Visual Effects Society Awards: 'The Midnight Sky' Tops Feature Competition

THE MIDNIGHT SKY (2020) - Felicity Jones
NETFLIX

Felicity Jones as Sully in Netflix's 'The Midnight Sky.'

Accepting the Lifetime Achievement Award, Peter Jackson reflects on making 'The Lord of the Rings.'

George Clooney's meditative sci-fi drama The Midnight Sky won the top category of outstanding visual effects in a photoreal feature and a second trophy for its model work, Tuesday during a virtual presentation of the 19th annual Visual Effects Society Awards.

Led by VFX supervisors Matt Kasmir and Chris Lawrence and lead VFX house Framestore, The Midnight Sky contained VFX work that ranged from digital actors and facial performance capture to fully CG zero-G shots and virtual production techniques.

Pixar's Soul swept the feature animation categories, winning five trophies in all, including outstanding VFX in an animated feature. In series work, Disney+'s The Mandalorian collecting three awards including one for outstanding VFX is a series episode, and HBO's Lovecraft County claimed two trophies.

In the feature categories--in addition to the two awards claimed by Netflix's The Midnight Sky--Mank grabbed the award for supporting VFX, The One and Only Ivan collected the award for animated character, Mulan topped the field for created environment, and Project Power won trophies for effects simulation and compositing.

This year, the Academy Award nominees in VFX are The Midnight Sky, The One and Only Ivan, Love and Monsters, Mulan and Tenet. Still, the VES has an uneven record of predicting the eventual Oscar winner, as in just four of the last 10 years the winner of the top category for outstanding VFX in a photoreal feature went on to accept the VFX Oscar.

Cate Blanchett presented Peter Jackson's Lifetime Achievement Award during the virtual ceremony. Additionally, James Cameron and Jon Landau--dressed as if characters in The Lord of the Rings--appeared with Gollum, who begged them to take him to the VES Awards to honor Jackson. A string of colleagues and friends also saluted Jackson in a video tribute, including Andy Serkis, Naomi Watts, Elijah Wood, Ian McKellen, and Weta collaborators including senior VFX supervisor Joe Letteri.

"If you are going to take risks, take big risks. That's been my relationship with visual effects," Jackson said, recalling the "big gamble" to start VFX house Weta, in order to make The Lord of the Rings' visual effects in New Zealand. He also remembered New Line Cinema initially saying that it didn't trust untested Weta to create Gollum for the films. "It was like we had been challenged," he said, describing how the team went to work to prove it wrong, and praising VFX artists for always taking these sorts of challenges. "I remember Bob Shaye muttering, 'you can do Gollum.'"

Accepting the VES Award for Creative Excellence, three-time Oscar-winning VFX supervisor Rob Legato also saluted the community and urged it embrace the word "no," saying it's a "call to arms ... the encouragement that you want to try something." Sacha Baron Cohen presented the award.

During the show, hosted by Patton Oswalt, presenters also included Zack Snyder and Pete Docter.

The complete list of winners follows:

Outstanding Visual Effects in a Photoreal Feature

Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey - Brad Parker Roma Van Den Bergh Eric Guaglione Carlos Monzon Stefano Pepin

Project Power - Ivan Moran Leslie Hough Joao Sita Matthew Twyford Yves Debono

Tenet - Andrew Jackson Mike Chambers Andrew Lockley David Lee Scott Fisher

WINNER The Midnight Sky - Matt Kasmir Greg Baxter Chris Lawrence Max Solomon David Watkins

The Witches - Kevin Baillie Sandra Scott Sean Konrad Glenn Melenhorst Mark Holt

 

Outstanding Supporting Visual Effects in a Photoreal Feature 

Da 5 Bloods - Randall Balsmeyer James Cooper Watcharachai “Sam” Panichsuk

Extraction - Marko Forker Lynzi Grant Craig Wentworth Olivier Sarda

WINNER Mank WeiZheng Peter Mavromates Simon Carr James Pastorius

News of the World - Roni Rodrigues Dayaliyah Lopez Ian Fellows Andrew Morley Brandon K. McLaughlin

Welcome to Chechnya - Ryan Laney Eugen Bräunig Maxwell Anderson Johnny Han Piers Dennis

 

