A Century of Film


Visual Effects

Visual Effects might seem like a new thing, stemming first from 2001 and then from Star Wars with increasingly developed technology leading to amazing new things on-screen.  But they have actually been there from the start.  A Trip to the Moon, the first great film ever made, back in 1902, used brilliant Visual Effects to show its incredible trip.

With Sci-Fi films mostly on the back burner until the 50’s, most early forays into the effects came from flight, from some fantasy or from on-screen fires.

Though nothing before 1968 earns a perfect 9, there were many films that were close, films like King Kong or The Wizard of Oz or the increasing quality in the 50’s with films like War of the Worlds, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea and Forbidden Planet.  Then came the amazing work of Ray Harryhausen with films like Jason and the Argonauts.  Then came 2001, followed almost a decade later by Star Wars and Close Encounters.

With Star Wars came the creation of ILM which became the foremost effects designer in film history.  Lucas hadn’t just created a new movement with Star Wars but two companies (THX provided the right sound for the effects) that could help shepherd the movement.

Things continue to move forward, with leaps forward with films like T2 (CGI on-screen) and Jurassic Park (combination of animatronics and CGI) and companies like Weta.  At this point, almost anything we imagine we can see on-screen.  What’s more, as long as we can have directors like Steven Spielberg, Peter Jackson and Christopher Nolan, we can rest assured that we have stories that make great use of those effects rather than just empty spectacles.

My Top 5 Visual Effects in Film History:

  1. Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope
  2. Jurassic Park
  3. The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
  4. 2001: A Space Odyssey
  5. Terminator 2: Judgment Day

The other 9 Point Films (chronological):

  • Close Encounters of the Third Kind
  • Alien
  • Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back
  • Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi
  • Who Framed Roger Rabbit
  • Independence Day
  • The Fifth Element
  • Titanic
  • Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace
  • The Matrix
  • Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
  • A.I.
  • The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers
  • Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones
  • The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
  • Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
  • King Kong
  • Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith
  • The Fountain
  • Pan’s Labyrinth
  • District 9
  • Avatar
  • Inception

note:  I rate all aspects of film on a 9 point scale.  They also correspond to the 100 point scale for Best Picture.  Films above *** (76-99) all land on the scale.  1 point is for 76-79, just worth mentioning.  2 points is for 80-83, a weak mention, 3 points is for 84-87, near great, 4 points is for 88-89 (which is ****), a solid nominee, 5 points is for 90-91, a very solid nominee, 6 points is for 92-93, a weak winner, a 7 points is for 94-95, a worthwhile winner, 8 points is 96-97, the kind of winner you can’t complain about even if it’s not your #1 choice and 9 points is for 98-99, the very best of all-time.  The above list are my 9 point films for Sound through 2011, listed chronologically.


The Artists

Gordon Jennings

Gordon Jennings is in the Top 10 for Oscar points but he really should be tied for 2nd because two of his Oscars were awarded during a time when the Academy didn’t recognize the person doing the effects (When Worlds Collide, The War of the Worlds).  With those two films, he was also partially responsible for the rise of good effects combining with the rise of Sci-Fi as a genre.  Jennings earned more Oscar points than anyone else in this category in the 40’s and was #1 all-time until 1957.
Key Films:  When Worlds Collide, The War of the Worlds

A. Arnold Gillespie

In 1957, Gillespie took away the top Oscar spot from Gordon Jennings.  He would tie for the 2nd most points in the 40’s and earn the most points in the 50’s (after the Academy started listing the artists again) and would stay at the #1 spot until 1989.  As the key effects man at MGM he was responsible for their major films during the Studio Era and beyond.
Key Films:  The Wizard of Oz, Forbidden Planet, Ben-Hur

Dennis Muren

One of the most important hires that ILM made after Lucas founded the company during the making of Star Wars.  Muren worked on the original trilogy but was also a key member of the staff through the next two decades, winning eight Oscars and helping the transition from practical effects to CGI that helped herald in films like T2 and Jurassic Park.  No one else is even close in Oscar points.
Key Films:  Empire Strikes Back, ET, Terminator 2, Jurassic Park

Richard Edlund

Edlund, like Muren, started with Star Wars (though Edlund, unlike Muren, was actually an Oscar winner for the film).  After winning four Oscars with ILM he founded Boss Films, an effects company that handled films like Ghostbusters, Die Hard and Hunt for Red October.  He’s third all-time in Oscar points.
Key Films:  Star Wars, Empire Strikes Back, Raiders of the Lost Ark, ET

Joe Letteri

After working for ILM, doing some work on Jurassic Park and the special Edition of Star Wars, Letteri joined Weta in 2001, too late to win an Oscar for Fellowship but in time to win four Oscars since.
Key Films:  Return of the King, Avatar, King Kong, Rise of the Planet of the Apes

Of the four Oscar winners for Empire, two of them (Edlund in the middle, Muren to his left) are in the Top 3.

