‘Inception’ leads with four VES nominations

“Inception” reaped a leading four bids for the ninth annual Visual Effects Society awards. In the VES equivalent of the Best Picture race — visual effects in a visual effects-driven feature motion picture — “Inception” contends against “Alice in Wonderland,” “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1,” “Iron Man 2” and “Tron: Legacy.” Those five films — plus “Hereafter” and “Scott Pilgrim vs the World” — are vying for the five Visual Effects slots at the Oscars.

For supporting visual effects in a motion picture, the VES nominees are: “Black Swan,” “Green Zone,” “Hereafter,” “Robin Hood: and “Salt.” And the animated motion pictures in contention are: “Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole,” “How to Train Your Dragon,” “”Shrek Forever After,” “Tangled” and “Toy Story 3.” .

Among TV shows, “Boardwalk Empire” leads with five nominations, including a bid in the supporting visuals race against “Human Target,” “Lost,” “Undercovers” and “The Walking Dead.”

Last year, “Avatar” won six of the seven VES races in which contended including the top prize; it had multiple bids in certain races for a total of 11 nominations. “Avatar” is tied with “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest” for second place while “The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers” 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.”

Winners will be announced Feb. 1 at the Beverly Hilton Hotel. Even without all those nods, “Inception” director Christopher Nolan was sure to be on hand as he is to be feted with the inaugural VES Visionary Award. And Oscar champ Ray Harryhausen is to receive the lifetime achievement award.

Image: 9th Annual Visual Effects Society Awards logo (VES)

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