‘Inception’ effects sweep of VES Awards

“Inception” won all four its bids at the ninth annual Visual Effects Society awards. In the VES equivalent of a Best Picture race — visual effects in a visual effects-driven feature motion picture — “Inception” topped “Alice in Wonderland,” “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1,” “Iron Man 2” and “Tron: Legacy.” At the Oscars, “Inception” contends against the first three of those four plus “Hereafter” which won supporting visual effects in a motion picture over “Black Swan,” “Green Zone,” “Hereafter,” “Robin Hood: and “Salt.”

“How to Train Your Dragon” won three VES prizes for animated features — best animation, effects, and character — while “Toy Story 3” was shut out. Pixar did pick up the prize for achievement in an animated short for its Oscar contender “Day & Night.”

Among TV shows,”The Pacific” led with three awards: best visual effects, created environment and compositing while “Boardwalk Empire” prevailed with just two of its five bids — supporting visual effects and models/miniatures.

Even without all those nods, “Inception” director Christopher Nolan was sure to be on hand as he was feted with the inaugural VES Visionary Award. And Oscar champ Ray Harryhausen received the lifetime achievement award.

Last year, “Avatar” won six of the seven VES races in which contended, several times with multiple bids, including the top prize. That haul tied “Avatar” with “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest” for second place while “The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers” still reigns supreme with seven awards. “Avatar” went on to win the Oscar for Best Visual Effects.

Two years ago, “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” won the top prize with both the VES and the Oscars. However, three years ago, the top VES winner “Transformers” lost the Visual Effects Oscar to “The Golden Compass.” Over the first five years of the VES kudos, the winners matched four times — in 2006 (“Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest”), 2005 (“King Kong”), 2003 (“The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King”) and 2002 (“The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers”). In 2004, the VES chose “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban” while the Oscar went to “Spider-Man 2.”

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