Outstanding Visual Effects in an Animated Feature 

Onward - Dan Scanlon Kori Rae Sanjay Bakshi Vincent Serritella

Over the Moon - Glen Keane Gennie Rim Céline Desrumaux David Alexander Smith

WINNER Soul - Pete Docter Dana Murray Michael Fong Bill Watral

The Croods: A New Age - Joel Crawford Mark Swift, PGA Betsy Nofsinger Jakob Hjort Jensen

Trolls World Tour -Walt Dohrn Gina Shay, PGA Kendal Cronkhite-Shaindlin Matt Baer 

 

Outstanding Visual Effects in a Photoreal Episode

Lovecraft Country - "Jig-A-Bobo" - Kevin Blank Robin Griffin Pietro Ponti Francois Dumoulin

Star Trek: Discovery - "Su’Kal" - Jason Michael Zimmerman Aleksandra Kochoska Ante Dekovic Ivan Kondrup Jensen

WINNER The Mandalorian - "The Marshal" - Joe Bauer Abbigail Keller Hal Hickel Richard Bluff Roy Cancino  

Timmy Failure - Rich McBride Leslie Lerman Nicolas Chevallier Anders Beer Tony Lazarowich

Westworld - "Crisis Theory" - Jay Worth Elizabeth Castro Bruce Branit Joe Wehmeyer Mark Byers

 

Outstanding Supporting Visual Effects in a Photoreal Episode 

I Know This Much Is True - "Episode 1" - Eric Pascarelli Keith Kolder Ariel Altman

Mrs. America - "Shirley" - Janelle Croshaw Kaylie Whitcher Leonardo Silva Zena Bielewicz Michael Innanen

Survive - Ariel Altman Rae Welty Caius Wong Carl Fong

WINNER The Crown - "Gold Stick" - Ben Turner Reece Ewing Andrew Scrase Jonathan Wood

Vikings - "Best Laid Plans" - Dominic Remane Bill Halliday Tom Morrison Ovidiu Cinazan Paul Byrne

Warrior - "Learn to Endure, Or Hire a Bodyguard" - Jonathan Alenskas Leah Orsini Nate Overstrom David Eschrich

 

Outstanding Visual Effects in a Real-Time Project

Assassin’s Creed Valhalla - Raphael Lacoste Jean-Sebastien Guay Virginie Cinq-Mars Thierry Beaumont

Cyberpunk 2077  - Jakub Knapik Małgorzata Mitręga Piotr Suchodolski Krzysztof Krzyścin

WINNER Ghost Of Tsushima - Jason Connell Matt Vainio Jasmin Patry Joanna Wang

Spider-Man: Miles Morales - Reactor Finale - Gavin Goulden Jess Reed Bryanna LindseyMike Yosh

The Last Of Us Part II - Neil Druckmann Eben Cook Erick Pangilinan John Sweeney

 

Outstanding Visual Effects in a Commercial 

Arm & Hammer - "Once Upon a Time" - Kiril Mirkov Solomon Tiigah Vanessa Duquesnay Prashanth Paramasivam

Burberry - "Singin’ In the Rain" - Fabian Frank Ryan Hancocks Rob Richardson Alex Lovejoy

Hornbach - "It Seems Impossible Until You Do It" - Ben Cronin Tomek Zietkiewicz Amir Bazzazi Bruno Fukumothi

PlayStation - "The Edge" - Diarmid Harrison-Murray Tom Igglesden Alex Gabucci Tom Raynor

WINNER Walmart - "Famous Visitors" - Chris “Badger” Knight Lori Talley Yarin Mares Matt Fuller

Xbox - "Us Dreamers"Dan Seddon Elexis Stearn Fabian Frank Zhenya Vladi

 

Outstanding Visual Effects in a Special Venue Project 

Asteroid Hunters - Antoine DurrJini Durr Bert Poole Neishaw Ali

WINNER The Bourne Stuntacular - Salvador ZalvideaTracey GibbonsGeorge AllanMatthías BjarnasonScott Smith

Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway - Ryan Donoghue Becky Train Blaine Kennison Nick da Silva Corban Prim 

The March - Aruna Inversin Peter Nelson Kevin Williams Sean Kealey  

 

Outstanding Animated Character in a Photoreal Feature

Die Känguru-Chroniken - Kangaroo - Claudius Urban Sebastian Badea Dorian Knapp Ruth Wiegand

Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey - Don Juan Diego - Eric Guaglione Shuchi Singhal Adrien Annesley Mahmoud Ellithy 