The Academy Awards

Summary:

This was actually one of the original Tech categories at the 1st Academy Awards when it was called Engineering Effects and made Wings the first Picture winner to also win Visual Effects something that wouldn’t happen again for over 30 years.

As related in my full post on the category, it was then dropped for over a decade until it resurfaced in 1939 with Special Effects (which also meant Sound Effects).  From 1939 to 1945 there was no limit on nominees but then starting in 1946 there were just two nominees.  With an occasional year with three nominees or even an occasional year with just a special award and technically no nominees, the award continued like this until 1962, even with the rise of Sci-Fi films meaning there were films worthy of being rewarded.

Starting in 1963, the sound effects were finally culled from the award and it was simply called Special Visual Effects (the “Special” was dropped in 1977).  From 1963 to 1971 it continued with two nominees.  From 1972 to 1980, it was just a special award, including in 1976 when two awards were given with 1977 (two nominees) and 1979 (five nominees) the exceptions.

Starting in 1981, it went back to regular with two nominees, had three the next year and the year after that was just a special award again.  Starting in 1984, it finally found some regularity, settling in with three nominees (except 1990, when it was a special award again).  It would take until 2010 for it finally to become a category with a full five nominees just like everything else.

Directors:

Though James Cameron now holds the top mark for total Oscars in this category with five after Avatar won the Oscar in 2009 (also Aliens, Abyss, T2, Titanic), Steven Spielberg is still kind of the tops here (as in most Tech categories).  Aside from winning four Oscars (Raiders, ET, Temple of Doom, Jurassic Park) his films have also amassed seven other nominations (Close Encounters, 1941, Poltergeist, Hook, Lost World, AI, War of the Worlds) while Cameron only has one other (True Lies).  Also of note are Peter Jackson (four Oscars in just five years) and Cecil B. DeMille (two Oscars, four other nominations in the early years of the category).

Franchises:

This might seem like a recent development, but this category was the first to really go in for sequels.  From 1940 to 1942 Universal had one of its “Invisible” films earn a nomination every year.  Next up was Thunderball, the first Bond film in this category and it won the Oscar.  The late 70’s began the real franchise push; the last three Oscar winners of the decade (and another 1979 nominee) would all have sequels that would earn nominations.  There’s far too many sequels to count up at this point that earned nominations but the following have all won the Oscar, in one case without the original even earning a nomination: Empire, Jedi, Temple of Doom, T2, Two Towers, Return of the King, Spider-Man 2, Dead Man’s ChestStar Wars, of course, has been the most dominant franchise, with three Oscars and two other nominations.

Genres:

Sci-Fi, in spite of not being around much before 1950 (which years account for 31.8% of the nominees) has the most nominations (22.43%) and winners (31.08%).  Drama is in second (21.03% – noms, 17.47% – wins) followed by Fantasy (12.15% – noms, 13.51% – wins).  Among all categories, of course, Sci-Fi and Fantasy combine for less than 5% of the nominated films.  Just since 1950, it’s much higher with Sci-Fi and Fantasy accounting for almost half the nominees.  The only genre without a nomination is Crime while Western, Mystery and Suspense have never won.  The height for Sci-Fi was 1976 to 1991 when it won 12 of 17 Oscars in the category.

Best Picture:

What many might find very surprising is that this is the longest crossover history with Best Picture of any other category.  Wings, the original Best Picture winner earned only one other nomination, Engineering Effects, which it won.  It would take 31 years before another film won both awards (Ben-Hur) and another 34 before it happened again (Forrest Gump) but then Titanic, Gladiator and Return of the King made it four in one decade.  Four more Best Picture winners have earned nominations, three in the early “Special Effects” days (Gone with the Wind, Rebecca, Mrs Miniver) as well as Patton.  Though it didn’t happen the first time until 1956, 16 films have won VE with a Picture nom including six since 2000.  But only 11 films have earned nominations in both categories.  Since the VE nominations were reduced to two in 1946, the only BP nominee (and it was a winner) to earn a VE nom and not lose to a fellow BP nom was Patton.

Foreign Films:

It has never happened.  Maybe the effects artists just are somewhat biased because Crouching Tiger and Pan’s Labyrinth were both better than nominated films in their years.

Single Nominations:

There have been 71 films to earn a VE nom and nothing else which almost a third of the nominees.  Since 1985, there have been 25, which is just about one a year though it’s often two every two years.  Of those 11 won the Oscar but since 1965 the only two to do it are Innerspace and Death Becomes Her.

