Oscars 2020: VES Awards

The VES Awards were handed out tonight. Theoretically they’re helpful in picking what’s gonna win the Oscar, but given what this year looks like, I’ve already written my my category breakdown because the category is so cut and dry. This is one of those situations where, just by looking at the list of nominees, you know exactly which one is gonna win. Wanna know how I know that? Here’s the category:

Love and Monsters

The Midnight Sky


The One and Only Ivan


(Yup, that’s right. Academy Award winner The One and Only Ivan.)

Anyway, here’s what VES did:

Outstanding Visual Effects in a Photoreal Feature

Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey

The Midnight Sky

Project Power


The Witches

Winner: The Midnight Sky

Oh good for them.

So, to start — Tenet is almost certainly going to win the final category on name alone. Sure, the visual effects there really aren’t the most noticeable or the best of Nolan’s career, though I guess to his credit a lot of them are practical, which I appreciate even if they’re not as showy as the ones in, say, Inception or Interstellar. But, most people when it gets to that category… don’t really watch most of the nominees and usually the classiest option is what wins. So Tenet should literally win on name alone.

But here… this win makes sense. These are the people who actually work in VFX. All those years when the Planet of the Apes films were nominated and people swore they would win… they won this category, usually over the film that beat them at the Oscars. So I get why this was the big winner. It’s the second classiest film on this list and actually has real VFX in it, the kind of which the people who make these things will appreciate, more so than just practical on-set effects. Practical effects don’t keep these people in work. So I get why that won. But it doesn’t remotely change my opinion on what’s going to happen unless it wins BAFTA too. Then… we can talk. But until then, I’m focusing on how I expect this to go based on how this always goes.


Outstanding Supporting Visual Effects in a Photoreal Feature

Da 5 Bloods



News of the World

Welcome to Chechnya

Winner: Mank

I mean, yeah. Why? Because… classiest choice wins. If Mank made the final category it would’ve won just because it’s a Best Picture nominee. That’s how the Visual Effects category works.

I’m not surprised Mank won (and this has no bearing on the Oscars, since none of these got nominated), but I am surprised they weren’t as impressed with the work in Welcome to Chechnya. I’m wondering if that’s because the effects looked a big ‘sloppy’ based on how they’d make them look in a feature and they’re all perfectionists. Or maybe it’s just as simple as ‘biggest name wins’. Honestly… doesn’t matter. They can vote how they want. I’m just here to pick winners. And this category is a giant blank for me this year.


Outstanding Visual Effects in an Animated Feature

The Croods: A New Age


Over the Moon


Trolls World Tour

Winner: Soul

I mean… if Soul loses any category on this list, it’ll be a surprise. Another one I’m kinda surprised didn’t make the final category (even though I kinda understand it).


Outstanding Animated Character in a Photoreal Feature

Die Känguru-Chroniken; Kangaroo

Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey; Don Juan Diego

The One and Only Ivan; Ivan

The Witches; Daisy

Winner: The One and Only Ivan; Ivan

It better have won. .It’s the only Oscar nominee here. But I can’t assume it’s got a chance just because it didn’t get nominated in Outstanding Effects. So until I see this win BAFTA, this win is a ‘big fish, small pond’ situation and means nothing.


Outstanding Animated Character in an Animated Feature

Onward; Dad Pants

Over the Moon; Chang’e

Soul; Terry

The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge on the Run; SpongeBob

Winner: Soul; Terry

Again, Soul shouldn’t lose any category it’s in. So no surprise whatsoever. Also, Terry was clearly the best character in this category.


Outstanding Created Environment in a Photoreal Feature

Bloodshot; Neuralspace

Mulan; Imperial City

The Eight Hundred; 1937 Shanghai Downtown

The Eight Hundred; Shanghai Warehouse District

Winner: Mulan; Imperial City

Again, it’s the only nominated film on this list. It better have won.


Outstanding Created Environment in an Animated Feature

Onward; Swamp Gas

Soul; You Seminar

Trolls World Tour; Techno Reef

Trolls World Tour; Volcano Rock City

Winner: Soul; You Seminar

Soul 3 for 3.


Outstanding Virtual Cinematography in a CG Project

Ghost of Tsushima; A Storm is Coming


The Mandalorian; The Believer

The Mandalorian; The Siege

Winner: Soul

♫ One of these things is not like the others



Outstanding Model in a Photoreal or Animated Project

The Mandalorian; Boba Fett’s Ship

The Mandalorian; The Rescue; Light Cruiser

The Midnight Sky; Aether

The Witches; Rollercoaster

Winner: The Midnight Sky; Aether

I mean, it won the big category. I’d have really questioned it if this lost here.


Outstanding Effects Simulations in a Photoreal Feature



Monster Hunter


Project Power

Winner: Project Power

Sure. Also a strike against Mulan not being able to win all its categories without having any nominated competition.


Outstanding Effects Simulations in an Animated Feature


Over the Moon


Trolls World Tour

The Willoughbys

Winner: Soul

5-5. Told you it should’ve won everything.  You don’t get shortlisted for the Oscar category as an animated film to not win these categories.


Outstanding Compositing in a Feature



Project Power


Winner: Project Power

Project Power, 2-2 yet not shortlisted.

Also, that’s two losses for Mulan. Ultimately it doesn’t affect the final category but that really does tell you how weak this year is in the Visual Effects category.

– – – – –

So here’s the low down on all of this — Love and Monsters has no precursors and would legitimately be one of the biggest upsets of all time if it won. One and Only Ivan — won its category here, but unless it wins BAFTA, we’ve got nothing to talk about there. Mulan… it’s got a couple of nominations and is up for BAFTA. If it wins there, I’ll consider it. Until then, shouldn’t contend.

This category is between Midnight Sky and Tenet. And while Midnight Sky could win BAFTA and make things interesting, I just assume they’re going to reflexively vote for Tenet because they know Christopher Nolan is all about visual effects. I think Tenet and Midnight Sky are the only two films most people have even seen on this list (with Mulan third), and while I think you could make the case for both winning, I just feel like most people will simply look at the names and pick the one that best ‘fits’ this category, since there’s no top tier film nominated in the category.

So, we’ll wait and see what BAFTA does, but I can’t see this not being one of those obvious categories. And at worst… you know what the top two contenders are. So it’s really not all that difficult.

– – – – – – – – –


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