WINNER The One And Only Ivan - Ivan Valentina Rosselli Thomas Huizer Andrea De Martis William Bell

The Witches - Daisy - Jye Skinn Sarah Fuller Marco Iannaccone Fredrik Sundqvist

 

Outstanding Animated Character in an Animated Feature 

Onward - Dad PantsKristopher Campbell Jonas Jarvers Rob Jensen Jacob Kuenzel

Over the Moon - Chang’eSiggi Orri Thorhannesson Hyesook Kim Javier Solsona Alan Chen

WINNER Soul - Terry - Jonathan Hoffman Jonathan PagePeter Tieryas Ron Zorman

The Spongebob Movie: Sponge On The Run - SpongeBob Jacques Daigle Guillaume Dufief Adrien Montero Liam Hill

 

Outstanding Animated Character in an Episode or Real-Time Project 

The Crown - "The Balmoral Test" - Imperial Stag Ahmed Gharraph Ross Burgess Gabriela Ruch Salmeron Joel Best

WINNER The Mandalorian - "The Jedi" - The Child John Rosengrant Peter Clarke Scott Patton Hal Hickel

The Mandalorian - "The Marshal" - Krayt DragonPaul Kavanagh Zaini Mohamed Jalani Michal Kriukow Nihal Friedel

Timmy Failure - "Mistakes Were Made" - Total - Maxime Masse Hennadii Prykhodko Luc Girard Sophie Burie

 

Outstanding Animated Character in a Commercial 

Afk Arena - "Toilet" - Uzgahk Chloe Dawe Brad Noble Tim van Hussen Simon Legrand

WINNER Arm & Hammer - "Once Upon a Time" - Tuxedo - Tom Shiny Rajan Silvia Bartoli Matias Heker Tiago Dias Mota

Far Cry - "Legacy" - Anton Maxime Luere Leon Berelle Rémi Kozyra Dominique Boidin

Legends Of Runeterra - "Breathe" - Darius Maxime Luere Leon Berelle Rémi Kozyra Dominique Boidin

TK MAXX - "The Lil Goat" - Kiril Mirkov Silvia Bartoli Chris Welsby David Bryan

 

Outstanding Created Environment in a Photoreal Feature 

Bloodshot - Neuralspace - Arnaud Brisebois Patrick Bacon Dawid Borkiewicz Gérôme Viavant

WINNER Mulan - Imperial City - Jeremy Fort Matt Fitzgerald Ben Walker Adrian Vercoe

The Eight Hundred - 1937 Shanghai Downtown - Stefano Cieri Aaron Auty Simon Carlile Patrick Zentis

The Eight Hundred - Shanghai Warehouse District - Jamie Macdougall Julian Hutchens Mark Honer David Pekarek

 

Outstanding Created Environment in an Animated Feature 

Onward - Swamp Gas - Eric Andraos Laura Grieve Nick Pitera Michael Rutter

WINNER Soul - You SeminarHosuk Chang Sungyeon Joh Peter Roe Frank Tai

Trolls World Tour - Techno Reef - Luke Heathcock Zachary Glynn Marina Ilic Michael Trull

Trolls World Tour - Volcano Rock City - Brian LaFrance Sara Cembalisty Christopher Sprunger Ruben Perez

 

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

Brave New World - New LondonGuy Williams Justin Gros-Désir Markus Sterner Ryan Clarke

Cyberpunk 2077 - Night City - Jakub Knapik Lucjan Więcek

Lovecraft Country - Tulsa 1921 - Patrice Poissant Pauline Lavelle Mohamed Abdou Elhakim Alan Lam

WINNER The Mandalorian - "The Believer" - Morak Jungle -Enrico Damm Johanes Kurnia Phi Tran Tong Tran

The Mandalorian - "The Siege" - Nevarro Canyon - Kevin George Aaron Barr Piotr Tatar Abel Milanés Betancourt

 

Outstanding Virtual Cinematography in a CG Project 

Ghost Of Tsushima - "A Storm is Coming" - Aladino Debert Matt Dougan Eric Beaver David Liu  

WINNER Soul - Matt Aspbury Ian Megibben

The Mandalorian - "The Believer" - Richard Bluff Matt Jensen Chris Williams Landis Fields IV

The Mandalorian - "The Siege" - Dave Crispino Kyle Winkelman Paul Kavanagh Jose Burgos

 