Other Categories:

Visual Effects crosses over with all the main Tech categories (Editing, Cinematography, Score, Sound, AD) at least 50 times and doesn’t cross over with a major category more than the 37 times it crosses over with Picture.  Hell, it crosses over with Makeup and Song more than it does with any of the acting categories.  The only categories it crosses over with less than Actress (8) are Animated Film and Foreign Film which are zero.  The highest crossover is with Sound (77) and Art Direction (74).  No film has won both VE and Original Screenplay or VE and Supporting Actress while Actress (Mary Poppins) and Supporting Actor (Ben-Hur) only have one each.  There are at least three winning crossovers with every Tech category including Makeup.

The Academy Awards Top 10:

  1. Dennis Muren  –  460
  2. A. Arnold Gillespie  –  300
  3. Richard Edlund  –  280
  4. Ken Ralston  –  260
  5. Gordon Jennings  –  220
  6. John Frazier  –  220
  7. Fred Sersen  –  200
  8. Joe Letteri  –  200
  9. Farciot Edouart  –  180
  10. L. B. Abbott  /  Stan Winston  –  180

note:  Wins are worth 40 points and nominations are worth 20.

Top 5 Oscar Winners:

  1. Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope
  2. Jurassic Park
  3. The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
  4. 2001: A Space Odyssey
  5. Terminator 2: Judgment Day

Worst 5 Oscar Winners:

  1. Plymouth Adventure
  2. Dr. Dolittle
  3. I Wanted Wings
  4. Portrait of Jennie
  5. Green Dolphin Street

Worst 5 Oscar Nominees:

  1. So Proudly We Hail
  2. Boys from Syracuse
  3. Boom Town
  4. Tulsa
  5. Plymouth Adventure

Top 5 Oscar Years:

  1. 1977  (Star Wars, Close Encounters of the Third Kind)
  2. 2009  (Avatar, District 9, Star Trek)
  3. 2005  (King Kong, War of the Worlds, Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe)
  4. 2002  (Two Towers, Attack of the Clones, Spider-Man)
  5. 2003  (Return of the King, AI, Pearl Harbor)

Top 5 Oscars Years by Oscar Score:

  1. 1977  –  100  (Star Wars, Close Encounters of the Third Kind)
  2. 2009  –  100  (Avatar, District 9, Star Trek)
  3. 2003  –  100  (Return of the King, AI, Pearl Harbor)
  4. 1988  –  100  (Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Die Hard, Willow)
  5. 2008  –  100  (The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Iron Man, The Dark Knight)

note:  The difference between this list and the previous one is that the first one is a flat total based on my 9 point scale.  In this one, it’s comparing my top three films to the ones the Oscars actually nominated.  So, in the first one, it’s how good are the nominees.  In this one it’s how good are the nominees compared to what else was eligible.  Because there are more than 5 years with perfect 100 scores in this category, I went with the five best years that also earned a perfect 100 score.

Worst 5 Oscar Years:

note:  These are the same as the worst 5 years by Oscar Score which all earn a zero.

  1. 1943  (Crash Dive, So Proudly We Hail, Air Force, North Star, Bombardier, Stand by for Action)
  2. 1946  (Blithe Spirit, A Stolen Life)
  3. 1947  (Green Dolphin Street, Unconquered)
  4. 1941  (I Wanted Wings, That Hamilton Woman, Aloma of the South Seas, Topper Returns, A Yank in the RAF, Flight Command, Invisible Woman, Sea Wolf)
  5. 1967  (Dr. Dolittle, Tobruk)

Top 5 Films to win the Oscar (based on quality of film not visual effects):

  1. Raiders of the Lost Ark
  2. The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
  3. The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
  4. Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope
  5. 2001: A Space Odyssey

Worst 5 Films to win the Oscar  (based on quality of film not visual effects):

  1. Doctor Dolittle
  2. Cleopatra
  3. Earthquake
  4. The Hindenburg
  5. Logan’s Run

Worst 5 Films to earn an Oscar nomination (based on quality of film not visual effects):

  1. Krakatoa, East of Java
  2. Transformers: Dark of the Moon
  3. Dragonheart
  4. Transformers
  5. Pearl Harbor

Years in Which the Worst of the Nominees Won the Oscar:

note:  I’ve excluded years where there were only two nominees.

  • 1992:  Death Becomes Her over Alien3, Batman Returns
  • 1998:  What Dreams May Come over Armageddon, Mighty Joe Young
  • 2000:  Gladiator over The Perfect Storm, Hollow Man
  • 2008:  The Curious Case of Benjamin Button over Iron Man, The Dark Knight

Oscar Nominees I Haven’t Seen

note:  This is one of the categories where I haven’t managed to see every nominee.  There are two nominees that I still haven’t managed to see.

