Welcome to the second year of Best "Makeup and Hairstyling." Last year’s long overdue official addition of hairstylists to the title of this category did not officially change anything; hairstylists had always been rewarded. But it was nice to see the recognition in the name.

Did that affect who was nominated? In this extremely unique category (with only three nominees), probably not, but one never knows as "Les Misérables" trumped "The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug" and "Hitchcock" for the win. This branch loves aging, monster makeup, period makeup and transforming famous actors into famous persons and there's plenty of all of that on display this season.

The branch also frequently tips its hat to a film that may not show up anywhere else on the list of nominations, focused on the work more than getting swept up in, well, sweeps. Indeed, nine of the past 24 nominees in this category received no other nominations ("Hitchcock," "Il Divo," "Hellboy II: The Golden Army," "The Way Back," "Barney’s Version," "Norbit," "Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith," "Click" and "The Wolfman"). That said, there are also seemingly sure things that frequently do not make the cut ("Lincoln"’s omission from last year immediately jumps to mind).

Moreover, being a Best Picture nominee does not seem to be a huge advantage as it is in many of the other crafts races, with only two of the past 27 nominees also scoring in the top category ("The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" and "Les Misérables"). Being a past nominee helps but there are newcomers welcomed to the fold every year.

So with all of that being said, who should we keep an eye on this year? From my vantage point, this is a very competitive category this year. Let’s analyze.

"Lee Daniels’ The Butler" featured period and aging makeup and I do suspect it will garner a Best Picture nomination. (Though, as noted above, it may be better for its chances if it doesn’t!) Makeup and hair department heads Debra Denson and Candace Neal would be first-time nominees but prosthetic makeup designer Matthew W. Mungle won this category for "Dracula" and has earned three nominations since then ("Schindler’s List," "Ghosts of Mississippi," "Albert Nobbs").

"Dallas Buyers Club" is another film with a very good shot at a Best Picture nomination. I personally found the work on both Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto to be extremely realistic and effective. The low-grade glamor on Leto didn’t hurt. The crew members (led by Robin Matthews) are all awaiting their first Oscar nominations but I’d say they have outstanding chances. Jean-Marc Vallée’s "The Young Victoria" was a somewhat surprising nominee here.

I fully expect Ron Howard’s "Rush" to be in the running here with the burn effects used on actor Daniel Brühl. Often enough when makeup is mostly apparent on one character, that can make the work stand out all the more. Mark Coulier won this award for "The Iron Lady" and is seeking nomination number two as part of an extensive crew.

"American Hustle" was set in the same era as "Rush" and like Ron Howard’s film will feature some late-1970s/early-1980s glam (though probably more of it). Where this film could really benefit, however, is in what appears to be memorable hairstyling. The crew seems to be made up of Oscar virgins but if the film hits with AMPAS, this could be a spot that stands out.

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