The tradition of No Make-up = Best Actress goes back at
least to Kathy Bates in "Misery" (1990). If a movie star doesn’t have
her face all dolled up for the camera that’s got to mean she’s really digging
deep and giving a raw performance. This year offers a powerful slate of
un-made-up actresses and no doubt we’ll be seeing their names come Oscar time
on February 22.
Such as Kristin Scott Thomas in Philippe Claudel’s “I've Loved
You So Long.”
Here’s the formula for Oscar success: just out of prison, chain-smoking, no
affect, and not only no make-up but speaking in French!
Anne Hathaway has a similar set-up in Jonathan Demme’s
"Rachel Getting Married" :
just released from re-hab, smoking and the kind of garden shears hair cut that helped Angelina
Jolie get her Oscar in "Girl, Interrupted" (1999). But did she screw her chances by
getting a makeover later in the movie?
Sometimes an actress needs a little help from the make-up
department in order to achieve that no-makeup effect. Like Kate Winslet in Stephen Baldry's “The
Reader”who takes on “Monster” (Best Actress for Charlize Theron in 2003) proportions
after spending most of the movie as an ex-SS hottie parading around in the
nude, and no make-up.
Less extreme both in the look and the fascism is Meryl
Streep who embodies every Catholic boy’s mother superior fantasy in John Patrick Shanley's “Doubt.”
And then sometimes the no makeup look actually does go along
with an Oscar-worthy performance, as with Michelle Williams in Kelly
Reichardt’s “Wendy and Lucy.”