  • The Private Life of Helen of Troy, 1927-28
  • Women in War, 1940

Oscar Scores By Decade:

  • 1930’s:  86.7
  • 1940’s:  48.3
  • 1950’s:  61.9
  • 1960’s:  54.1
  • 1970’s:  93.0
  • 1980’s:  93.3
  • 1990’s:  79.0
  • 2000’s:  87.9
  • 2010’s:  77.1
  • All-Time:  82.9

The BAFTA Awards

Summary:

Visual Effects wouldn’t become a BAFTA category until 1982 so many films at the forefront of VE wouldn’t get awarded.  The BAFTAs also proved they weren’t just following the Oscars in the first awards when the award went to Poltergeist over ET.  In the first decade, the BAFTA would agree with the Oscar half the time but of the other five films, the BAFTA winner wouldn’t even earn an Oscar nomination and it was very similar the second decade as well.  Lately, though, the BAFTA goes to the Oscar winner about three out of every four years.

Franchises:

The BAFTAs would embrace franchises right away (partially because the award started so late) with five of the first ten winners being sequels.  After that, however, the second decade would have zero winners that were sequels (and only five out of a total 43 nominees).  But the third decade would reverse again with four more sequels winning the award.  In that third decade (2002-2011), every year would have at least one sequel among the nominees and all but two would have at least two (the only two that didn’t have at least two were because they had no Harry Potter film – every Harry Potter film earned a nomination).

Genres:

Out of 30 winners, Sci-Fi (10) and Fantasy (7) have dominated.  Surprisingly, Sci-Fi only accounts for 18% of the nominees while Fantasy has almost 22%.  Action accounts for 17% of the nominees but only has one winner (Twister).  Notably, nine of those losing Action films are Comic Book films.  Comedy is the opposition of Action, accounting for well less than 10% of the nominees but three winners (Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Death Becomes Her, Forrest Gump).

Best Picture:

If crossover at the Oscars has been small, it’s been much less at the BAFTAs.  Two films have won both Picture and VE: Fellowship and Return of the King.  Six other Picture winners earned VE noms (Killing Fields, Purple Rose of Cairo, Last Emperor, Gladiator, Aviator, Hurt Locker).  Six more films earned Picture noms and won VE while 13 films have earned nominations in both categories.

Single Nominees:

35 films have earned just a Visual Effects nomination, which is over 1/4 of all the VE nominees.  Of those, 9 have won the BAFTA which is 30% of the winners.  It was more common in early years and has only happened twice since 1997 (Day After Tomorrow, Golden Compass).  Death Becomes Her and Golden Compass hold the distinction of being the only two films to win both the Oscar and BAFTA but to earn no other nominations from either group.

Foreign Films:

No Foreign film has yet won the BAFTA, but they have been better with nominations, giving well-deserved ones to Crouching Tiger, House of Flying Daggers and Pan’s Labyrinth.

Other Categories:

Except for the less-involved categories (Song, Animated Film, Foreign Film), every category has had at least five films nominated alongside Visual Effects (and even those three have at least one each).  The only crossover for Song didn’t win either and no Animated Film or Foreign Film nominee has won Visual Effects.  But those aren’t the only ones.  There are no winning crossovers with British Film (in fact, no film nominated for both has ever won either).  No VE winning film has ever won an acting award at all.  No winner of Editing or Score has ever won VE.  Art Direction has the most crossover for winners (five films win both) while Sound has the most with nominations (59 films nominated for both).  But of the 30 VE winners, 19 of them won no other BAFTAs and six of the other 11 only won Sound or Art Direction to go along with VE with one film winning Sound, AD and VE.

The BAFTA Top 10:

  1. Ken Ralston  –  240
  2. Dennis Muren  –  220
  3. Michael Lantieri  –  220
  4. John Richardson  –  220
  5. Neil Corbould  –  200
  6. Joe Letteri  –  200
  7. George Gibbs  –  180
  8. John Frazier  –  180
  9. Chris Corbould  –  160
  10. Stan Winston  /  Stefen Fangmeier  /  Tim Burke  –  140

Top 5 BAFTA Winners:

  1. The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
  2. Jurassic Park
  3. Terminator 2: Judgment Day
  4. King Kong  (2005)
  5. The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King

Worst 5 BAFTA Winners:

  1. The Witches of Eastwick
  2. Honey I Shrunk the Kids
  3. Death Becomes Her
  4. Back to the Future Part II
  5. The Perfect Storm

Worst 5 BAFTA Nominees:

  1. The Mission
  2. The Killing Fields
  3. The Witches of Eastwick
  4. Dick Tracy
  5. Vertical Limit

Top 3 BAFTA Years  (4 Nominees):

  1. 1997  (The Fifth Element, Titanic, Men in Black, The Borrowers)
  2. 1982  (Poltergeist, E.T., Blade Runner, Tron)
  3. 1989  (Back to the Future Part II, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, Batman, The Adventures of Baron Munchausen)

Top 3 BAFTA Years  (5 Nominees):

