's piano-wire primness and his wife's pallor, Freud's avuncular semi-elegance, Otto's hirsute salaciousness, Sabine's ruddy darkness;
Jane Eyre (DANIEL PHILLIPS & TAPIO SALMI)
... for the way the women, in particular, vacillate between unremarkable looks and Diane Arbus uncanniness, and for Jane's well-managed severity;
The Last Circus (BARBARA ALONSO, CARLOS ARENAS, ET AL.)
... for responding with gusto to the film's Guignol trappings, managing to make sad, bloodthirsty clowns as alien as anything in Pan's Labyrinth.
Runners-Up: Lots to recognize this year. Shortly after these five came Midnight in Paris, which found delicious and character-appropriate guises for the characters who clicked the best in other ways (Wilson, Stoll, Hiddleston DALÍ!) but also those that the movie otherwise struggled with (Sheen, McAdams, Seydoux); The Artist, with its dapper resuscitations of late-20s and early-30s cosmetic regimes in Hollywood, which probably would have been a finalist if they could have gone a little easier on Penelope Ann Miller and figured things out a little better with Beth Grant; The Iron Lady, which excels at rendering Meryl Streep as a plausibly old and broken woman, even though the work captured Margaret Thatcher at some times more than others (and the work on Carol and all the advisors and Parliamentarians was also very good); Coriolanus, which smears soldiers with clots of blood and dirt just like the best of 'em, but also finds the right looks for the Cox and Redgrave characters; Margaret, which found ingenious ways to make Paquin, Damon, Ruffalo, Broderick, and Culkin look exactly as they did in 2005 (calm down, I'm kidding...); Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, which hits a lot more targets than it misses in terms of taking its actors back to the 1970s and aging some of them subtly forward; Higher Ground, which did aging on a budget better than a lot of deep-coffered studio pictures do, and which settled into a semi-rural community (in period, no less) without the usual Hollywood overlay of "Pity these poor people and their hair, oh my god their hair"; and The Ides of March, which has a great feel for the snipped, buffed, and manicured look of top-line politicians, the harried and tired look of top-line campaign managers, and the oddly glammy aspects of characters like Gosling's, Wood's, and even Minghella's, which made me wonder if they're in this game for the ideals or for the eyeballs. Rounding out the runners-up are Sleeping Beauty, which extended its aesthetic of creepily meticulous refinement to Emily Browning's bone-china whitness and Rachael Blake's intimidating chignon; and Hanna, whose weird look for the title character I eventually got used to, and which had a lot of fun with Blanchett and Hollander.
Close But Misses the Cutoff: Albert Nobbs does an ample and impressively subtle job with Close, but the iffy rendering of Hubert is a demerit, and I never really bought either character as people who'd be universally believed as men; and Meek's Cutoff, which gets the right amount of sun, dust, and grit into everyone's hair and skin and nails but way overdoes it on the Greenwood character, I think.
Films I Hated to Skip Before Posting: 13 Assassins, Anonymous, City of Life and Death, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2, House of Pleasures, In the Land of Blood and Honey, Mysteries of Lisbon, Potiche