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Visual Effects Society snubs 'The Dark Knight' in favor of 'Iron Man' and 'Benjamin Button'

January 19, 2009 | 11:32 am

This weekend's viewing panels drawn from the 1,500-plus members of the Visual Effects Society delivered a far different take on the year's best compared with the Jan. 6 verdict by a jury of peers at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences. That group, selected from the 250-plus members of the visual effects branch, winnowed 15 films down to 7 semi-finalists that will compete for the 3 slots in the Academy Awards race for best visual effects. The seventh annual VES kudos will be handed out on Feb. 21, the night before the Oscarcast.

The VES agreed on the merits of only three of the Academy's seven semi-finalists — "Iron Man" (5 VES nods), "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" (4 VES bids), and "Hellboy II: The Golden Army" (2 VES noms) — by including them in their top race. However, "The Dark Knight" had to make do with four lesser VES noms, while "The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor" got only one VES nod and Oscar semi-finalists "Australia" and "Journey to the Center of the Earth" were completely shut out.

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Instead, the VES included the Oscar-snubbed "The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian" (2 VES nods) and "Cloverfield" (3 VES nods) in their top race. Though the Oscar-snubbed "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull" got 4 VES nods, it failed to make their top five. The ineligible animated feature "Bolt" also got 4 VES noms.

Last year's top VES winner "Transformers" lost the visual effects Oscar to "The Golden Compass." Over the first five years of the VES kudos, the winners matched up four times — in 2006 ("Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest"; 2005 ("King Kong"); 2003 ("The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King"); and 2002 ("The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers"). In 2004, the VES chose "Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban" while the Oscar went to "Spider-Man 2."

The full list of VES nominees is as follows:

Outstanding Visual Effects in a Visual Effects Driven Motion Picture
"The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian"
"The Curious Case of Benjamin Button"
"Cloverfield"
"Hellboy II: The Golden Army"
"Iron Man"

Outstanding Supporting Visual Effects in a Motion Picture
"Changeling"
"Eagle Eye"
"Nim’s Island"
"Synecdoche, New York"
"Valkyrie"

Outstanding Animation in an Animated Motion Picture

"Bolt" (The chase)
"Kung Fu Panda" (Everybody was kung fu fighting)
"A Matter of Loaf and Death" (Piella’s mansion)
"Wall-E"

Best Single Visual Effect of the Year
"Cloverfield" (Statue of Liberty crash and Woolworth Tower collapse)
"The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" (Benjamin’s secret)
"The Day the Earth Stood Still" (Newborn Klaatu)
"Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull" (Valley destruction)
"Iron Man"

Outstanding Animated Character in a Live Action Motion Picture
"The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" (Benjamin Button)
"Hellboy II: The Golden Army" (Elemental Sequence)
"Iron Man"
"The Spiderwick Chronicles" (Hogsqueal)

Outstanding Animated Character in an Animated Motion Picture
"Bolt" (Various sequences — Bolt)
"Bolt" (Various sequences — Rhino)
"Kung Fu Panda" (This kung fu stuff is hard work — Po)
"Wall-E" (Wall-E and Eve truck sequence)

Outstanding Effects Animation in an Animated Feature Motion Picture
"Bolt"
"Kung Fu Panda"
"Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa"
"Wall-E"

Outstanding Matte Paitings in a Feature Motion Picture
"Changeling"
"Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull"
"Speed Racer"
"Synecdoche, New York"

Outstanding Models and Miniatures in a Feature Motion Picture
"The Dark Knight" (garbage truck crash models and miniatures)
"Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull"
"Iron Man" (suit up machine)
"My Darling of the Mountains" (hot springs)

Outstanding Created Environment in a Feature Motion Picture
"Cloverfield" (Brooklyn Bridge sequence)
"The Dark Knight" (Imax Gothan City scapes)
"Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull" (temple heart)
"The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor" (avalanche sequence)
"Synecdoche, New York" (created environment)

Outstanding Compositing in a Feature Motion Picture
"The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian"
"The Curious Case of Benjamin Button"
"Iron Man"
"Quantum of Solace"

Outstanding Special Effects in a Motion Picture
"The Dark Knight"
"The Dark Knight" (garbage truck crash mechanical effects)
"Defiance" (special effects)

Photo: Warner Bros.

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