Visual Effects Society Awards preview: Oscar frontrunner ‘The Jungle Book’ v. ‘Rogue One,’ ‘Doctor Strange’

No surprise that “The Jungle Book” is predicted to win the top prize — Effect-Driven Film — at Tuesday’s Visual Effects Society Awards. After all, it is the clear frontrunner for Best Visual Effects at the Oscars. Its closest rivals for the Academy Award —  “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” and “Doctor Strange” — are also in contention for this VES honor as as “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” and “Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children.”

The Oscar race is rounded out by “Deepwater Horizon” and “Kubo and the Two Strings,” which contend here in Supporting Effects. However, they are expected to lose that award to “Sully.” The other nominees are “Allied,” “Jason Bourne “and “Silence.”

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But “Kubo and the Two Strings” is predicted to win the animated feature award over “Finding Dory,”  “Moana,” “The Little Prince” and “Zootopia.”

The 15th annual edition of the VES Awards will be held on February 7 at the Beverly Hilton Hotel.  The Lifetime Achievement Award will go to Oscar-winning visual effects pioneer Ken Ralston while the Visionary Award will be presented to Marvel Studios exec Victoria Alonso.

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Last year, the Visual Effect Society snubbed the eventual Oscar champ “Ex Machina.” That “Ex Machina” was shut of the VES Awards is even more surprising given that there are six categories for feature films. Last year’s big winner was  “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” which won four awards while “Mad Max” picked up one prize (effects simulation). Both of these sci-fi epics vied in the VES equivalent of the Best Picture race — visual effects in a visual effects-driven feature motion picture — along with rival Oscar nominee “The Martian” as well as “San Andreas” and “Furious 7.” “Star Wars” won that award as well as outstanding models, created environment and virtual cinematography.

“The Revenant,” which was the only Oscar contender among the supporting visual effects nominees won that race over “Bridge of Spies,” “Everest,” “In the Heart of the Sea,” and “The Walk.” It also claimed outstanding animated performance (the bear) and best compositing (the bear attack).

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In 2014, “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, 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 then claimed 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.

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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.”

Predict the Oscar winners now; change them till February 26

Be sure to make your Oscar predictions. Weigh in now with your picks so that Hollywood insiders can see how their films are faring in our Oscar odds. You can keep changing your predictions right up until just before winners are announced on February 26 at 5:00 pm PT/8:00 pm ET. And join in the fierce debate over the Oscars taking place right now with Hollywood insiders in our forums.

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