Weta out in front for VFX Oscar with ‘Apes’

Posted by · 3:25 pm · August 3rd, 2011

I missed last night’s big press screening of “Rise of the Planet of the Apes” (inexplicably held until the last minute and then embargo-requested — didn’t hold — by the studio despite people loving the film). I will, however, be catching it tomorrow night, but one thing we’ve been counting on since the beginning is a nomination for Best Visual Effects.

Now, it’s looking more and more like the film could just walk away with the statue. Put state-of-the-art effects in a bad movie and you have an uphill climb. Just ask “Transformers.” The Academy at large doesn’t know what it should be looking for in the below-the-line categories, so more often than not, members just pick their favorite of the bunch.

However, if you have undeniable effects work in a blockbuster that actually goes over well with the Academy, you have something to work with.

Looking at my predicted five nominees in the category to the right, all but one of the films having been seen, you start to think “Rise of the Planet of the Apes” will be the only choice. And an informative featurette is a great way to kick off the campaign, so Fox has put together a nice look at the process. Check it out below.

[Photo: 20th Century Fox]

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44 responses so far

  • 1 8-03-2011 at 3:52 pm

    Rashad said...

    I’d be disappointed if ILM yet again goes home without the award. I agreed with Avatar getting as it was mind blowing, but Golden Compass paled in comparison in every way. (And it was even a worse movie.)

    The size and scope of their work was remarkable this time around. I can’t wait to see Apes though.

  • 2 8-03-2011 at 4:57 pm

    Maxim said...

    Weren’t you predicting “Hugo” to win just last month ;) ?

    I’ll go ahead and stick with Tintin. Joe Letteri worked for both, and if Tintin can’t land in animation it should land here.

  • 3 8-03-2011 at 4:58 pm

    Danny said...

    You and the video make a strong case, certainly.

    And frankly, Andy Serkis should have been nominated for Sup. Actor or received (with Weta) some sort of special award for their brilliant, game changing work on Gollum (and beyond now). Maybe this year they will create such a performance/effects combined recognition award (like the special award they gave Roger Rabbit)? I know, highly unlikely, it happens too seldom to predict.

    But I wouldn’t take VE win to the bank quite yet. Much might depend on other factors like sentiment or number of additional nominations a movie received. I could see HPDH2 receiving a franchise capping win, for instance.

    I could see Hugo or even Transformers not even being nominated, although I’ll quickly add I don’t have alternatives yet in mind.

    Certainly gotta love those WETA wizards!

  • 4 8-03-2011 at 5:03 pm

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    Maxim: Without knowing a damn thing, yeah, I was. (And it was noted as for fun, in any case. Didn’t take it seriously.)

  • 5 8-03-2011 at 5:07 pm

    James said...

    District 9 of August? I hope so. I could use a smart yet thrilling film with interesting ideas and concepts while still being accessible. Though I think some of the human characters might be written in a thin matter outside of Franco and Lithgow.

    Serkis will win something one day for his work.

  • 6 8-03-2011 at 5:32 pm

    Fitz said...

    Andy Serkis should get his due soon. I don’t know how, create a mo-cap category or a one-off award, or something. The man is a genius at what he does.

  • 7 8-03-2011 at 5:38 pm

    JJ1 said...

    A special achievement award is, at least, called for.

  • 8 8-03-2011 at 5:50 pm

    will said...

    I’m curious to see how this movie does. Certainly looks like a downer to me.

  • 9 8-03-2011 at 6:00 pm

    Graysmith said...

    I’ve been thinking about Andy Serkis’ contribution to the advancement of motion-capture technology too. Of course it’s a lot of nerds behind computers that make it work, but he’s kind of carved out a niche for himself out of it, and his mo-cap performances are all above and beyond everyone else’s.

    The Academy hasn’t given out a Special Achievement Oscar since John Lasseter and Toy Story back in 1996.. It’s time to dust it off!

  • 10 8-03-2011 at 6:02 pm

    Graysmith said...

