By Christa Youngpeter

Long before “lights, camera, action!” come the toils of the unseen make-up artist. Certianly one of the unsung roles in the entertainment industry, everything from a soft red lip to Freddy Krueger’s face can set the tone for an entire film and leave an indelible impression on the audience. So, why, Oscar gods, do you insist on keeping Best Makeup to a paltry three nominees from a field of so many stand-outs this year? Sure, Avatar was CGI not prosthetics and latex and Guillermo del Toro didn’t give us any phantasmagorical monsters in 2009 but really… just three?

The Achievement in Makeup category is still capped at trio of contenders in a year where the 10 nominee Best Picture pool was resurrected, and in all honesty the chosen seem a bit of a motley crew: Il Divo, Star Trek and The Young Victoria. No District 9 and it’s heart-stopping transformation prosthetics, no Nine with all of it’s over the top sexy lips and lashes, and the most glaring omission of all being Inglorious Basterds and it’s juxtaposition of scalping and the gorgeous 1940’s era makeup stylings.

Ranting aside, the three nominees do deserve a break-down during their time in the Oscar spotlight. Il Divo, not to be confused with the musical ensemble, is a mocumentary of long-reigning Italian Prime Minister Giulio Andreotti with its sole Oscar nomination in this category. Aging effects (remember the interminable Benjamin Button?) always fare well come awards season and this film could prove no exception for artists Aldo Signoretti and Vittorio Sodano. Not to mention anything Italian and anything period always bring out the best of a bygone era- fierce eyebrows, impeccably-lined ladies and weathered gentleman.

Here are some photos from the film:

Nom’ number two goes to Star Trek, a surprisingly exceptional film all around given its campy ’60s roots. Eric Bana and his villainous crew look convincingly menacing despite their elaborate makeup and Zachary Qunito’s Spock is spot-on without being a boring copy of the original (who is also in the film). But is such a massively budgeted, consumer-driven film worthy of such an honor for Barney Burman, Mindy Hall Joel Harlow? Couple that with the Academy’s notorious poo-pooing of science fiction and Star Trek could prove to be an all out dark horse.

Here are some photos:

Finally there’s The Young Victoria, a fantastic period piece in the vein of the gorgeous two Cate Blanchette-driven Elizabeth films. Though the Victorian era lacks in the grandeur of the Eilzabethan, the team lead by John Henry Gordon and Jenny Shircore could be contenders thanks to Oscar’s love of great eras past. Plus it doesn’t hurt to have Emily Blunt’s fierce beauty and porcelain skin to back up your brush skills.

Here are some photos:

So who will take the little gold man in this narrow category? The Young Victoria seems to have the right elements for Oscar votes – a dewey young starlet in a bygone era surrounded by sumptuous faces. No spaceships, no aging old men, just sheer beauty.

Road to the Oscars series:

Podcasts – Kit Bowen, Nate Freiberg, Adam Spunberg, and Phil Wallace

February 4: Live Action Short – Kit Bowen

February 5: Animated Short – Kit Bowen

February 8: Documentary Short Subject – Christa Youngpeter

February 9: Documentary Feature – Nate Freiberg

February 10: Foreign Language Film – Paul Popiel

February 12: Animated Film – Nate Freiberg

February 15: Sound Mixing – Jeremy Martin

February 16: Sound Editing – Jeremy Martin

February 17: Original Song – Adam Spunberg and Savanna New

February 18: Visual Effects – Mallory Pickard

February 19: Original Score – Adam Spunberg

February 22: Makeup – Christa Youngpeter

February 23: Costume – Steve Neumann

February 24: Art Direction – Christa Youngpeter

February 25: Film Editing – Steve Neumann

February 26: Cinematography – Paul Popiel

February 27: Original Screenplay – Jeremy Martin

February 28: Adapted Screenplay – Jeremy Martin

March 1: Supporting Actress – Marla Seidell

March 2: Supporting Actor – Phil Wallace

March 3: Actress – Marla Seidell

March 4: Actor – Kit Bowen

March 5: Director – Adam Spunberg

March 5: Picture – Kit Bowen

March 7: The 82nd Annual Academy Awards!