Golden Compass: First Flop to win VFX Oscar in Nearly a Decade
For once a great performance is not overlooked simply because hardly anyone saw it.
By Mark Christiansen | February 26, 2008
Visual Effect Academy Awardsâ¢ are not much different from any other category in at least one respect: great performances in films that underperform at the box office tend to be overlooked. I and many others thought that Transformers had this year's visual effects Oscarâ¢ all sewn up not only because the work was amazing - not just the amazingly complex 3D animation but some really fantastic compositing. Pirates of the Caribbean 3 (on which this author contributed a few shots) was clearly not going to win as that would break an Oscar taboo: the repeat winner (since Pirates 2 took a statue only last year).
And yet, nearly as much of a long-shot seemed to be The Golden Compass simply because the film was a flop, and Hollywood is allergic to losing money (despite many examples to the contrary) - this despite that many in the visual effects community believe it contained the most ground-breaking work, raising the bar for complex interactions between computer generated creatures (realistic looking daemons, the animals representing the soul/anima of the human characters) and recreating grand scenes of steam-punk London and Oxford and grand vistas of the Arctic. Not since What Dreams May Come has a vfx film lost money at the box office and taken the statue.
Perhaps Hollywood's love of giving the prize to anyone but ILM - who along with the 49ers were the bay area force no one could beat in the 80's and early 90's - trumped the box office vote. However it happened, a great visual effects film (albeit a failed re-telling of one of the best novels of the past decade) won.
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