Visual Effects Society Awards: 'War for the Planet of the Apes' Wins Big

9:58 PM 2/13/2018

by Carolyn Giardina

'War' won four categories including the top prize for outstanding VFX in a photoreal feature. Is an Oscar next?

Courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox

War for the Planet of the Apes won the top prize--outstanding visual effects in a photoreal feature--and three additional trophies for effects simulation, compositing and animated character (Caesar), during the 16th annual Visaul Effects Society Awards, Tuesday at the Beverly Hilton Hotel.

The next question is, will Weta Digital's accaimed work, which included bringing a cast of CG apes to the screen for an epic finale to Matt Reeves' trilogy, finally deliver a VFX Oscar.

War is nominated for the VFX Oscar alongside Blade Runner 2049, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, Kong: Skull Island and Star Wars: The Last Jedi. These are the same films that were nominated in the top VES category. During the VES Awards, Blade Runner 2049 claimed two VES Awards (created environment and model), and Guardians claimed one (virtual cinematography).

The two prior Apes films, 2011's Rise of the Planet of the Apes and 2014's Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, also won the top prize at the VES Awards and were also Oscar nominated, but in both cases, a different film won the VFX Oscar. (Rise lost the Oscar to Hugo, and Dawn was bested by Interstellar.) In six of the last 10 year, the winner of the top VES category went on to win the VFX Oscar.

War's senior VFX supervisor and four-time Oscar winner Joe Letteri was also the recipient of the society's Georges Melies Award, which was presented by Oscar winning producer Jon Landau, with whom Letteri worked on Avatar and is now collaborating on the Avatar sequels. Accepting the award, Letteri said, “We have a responsibility to make sure the story and the images that we create reflect our world.” And he called War for the Planet of the Apes a “story about the survival of the human spirit—we just made them look like apes.”

To those in the VFX industry, he said to loud applause, “we owe them a workplace free from injustice and harassment.”

Jon Favreau--whose The Jungle Book won the top VES prize and the VFX Oscar a year ago--received a Lifetime Achievement Award during the ceremony, which was presented by Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige. (Incidentally, War VFX supervisor Dan Lemmon has now won the top VES prize for two consecutive years, having also claimed this award  last year for his contributions to The Jungle Book.)

“You are giving me an award for the work that you all did,” Favreau quipped, adding that their work “isn’t about technology; it’s the people, it’s the artists.”

And he received a second standing ovation as he concluded that "at a time when we need empathy and understanding…let’s use these wonderful tools to show how we are all citizens of the world [through the stories that we tell].”

Also at the VES Awards, Game of Thrones won five trophies, the most for any project this year, including oustanding VFX in an episodic series. In animation, Disney/Pixar's Coco won four prizes, including outstanding VFX in an animated feature.

The complete list of winners follows.

  • Outstanding Visual Effects in a Photoreal Feature

    Courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox

    Blade Runner 2049
    John Nelson
    Karen Murphy Mundell
    Paul Lambert
    Richard Hoover
    Gerd Nefzer

    Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
    Christopher Townsend
    Damien Carr
    Guy WilliamsJonathan Fawkner
    Dan Sudick

    Kong: Skull Island
    Jeff White
    Tom Peitzman
    Stephen Rosenbaum
    Scott Benza
    Michael Meinardus

    Star Wars: The Last Jedi
    Ben Morris
    Tim Keene
    Eddie Pasquarello
    Daniel Seddon
    Chris Corbould

    WINNER War for the Planet of the Apes
    Joe Letteri
    Ryan Stafford
    Daniel Barrett
    Dan Lemmon
    Joel Whist

  • Outstanding Supporting Visual Effects in a Photoreal Feature

    Melinda Sue Gordon/Warner Bros. Pictures

    Darkest Hour
    Stephane Naze
    Warwick Hewitt
    Guillaume Terrien
    Benjamin Magana

    Downsizing
    James E. Price
    Susan MacLeod
    Lindy De Quattro
    Stephane Naze

    WINNER Dunkirk
    Andrew Jackson
    Mike Chambers
    Andrew Lockley
    Alison Wortman
    Scott Fisher

    Mother!
    Dan Schrecker
    Colleen Bachman
    Ben Snow
    Wayne Billheimer
    Peter Chesney