  1. 2006  (Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest, Pan’s Labyrinth, Superman Returns, Casino Royale, Children of Men)
  2. 2004  (Day After Tomorrow, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Spider-Man 2, The Aviator, House of Flying Daggers)
  3. 2009  (Avatar, District 9, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Star Trek, The Hurt Locker)

Years in Which the Worst of the Nominees Won the BAFTA:

  • 1987:  The Witches of Eastwick over The Fly, Little Shop of Horrors, Full Metal Jacket
  • 2004:  The Day After Tomorrow over Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Spider-Man 2, The Aviator, House of Flying Daggers

The Broadcast Film Critics Awards  (Critics Choice)

Summary:

Like most of the Tech awards at the BFCA, this award only finally came into existence in 2009.  Thankfully they kept with the consensus, giving the award to both Avatar and Inception before siding with the VES in going with Rise of the Planet of the Apes.

The Visual Effects Society Awards

Summary:

The VES Awards began in 2002, a year too late for Fellowship of the RingFellowship likely would have done great because in that first year, with 11 categories, Two Towers won eight awards (losing one and ineligible in the other two).  Since then, no film has managed to win more than 6 awards (Dead Man’s Chest, Avatar).  The two LOTR films would win 12 awards with another five nominations while the first three Pirates films would win 10 awards and earn a total of 22 nominations.  With a decade down, in their primary category (Visual Effects in a Visual Effects Driven Film), the VES has agreed with both the Oscars and BAFTAs seven times (Towers, King, King Kong, Dead Man’s Chest, Benjamin Button, Avatar, Inception) while agreeing with neither one the other three times (Azkaban, Transformers, Rise of the Planet of the Apes).  Of note, in 2011, the Oscar went to Hugo which won the Supporting Visual Effects award at the VES, which occasionally has had other films nominated that earned a VE nom from the Oscars or BAFTAs.

Top 10 Points for One Film at the VES:

  1. The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers  –  340
  2. Avatar  –  340
  3. The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King  –  240
  4. Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest  –  240
  5. Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl  –  200
  6. Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End  –  200
  7. Spider-Man 2  –  180
  8. Transformers  –  180
  9. The Aviator  –  160
  10. Ratatouille /  The Curious Case of Benjamin Button  /  Inception  /  Rango  –  160

The Nighthawk Awards

note:  Because my awards go, retroactively, all the way back through 1912, there are a lot more nominees and winners than in the other awards.  But I don’t always have a full slate of nominees and some years I don’t have any nominees.

Directors:

Tim Burton has the second most nominations with eight but none of his films have ever won.  James Cameron and Peter Jackson are behind him with six noms each but Cameron’s films have 3 wins (Aliens, Abyss, T2) and PJ’s have five (Heavenly Creatures, Lord of the Rings, King Kong).  Of course, like with all the Tech categories, it’s dominated by Steven Spielberg.  His films have amassed five wins (Jaws, Raiders, ET, Temple, Jurassic Park) but an astounding 15 total nominations.

Franchises:

Unlike other Tech categories where franchises earn a lot of noms but not a lot of wins, the wins are plentiful and they begin all the way back in 1935 with Bride of Frankenstein.  There’s a gap after that to Thunderball and then The Golden Voyage of Sinbad.  But after there are 10 more franchise films that win the Nighthawk.  First films in a franchise that both win the Nighthawk and have a sequel win the Nighthawk are Frankenstein, Star Wars, Alien, Raiders and Fellowship.

Genres:

Sci-Fi has the most wins (31.70%) and since 1950 has won about 40% of the time, followed by Fantasy (14.63%).  No Musical, Mystery or Western has ever won.  Sci-Fi accounts for 26.69% of the nominees although it’s more than 30% of the nominees since 1950.

Best Picture:

There is a lot more crossover than at the other awards groups.  Seventeen films win both Picture and VE at the Nighthawks including nine films that won VE at the Oscars but not Picture (2001, Star Wars, Alien, Raiders, Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Fellowship, Two Towers, Inception, Hugo).  Another 14 films win VE with a Picture nom.  Seven films are nominated for VE while winning Picture, five of which won Picture at the Oscars without a VE nom: Sunrise, All Quiet, From Here to Eternity, Lawrence of Arabia, Godfather.  Another 21 films are nominated for both awards.

Foreign Film:

Four Foreign films have won the Nighthawk for VE: Metropolis, Woman in the Moon, La Belle et La Bete, Crouching Tiger while another 10 have earned nominations.

Single Nominations:

A full 1/5 of the films nominated for VE earn no other nominations.  This was relatively rare before Star Wars (20 films in 50 years) but much more prevalent since (36 films in 35 years).  This includes nine winners (Thief of Bagdad, Woman in the Moon, Day the Earth Stood Still, Time Machine, Jack the Giant Killer, Golden Voyage of Sinbad, Innerspace, Abyss, Babe), by far the most among Tech categories.  Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets has the distinction of being the only **** film to earn a VE nom and no other noms.

