Makeup Artists Respond to Oscar Rule Change: "This Is Going to Give Us a Chance"

Along with upholding Rule Two — requiring only a week in theaters to compete in the Oscars, a big win for Netflix — the Academy voted to expand the makeup and hairstyling category, one of the few crafts where women dominate, to five nominated films.
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Oscar is bumping the makeup and hairstyling category from three nominations to five.

Steven Spielberg wasn't available — he was in preproduction for West Side Story — but the Academy board did manage to get some business done when it met April 23 in Beverly Hills.

"We are a collegial group," notes attendee Lois Burwell, governor of the Makeup Artists and Hairstylists branch. "There's a feeling that isn't the case, but it's not true." Along with upholding Rule Two — requiring only a week in theaters to compete in the Oscars, a big win for Netflix — the Academy voted to expand Burwell's category to five nominated films, a victory for women, who tend to dominate that branch. "Everybody is thrilled," Burwell says.

“We’re so excited by the new rule. We have a diverse union, talented people by the dozens," Julie Socash, president of the Make-Up Artists and Hair Stylist Guild, IATSE Local 706, tells THR. "This is going to give us a chance to put more of our work up there and have more of our members recognized by the whole world. There are so many films that just miss the cut. We’re very thankful that the Academy governors made this happen.”

One insider noted that it was because of Burwell and her fellow governors Leonard Engelman and Kathy Blondell that this change found its final approval.

Why only three films before? "It was in place slightly before my time," Burwell explains. "Where it really came from, I believe, was an idea of maintaining a standard of excellence. If you look at some of the other categories, they had three and expanded to five. What you don’t want is three strong films and two not, for the sake of just filling out the category."

That is not the case any longer, as Burwell adds that the excellence of work is overwhelming. "You're spoilt for choice because the work has become stronger and stronger. It's a shame to limit to [three films] when there are five that are outstanding. It offers more opportunity for artists and more opportunity to appreciate and acknowledge excellence in work."

Still, the change that made the most waves — especially on Twitter — turned out to be fake news: A journalist at Playlist misread a press release and reported that the Oscar telecast was moving to 3:30 p.m. "The show is at 5 p.m.," an insider tells Rambling Reporter. "There is no change."

A version of this story first appeared in the April 30 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.