    Only the Brave
    Eric Barba
    Dione Wood
    Matthew Lane
    Georg Kaltenbrunner
    Michael Meinardus

  • Outstanding Visual Effects in an Animated Feature

    Courtesy of Disney/Pixar

    Captain Underpants
    David Soren
    Mark Swift
    Mirielle Soria
    David Dulac

    Cars 3
    Brian Fee
    Kevin Reher
    Michael Fong
    Jon Reisch

    WINNER Coco
    Lee Unkrich
    Darla K. Anderson
    David Ryu
    Michael K. O'Brien

    Despicable Me 3
    Pierre Coffin
    Chris Meledandri
    Kyle Balda
    Eric Guillon

    The LEGO Batman Movie
    Rob Coleman
    Amber Naismith
    Grant Freckelton
    Damien Gray

    The LEGO Ninjago Movie
    Gregory Jowle
    Fiona Chilton
    Miles Green
    Kim Taylor

  • Outstanding Visual Effects in a Photoreal Episode

    'Game of Thrones'
    'Game of Thrones'
    Courtesy of HBO

    Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.; "Orientation, Part 1"
    Mark Kolpack
    Sabrina Arnold
    David Rey
    Kevin Yuille
    Gary D'Amico

    WINNER Game of Thrones; "Beyond the Wall"
    Joe Bauer
    Steve Kullback
    Chris Baird
    David Ramos
    Sam Conway

    Legion; "Chapter 1"
    John Ross
    Eddie Bonin
    Sebastien Bergeron
    Lionel Lim
    Paul Benjamin

    Star Trek: Discovery; "The Vulcan Hello"
    Jason Michael Zimmerman
    Aleksandra Kochoska
    Ante Dekovic
    Mahmoud Rahnama

    Stranger Things 2; "The Gate"
    Paul Graff
    Christina Graff
    Seth Hill
    Joel Sevilla
    Caius the Man 

  • Outstanding Supporting Visual Effects in a Photoreal Episode

    'Black Sails'
    'Black Sails'
    Courtesy of Starz

    WINNER Black Sails; "XXIX"
    Erik Henry
    Terron Pratt
    Yafei Wu
    David Wahlberg
    Paul Dimmer

    Fear The Walking Dead; "Sleigh Ride"
    Peter Crosman
    Denise Gayle
    Philip Nussbaumer
    Martin Pelletier
    Frank Ludica

    Mr. Robot; "eps3.4_runtime-err0r.r00"
    Ariel Altman
    Lauren Montuori
    John Miller
    Luciano DiGeronimo

    Outlander; "Eye of the Storm"
    Richard Briscoe
    Elicia Bessette
    Aladino Debert
    Filip Orrby
    Doug Hardy

    Taboo; "Pilot"
    Henry Badgett
    Tracy McCreary
    Nic Birmingham
    Simon Rowe
    Colin Gorry

    Vikings; "On the Eve"
    Dominic Remane
    Mike Borrett
    Ovidiu Cinazan
    Paul Wishart
    Paul Byrne

  • Outstanding Animated Character in a Photoreal Feature

    Courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox

    Blade Runner 2049; Rachael
    Axel Akkeson
    Stefano Carta
    Wesley Chandler
    Ian Cooke-Grimes

    Kong: Skull Island; Kong
    Jakub Pistecky
    Chris Havreberg
    Karin Cooper
    Kris Costa

    War for the Planet of the Apes; Bad Ape
    Eteuati Tema
    Aidan Martin
    Florian Fernandez
    Mathias Larserud

    WINNER War for the Planet of the Apes; Caesar
    Dennis Yoo
    Ludovic Chailloleau
    Douglas McHale
    Tim Forbes

  • Outstanding Visual Effects in a Real-Time Project

    WINNER Assassin's Creed Origins
    Raphael Lacoste
    Patrick Limoges
    Jean-Sebastien Guay
    Ulrich Haar

    Call of Duty: WWII
    Joe Salud
    Atsushi Seo
    Danny Chan
    Jeremy Kendall

    Fortnite; A Hard Day's Night
    Michael Clausen
    Gavin Moran
    Brian Brecht
    Andrew Harris