Other Categories:

By far the biggest crossover is with Sound Editing.  34 films win both awards and 174 films are nominated for both.  Oddly, of the 107 films nominated for VE but not SE, over half aren’t nominated for anything else, and of the remaining 51 films, 34 of them are nominated for Makeup.  So, only 17 films are nominated for VE and earn multiple nominations but not SE or Makeup and four of those films are Silent and can’t be nominated for SE.  There are crossover winners with every category.  Indeed, just with Crouching Tiger and Bonnie and Clyde there are crossovers with everything but Animated Film (which Roger Rabbit covers).

My Top 10

This is where I would normally do a list of the Top 10 visual effects artists and how many points they have (with more specialized lists as well based on my point systems).  However, in the early days of Hollywood, those artists often weren’t even credited (in some years in the 40’s and 50’s, the Oscar doesn’t even go to a specific person) and it’s hard to know who should get the credit as well.  Different awards groups credit different people for the same films and some groups (like the BFCA) don’t list anyone at all.  Trying to go through all 500+ films that are on my total list for the award and figure out who the points should go to is simply too complex.

Top 5 Films to win the Nighthawk (based on quality of film not visual effects):

  1. The Wizard of Oz
  2. Bonnie and Clyde
  3. Raiders of the Lost Ark
  4. Citizen Kane
  5. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon

Worst 5 Films to win the Nighthawk (based on quality of film not visual effects):

  1. King Kong  (1976)
  2. In Old Chicago
  3. Bwana Devil
  4. San Francisco
  5. The Golden Voyage of Sinbad

Worst 5 Films to earn a Nighthawk nomination  (based on quality of film not visual effects):

  1. Starship Troopers
  2. Hollow Man
  3. Poltergeist II: The Other Side
  4. Earthquake
  5. Mutiny on the Bounty  (1962)

Top 5 6th Place Finishers at the Nighthawks:

  1. The Host
  2. The Day After Tomorrow
  3. Wallace and Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit
  4. The Matrix Reloaded
  5. Pearl Harbor

The Nighthawk Winners:

  • 1925-26:  The Thief of Bagdad
  • 1927-28:  Metropolis
  • 1928-29:  Steamboat Bill Jr.
  • 1929-30:  Hell’s Angels
  • 1930-31:  Woman in the Moon
  • 1931-32:  Frankenstein
  • 1932-33:  King Kong
  • 1935:  The Bride of Frankenstein
  • 1936:   San Francisco
  • 1937:   In Old Chicago
  • 1939:  The Wizard of Oz  (Oscar)
  • 1940:  The Thief of Baghdad  (Oscar)
  • 1941:  Citizen Kane
  • 1942:  Reap the Wild Wind  (Oscar)
  • 1944:  Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo  (Oscar)
  • 1945:  Spellbound  (Oscar)
  • 1946:  Henry V
  • 1948:  La Belle et La Bete
  • 1949:  Mighty Joe Young  (Oscar)
  • 1950:  Destination Moon  (Oscar)
  • 1951:  The Day the Earth Stood Still
  • 1952:  Bwana Devil
  • 1953:  War of the Worlds  (Oscar)
  • 1954:  20,000 Leagues Under the Sea  (Oscar)
  • 1955:  The Dam Busters  (Oscar)
  • 1956:  Forbidden Planet  (Oscar)
  • 1957:  The Bridge on the River Kwai
  • 1958:  The 7th Voyage of Sinbad
  • 1959:  Ben Hur  (Oscar)
  • 1960:  The Time Machine  (Oscar)
  • 1961:  Mysterious Island
  • 1962:  Jack the Giant Killer
  • 1963:  Jason and the Argonauts
  • 1964:  Mary Poppins  (Oscar)
  • 1965:  Thunderball  (Oscar)
  • 1966:  Fantastic Voyage  (Oscar)
  • 1967:  Bonnie and Clyde
  • 1968:  2001: A Space Odyssey  (Oscar)
  • 1969:  Marooned  (Oscar)
  • 1970:  Patton  (Oscar)
  • 1971:  Bedknobs and Broomsticks  (Oscar)
  • 1972:  The Poseidon Adventure  (Oscar)
  • 1973:  The Exorcist
  • 1974:  The Golden Voyage of Sinbad
  • 1975:  Jaws
  • 1976:  King Kong  (Oscar)
  • 1977:  Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope  (Oscar)
  • 1978:  Superman  (Oscar)
  • 1979:  Alien  (Oscar)
  • 1980:  Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back  (Oscar)
  • 1981:  Raiders of the Lost Ark  (Oscar)
  • 1982:  E.T.  (Oscar, BAFTA)
  • 1983:  Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi  (Oscar, BAFTA)
  • 1984:  Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom  (Oscar, BAFTA)
  • 1985:  Back to the Future  (BAFTA)
  • 1986:  Aliens  (Oscar, BAFTA)
  • 1987:  Innerspace  (Oscar)
  • 1988:  Who Framed Roger Rabbit  (Oscar, BAFTA)
  • 1989:  The Abyss  (Oscar)
  • 1990:  Total Recall  (Oscar, BAFTA)
  • 1991:  Terminator 2: Judgment Day  (Oscar, BAFTA)
  • 1992:  Bram Stoker’s Dracula  (BAFTA)
  • 1993:  Jurassic Park  (Oscar, BAFTA)
  • 1994:  Heavenly Creatures
  • 1995:  Babe  (Oscar, BAFTA)
  • 1996:  Independence Day  (Oscar, BAFTA)
  • 1997:  The Fifth Element  (BAFTA)
  • 1998:  Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas
  • 1999:  Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace  (Oscar, BAFTA)
  • 2000:  Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon  (BAFTA)
  • 2001:  The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring  (Oscar, BAFTA)
  • 2002:  The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers  (Oscar, BAFTA, VES)
  • 2003:  The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King  (Oscar, BAFTA, VES)
  • 2004:  Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban  (Oscar, BAFTA, VES)
  • 2005:  King Kong  (Oscar, BAFTA, VES)
  • 2006:  The Fountain  (VES)
  • 2007:  Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix  (BAFTA)
  • 2008:  Iron Man  (Oscar, BAFTA, VES)
  • 2009:  District 9  (Oscar, BAFTA, VES, BFCA)
  • 2010:  Inception  (Oscar, BAFTA, VES, BFCA)
  • 2011:  Hugo  (Oscar, BAFTA, VES, BFCA)