    I mean, if Ben Burtt could get a Special Achievement Oscar for the “alien, creature and robot voices” in Star Wars you’d think Serkis could get one for showing the world the potential of motion-capture performances.

  • 11 8-03-2011 at 6:11 pm

    Pablo (Col) said...

    What about the great reviews the movie is getting ?

  • 12 8-03-2011 at 6:13 pm

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    What about them?

  • 13 8-03-2011 at 6:14 pm

    Andrew M said...

    I’m hoping if Serkis doesn’t at least get special award this year, he will get one next year for The Hobbit. Though, that movie will probably only have Gollum in for a cameo, like the book. Hopefully another movie will come along.

  • 14 8-03-2011 at 6:59 pm

    tony rock said...

    Transformers was by far a better movie than The Golden Compass, so that reasoning is not sufficient. I’ll never forgive the Academy for that decision as it showed them at their very worst.

  • 15 8-03-2011 at 7:18 pm

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    tony: It’s perfectly sufficient reasoning because few in the Academy would agree with you.

  • 16 8-03-2011 at 7:26 pm

    Hans said...

    I don’t know why, but I feel like I’m the only person in the world not on board with how the effects look. I KNOW I’m looking at a CGI monkey. I didn’t feel that way when I saw LOTR or Avatar. Or District 9.

    Anywho, I had presumed until now that DH2 would be the frontrunner for the VFX Oscar, but I guess now I’m not so sure. I am excited for the movie, though.

  • 17 8-03-2011 at 7:39 pm

    Hans said...

    Oh, and of course, throw in my utter appreciation for Mr. Serkis. That man can wear a mocap suit like no other.

  • 18 8-03-2011 at 7:43 pm

    DylanS said...

    Tony: they’ve made far more embarrassing decisions (especially inside the crafts categories) before. They said “Pan’s Labyrinth” had better Cinematography than “Children of Men” as an example.

  • 19 8-03-2011 at 8:51 pm

    SJG said...

    I would just like to say that I’ve long advocated (to the voices in my head, who are the only people that really give a rat’s ass what I think) that there should be a “composite performance” award.

    There’s a longstanding tradition of people doing voiceover work, puppetry, joint performances (a la Jones & Prowse for Darth Vader), and, now, motion capture in Hollywood, and often the people doing that work are every bit as deserving of recognition as many others in the filmmaking world.

    Who wouldn’t like to have seen someone like Frank Oz receive recognition for his Yoda performance in The Empire Strikes back? Or Jim Henson for Kermit in The Muppet Movie? Or Mary Kay Bergman for Sheila Broflovski in South Park? Or Eddie Murphy for Donkey in Shrek? Or, duh, Andy Serkis for Gollum in The Two Towers?

    Many of those performances were much better realized than the vast majority of traditionally performed roles every year. And even though in decades past there would have been too few high quality “composite performances” to justify an actual category for it, those days are rapidly drawing to a close.

    This year alone I can think of several performances that could be credible contenders, depending on how one chose to recognize what constituted a “composite”… Johnny Depp or Bill Nighy for “Rango”, Andy Serkis for “Rise of the Planet of the Apes”, probably one or several of the cast of “Tintin”.

    If the Academy can justify scrounging together three animation nominees in years like 2006 (Happy Feet, Cars, and Monster House, barf), I don’t see why they can’t justify scrounging together 3 performances even in off years.

    And if Pixar can win every year in its category, and Rick Baker most years in his, I don’t see why the Academy should shy away from frequently giving the “composite performance” award to the perennial favorite, Andy Serkis.

  • 20 8-03-2011 at 9:00 pm

    Paul said...

    I’ve been reading the reviews and most of the critics so far thought the visual effects were great. A significant number of critics, however, have pointed out that although the effects were good overall, there were times when the effects were noticeably off. It’s definitely not a home run. I’m getting the feeling that the effects are good enough for a nomination, but not good enough for a win.

  • 21 8-03-2011 at 9:48 pm

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    If they’re good enough for a nomination then they’re more than likely good enough for a win. It rarely works the other way around. In other words, if it passes the effects artists’ smell test, the Academy at large will be a breeze.

