2017 Visual Effects Society Awards nominations: Oscar frontrunner ‘The Jungle Book,’ ‘Rogue One,’ ‘Doctor Strange’

No surprise that “The Jungle Book” did well with the Visual Effects Society Awards, reaping six bids for the 15th annual edition of these kudos. 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” — picked up seven and six nominations respectively.

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All three contend in the VES equivalent of the Best Picture race — visual effects in a feature motion picture — along with “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” and “Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children.” That latter film does not number among the 10 films still vying for the five Visual Effects slots at the Oscars.

The supporting visual effects nominees are: “Allied,” “Deepwater Horizon,” “Jason Bourne,” “Silence” and “Sully.” Of these, only “Deepwater Horizon” is still in the running for the Oscars. That list is rounded out by “Arrival,” “The BFG,” “Captain America: Civil War, “Kubo and the Two Strings” and “Passengers.”

And the animated feature nominees are: “Finding Dory,” “Kubo and the Two Strings,” “Moana,” “The Little Prince” and “Zootopia.”

Nominees in 24 categories were selected by VES members via events hosted by 10 ten sections, including Australia, Bay Area, London, Los Angeles, Montreal, New York, Toronto and Vancouver. 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).

UPDATED: Oscar odds in all 24 categories 

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.”

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