CG World’s “Anticipating Oscar” from Issue: Volume 36, Issue 7: Nov/Dec 2013 by Karen Moltenbrey
An exert featuring Rick Sander’s thoughts on this year’s Oscar predictions:
No doubt, the haunting situation immediately before and after the 2013 Oscar ceremonies (and throughout the year) still weighs heavily on those working in the industry. “This year saw the closing of more US VFX facilities, and protests inside and outside the Kodak Theatre during the Academy Award ceremonies where VFX awardees for Life of Pi were orchestrally swept from the stage and neither mentioned nor thanked by the film’s director or cinematographer in their own Oscar acceptance speeches. There is an industrywide dissing of VFX teams, upon which so many movies depend for their existence,” VFX Director Rick Sander of HOAX Films reminds us.
That said, there are numerous films in this race, once again, that rely on VFX not just for the flash, but also for the essence of the movie. And, hopefully, the artists responsible will receive their proper recognition.
So, who will be “recognized” this year? “You can bet Neill Blomkamp’s Elysium and Alfonso Cuarón’s Gravitywill be on the list,” says Sander. “The latter director was asked during his first presser, ‘How did it feel to shoot a movie in space?’ That leaves one more slot. Will it be The Hobbit? Peter Jackson’s Weta Workshop team has been nominated six times and won five. The inside joke about the first Hobbit movie was that it should win for ‘Most Visual Effects’ – never a good sign. With zero percent certainty, the smart money for the third nominee is on either Joseph Kosinski’s Oblivion or the great Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel. Both featured incredibly visual design choices, fantastically executed in a way that made the storytelling possible and supported the underlying sense of realism.”
Sander notes there is a chance of some balancing wild cards in the mix. “Traditionally, a film with on-set explosions and well-made physical model-making would make the nominee list. Such films are being replaced by all-greenscreen extravaganzas, such as previous VFX Oscar winners Life of Pi and Alice in Wonderland, which have their origins in the cult-favorite Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow – a movie so visionary and so unsuccessful that Director Kerry Conran has not been heard from since. So, productions like Great Gatsby or Oz the Great and Powerful might have a chance. Don’t expect Ender’s Game or World War Z to make it past the bake-offs, which seem to be more about algorithmically programmed flocks of spaceships and crowd-simulated undead lemmings.”