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Surprising no one, Avatar: The Way of Water collected the Oscar in visual effects for its jaw-dropping work that helped to propel the movie to more than $2.2 billion at the box office, making it the third highest grossing movie of all time.
In doing so, Weta FX’s production senior VFX supervisor Joe Letteri collected his fifth competitive award in the category at the 2023 Oscars. He now joins Ken Ralston (Forrest Gump) in holding five competitive Oscars apiece in the category. Both trail Denis Murren (Jurassic Park), who holds the category record of eight competitive Academy Awards.
With the win for The Way of Water, visual effects supervisor Richard Baneham accepted his second VFX Oscar, having previously won the trophy for the original Avatar. Weta VFX supervisor Eric Saindon and senior animation supervisor Daniel Barrett each won their first Oscar on Sunday.
Accepting onstage, Baneham thanked director James Cameron “whose artistic thumbprint is on every part of this;” producer Jon Landau, “who is the engine who drove us forward;” as well as the large VFX team that worked on the movie.
Letteri previously won Oscars for 2009’s Avatar, as well as King Kong, The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers and The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King. He earned six additional nominations, for the three movies in the most recent Planet of the Apes trilogy starring Andy Serkis as Caesar, the first and second movies in The Hobbit trilogy, and I, Robot.
Avatar: The Way of Water artists provided their cutting-edge work with numerous new techniques and technologies developed at VFX studio Weta FX, among them underwater performance capture, facial capture, water simulation and real-time depth compositing.
On Sunday, The Way of Water topped the field in the VFX competition that included All Quiet on the Western Front, The Batman, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever and Top Gun: Maverick.
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