Consensus Awards

Most Awards (not including the Nighthawk):

note:  All of these films won either all three awards (pre-2009) or all four awards

  • The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers
  • The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
  • King Kong
  • Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest
  • The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
  • Avatar
  • Inception

Films That Win the Oscar and BAFTA (pre-VES)

  • Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi
  • Aliens
  • Who Framed Roger Rabbit
  • Terminator 2: Judgment Day
  • Death Becomes Her
  • Jurassic Park
  • Forrest Gump
  • The Matrix
  • The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring

Consensus Chart:

note:  The chart below I imported from Excel and I hope it isn’t too confusing.  It’s about as big as I could make to still have it fit.  It just fits out the nominees for the major groups from 2009 to 2011.
note:  The VES has varied the number of nominees over the years but in years where the are more than 5 nominees or even when there are multiple VES winners listed that’s because usually I only include the VES award for Best Visual Effects in a Visual Effects Driven Motion Picture.  However, if an Oscar, BAFTA or BFCA nominee is a film that doesn’t qualify for that award at the VES but earns a nomination or win in either Supporting Visual Effects or the Animated Award, then I will include their VES points as well.
note:  Because of different eligibility years, sometimes there are multiple BAFTA awards in a single year.

YR FILM AA BAFTA VES BFCA RT WT N W %
1982 Poltergeist 20 40 60 60 2 1 33.33%
1982 E.T. 40 20 60 60 2 1 33.33%
1982 Blade Runner 20 20 40 40 2 0 22.22%
1982 Tron 20 20 20 1 0 11.11%
1983 Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi 40 40 80 80 2 2 57.14%
1983 Wargames 20 20 20 1 0 14.29%
1983 Dark Crystal 20 20 20 1 0 14.29%
1983 Zelig 20 20 20 1 0 14.29%
1984 Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom 40 40 80 80 2 2 50.00%
1984 Ghostbusters 20 20 40 40 2 0 25.00%
1984 Company of Wolves 20 20 20 1 0 12.50%
1984 Killing Fields, The 20 20 20 1 0 12.50%
1985 Brazil 40 40 40 1 1 22.22%
1985 Cocoon 40 40 40 1 1 22.22%
1985 Purple Rose of Cairo 20 20 20 1 0 11.11%
1985 Back to the Future 20 20 20 1 0 11.11%
1985 Legend 20 20 20 1 0 11.11%
1985 Return to Oz 20 20 20 1 0 11.11%
1985 Young Sherlock Holmes 20 20 20 1 0 11.11%
1986 Aliens 40 40 80 80 2 2 44.44%
1986 Labyrinth 20 20 20 1 0 11.11%
1986 Dreamchild 20 20 20 1 0 11.11%
1986 Mission, The 20 20 20 1 0 11.11%
1986 Little Shop of Horrors 20 20 20 1 0 11.11%
1986 Poltergeist II: The Other Side 20 20 20 1 0 11.11%
1987 Witches of Eastwick 40 40 40 1 1 25.00%
1987 Innerspace 40 40 40 1 1 25.00%
1987 Fly 20 20 20 1 0 12.50%
1987 Full Metal Jacket 20 20 20 1 0 12.50%
1987 Little Shop of Horrors 20 20 20 1 0 12.50%