    Sonaria
    Scot Stafford
    Camille Cellucci
    Kevin Dart
    Theresa Latzko

    Uncharted: The Lost Legacy
    Shaun Escayg
    Tate Mosesian
    Eben Cook

  • Outstanding Visual Effects in a Commercial

    Beyond Good and Evil 2
    Leon Berelle
    Maxime Luere
    Dominique Boidin
    Remi Kozyra

    Kia Niro; "Hero's Journey"
    Robert Sethi
    Anastasia von Rahl
    Tom Graham
    Chris Knight
    Dave Peterson

    Mercedes Benz; "King of the Jungle"
    Simon French
    Josh King
    Alexia Paterson
    Leonardo Costa

    Monster; "Opportunity Roars"
    Ruben Vandebroek
    Clairellen Wallin
    Kevin Ives
    Kyle Cody

    WINNER Samsung; "Do What You Can't"; Ostrich
    Diarmid Harrison-Murray
    Tomek Zietkiewicz
    Amir Bazazi
    Martino Madeddu

  • Outstanding Visual Effects in a Special Venue Project

    Courtesy of Disney

    WINNER Avatar: Flight of Passage
    Richard Baneham
    Amy Jupiter
    David Lester       
    Thrain Shadbolt

    Corona; Paraiso Secreto
    Adam Grint
    Jarrad Vladich
    Roberto Costas Fernández
    Ed Thomas
    Felipe Linares

    Guardians of the Galaxy; Mission: BREAKOUT!
    Jason Bayever
    Amy Jupiter
    Mike Bain
    Alexander Thomas

    National Geographic Encounter: Ocean Odyssey
    Thilo Ewers
    John Owens
    Gioele Cresce
    Mariusz Wesierski

    Nemo and Friends SeaRider
    Anthony Apodaca
    Kathy Janus
    Brandon Benepe
    Nick Lucas
    Rick Rothschild

    Star Wars: Secrets of the Empire
    Ben Snow
    Judah Graham
    Ian Bowie
    Curtis Hickman
    David Layne

  • Outstanding Animated Character in an Animated Feature

    WINNER Coco; Hector
    Emron Grover
    Jonathan Hoffman
    Michael Honsel
    Guilherme Sauerbronn Jacinto

    Despicable Me 3; Bratt
    Eric Guillon
    Bruno Dequier
    Julien Soret
    Benjamin Fournet

    The Lego Ninjago Movie; Garma Mecha Man
    Arthur Terzis
    Wei He
    Jean-Marc Ariu
    Gibson Radsavanh

    The Boss Baby; Boss Baby
    Alec Baldwin
    Carlos Puertolas
    Rani Naamani
    Joe Moshier

    The Lego Ninjago Movie; Garmadon
    Matthew Everitt
    Christian So
    Loic Miermont
    Fiona Darwin

  • Outstanding Animated Character in an Episode or Real-Time Project

    'Game of Thrones'
    'Game of Thrones'
    Courtesy of HBO

    Black Mirror: Metalhead
    Steven Godfrey
    Stafford Lawrence
    Andrew Robertson
    Lestyn Roberts

    Game of Thrones; "Beyond the Wall"; Zombie Polar Bear
    Paul Story
    Todd Labonte
    Matthew Muntean
    Nicholas Wilson

    Game of Thrones; "Eastwatch"; Drogon Meets Jon
    Jonathan Symmonds
    Thomas Kutschera
    Philipp Winterstein
    Andreas Krieg

    WINNER Game of Thrones; "The Spoils of War"; Drogon Loot Train Attack
    Murray Stevenson
    Jason Snyman
    Jenn Taylor
    Florian Friedmann

  • Outstanding Animated Character in a Commercial

    Beyond Good and Evil 2; Zhou Yuzhu
    Dominique Boidin
    Maxime Luère
    Leon Berelle
    Remi Kozyra

    Mercedes Benz; "King of the Jungle"
    Steve Townrow
    Joseph Kane
    Greg Martin
    Gabriela Ruch Salmeron

    Netto; "The Easter Surprise"; Bunny
    Alberto Lara
    Jorge Montiel
    Anotine Mariez
    Jon Wood

    WINNER Samsung; "Do What You Can't"; Ostrich
    David Bryan
    Maximilian Mallmann
    Tim Van Hussen
    Brendan Fagan