Outstanding Model in a Photoreal or Animated Project

The Mandalorian -  Boba Fett’s Ship - Jay Machado Enrico Damm Gerald Blaise Ryan Church

The Mandalorian - "The Rescue" - Light Cruiser - John Knoll John Goodson Dan Patrascu Rene Garcia

WINNER The Midnight Sky - Aether - Michael Balthazart Jonathan Opgenhaffen John-Peter Li Simon Aluze

The Witches - Rollercoaster - Jared Michael Peter Dominik Sylvain Lesaint Emily Tilson

 

Outstanding Effects Simulations in a Photoreal Feature

Bloodshot - Omar Meradi Jeremy Poupin Sylvain Robert Deak Ferrand

Greyhound - Mike Nixon Nicholas Papworth Jeremy Smith Yashdeep Sawant

Monster Hunter - Vimal Mallireddy Warren Lawtey Tom O'Bready Dominik Haase

Mulan - Theo Vandernoot Sandra Balej James Carson Yuri Rudakov

WINNER Project Power - Yin Lai Jimmy Leung Jonathan Edward Lyddon-Towl Pierpaolo Navarini Michelle Lee

 

Outstanding Effects Simulations in an Animated Feature 

Onward - Dave Hale Jonah Blue Laird Stephen Marshall Ricardo Nadu

Over the Moon - Ian Farnsworth Brian Casper Reinhold Rittinger Jennifer Lasrado

WINNER Soul - Alexis Angelidis Keith Daniel Klohn Aimei Kutt Melissa Tseng

Trolls World Tour - Stephen Wood Carl Hooper Spencer Knapp Nick Augello

The Willoughbys - Helén Ahlberg Kyle McQueen Russell Smith Raehyeon Kim

 

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

WINNER Lovecraft Country - "Strange Case" - Chrysalis - Federica Foresti Johan Gabrielsson Hugo Medda Andreas Krieg

PlayStation - "The Edge"Tom Raynor Andreu Lucio Martin Aufinger Platon Filimonov

Tales From The Loop - "Loretta’s House"Dominik Kirouac Gaël Chopin Sylvain Nouveau Laurent Pancaccini

The Mandalorian - "The Marshal" Krayt DragonHuaiYuan Teh Don Wong Mathieu Chardonnet Prashanth Bhagavan

 

Outstanding Compositing in a Feature

Greyhound - Chris Gooch Tiago Santos Stu Bruzek Sneha Amin

Mulan - Christoph Salzmann Beck Veitch Joerg Bruemmer Indah Maretha

WINNER Project Power - Russell Horth Matthew Patience Julien Rousseau

Underwater - Sreejith Venugopalan Ruslan Borysov Susil Sabat Andreas Andersson

 

Outstanding Compositing in an Episode

WINNER Lovecraft Country - "Strange Case" - Chrysalis - Viktor Andersson Linus Lindblom Mattias Sandelius Crawford Reilly

The Mandalorian - "The Believer" - Peter Demarest Christopher Balog Shawn Mason David Wahlberg

The Mandalorian - "The Marshal" - Nicolas Caillier Simon Rafin Siang Kee Poh Simon Marinof

The Mandalorian - "The Passenger" - TC Harrison Tami Carter Jaume Creus Costabella Shane Davidson

 

Outstanding Compositing in a Commercial 

WINNER Burberry "Festive"- Alex Lovejoy Mithun Alex David Filipe Amresh Kumar

Perrier - "Heat" - Stéphane Pivron Franck Lambertz Harry Bardak Christophe Courgeau

PlayStation - "The Edge" - Alex Gabucci Rebecca Clay Alex Grey Alex Kulikov

Walmart - "Famous Visitors" - Chris “Badger” Knight Ben Smith Jake Albers Franz Kol

 

Outstanding Special (Practical) Effects in a Photoreal or Animated Project

WINNER Fear The Walking Dead - "Bury Her Next to Jasper’s Leg" - Frank Iudica Scott Roark Daniel J. Yates

 

Outstanding Visual Effects in a Student Project 

Time's Down - Valentin Soulard François Brugalières Nils Lemonnier Yan Weitlauff

Aral - Cédric Moens de Hase Benoit Paya Charles Morhain Mathilde Dallamaggiore

Strands of Mind - Adrian Meyer Laura Messier

WINNER Migrants - Antoine Dupriez Hugo Caby Lucas Lermytte Zoé Devise