George Clooney’s Netflix sci-fi thriller The Midnight Sky, Disney/Pixar’s animated Soul and the Disney+ Star Wars spinoff series The Mandalorian were the marquee winners Tuesday at the 19th annual VES Awards.
The Visual Effects Society’s annual celebration, which honours the year’s best in film, animation, TV, commercials and video games, was hosted as per usual by Patton Oswalt (and his green monster alter ego) and was presented virtually because of the pandemic.
The well-constructed and engaging show (leave it to the VFX crews to pull that off during the Year of the Zoom Ceremony) included honourary awards presented to Peter Jackson, who received the VES Lifetime Achievement Award presented by his LOTR star Cate Blanchett and featuring a tribute with Andy Serkis, Naomi Watts, Elijah Wood, Ian McKellen, James Cameron and Gollum himself in one of several bits of DIY effects work from some of the industry’s best in the craft.
Jackson, speaking remotely from his New Zealand outpost, traced his career arc that included everything from Tolkien to Kong, referring to himself as “the guy who tries to make the lives of VFX artists as difficult as he can.”
Midnight Sky, which is also nominated for a Visual Effects Oscar this year, won two awards tonight including for Outstanding Visual Effects in a Photoreal Feature, prevailing in a category that included fellow Oscar nominee Tenet from Warner Bros along with fellow Netflix pics Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey, Project Power and HBO Max’s The Witches.
The Midnight Sky win was fitting in a year when four of the five nominees were streaming movies in a category that specialises in big-screen, big-effects films. There was very little of that this year with movie theaters all but shuttered worldwide, with only Christopher Nolan’s tentpole in the mix.
Since the VES Awards’ launch in 2002, the main film winner has gone on to take the Visual Effects Oscar in 10 of the last 18 years. Last year, Disney’s The Lion King won the VES honor but Universal’s 1917 took the Oscar.
Disney+/Lucasfilm’s The Mandalorian came into tonight leading all TV shows and films with 13 noms, including for the Outstanding Visual Effects in a Photoreal Episode, which is considered the society’s marquee TV honour; the Star Wars spinoff won here twice last year. It won that honour along with two others. HBO’s Lovecraft Country also has two victories on the TV side.
Disney/Pixar’s animated Soul, which topped the film side with five noms overall coming into the night, swept all its categories. Project Power also had two wins.
The VES Award for Creative Excellence was presented to visual effects supervisor/director of photography Rob Legato, ASC. Legato, who was busy at this event last year accepting the trophy for big film-side winner The Lion King, was handed his honour tonight by his Borat Subsequent Moviefilm collaborator Sacha Baron Cohen.
Check out the list below as we update when winners are announced during the ceremony:
Outstanding Visual Effects in a Photoreal Feature
THE MIDNIGHT SKY
Outstanding Visual Effects in a Photoreal Episode
THE MANDALORIAN, The Marshal
Outstanding Visual Effects in an Animated Feature
Outstanding Visual Effects in a Commercial
WALMART; Famous Visitors
Outstanding Supporting Visual Effects in a Photoreal Feature
Outstanding Supporting Visual Effects in a Photoreal Episode
THE CROWN; Gold Stick
Outstanding Animated Character in a Photoreal Feature
THE ONE AND ONLY IVAN; Ivan
Outstanding Animated Character in a Commercial
ARM & HAMMER; Once Upon a Time; Tuxedo Tom
Outstanding Animated Character in an Animated Feature
Outstanding Animated Character in an Episode or Real-Time Project
THE MANDALORIAN; The Jedi; The Child
Outstanding Created Environment in a Photoreal Feature
MULAN; Imperial City
Outstanding Created Environment in an Animated Feature
SOUL; You Seminar
Outstanding Created Environment in an Episode, Commercial, or Real-Time Project
THE MANDALORIAN; The Believer; Morak Jungle
Outstanding Effects Simulations in a Photoreal Feature
Outstanding Effects Simulations in an Animated Feature
Outstanding Effects Simulations in an Episode, Commercial, or Real-Time Project
LOVECRAFT COUNTRY; Strange Case; Chrysalis
Outstanding Virtual Cinematography in a CG Project
Outstanding Visual Effects in a Real-Time Project
GHOST OF TSUSHIMA
Outstanding Model in a Photoreal or Animated Project
THE MIDNIGHT SKY; Aether
Outstanding Visual Effects in a Student Project
Outstanding Compositing in a Feature
Outstanding Compositing in an Episode
LOVECRAFT COUNTRY; Strange Case; Chrysalis
Outstanding Compositing in a Commercial
BURBERRY; Singin’ In the Rain
Outstanding Visual Effects in a Special Venue Project
The Bourne Stuntacular
Outstanding Special (Practical) Effects in a Photoreal or Animated Project
Fear the Walking Dead; Bury Her Next to Jasper’s Leg
VES Lifetime Achievement Award
VES Award for Creative Excellence
Rob Legato ASC