  • Outstanding Created Environment in a Photoreal Feature

    Warner Bros./Photofest

    WINNER Blade Runner 2049; Los Angeles
    Chris McLaughlin
    Rhys Salcombe
    Seungjin Woo
    Francesco Dell'Anna

    Blade Runner 2049; Trash Mesa
    Didier Muanza
    Thomas Gillet
    Guillaume Mainville
    Sylvain Lorgeau

    Blade Runner 2049; Vegas
    Eric Noel
    Arnaud Saibron
    Adam Goldstein
    Pascal Clement

    War for the Planet of the Apes; Hidden Fortress
    Greg Notzelman
    James Shaw
    Jay Renner
    Gak Gyu Choi

    War for the Planet of the Apes; Prison Camp
    Phillip Leonhardt
    Paul Harris
    Jeremy Fort
    Thomas Lo

  • Outstanding Created Environment in an Animated Feature

    Courtesy of Disney Pixar

    Cars 3; Abandoned Racetrack
    Marlena Fecho
    Thidaratana Annee Jonjai
    Jose L. Ramos Serrano
    Frank Tai

    WINNER Coco; City of the Dead
    Michael Frederickson
    Jamie Hecker
    Jonathan Pytko
    Dave Strick

    Despicable Me 3; Hollywood Destruction
    Axelle De Cooman
    Pierre Lopes
    Milo Riccarand
    Nicolas Brack

    The Lego Ninjago Movie; Ninjago City
    Kim Taylor
    Angela Ensele
    Felicity Coonan
    Jean Pascal leBlanc

  • Outstanding Created Environment in an Episode, Commercial or Real-Time Project

    'Game of Thrones'
    'Game of Thrones'
    Courtesy of HBO

    Assassin's Creed Origins; City of Memphis
    Patrick Limoges
    Jean-Sebastien Guay
    Mikael Guaveia
    Vincent Lombardo

    WINNER Game of Thrones; "Beyond the Wall"; Frozen Lake
    Daniel Villalba
    Antonio Lado
    Jose Luis Barreiro
    Isaac de la Pompa

    Game of Thrones; "Eastwatch"
    Patrice Poissant
    Deak Ferrand
    Dominic Daigle
    Gabriel Morin

    Still Star-Crossed; City
    Rafael Solorzano
    Isaac de la Pompa
    Jose Luis Barreiro
    Oscar Perea

    Stranger Things 2; The Gate
    Saul Galbiati
    Michael Maher
    Seth Cobb
    Kate McFadden

  • Outstanding Virtual Cinematography in a Photoreal Project

    Courtesy of Walt Disney Pictures

    Beauty and the Beast; Be Our Guest
    Shannon Justison
    Casey Schatz
    Neil Weatherley
    Claire Michaud

    WINNER Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2; Groot Dance/Opening Fight
    James Baker
    Steven Lo
    Alvise Avati
    Robert Stipp

    Star Wars: The Last Jedi; Crait Surface Battle
    Cameron Nielsen
    Albert Cheng
    John Levin
    Johanes Kurnia

    Thor: Ragnarok; Valkyrie's Flashback
    Hubert Maston
    Arthur Moody
    Adam Paschke
    Casey Schatz

  • Outstanding Model in a Photoreal or Animated Project

    Photofest

    WINNER Blade Runner 2049; LAPD Headquarters
    Alex Funke
    Steven Saunders
    Joaquin Loyzaga
    Chris Menges

    Despicable Me 3; Dru's Car
    Eric Guillon
    François-Xavier Lepeintre
    Guillaume Boudeville
    Pierre Lopes

    Life; The ISS
    Tom Edwards
    Chaitanya Kshirsagar
    Satish Kuttan
    Paresh Dodia

    US Marines; Anthem; Monument
    Tom Bardwell
    Paul Liaw
    Adam Dewhirst

  • Outstanding Effects Simulations in a Photoreal Feature

    Courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox

    Kong: Skull Island
    Florent Andorra
    Alexis Hall
    Raul Essig
    Branko Grujcic

    Only the Brave; Fire & Smoke
    Georg Kaltenbrunner
    Thomas Bevan
    Philipp Zaufel
    Himanshu Joshi

    Star Wars: The Last Jedi; Bombing Run
    Peter Kyme
    Miguel Perez Senent
    Ahmed Gharraph
    Billy Copley

