The technical categories at the Oscars are always where you get the nominees and winners you never quite expected. The Golden Compass as Best Visual Effects Oscar winner, for example, or the otherwise forgotten Tim Burton movie Sleepy Hollow taking home a statue for Best Art Direction.The Best Makeup category, though, is where things can get really egregious-- Norbit was nominated for an Oscar here, and Pan's Labyrinth managed to beat out the Adam Sandler epic Click.

This year's crop of Best Makeup contenders has been narrowed down to seven finalists (there are eventually three nominees), and it's just as random a bunch as you might expect. Here's the full list below from the Oscar website:
“Alice in Wonderland”
“Barney’s Version”
“The Fighter”
“Jonah Hex”
“True Grit”
“The Way Back”
“The Wolfman”

What you have to keep in mind, of course, is that they're not judging the quality of the movies themselves but the quality of the makeup work, and whether you like it or not, removing half of Josh Brolin's face in Jonah Hex is pretty impressive. There's an interesting mix of big flashy work-- Alice in Wonderland, The Wolfman-- and more subtle aging stuff-- Barney's Version, The Fighter-- and then there's True Grit, which I'm guessing is in there because of how grizzled Barry Pepper and Jeff Bridges look.

I won't even claim to be able to predict the final nominees here-- I'm no good in the technical categories at all-- but at In Contention they're leaning toward Alice in Wonderland, The Wolfman and The Way Back, so that seems as good a set of predictions as any for now. The final list of all the Oscar nominees will be announced January 25.

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