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Ex Machina won the Oscar in visual effects on Sunday night. The film’s Andrew Whitehurst, Paul Norris, Mark Ardington and Sara Bennett took home the statuettes.
Arguably the night’s biggest upset, this is only the second time that a film has won the VFX category without also having a best picture nomination, in a year when at least one other nominee (in this case, three) did have a best picture nomination. Made on a $15 million budget, it topped a list of nominees that included Mad Max: Fury Road, The Martian, Star Wars: The Force Awaken and The Revenant.
“I’m really bad at predicting this, apparently,” said Whitehurst. “This is so utterly unexpected. Visual effects is massively a team game, more so maybe than any other department. And we have to thank people in two directions: We’ve got to thank the studio, we’ve got to thank the production.”
He added: “We’ve got to thank Alex [Garland] for being an amazing director. We have to thank Alicia [Vikander] for being Ava. And we have to thank the teams of artists, production and technical personnel at Double Negative, Milk VFX and Utopia, who are amazing. Without them, we are nothing. Thank you so, so much.”
Bennett is only the second woman to win an Oscar in visual effects; the first was Suzanne M. Benson, for 1986’s Aliens.
This is the second year in a row that Double Negative was the lead VFX house of the Oscar winner; a year ago it was the lead house on VFX winner Interstellar.
The other nominees in the category included The Martian‘s team of Richard Stammers, Anders Langlands, Chris Lawrence and Steven Warner; Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ team of Roger Guyett, Patrick Tubach, Neal Scanlan and Chris Corbould; Mad Max: Fury Road‘s team of Andrew Jackson, Tom Wood, Dan Oliver and Andy Williams; and The Revenant‘s team of Rich McBride, Matthew Shumway, Jason Smith and Cameron Waldbauer.
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