Friday, February 13, 2015

Awards-Nazi Award Nominations: Best Visual Effects

This is usually one of the tougher craft categories for me to decide my favourites. The photorealism of CGI these days is so evolved that it's hard to assess which effects are "better" than others (unless the effect is noticeably bad).

Inevitably, my own criteria boils down to some vague combination of the effects' technical excellence, their originality, and how effectively they're used to support the much bigger 'effect' of the movie experience. For instance, no one's going to argue that a Michael Bay explosion fest doesn't have highly accomplished effects work, but its always delivered in a visually messy and confusing fashion, essentially wasting the efforts of the hardworking technicians, animators, matte painters, texture artists, etc.

To that end, the following craftspeople nominated for my own Best Visual Effects honour can thank the directors of their respective movies for being filmmakers of taste and substance, who know how to utilize special effects to serve the story instead of distract from it.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier
(Dan Deleeuw, Russell Earl,
Daniel Sudick, Spiro Razatos)
A winning combo of CG pyrotechnics, practical rigging, and badass stunt work that actually makes you forget for a while that you're what you're seeing are special effects. I mean, obviously they're effects, but they service the action so well they become less conspicuous.

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
(Joe Letteri, Dan Lemmon,
Matt Kutcher, Daniel Barrett)
Another unparalleled step forward for performance-capture and Weta. Perhaps the greatest compliment that can be paid to Letteri et. al. is that after a while, one stops marvelling at how photo-realistic the CGI is and simply buys the illusion.

(Jim Rygiel, Guillaume Rocheron,
Joel Whist, Ferran Domenech)
Gareth Edwards puts his effects budget to good use in this spectacular popcorn movie. The creature animation and texture rendering combine to give Godzilla and his MUTO adversaries credible onscreen presence (to say nothing of all those destruction effects).

(Paul Franklin, Andrew Lockley,
Scott R. Fisher, Ian Hunter)
Using everything from miniatures to gravtational formulae from physicist Kip Thorne, the folks at Double Negative have simulated wondrous celestial phenomena that are mesmerizing for the eyes to behold and even more so for the mind to contemplate.

Under the Skin
(Dominic Parker, Tom Debenham,
Mark Curtis, Stephen Murphy)
There actually aren't a whole lot of effects shots in this minimalist art house sci-fi, but its virtuoso flourishes are sleek, chic, and ├╝ber-cool. Sparse as they are, these moments of movie magic are singular and unforgettable.

Just missed:
Edge of Tomorrow
(Nick Davis, Daniel Kramer, Dominic Tuohy, Dan Sheerin)
Guardians of the Galaxy
(Stephane Ceretti, Paul Corbould, Kevin Spruce, Greg Fisher)
The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies
(Joe Letteri, Eric Saindon, Matt Aitken, Aaron Gilman)
(Ben Snow, Dan Schrecker, Burt Dalton, Marc Chu)
X-Men: Days of Future Past
(Richard Stammers, Anders Langlands, Lou Pecora, Cameron Waldbauer)

1 comment:

  1. Best Visual Effects:

    Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
    Guardians of the Galaxy
    X-Men: Days of Future Past

    ...Love your inclusion of Under the Skin, btw.