The seven films vying for an Achievement in Makeup and Hairstyling Academy Award this year were spotlighted Saturday at Hollywood’s Roosevelt Hotel as Make-Up Artist magazine held its second-annual Oscar bake-off celebration, now called the Hollywood Awards Celebration.

Earlier in the day, members of the make-up and hairstyling teams for Black Mass, Concussion, Legend, Mad Max: Fury Road, Mr. Holmes, The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed out the Window and Disappeared and The Revenant took the stage at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to present and discuss their work. The goal was to persuade their peers as to which three films should make the list of Oscar nominations that will be announced Jan. 14. Academy branch governors Lois Burwell and Kathryn Blondell emceed.

Oscar nominated MUAs
L to R: Dave Elsey, Lou Elsey, Robert Pandini, Christine Blundell, Audrey Doyle, Eva von Bahr, Love Larson, Howard Berger, Shelley Hancock and Monique Boyer
Oscar nominated MUAs
L to R: Dave Elsey, Lou Elsey, Robert Pandini, Christine Blundell, Audrey Doyle, Eva von Bahr, Love Larson, Howard Berger, Ed Esper and Paul Esper

Afterward, many of the bake-off participants gathered in the hotel’s historic Spare Room (so named for its two-lane bowling alley) to enjoy drinks and hors d’oeuvres with friends, family and fellow artists. M.A.C. Cosmetics and Frends Beauty Supply sponsored the event. M.A.C. Director of Artist Relations Shelley Hancock and Director of Global Artist Relations/PRO Membership Monique Boyer were on hand to join the celebration, as was Frends owner Ed Esper.

“This is one of my favorite Pro-Card events to produce in the entire year,” said Make-Up Artist publisher Michael Key, addressing the crowd of approximately 100. “When all of us can be in a really awesome place like this, and I can be with my colleagues and friends to celebrate the art of make-up, it’s a very, very good day.”

Leonard Engelman and Michael Key
Leonard Engelman (LEFT) and Michael Key

Those speaking included Love Larson and Eva von Bahr, who described the challenges in creating the title character for The 100-Year Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared with a small crew and limited budget. Dave Elsey revealed that he and Lou Elsey found inspiration in the illustrations of old issues of The Strand to turn Ian McKellen into legendary detective Sherlock Holmes for Mr. Holmes. Robert Pandini detailed the arduous outdoor shoot for The Revenant. He also described how the decision to shoot in natural light impacted the way he, Sian Grigg and Duncan Jarman approached the make-up.

Legend’s Christine Blundell and Audrey Doyle talked about the challenges of continuously transforming Tom Hardy as he portrayed both of the notorious gangster Kray brothers.

“We had to change Tom from Ronnie to Reggie about three times a day,” said Blundell. “Each change took about an hour.”

Cited with Christopher Gallaher and Kathrine Gordon for Concussion, Howard Berger offered insight into the film, based on the true story of the doctor who uncovered the dangerous, long-term effects repeated hits have caused to NFL players.

“I like when we have a real-life person and then we have to figure out how we make Albert Brooks look like this guy,” said Berger. “At KNB, we do tons and tons of things. For some reason, I think we’ve done one or two zombies here or there. It’s nice to get the opportunity to do other stuff.”

Howard Berger, Sian Grigg and Duncan Jarman
From Left: Howard Berger, Sian Grigg and Duncan Jarman

The Mad Max: Fury Road team of Lesley Vanderwalt, Elka Wardega and Damian Martin were late arrivals: since their work received a BAFTA nomination, they were called away to a press conference. Gloria Casny and Joel Harlow, who worked on Black Mass, were unable to attend.

Among those spotted in the crowd were Ve Neill, Allan Apone, Leonard Engelman, Sue Cabral-Ebert, Barry Koper, Eryn Krueger Mekash, Mike Mekash, Norman Cabrera, Steve Wang and Kim Ayers.


The consensus is that this is a banner year for film make-up. “It’s a hard choice,” said Neill. “Each film featured something unique and distinctive.” Koper agreed, adding another reason that made this year’s bake-off a standout. “It was the Tom Hardy show,” he joked, noting that the actor is featured in three of the films.

“I looked at all the films and they should all get Oscars,” said Berger. “Some years, it’s kind of like ‘eh.’ This year was really dynamite. I’m a huge fan of everybody. I think that’s what drives me. I’m a super fanboy.”