    Star Wars: The Last Jedi; Mega Destroyer Destruction
    Mihai Cioroba
    Ryoji Fujita
    Jiyong Shin
    Dan Finnegan

    WINNER War for the Planet of the Apes
    David Caeiro Cebrian
    Johnathan Nixon
    Chet Leavai
    Gary Boyle

  • Outstanding Effects Simulations in an Animated Feature

    Courtesy of Disney/Pixar

    Cars 3
    Greg Gladstone
    Stephen Marshall
    Leon JeongWook Park
    Tim Speltz

    WINNER Coco
    Kristopher Campbell
    Stephen Gustafson
    Dave Hale
    Keith Klohn

    Despicable Me 3
    Bruno Chauffard
    Frank Baradat
    Milo Riccarand
    Nicolas Brack

    Ferdinand
    Yaron Canetti
    Allan Kadkoy
    Danny Speck
    Mark Adams

    The Boss Baby
    Mitul Patel
    Gaurav Mathur
    Venkatesh Kongathi

  • Outstanding Effects Simulations in an Episode, Commercial, or Real-Time Project

    'Game of Thrones'
    'Game of Thrones'
    Courtesy of HBO

    Game of Thrones; "Beyond the Wall"; Frozen Lake
    Manuel Ramirez
    Oscar Marquez
    Pablo Hernandez
    David Gacituaga

    WINNER Game of Thrones; "The Dragon and the Wolf"; Wall Destruction
    Thomas Hullin
    Dominik Kirouac
    Sylvain Nouveau
    Nathan Arbuckle

    Heineken; "The Trailblazers"
    Christian Bohm
    Andreu Lucio Archs
    Carsten Keller
    Steve Oakley

  • Outstanding Compositing in a Photoreal Feature

    Courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox

    Blade Runner 2049; LAPD Approach and Joy Holograms
    Tristan Myles
    Miles Lauridsen
    Joel Delle-Vergin
    Farhad Mohasseb

    Kong: Skull Island
    Nelson Sepulveda
    Aaron Brown
    Paolo Acri
    Shawn Mason

    Thor: Ragnarok; Bridge Battle
    Gavin McKenzie
    David Simpson
    Owen Carroll
    Mark Gostlow

    WINNER War for the Planet of the Apes
    Christoph Salzmann
    Robin Hollander
    Ben Morgan
    Ben Warner

  • Outstanding Compositing in a Photoreal Episode

    'Game of Thrones'
    'Game of Thrones'
    Courtesy of HBO

    Game of Thrones; "Beyond the Wall"; Frozen Lake
    Oscar Perea
    Santiago Martos
    David Esteve
    Michael Crane

    Game of Thrones; "Eastwatch"
    Thomas Montminy Brodeur
    Xavier Fourmond
    Reuben Barkataki
    Sebastien Raets

    WINNER Game of Thrones; "The Spoils of War"; Loot Train Attack
    Dom Hellier
    Thijs Noij
    Edwin Holdsworth
    Giacomo Matteucci

    Star Trek: Discovery
    Phil Prates
    Rex Alerta
    John Dinh
    Karen Cheng

  • Outstanding Compositing in a Photoreal Commercial

    Destiny 2; "New Legends Will Rise"
    Alex Unruh
    Michael Ralla
    Helgi Laxdal
    Timothy Gutierrez

    Nespresso; "Comin' Home"
    Matt Pascuzzi
    Steve Drew
    Martin Lazaro
    Karch Koon

    WINNER Samsung; "Do What You Can't"; Ostrich
    Michael Gregory
    Andrew Roberts
    Gustavo Bellon
    Rashabh Ramesh Butani

    Virgin Media; "Delivering Awesome"
    Jonathan Westley
    John Thornton
    Milo Paterson
    George Cressey

  • Outstanding Visual Effects in a Student Project

    Creature Pinup
    Christian Leitner
    Juliane Walther
    Kiril Mirkov
    Lisa Ecker

    WINNER Hybrids
    Florian Brauch
    Romain Thirion
    Matthieu Pujol
    Kim Tailhades

    Les Pionniers de l'Univers
    Clementine Courbin
    Matthieu Guevel
    Jérôme Van Beneden
    Anthony Rege

    The Endless
    Nicolas Lourme
    Corentin Gravend
    Edouard Calemard
    Romaric Vivier