  • 22 8-03-2011 at 9:54 pm

    red_wine said...

    Transformers was eventually robots banging against each other. Did it have revolutionary special effects? Absolutely. Were its special effects better than Golden Compass? Unquestionably.

    But the Academy members simply could not get themselves to vote for Transformers.

    I think this year its unlikely that they will respond to Planet of the apes in any big way, so I think Harry Potter will finally win this year.

  • 23 8-03-2011 at 10:36 pm

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    Well, let’s just see what gets nominated first, shall we?

  • 24 8-03-2011 at 11:12 pm

    Rashad said...

    When are you seeing Rise of The Apes kris?

  • 25 8-03-2011 at 11:56 pm

    Kristopher Tapley said...


  • 26 8-04-2011 at 4:56 am

    Graysmith said...

    The Golden Compass beat Transformers for a very simply reason: animated characters made of “flesh and blood” trump everything else nine times of out ten. In fact, if you look back at the films that have won the Visual Effects Oscar in the last ten years, all of them save for Inception had animated characters/creatures. Flesh beats metal.

    The Golden Compass winning was certainly a huge upset and not an entirely deserving win, but none of the nominees that year were particularly great.

  • 27 8-04-2011 at 6:10 am

    JJ1 said...

    I still kinda enjoy the random Golden Compass win.

    For some reason beyond my comprehension, I liked that clusterf*ck of a movie.

    And if you watch it back, there isn’t a frame in that film that didn’t have special effects in them, and they were stellar or great special effects work, at that.

  • 28 8-04-2011 at 7:14 am

    The Great Dane said...

    I’m actually with Hans. I’m not trying to take anything away from Rise – I actually really want to see it, especially after the great reviews.

    But it DOES look fake to me. I believed in Kong. But Ceasar here just looks very fake. His movements are “flowing”/slow (the eternal animation problem) in stead of the quicker movements people/animals make in real life.

    And the eyes REALLY look fake to me. Like REALLY.

    But I guess that will remain the problem with real size animals until they REALLY have the technology to nail it down. I’m amazed of what the actors are doing in mo-cap. But it’s easy to believe a Gollum, dinosaurs, Avatars and huge monsters because they don’t exist in real life. But true-life-size real CGI animals? That’s when you really can tell that it’s just not quite THERE yet cause it doesn’t look like it does in reality.

    I bet I won’t notice it once I get into the story, but from all clips I have been surprised that people are SO “wow!” when all I can think is “it doesn’t look real AT ALL”.

    I love the fact, however, that it is supposedly so character-driven. But I fear for the no-brain general audiences negative reaction when they find out that the big ape battle that has been the focus of the ENTIRE marketing of this movie, doesn’t happen till the very end of the film and that the whole film is very slow and character driven. Which is PERFECT for me – but how will the action audience (which the marketing is trying to sell this film to) react? It’s dangerous playing that game. It can backfire if the audience that would love it stays away, and those who will hate it and call it “boring” come running.

    I really hope it will succeed in every possible way. :)

  • 29 8-04-2011 at 11:28 am

    John said...

    since this has turned into a TRANSFORMERS snub thread, I’ll throw in my two cents. They snubbed in because a) they couldn’t throw another Oscar to a Michael Bay movie, b) especially not one based on an ’80s toy. GOLDEN COMPASS flopped, no one other than Ebert really liked it, but it was full of good FX and no one really disliked it.

    But to rebut a few misnomers in this thread… actually the first TRANSFORMERS got pretty good reviews. It was a suitably kick-ass action movie that had a nice boy-and-his-alien relationship at the center. And we hadn’t seen those FX yet, they were pretty amazing. It would be understandable for the Academy to snub one of the sequels, but this just came off petty.

