Visual Effects Society Awards Preview: 'Apes' Leads the Charge

Since the VES Awards started in 2002, nine of the past top winners went on to claim the Oscar.
Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation
'Dawn of the Planet of the Apes'

The Visual Effects Society's 13th annual VES Awards will be presented Feb. 4 at the Beverly Hilton. Here's a cheat sheet for this year's competition.

All five Oscar nominees — Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, Guardians of the Galaxy, Interstellar and X-Men: Days of Future Past —are represented in the nominations.

Leading the pack for VES Awards are Apes with five nominations followed by Interstellar with four. (The Hobbit: The Battle of Five Armies also earned four VES nominations, but missed out on an Oscar nod.) X-Men and Edge of Tomorrow follow with three apiece.

Four of the five Oscar nominees are nominated in the top VES category of outstanding visual effects in a VFX-driven feature category. The nominees are Apes, Interstellar, Guardians of the Galaxy, X-Men, The Hobbit: The Battle of Five Armies and Maleficent. Absent from the list is Oscar nominee Captain America.

Since the first VES Awards were handed out in 2002, the winner of the top category has gone on to win the visual effects Oscar nine of the past 12 times.

Once, it went to the winner in the category for outstanding supporting visual effects (Hugo in 2012). VES also varied from the Oscar results in 2008, when VES gave its top award to Transformers and the Academy Award went to The Golden Compass, and in 2005 when the VES trophy was awarded to Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban and the Oscar to Spider-Man 2.

This year, represented VFX houses including Weta, Double Negative, MPC, Framestore and Industrial Light & Magic.

The VFX on both Apes and The Hobbit were created by Wellington, New Zealand's Weta Digital and Joe Letteri, a four-time Oscar winner and Weta's senior VFX supervisor. Interstellar was led by London-headquartered Double Negative (now part of Prime Focus) and its Oscar-winning VFX supervisor Paul Franklin (Inception). Guardians had 13 VFX houses, including London-headquartered MPC and Framestore. MPC was also the lead house on X-Men. ILM created a large number of the effects on Captain America.

In the re-named category for outstanding performance of an animated character in a live action feature (previously outstanding animated character), the ballot includes the names of the animators of Apes' Caesar and Koba, Guardians' Rocket and Maleficent's Thistlewit.

According to VES, the name change "reflects our intention of placing more emphasis on the performance of an animated character." For those curious as to why the actors who did the performance capture are not among the names on the ballot, VES explained: "The VES is agnostic on that topic: Our eligibility rules neither require nor prohibit voice actors or mocap performers to be nominated. That choice is up to the submitting organization."

In the feature animation categories, keep an eye on Baymax, Boxtrolls and Toothless.

Big Hero 6 and The Boxtrolls earned five nominations apiece, and How to Train Your Dragon 2 was close behind with four. The Lego Movie received two.

E-Mail: Carolyn.Giardina@THR.com
Twitter: @CGinLA
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