'Pirates' sails to 7 VES noms

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"Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End" drew a leading seven nominations for the sixth annual Visual Effects Society Awards. "Transformers," another Industrial Light + Magic-led project, followed with five nominations.

Not far behind the autobots were five films that secured four nominations apiece: "I Am Legend," "Spider-Man 3," "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix," "Ratatouille" and "Surf's Up."

Of the titles that received four or more VES nominations, three of them — "Pirates," "Transformers" and "Legend" — also were named to the Academy' visual effects category short list released Friday. The three also are nominees in VES' top category of visual effects in a visual effects-driven film.

In four of the past five years, the winner of the VES' top prize went on to win the Oscar category. The exception was in 2004, when the VES recognized "Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban" and the Academy honored "Spider-Man 2."

Meanwhile, the selections of "Ratatouille" and "Surf's Up" — which included nods in categories typically dominated by live-action films — demonstrates a distinction between visual effects and animation, a topic that has been getting a lot of attention of late.

The Academy's initial list of 15 VFX contenders included "Ratatouille" and "Beowulf" — also reflecting this direction of thinking as the selections are rare feats for animated films.

Along these lines, VES introduced a new category this year for outstanding effects in an animated motion picture. In this new competition, "Ratatouille" earned two nominations (for food and for the rapids), and "Surf's Up," "Beowulf" and "Shrek the Third" rounded out the category. "Beowulf" and "Shrek" earned a total of two VES nominations apiece.

The "Pirates" sequel is nominated for outstanding visual effects in a visual effects-driven film, single visual effect of the year, created environment in a live-action film, compositing in a film (two nominations recognizing different individuals), models and miniatures in a film and animated character in a live-action film.

The previous "Pirates" film, "Dead Man's Chest" won all six categories last year as well as the Oscar.

This year, "Transformers" is nominated in the same categories as "Pirates" with the exception of created environments, where "Transformers" was not nominated.

In television, the Sci Fi Channel miniseries "Tin Man," the CW series "Smallville" and the BBC's "Doctor Who" franchise led with three nominations each.

Steven Spielberg will receive the VES Lifetime Achievement Award during the ceremony Feb. 10 at Hollywood & Highland that will recognize visual effects in film, television, commercials and video games.

A complete list of nominees can be found at THR.com.
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