    And no they really haven’t made many faux pas this big in the technical arena. CHILDREN OF MEN vs PANS LABYRINTH for cinematography? No, PAN was a widely lauded picture with beautiful photography, nothing shameful in losing to it. It was not because of an obvious grudge against the director or the topic. That’s what this was, nad it looked really stupid. It’s also one of the few times when the Visual FX Oscar has gone to gratuitously the wrong movie.
    That said

  • 30 8-04-2011 at 11:35 am

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    (I liked The Golden Compass.)

  • 31 8-04-2011 at 1:28 pm

    JJ1 said...

    Woohoo ^.

    GC is a mess, but I inexplicably liked it and own it, anyway.

    On Pan’s Labyrinth: while I don’t think the cinematography was as amazing as CoM, I still thought it was gorgeous. That race reminded me of the True Grit/Inception race this past year; with regards to cinematography.

  • 32 8-04-2011 at 1:48 pm

    Rashad said...

    I liked The Prestige that year to win.

  • 33 8-04-2011 at 1:51 pm

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    It was a tough call between Prestige and Children of Men for me. The latter gets it in my book.

  • 34 8-04-2011 at 3:11 pm

    The Great Dane said...

    Cinematography: Beautiful landscapes always beat dirty grittiness.

    Costumes: Period always beat contemporary.

    Pan was beautiful. Children of Men was ingenious in its long takes. Should have won. But it was just not “pretty” enough.

    I have long used “The Golden Compass” win as the greatest example of the Oscars being a popularity contest (or, in that case, an anti-popularity contest: vote for the one you dislike the least … which in this case was the one they probably hadn’t seen).

    But I will never under how in the world Inception, the front runner for Best Editing, was not nominated in that category. It almost NEVER happen (besides Foreign Language, which is always all over the place) that the frontrunner is not nominated. When was the last time a film that we thought would WIN a major or a tech category was not nominated?
    Don’t bring up Dreamgirls, Dark Knight, Christopher Nolan and the likes, because at the time of nominations we knew that they would not WIN, but we just really wanted/expected them to be nominated.

    Can anyone mention a category in the last decade or two (besides Foreign Language) where a film or person, who was the frontrunner right at the time of the nomination announcement, wound up NOT being nominated?

  • 35 8-04-2011 at 3:32 pm

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    Inception’s film editing.

  • 36 8-04-2011 at 5:02 pm

    Johansson said...

    Jim Carrey was not maybe the absolute frontrunner with “Eternal sunshine…” but he was one of the favourites together with Foxx.

    The academy must have something against Carrey. That he hasn’t been nominated with films like “The truman show”, “Man on the moon” and “Eternal sunshine…” is a shame

  • 37 8-04-2011 at 5:37 pm

    JJ1 said...

    That he wasn’t at least nommed for ‘The Truman Show’ was real shame. He had to have been 6th, and must have just missed. That performance was worthy.

  • 38 8-04-2011 at 7:46 pm

    Speaking English said...

    ***Cinematography: Beautiful landscapes always beat dirty grittiness.***

    Not always. “Saving Private Ryan” won over the more classically pretty “The Thin Red Line,” “Elizabeth,” and “Shakespeare in Love.”

  • 39 8-04-2011 at 7:49 pm

    DylanS said...

    I do believe that is the exception to the rule, though.

  • 40 8-04-2011 at 11:23 pm

    red_wine said...

    Inception not getting nominated for editing was so much fun. I laughed! :D

  • 41 8-04-2011 at 11:29 pm

    Hans said...

    @Speaking English

    And just last year, Inception won for its gritty cityscapes of the landscape porn that was True Grit.

    @The Great Dane

    District 9 for Best Makeup. The Star Trek crew should really be thanking their lucky galaxies for that one.

  • 42 8-05-2011 at 5:20 am

    JJ1 said...

    Good call ^.

    District 9, a movie I did not love, nor dislike, was far & away my Make-Up win for 2009. Not even nominated.

  • 43 8-05-2011 at 6:53 am

    pegasusgiraffe said...

    VFX Oscar next year will, hands down, go to Harry Potter. It’s never won the award, and H’wood will need to find to ways to tip their collective hat to the most successful franchise in history. It will even get a nod in the newly expanded “Best Picture” category.