No surprise that "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" did well with the Visual Effects Society Awards, reaping seven bids for the 13th annual edition of these kudos. After all, it is the clear frontrunner for Best Visual Effects at the Oscars. Its closest rival for the Academy Award — "Mad Max: Fury Road" and picked up three nominations.
Both contend in the VES equivalent of the Best Picture race — visual effects in a visual effects-driven feature motion picture — along with "The Martian," "San Andreas" and "Furious 7." Those latter two don't number among the 10 films still vying for the five Visual Effects slots at the Oscars.
The supporting visual effects nominees are "Bridge of Spies," "Everest," "In the Heart of the Sea," "The Revenant" and "The Walk."
Last year, "Dawn of the Planet of the Apes" won three prizes here including the VES equivalent of the Best Picture race — Visual Effects in a Visual Effects Driven Film while "Interstellar" won only Created Environment. However, it rallied at the Oscars.
In 2013, "Gravity" won six of its eight VES bids, including the top prize. It went on to win the Oscar for Best Visual Effects.
In 2012, "Life of Pi" won four of its six VES bids, including the big award, where it edged out Oscar rivals "The Avengers," "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey" and "Prometheus" as well as "Battleship." It went on to win the Oscar for Best Visual Effects.
In 2011, two of the Oscar nominees — "Rise of the Planet of the Apes" and "Hugo" — each won two VES awards. "Hugo," which won the supporting visual effects award, went on to claim the Oscar over, among others, "Apes," which took the top prize at the VES.
In 2010, "Inception" won all four of its bids including the top prize. It took home the Oscar too. In 2009, "Avatar" won six of the seven VES races in which it contended and also prevailed at the Academy Awards. At the VES, "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.
In 2008, "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" won the top prize with both the VES and the Oscars. However, in 2007, 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."
The nominees in 24 categories of film, animation, television, commercials, special venues and video games were chosen by VES members who viewed submissions at the FotoKem screening facilities in Burbank and New York, FotoKem’s Spy in San Francisco, and facilities in London, Sydney, Vancouver and Wellington. Winners will be announced Feb. 2 at the Beverly Hilton Hotel. Ridley Scott is to be feted with the Visionary Award.
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