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Makeup Artist Tsuji Wins Oscar for ‘Darkest Hour’

Kazuhiro Tsuji

Rafu Wire and Staff Reports

Japanese makeup artist Kazuhiro Tsuji and two colleagues won the Academy Award for best makeup and hairstyling on Sunday at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood.

Tsuji, the first Japanese to receive the award, shared the prize with Britons David Malinowski and Lucy Sibbick.

The trio transformed Gary Oldman, who won the Oscar for best actor, into British wartime leader Winston Churchill for the film “Darkest Hour.”

“Firstly we would like to give our heartfelt thanks to Gary Oldman. It was a real honor to be on this incredible journey with you. And we would not be standing here today if it wasn’t for you,” Tsuji said in his acceptance speech.

Calling Oldman a “wonderful actor, a dedicated artist and a true friend,” Tsuji said, “This is a dream come true for all of us.”

Tsuji, who has been working as an artist since 2012, made a comeback to the movie industry following a request by Oldman, who was impressed by seeing his portrait sculptures, including one of Abraham Lincoln.

“I think it’s really important, timing-wise, because I left the film industry and Gary asked me to design this,” Tsuji said at a press conference held after the ceremony. “We made an amazing film and I think we made history. So it’s really meaningful to me.”

At the Make-up Artists and Hair Stylists Guild Awards, held on Feb. 24 at The Novo by Microsoft at L.A. Live, Tsuji, Sibbick and Malinowski won in the Best Special Make-up Effects category for “Darkest Hour, which also won for Best Period/Character Make-up (Ivana Primorac and Flora Moody). The winners in the Best Contemporary Makeup category were Melanie Hughes-Weaver, Judy Yonemoto and Erica Kyker for “Pitch Perfect 3.”

Tsuji, 48, who hails from Kyoto but resides in Los Angeles, was nominated for an Academy Award in 2007 for the comedy “Click,” starring Adam Sandler, and in 2008 for another comedy, “Norbit,” starring Eddie Murphy (who played three characters).

Tsuji’s other film credits include “Hemingway and Gellhorn” (2012) with Nicole Kidman; “Looper” (2012) with Joseph Gordon Levitt; “Rise of the Planet of the Apes” (2011); “Salt” (2010) with Angelina Jolie; and “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” (2008) with Brad Pitt.

For more information on Tsuji’s work, visit

Japanese filmmaker Ru Kuwahata was nominated for the animated short film category with Max Porter for their work “Negative Space” but the award was won by retired Los Angeles Lakers basketball superstar Kobe Bryant for his film “Dear Basketball.”

Ramsey Naito and Tom McGrath were nominated for their animated feature “The Boss Baby,” but the Oscar went to Lee Unkrich and Darla K. Anderson for “Coco.”

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