|Academy Award for Best Visual Effects|
|Presented by||Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS)|
|Most recent winner||Joe Letteri |
Avatar: The Way of Water (2022)
History of the award edit
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences first recognized the technical contributions of special effects to movies at its inaugural dinner in 1929, presenting a plaque for "Best Engineering Effects" to the first Best Picture Oscar winner, the World War I flying drama Wings.
Producer David O. Selznick, then production head at RKO Studios, petitioned the Academy Board of Governors to recognize the work of animator Willis O'Brien for his groundbreaking work on 1933's King Kong.
It was not until 1938 when a film was actually recognized for its effects work, when a "Special Achievement Award for Special Effects" was given to the Paramount film Spawn of the North. The following year, "Best Special Effects" became a recognized category, although on occasion the Academy has chosen to honor a single film outright rather than nominate two or more films. From 1939 to 1963, it was an award for a film's visual effects as well as audio effects, so it was often given to two persons, although some years only one or the other type of effect was recognized. In 1964, it was given only for visual effects, and the following year the name of the category was changed to "Best Special Visual Effects".
Honorees for this award have been bestowed several times as a Special Achievement Academy Award. In 1977, the category was given its current name "Best Visual Effects." For decades, shortlisted finalists were selected by a steering committee. They are presently chosen by the visual effects branch executive committee. 1990 was the last year there were no official nominees. Back to the Future Part III, Dick Tracy, Ghost and Total Recall advanced to a second stage of voting, but only Total Recall received a requisite average and it was given a special achievement Oscar.
To date, there have been three wholly animated films nominated in this category: The Nightmare Before Christmas in 1993, Kubo and the Two Strings in 2016, and The Lion King in 2019. There have been three semi-animated films nominated, which also won: Mary Poppins in 1964, Bedknobs and Broomsticks in 1971, and Who Framed Roger Rabbit in 1988.
Usually, there are three nominated films. In 1979, there were five films nominated. Sometimes, no award is given. Other times, a single film is given the award outright.
In 2007, it was decided that a list of no more than 15 eligible films would be chosen, from which a maximum of seven would be shortlisted for further consideration. A vote would then proceed, with a maximum of three nominees. Since 2010, there are ten shortlisted finalists which, using a form of range voting, produce five nominees. No more than four people may be nominated for a single film.
According to the official Academy Award rules, the criteria are:
(a) consideration of the contribution the visual effects make to the overall production and
(b) the artistry, skill and fidelity with which the visual illusions are achieved.
A number of filmmakers have had their movies honored for their achievements in visual effects; i.e., six by director James Cameron (who began his career in Hollywood as an effects technician), five films produced by George Pal, five by director/producer George Lucas, four by directors Richard Fleischer, Steven Spielberg and Peter Jackson, three by directors Robert Zemeckis and Christopher Nolan, and two by directors Clarence Brown, Cecil B. DeMille, Mark Robson, Ridley Scott, Robert Stevenson and Denis Villeneuve.
Stanley Kubrick's only Oscar win was in this category, for 1968's 2001: A Space Odyssey. The film's credits list four effects contributors, including Douglas Trumbull. However, according to the rules of the Academy in effect at the time, only three persons could be nominated for their work on a single film, which would have resulted in the omission of either Trumbull, Tom Howard, Con Pederson or Wally Veevers. Ultimately, it was Kubrick's name that was submitted as a nominee in this category, resulting in his winning the award, which many consider a slight to the four men whose work contributed to the film's success.
Engineering Effects Award edit
The table below display the Oscar nominees for Best Engineering Effects.
|Ralph Hammeras (photographic) [note 1]|
|Nugent Slaughter (photographic) [note 2]|
Special Effects Awards edit
The tables below display the Oscar nominees for Best Special Effects including the recipients of the Special Achievement Awards.
|Spawn of the North [note 3]||For outstanding achievement in creating Special Photographic and Sound Effects in the Paramount production Spawn of the North. Special Effects by Gordon Jennings, assisted by Jan Domela, Dev Jennings, Irmin Roberts and Art Smith. Transparencies by Farciot Edouart, assisted by Loyal Griggs. Sound Effects by Loren Ryder, assisted by Harry Mills, Louis Mesenkop and Walter Oberst.|
|The Rains Came||Fred Sersen (photographic); E. H. Hansen (sound)|
|Gone with the Wind||Jack Cosgrove (photographic); Fred Albin and Arthur Johns (sound)|
|Only Angels Have Wings||Roy Davidson (photographic); Edwin C. Hahn (sound)|
|The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex||Byron Haskin (photographic); Nathan Levinson (sound)|
|Topper Takes a Trip||Roy Seawright (photographic)|
|Union Pacific||Farciot Edouart and Gordon Jennings (photographic); Loren Ryder (sound)|
|The Wizard of Oz||A. Arnold Gillespie (photographic); Douglas Shearer (sound)|
|The Time Machine||Gene Warren and Tim Baar (visual)|
|The Last Voyage||Augie Lohman (visual)|
|The Guns of Navarone||Bill Warrington (visual); Vivian C. Greenham (audible)|
|The Absent-Minded Professor||Robert A. Mattey and Eustace Lycett (visual)|
|The Longest Day||Robert MacDonald (visual); Jacques Maumont (audible)|
|Mutiny on the Bounty||A. Arnold Gillespie (visual); Milo B. Lory (audible)|
Visual Effects Awards edit
The tables below display the Oscar nominees for Best Visual Effects including the recipients of the Special Achievement Awards.
Shortlisted finalists edit
Finalists for Best Visual Effects are selected by the Visual Effects Branch Executive Committee. Beginning with a long list of up to 20 titles, the committee then advances ten films to the shortlist. Prior to the 83rd Academy Awards, only fifteen films were long-listed, and only seven films were shortlisted. The full membership of the Visual Effects Branch is invited to view excerpts and is provided with supporting information at a "bake-off" where balloting determines the five nominees. These are the additional films that presented at the bake-off.
Multiple awards edit
Multiple awards edit
Multiple awards edit
Multiple nominations edit
For this Academy Award category, the following superlatives emerge:
See also edit
- The nomination for Ralph Hammeras was not associated with any individual film.
- According to the Academy's in-house records, the nomination for Nugent Slaughter was most often connected with The Jazz Singer. It is not considered an official nomination for that film.
- This was presented as a Special Achievement Award, not as a competitive Academy Award of Merit.
- From 1939 until 1962, visual effects and sound effects artists competed in a combined Best Special Effects category.
- When nominations were announced on February 9, 1942, Dive Bomber was nominated in place of The Sea Wolf. Both were Warner Bros. productions with photographic effects by Byron Haskin and sound effects by Nathan Levinson. By February 19, the Dive Bomber nomination was replaced with The Sea Wolf. The reason for the substitution is unknown.
- In 1957, The Enemy Below won the Best Special Effects Oscar for audible effects by Walter Rossi. It was not cited for its visual effects.
- A tie resulted in eight finalists.
- "92nd Academy Awards of Merit" (PDF). Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Archived (PDF) from the original on April 24, 2019. Retrieved May 25, 2019.
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- Kois, Dan (24 January 2017). "How Kubo and the Two Strings Landed a Surprise Visual Effects Oscar Nomination". Slate.
- "89TH ANNUAL ACADEMY AWARDS OF MERIT" (PDF). oscars.org. 2016. RULE TWENTY-TWO SPECIAL RULES FOR THE VISUAL EFFECTS AWARD. Archived (PDF) from the original on July 2, 2016.
Five productions shall be selected using reweighted range voting to become the nominations for final voting for the Visual Effects award.
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