Monday, March 8, 2010

And the Oscar for Best Makeup Goes to . . .

You have got to be kidding me!

Yes, for some strange reason the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences decided that the above makeup job qualified not only as "good" but as "the best of 2009". I will admit that I haven't seen either of the other nominees, Il Divo and The Young Victoria, and maybe they had even worse makeup than JJ Abrams's de-imagining of Star Trek. However, that is a very low probability (see above). Also, District 9, which had awesome makeup, came out the same year, but that didn't even get nominated.

Ignoring for now Star Trek XI's merits as a movie (it's easy to ignore things that don't exist) there is very little makeup in the movie. Most of the aliens, like the ones hanging out in the Starfleet bar, are CGI monstrosities who look like Phantom Menace rejects. The only aliens with actual makeup jobs were the Vulcans, the Romulans and the Orion sorority girl pictured above. And the Vulcan makeup just entailed pointy ears and a wig.

Look at her. That is not a green alien. That is a a drunk girl on St. Patrick's day. They didn't even try to make her look like an alien. Now look at this Orion girl from Star Trek: The Original Series.

Notice that this Orion girl has dark green hair, not red hair. And her lips are also green. And there aren't any smudges. If you had never seen another human being before you might think she looked like this naturally. And let me remind you, this is The Original Series! The show with the papier mâché rocks and the hand-drawn laser beams and it's more realistic than the makeup job from last year! That won an Oscar!

The Romulans are a little better, but they mostly look like half-assed Orcs.

The fact that they look like Orcs is particularly odd since they're supposed to look like Vulcans, but JJ and co. decided to make their skin grayer and give them stupid tattoos (and axes). The main reasoning for this seems to be that if you make them look really ugly then the audience won't mind when their entire race is destroyed by a supernova. But when the Vulcan homeworld is destroyed, it's okay to feel bad because they aren't as ugly. This was probably also the motivation behind the highly nonfunctional design of the Romulan ship. This is all very well, but the Oscar was for best makeup not most shamefully manipulative makeup.

In fact the only sign that any effort was put into the makeup (not to mention the only sign that any effort was put into the movie) was the human characters. I suspect that Chris Pine probably looks like an actual human being in real life, but for the movie they did an amazing job at making him look like a CGI.

Usually when people talk about the uncanny valley they're referring to computer effects that are too realistic. JJ Trek may be the first movie to reach the uncanny valley from the other direction!

This, and the wig and pointy ears they gave to Zachary Quinto, is pretty much the sum total of the makeup in Not Your Father's Star Trek. And yet, somehow, it won an Oscar for best makeup. Not only that, it was the first Star Trek movie to win an Oscar for best makeup. I mean, the previous two Star Trek movies weren't very good, but they had decent makeup. And First Contact had all the Borg stuff.

In fact, if you look at the later Star Trek series, you have some genuinely amazing makeup. The Klingons, the Cardassians, the Nausicaans, the Jem'Hadar. They looked awesome! Although Enterprise was by no means a great series, the Andorians were very well done. And let's not forget Deep Space Nine providing the single greatest makeup job in all of Star Trek history:

But for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, some half-assed green sorority chick is what wins awards.


  1. Hell yes! I love Morn. That mask was actually the shit; the mouth could even move [inside joke --ed.].

  2. Bonus points for use of the term "uncanny valley."