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It’s ‘Blade Runner 2049’ vs. ‘War for the Planet of the Apes’ for the VFX Oscar

With 7 VES awards nominations each, it's a sci-fi battle royale for the 16th annual ceremony at the Beverly Hilton on February 13.

"War for the Planet of the Apes."

“War for the Planet of the Apes.”

Courtesy of Twentieth Century Fo


The two VFX Oscar frontrunners, “Blade Runner 2049” and “War for the Planet of the Apes,” are in a war of their own for the 16th VES Awards (to be held at the Beverly Hilton on February 13th). Each grabbed seven nominations, edging out “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” and upstart “Kong: Skull Island” (with five and four nominations, respectively). All four were nominated for the top prize along with Marvel’s “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2.”

Among the snubs were “The Shape of Water,” “Okja,” “Alien: Covenant,” and “Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets,” which all made the Academy’s VFX bake-off shortlist.

However, making the cut in the VES supporting category were “Dunkirk,” “Darkest Hour,” “Downsizing,” “Mother,” and “Only the Brave.”

“Blade Runner 2049”

For animation, Illumination’s “Despicable Me 3” nabbed five nominations, while Pixar’s frontrunning “Coco” collected four. They will compete for Outstanding Animated Feature Visual Effects with Pixar’s “Cars 3,” DreamWorks’ “Captain Underpants,” and both “The LEGO Batman Movie” and “The LEGO Ninjago Movie” from Warner Bros.

“Blade Runner 2049” also collected noms for the stunning Rachael character, three environments (Los Angeles, Trash Mesa, Vegas) modeling (LAPD Headquarters),and compositing (LAPD Approach and Joy Holograms).

“Apes” earned additional noms for the remarkable Caesar and Bad Ape characters, two environments (Hidden Fortress, Prison Camp), effects simulations, and compositing.

(L to R) Dru (STEVE CARELL) and Gru (STEVE CARELL) in "Despicable Me 3." Illumination, who brought moviegoers "Despicable Me" and the biggest animated hits of 2013 and 2015, "Despicable Me 2" and "Minions," continues the story of Gru, Lucy, their adorable daughters—Margo, Edith and Agnes—and the Minions as one former super-villain rediscovers just how good it feels to be bad.

“Despicable Me 3”

Photo Credit: Illumination and U

In looking ahead, it’s not only a toss-up between Denis Villeneuve’s “Blade Runner 2049” and Matt Reeves’ “Apes” for the top VES prize but also for the VFX Oscar. “Apes” previously earned VES awards for “Rise” and “Dawn,” but, with Andy Serkis making his third and final performance-captured appearance as Caesar, there’s the sentimental advantage.

With “Blade Runner 2049,” though, there’s the legacy factor. Whichever way it goes, historically, the VES winner has taken 10 out of 15 Oscars, including last year’s “The Jungle Book.”

Meanwhile, Weta Digital’s senior supervisor Joe Letteri (the four-time Oscar winner and mastermind behind the “Apes” franchise) will be presented with the VES Georges Méliès Award and Jon Favreau (“The Jungle Book”) will take home the VES Lifetime Achievement Award.

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