Many modern motion pictures use visual effects in an effective and thought-provoking manner when we think of movies with a lot of visual effects. Throughout the twenty-first century, many of these films have been nominated for Academy Awards in the Best Visual Effects category. There have been 21 winners in this category in this century.
21. 2007 Winner: Golden Compass
The visual effects aren't particularly striking, nor the CG polar bears, which don't seem to have any weight to them.
20. 2008 Winner: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
It's difficult to digitally age actors, but it didn't stop one Oscar winner from trying. CGI was utilized in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button to age up and age down its titular lead character, Brad Pitt, and his love interest, Cate Blanchett.
19. 2000 Winner: Gladiator
Gladiator is a good but not particularly amazing Best Visual Effects winner, beating out Hollow Man and The Perfect Storm. The techniques utilized to finish Oliver Reed's performance after he, unfortunately, died during filming are the most remarkable example of VFX here.
18. 2005 Winner: King Kong
Doubtless, the work that went into realizing Andy Serkis' motion-capture portrayal as the titular gorilla in King Kong is still remarkable today, although other aspects of King Kong, even in 2005, are significantly shakier, particularly the excessive usage of CG backgrounds, which occasionally make Skull Island look like a screensaver.
17. 2020 Winner: Tenet
Christopher Nolan's film, Tenet, which won the Academy Award for Best Visual Effects, in terms of visual effects, isn't groundbreaking, but it has its moments, notably in the minute touches like the wizardry utilized to show water and debris drifting backward.
16. 2019 Winner: 1917
1917, despite not being as dazzling as many other Best Visual Effects winners in the contemporary period, managed to win due to the practical effects employed to depict the battlefields of World War I are equally astounding.
15. 2012 Winner: The Life of Pi.
Life of Pi deserves acclaim for its groundbreaking effects works in bringing photorealistic CG creatures to life. Richard Parker, the Tiger, appeared to be a living, breathing creature rather than a dead-eyed fabrication that continuously reminded you of his artificiality.
14. 2011 Winner: Hugo
Hugo's winning in the Best Visual Effects category is gratifying not simply because of the excellence of its VFX, but also because of its tone.
13. 2014 Winner: Interstellar
Christopher Nolan's Interstellar allowed him to embrace extremely bizarre environments achieved through outstanding visual effects work, like planets with an unmistakable alien aspect to them.
12. 2009 Winner: Avatar
There's no doubting that Avatar's motion-capture work and rich CG world of Pandora are both amazing. Alien worlds have rarely felt as real as they do now, thanks to the skill of artists at visual effects studios like Weta Digital.
11. 2017 Winner: Blade Runner 2049
Blade Runner 2049 debuted in 2017 with its own set of impressive visual effects. While the VFX crew did an amazing job recreating run-down futuristic cities, the tiny elements, such as the miniatures used to portray futuristic buildings, are some of the most striking aspects of Blade Runner 2049.
10. 2018 Winner: First Man
First Man used truly groundbreaking visual effects techniques, such as forsaking the green screen in favor of simulators and LED panels that displayed stunning cosmic scenes for the actors to interact with.
9. Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers won in 2002.
All three Lord of the Rings films were nominated for an Academy Award for Best Visual Effects, and good reason: they're still amazing in terms of visual effects.
8. 2004 Winner: Spiderman 2
Spider-Man 2 remains the only Marvel Comics film adaptation to receive an Academy Award for Best Visual Effects. Practical effects were utilized to help materialize key features such as Doc Ock's tentacles, resulting in a mix of old and new VFX approaches that ensures Spider-Man 2 can still dazzle like few other superhero films today.
7. 2016 Winner: The Jungle Book
The Jungle Book found the golden spot in terms of generating digital monsters that looked like real wild animals while still anthropomorphizing just enough.
6. 2015 Winner: Ex Machina
In the Best Visual Effects category, Ex Machina beat off Mad Max: Fury Road and other blockbusters by delivering superb and seamless work that made it look like artificial intelligence was waltzing around on the screen.
5. 2010 Winner: Inception
Inception became (literally) a dream come true because of its willingness to embrace both extravagant visuals (such as skyscrapers folding in on themselves) and a variety of VFX techniques.
4. 2013 Winner: Gravity
It's surprising to learn that roughly 80% of Gravity is entirely animated, which means it could have been nominated for an Academy Award for Best Animated Feature. Gravity's visual effects are always grounded in reality, although the film is set entirely in space.
3. Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest (2006 Winner)
Because of how well-realized that motion-capture character is in Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest, it earns a high ranking on this list. Let alone the rest of the film's stunning visuals.
2. Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001)
The first installment in the Lord of the Rings trilogy makes considerably more use of pared-down real-world settings than its sequels. As a result, the film employs subtle visual effects to create a story that is both comfortable and thrilling.
1. 2003 Winner: Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
The visual effects for The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King are still stunning almost two decades later. What sets this Lord of the Rings film apart, though, is how well the visual effects complement the major, emotionally cathartic moments.
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