The Five Best and Worst Examples of Movie Makeup

Because of CGI, makeup effects are going the way of the scale model, as it’s often faster, and easier, to just replace an actors face digitally with whatever tweaked version you want.

Movie makeup has a rich history, and before it passes into the night, I thought I’d take a look back at some of the wonders, and horrors, it’s brought us over the years. From demons to mutants to crossdressers, makeup has brought a lot of things to life, real-life, that we wouldn’t have thought was possible.

Check out my selections below:

The Best:

The Grinch

I don’t quite understand why this movie never really caught on as a modern holiday classic. Yeah, it’s weird, but it’s really well done and features Jim Carrey at his physical comedic best as the Grinch.

The best part though might be how well he fits into the suit. Not just the body, but the face is molded where despite its exaggerated proportions, real emotions come through, and at the same time it manages to look just like the animated Seuss character.


The X-Men movies had their ups and downs, but once constant was how banging hot Rebecca Romijin-Stamos was as Mystique. If you like evil blue chicks with glowing eyes that is.

But it was the body paint and makeup that really made the character come to live and most definitely what caught our eye. Yeah, her transforming might have been CGI, but most of the time she was wearing actually makeup that took hours and hours to apply every day. Now THAT’S a fun job.


Another prosthetics-assisted superhero would be Ron Perlman’s Hellboy, who yes, has quite the distinctive face already, but was transformed into a full-fledged demon with makeup.

And not just that, he’s got a bulky bodysuit to match, yet is able to pull off fight scenes and stunts with ease and badassery to boot.

The Wolfman

Werewolves are a pop culture phenomenon now thanks to Twilight, but thankfully The Wolfman still knew how to do things right in an age of computer animation.

It’s all makeup, and it’s truly terrifying, when it could have easily crossed the line into ridiculous. To bad the rest of the movie didn’t live up to the makeup effects.


Another Guillermor Del-Toro related project pops here, as the man knows his creature effects. Pan’s had many cool monsters, but Fauno was the best, and most people can hardly believe that it was actually a man in layers of makeup as the creature.

The Worst:

White Chicks

Look, I know the ponit of this movie was to have two black guys dress up as “white chicks” but good lord, these are faces you’ll have nightmares about the rest of your life.

You can’t sit through this movie without yelling at the screen “How could anyone ever believe these are real people?” but then you sit back and get sad that you’ve been forced to get mad about White Chicks.

The Apes

I’m willing to give the original Planet of the Apes a pass for its crazy as shit monkey masks, but I’ll chalk that up to the mask technology of the time.

But today’s version? There’s no way this should have ever even been attempted. Look at that monkey woman and tell me you could ever love her. Maybe you just have to be Mark Wahlberg.

Any alien in the new Star Wars trilogy

Star Wars is full of tons of wacky looking aliens, and back in the original trilogy yes, there were ridiculous looking creatures in goofy rubber masks and suits, but again, its the 70s.

But now? Looking at the mask wearing aliens in the new Star Wars trilogy like the guys who ran the Trade Federation and you just want to laugh your ass off. Are they seriously supposed to be evil bad guys in these movies?

New Freddy Kruger

Here’s one franchise where the old makeup effects were actually BETTER. Burn victim Freddy’s face has always been the stuff of nightmares, but when he was updated for 2010 with more “realistic” burn effects? His look is best described by the phrase “derp de derp”

Seriously, Jackie Earle Haley’s face is actually creepier than this in real life WITHOUT makeup. What were they thinking here?

The Jazz Singer

I get that even my grandpa wasn’t born in 1927, but good lord, how did anyone think blackface was ever a good idea. I don’t think the concept of blackface is inherently offensive in every context per se (see Tropic Thunder) but when it’s done like this?

It’s a goddamn cartoon character! Where do the giant white lips come from? How is that a black thing? What black person have you ever seen that looks anything like this? If I could time travel back in time I’d slap every one of the idiots who enjoyed this in the face.

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  1. No mention for Lord of the Rings? While that project was going on it was using something like 90% of the world’s supply of prosthetic rubber foam. The orcs are extremely well done, no CGI added.

  2. Although blackface is clearly wrong, this was a time of segregation and lack of civil rights. It might not look right but it was just what was done as an exageration, and many men who did it, including Al Jolson from that picture, were the biggest respecters of African Americans and their impact on culture. It was done as a tribute not an insult.

    sorry but I just spent 5 weeks researching this and people often don’t understand it well enough

  3. Yeah, blackface is rather embarrassing, but you went overboard with correctness. Can you seriously say you don’t consider thick, prominent lips a “black thing” at all? How about clear, contrasting hand palms? Are you serious when you say an African person wouldn’t look ANYTHING like the picture, in terms of comedic makeup? I mean, he wasn’t intended to pass as an actual black guy, it was a farce, kinda like the “White Chicks” abortion. A farce that wasn’t considered incorrect at the time.

  4. About mystique, where you sarcastically said applying all that makeup must have been fun…
    Apparently it was. 😛 My sculpture teacher was the lead costume artist on mystique. Apps she was very nice. And although it took hours it was apparently quite enjoyable.

  5. What a list. I agree completely with the “Best” list and completely hate every choice on the “Worst” list. They just seem nit-picky and not actually bad examples of movie makeup. And while it was CG-enhanced below the waist, the job on Delphine Chaneac’s Dren from “Splice” was great; I would have put that in over anything from “The Wolfman”.

  6. Seriously? You’re going to bitch about Al Jolson going blackface in The Jazz Singer, but not C. Thomas Howell overdosing on tanning pills in Soul Man? Seriously?

  7. Simply gonna throw this one out there: The Fly (1986). The gradual transformation from man to man-fly is disturbing/horrific/nauseating/insert your own adjective here.

  8. So #3 Worst is nominated because they don’t look like bad guys? Sorry, but making the good guys look good and the bad guys easily spottable is just a lame movie cliché I can do without.

  9. I think blackface should make a comeback, especially after RDJ’s turn in Tropic Thunder. That proved that blackface is perfectly acceptable when done tastefully. Laurence Olivier played Othello in blackface. Why should black actors get all the black parts anyway?

  10. In Tim Burtons Planet of the Apes, the doctor looked awful terrible makeup job I agree. But you have to admit Thade looked amazing (the evil ape played by Tim Roth).

  11. err the reason fo black face was when TV was 1st inveneted contrast was so bad, you couldn’t alwasy see eye and faces. So they made the face blace and eye and mouth white so you could see them.

    That is the reason and the only reason

  12. To the guy who said “err the reason fo black face was when TV was 1st inveneted contrast was so bad, you couldn’t alwasy see eye and faces. So they made the face blace and eye and mouth white so you could see them.

    That is the reason and the only reason” is so far away from the facts , he must be insane…In that film he was in “Minstrel” makeup and was not supposed to be a real black guy..This form of blackface has existed in Minstrel shows for hundreds of years and has absolutely nothing to do with the way TV cameras picked up black peoples faces…I have no idea what idiot gave you that info but it is undeniably wrong..From the first TV cameras, they never applied this type of exagerated makeup to real black people…Get a clue and stop spreading complete lies as if you have any idea what you are talking about..

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