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Friday, February 13, 2009

81st Academy Award for Visual Effects

As promised in my previous post about the Academy Awards for the the best achievement in Visual Effects, I would like to create a post dedicated for my comments in this year's nominees for the said award.

The official nominees for the 81st Academy Awards for the Best Achievement in Visual Effects are:
  • Iron Man
  • The Dark Knight
  • The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Luckily, I've seen all three in the big screen in the past. I would like to stress the fact though that these are just my personal comments and somehow, you may, or may not agree with me.

Iron Man. Plot: Tony Stark is the complete playboy who also happens to be an engineering genius. While in Afghanistan demonstrating a new missile he's captured and wounded. His captors want him to assemble a missile for them but instead he creates an armored suit and a means to prevent his death from the shrapnel left in his chest by the attack. He uses the armored suit to escape. Back in the U.S. he announces his company will cease making weapons and he begins work on an updated armored suit only to find that Obadiah Stane, his second in command at Stark industries has been selling Stark weapons to the insurgents. He uses his new suit to return to Afghanistan to destroy the arms and then to stop Stane from misusing his research. [Written by John Vogel of jlvogel@comcast.net]

Unlike the other two nominees, this movie is the most visual effects driven movie. I enjoyed the whole movie, much more its visual effects. The effects focus more on Iron Man itself. I have to admit, they look pretty real and the whole deal was very believable!

The Dark Knight. Plot:Batman raises the stakes in his war on crime. With the help of Lieutenant Jim Gordon and District Attorney Harvey Dent, Batman sets out to dismantle the remaining criminal organizations that plague the city streets. The partnership proves to be effective, but they soon find themselves prey to a reign of chaos unleashed by a rising criminal mastermind known to the terrified citizens of Gotham as The Joker. [Written by Peteagassi]

The realistic approach of the director make visual effects on this movie very limited. I can only think of the climatic battle scenes wherein the image and visual alterations have been made. Overall, it was Heath Ledger's performance that made the movie outstanding, but I doubt it'll win the award of this achievement.

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. Plot: On the day that Hurricane Katrina hits New Orleans, elderly Daisy Williams nee Fuller is on her deathbed in a New Orleans hospital. At her side is her adult daughter, Caroline. Daisy asks Caroline to read to her aloud the diary of Daisy's lifelong friend, Benjamin Button. Benjamin's diary recounts his entire extraordinary life, the primary unusual aspect of which was his aging backwards, being born an old man who was diagnosed with several aged diseases at birth and thus given little chance of survival, but who does survive and gets younger with time. Abandoned by his biological father, Thomas Button, after Benjamin's biological mother died in childbirth, Benjamin was raised by Queenie, a black woman and caregiver at a seniors home. Daisy's grandmother was a resident at that home, which is where she first met Benjamin. Although separated through the years, Daisy and Benjamin remain in contact throughout their lives, reconnecting in their forties when in age they finally match up. Some of the revelations in Benjamin's diary are difficult for Caroline to read, especially as it relates to the time past this reconnection between Benjamin and Daisy, when Daisy gets older and Benjamin grows younger into his childhood years. [Written by Hugg]

This movie focused more on the performances of the actor and the movie itself, rather than the visuals that it carries. But I loved the movie, and it managed to pull great deal of imagery and visual effects! The alterations and the modifications can clearly be seen on the character's faces. I also liked the scene with regard to the war at sea. God, loved that!

My thoughts is that The Curious Case of Benjamin Button would win the award, but it will face very tough competition with Iron Man, which is likely to be favored.

Update: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button won the award! View the full list of 81st Annual Academy Awards winners.

Monday, February 9, 2009

And the Visual Effects Oscar goes to...

The Academy Awards (Oscars) is a national film awards ceremony in the United States. It is presented annually by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) and gives recognition to those who have achieved the highest in a certain field in the movie industry the year before. And since the Oscar season is here, I decided to post something about the annual ceremony and technology. And your right, I wanted to feature the Academy Awards for the highest achievement in visual effects!

