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Anonymous Ballot: VFX Oscar Voter Suggests Nominations Are Not Deserved

The voter was most impressed with "Welcome to Marwen," which didn't make the cut, and blasts the controversial craft presentations.

“Ready Player One”

Industrial Light & Magic


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With Oscar balloting under way, we’re continuing our second annual series of interviews with Academy voters from different branches for their candid thoughts on what got picked, overlooked, and overvalued this year.

Edited craft categories on the Oscarcast

Of course we are all totally against the notion. The Academy is supposed to represent the finest contributions to the art and science of movie making with the same identical award and appreciation for excellence. There is no second-tier version of the Oscar, since all parts of the craft of moviemaking are required to produce the totality of the film. One or more categories cannot be removed from the process and still have a product to judge its merits.

In this time of defending the diversity of our population and its equal importance in our work and society, the Academy has chosen to take sides and determine that only the popular categories should be included: the highest form of populism from the most liberal of bodies. It is as disgraceful and prejudicial as any form of racism or prejudice since its tenets are the same. We will exclude you because you are deemed less important (the opposite is quite true) or less interesting on a night dedicated to reward its diversity of talent.

Truth be told, the most popular and eye-catching celebrities of the movie world often spend the least amount of time on the films honored. While their contribution is great and help encourage people to flock to the theaters, so do the far longer and more labor-intensive efforts by the equally talented artists bringing their performances to life.

The notion that somehow a shorter broadcast will bring back viewers is a total fallacy and foolish notion. Once invested, you will watch to the end if you are interested in the outcome. Shaving off 15 minutes of heartfelt joy and brief recognition from the most deserving is the height of ignorance and creates the impression that the Academy has a total lack of compassion for the artists themselves.

In this day and age when technology has rendered moot the once mandatory viewing of a live broadcast, we must accept that viewership will never be quite the same as the only barometer of a good broadcast. That moment is over, but what is left is still a great and joyous celebration of the arts. It should remain an unbiased one as well.

As [producer and Paramount Pictures founder] Adolf Zukor once said, “There is nothing wrong with this business a good picture wouldn’t cure.” I’m sure he would say the same about the night and broadcast honoring the best of us in film.

Viewership will go up as their interest in the films and competition goes up. You don’t tune into a prizefight or the Super Bowl if you don’t know anything about the participants. In 2017, the 21-time Oscar-nominated sound mixer Kevin O’Connell’s story was shared with the audience. His human-interest story helped create quite the memorable moment when he finally won his first [for ‘Hacksaw Ridge’]. The audience worldwide got to participate, got to know and appreciate a talented craftsman, and root for his win.

It was a moment of true celebration of the craft and crafts people, instead of shoving it aside by the very organization meant to celebrate its inclusion. It didn’t slow up the show; it made it more engaging, more interesting, and seemingly faster paced. As a nation and as an industry, we have lost our way in protecting what is right from empowering the quick profit and celebrity of the very few.

Marvel Studios' AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR..Thanos (Josh Brolin)..Photo: Film Frame..©Marvel Studios 2018

“Avengers: Infinity War”

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Best Visual Effects

This year it’s tough for me to agree with the all the nominees. Obviously all top work, and I don’t wish to insult the validity of the choices. For me, the best use of VFX this year was “Welcome to Marwen.” Unfortunately, it was not well-received generally and misunderstood at the bake-off without the benefit of the story that created the need for this alternate reality.

It was excellently done and the heart and soul of the film; beautifully executed and ticked every box in terms of creative solutions, seamless execution, and import to the storytelling.

My other favorite this year, but sadly overlooked, was “Peter Rabbit”: beautifully executed with a sense of fun while technically superbly integrated into the fabric of the location and story. High marks for cleverness and execution.

I thought that “Black Panther” was also overlooked and would probably have won the evening, as it did with the BAFTAs. Not entirely seamless work, but creative and it helped to shape the film into the blockbuster it became. Worthy of a nomination, for sure.

“Avengers: Infinity War” I was not overly impressed with. The big “Thanos” effect was at best a CG creature that never really switched into reality, regardless of the facial re-targeting. The rest of the material ran the usual gamut of great stuff, mixed with lesser quality, due to the normal 15-plus companies and various caliber outputs of material.

“First Man” was very good, but not necessarily abundantly earth-shattering or remarkable other than great quality. The restoration material had more impact and was gorgeous, but not something ultra worthy of voting for other than very nicely done. Good solid work that served the film well, but not essentially top prize worthy.

“First Man”

“Ready Player One” is technically and creatively the best of the bunch. Some remarkable scenes, including the total recreation of [the Overlook Hotel] from “The Shining,” which was superbly done.

“Solo: A Star Wars Story” was again solid work, it served the film well, but was not terribly different or innovative creatively or technically. Achievement-wise, compared favorably to previous “Star Wars” entries, it fits in nicely with the canon of work.

“Christopher Robin”

“Christopher Robin” was a delightful use of the medium and top drawer. Excellent work. I would have placed both “Peter Rabbit” and “Marwen” in this same category, but ahead of this film for their exuberance and daring.

It’s a true toss-up [between “First Man” and “Infinity War”]. And hard to predict. The most likely seen [by voters] is “First Man.” But “Christopher Robin” also has a chance at an upset.

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