According to Wikipedia, here are the following criteria in order for a film to be nominated and win the prestigious award.
For a film to be nominated for this award, the effects artist must have created something not available for filming. For example, an entirely digital Empire State Building could not make a movie eligible, since one can easily film the building; on the other hand, a recreation of ancient Rome could, since it is impossible to film. However, movies are judged on the quality of all of their effects shots, not just one scene.

According to the official Academy Award rules, the criteria are:
  • consideration of the contribution the visual effects make to the overall production and
  • the artistry, skill and fidelity with which the visual illusions are achieved.
And I decided to list the previous films which garnered the prestigious award. Here they are:

  • 1939 (12th) The Rains Came1940s
  • 1940 (13th) The Thief of Bagdad
  • 1941 (14th) I Wanted Wings
  • 1942 (15th) Reap the Wild Wind
  • 1943 (16th) Crash Dive
  • 1944 (17th) Thirty Seconds over Tokyo
  • 1945 (18th) Wonder Man
  • 1946 (19th) Blithe Spirit
  • 1947 (20th) Green Dolphin Street
  • 1948 (21st) Portrait of Jennie
  • 1949 (22nd) Mighty Joe Young
  • 1950 (23rd) Destination Moon
  • 1951 (24th) When Worlds Collide
  • 1952 (25th) Plymouth Adventure
  • 1953 (26th) The War of the Worlds
  • 1954 (27th) 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea
  • 1955 (28th) The Bridges at Toko-Ri
  • 1956 (29th) The Ten Commandments
  • 1957 (30th) The Enemy Below
  • 1958 (31st) Tom Thumb
  • 1959 (32nd) Ben-Hur
  • 1960 (33rd) The Time Machine
  • 1961 (34th) The Guns of Navarone
  • 1962 (35th) The Longest Day
  • 1963 (36th) Cleopatra
  • 1964 (37th) Mary Poppins
  • 1965 (38th) Thunderball
  • 1966 (39th) Fantastic Voyage
  • 1967 (40th) Doctor Dolittle
  • 1968 (41st) 2001: A Space Odyssey
  • 1969 (42nd) Marooned
  • 1970 (43rd) Tora! Tora! Tora!
  • 1971 (44th) Bedknobs and Broomsticks
  • 1972 (45th) The Poseidon Adventure (Special Achievement Award)
  • 1974 (47th) Earthquake (Special Achievement Award)
  • 1975 (48th) The Hindenburg (Special Achievement Award)
  • 1976 (49th) King Kong and Logan's Run (Special Achievement Awards)
  • 1977 (50th) Star Wars
  • 1978 (51st) Superman: The Movie (Special Achievement Award)
  • 1979 (52nd) Alien
  • 1980 (53rd) Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back (Special Achievement Award)
  • 1981 (54th) Raiders of the Lost Ark
  • 1982 (55th) E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial
  • 1983 (56th) Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi (Special Achievement Award)
  • 1984 (57th) Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom
  • 1985 (58th) Cocoon
  • 1986 (59th) Aliens
  • 1987 (60th) Innerspace
  • 1988 (61st) Who Framed Roger Rabbit
  • 1989 (62nd) The Abyss
  • 1990 (63rd) Total Recall (Special Achievement Award)
  • 1991 (64th) Terminator 2: Judgment Day
  • 1992 (65th) Death Becomes Her
  • 1993 (66th) Jurassic Park
  • 1994 (67th) Forrest Gump
  • 1995 (68th) Babe
  • 1996 (69th) Independence Day
  • 1997 (70th) Titanic
  • 1998 (71st) What Dreams May Come
  • 1999 (72nd) The Matrix
  • 2000 (73rd) Gladiator
  • 2001 (74th) The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
  • 2002 (75th) The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers
  • 2003 (76th) The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
  • 2004 (77th) Spider-Man 2
  • 2005 (78th) King Kong
  • 2006 (79th) Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest
  • 2007 (80th) The Golden Compass
For this year? That'll be something I'll reserve for my next post. I'll post the nominees for this year, and I'll give my comments on each. I'll update this post once I'm done with it.


Update: As promised, I posted my thoughts on the nominees for the 81st Academy Award for Best Achievement on Visual Effects. If you have time, read though it.