1987 Predator 20 20 20 1 0 12.50%
1988 Who Framed Roger Rabbit 40 40 80 80 2 2 44.44%
1988 Last Emperor, The 20 20 20 1 0 11.11%
1988 Robocop 20 20 20 1 0 11.11%
1988 Beetlejuice 20 20 20 1 0 11.11%
1988 Die Hard 20 20 20 1 0 11.11%
1988 Willow 20 20 20 1 0 11.11%
1989 Back to the Future Part II 20 40 60 60 2 1 27.27%
1989 Honey I Shrunk the Kids 40 40 40 1 1 18.18%
1989 Adventures of Baron Munchausen 20 20 40 40 2 0 18.18%
1989 Abyss 40 40 40 1 1 18.18%
1989 Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade 20 20 20 1 0 9.09%
1989 Batman 20 20 20 1 0 9.09%
1990 Total Recall 40 20 60 60 2 1 60.00%
1990 Dick Tracy 20 20 20 1 0 20.00%
1990 Ghost 20 20 20 1 0 20.00%
1991 Terminator 2: Judgment Day 40 40 80 80 2 2 44.44%
1991 Backdraft 20 20 40 40 2 0 22.22%
1991 Edward Scissorhands 20 20 20 1 0 11.11%
1991 Prospero’s Books 20 20 20 1 0 11.11%
1991 Hook 20 20 20 1 0 11.11%
1992 Death Becomes Her 40 40 80 80 2 2 44.44%
1992 Alien3 20 20 40 40 2 0 22.22%
1992 Batman Returns 20 20 40 40 2 0 22.22%
1992 Beauty and the Beast 20 20 20 1 0 11.11%
1993 Jurassic Park 40 40 80 80 2 2 44.44%
1993 Aladdin 20 20 20 1 0 11.11%
1993 Bram Stoker’s Dracula 20 20 20 1 0 11.11%
1993 Fugitive 20 20 20 1 0 11.11%
1993 Cliffhanger 20 20 20 1 0 11.11%
1993 Nightmare Before Christmas 20 20 20 1 0 11.11%
1994 Forrest Gump 40 40 80 80 2 2 44.44%
1994 Mask 20 20 40 40 2 0 22.22%
1994 True Lies 20 20 40 40 2 0 22.22%
1994 Speed 20 20 20 1 0 11.11%
1995 Apollo 13 20 40 60 60 2 1 37.50%
1995 Babe 40 20 60 60 2 1 37.50%
1995 Goldeneye 20 20 20 1 0 12.50%
1995 Waterworld 20 20 20 1 0 12.50%
1996 Twister 20 40 60 60 2 1 33.33%
1996 Independence Day 40 20 60 60 2 1 33.33%
1996 Toy Story 20 20 20 1 0 11.11%
1996 Nutty Professor 20 20 20 1 0 11.11%
1996 Dragonheart 20 20 20 1 0 11.11%
1997 Titanic 40 20 60 60 2 1 33.33%
1997 Fifth Element 40 40 40 1 1 22.22%
1997 Men in Black 20 20 20 1 0 11.11%
1997 Borrowers 20 20 20 1 0 11.11%
1997 Lost World 20 20 20 1 0 11.11%
1997 Starship Troopers 20 20 20 1 0 11.11%
1998 Saving Private Ryan 40 40 40 1 1 22.22%
1998 What Dreams May Come 40 40 40 1 1 22.22%
1998 Antz 20 20 20 1 0 11.11%
1998 Truman Show, The 20 20 20 1 0 11.11%
1998 Babe: Pig in the City 20 20 20 1 0 11.11%
1998 Armageddon 20 20 20 1 0 11.11%
1998 Mighty Joe Young 20 20 20 1 0 11.11%
1999 Matrix 40 40 80 80 2 2 40.00%
1999 Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace 20 20 40 40 2 0 20.00%
1999 Bug’s Life 20 20 20 1 0 10.00%
1999 Sleepy Hollow 20 20 20 1 0 10.00%
1999 Mummy 20 20 20 1 0 10.00%
1999 Stuart Little 20 20 20 1 0 10.00%
2000 Perfect Storm 20 40 60 60 2 1 30.00%
2000 Gladiator 40 20 60 60 2 1 30.00%
2000 Vertical Limit 20 20 20 1 0 10.00%
2000 Chicken Run 20 20 20 1 0 10.00%
2000 Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon 20 20 20 1 0 10.00%
2000 Hollow Man 20 20 20 1 0 10.00%
2001 Lord of the Rings, The: The Fellowship of the Ring 40 40 80 80 2 2 40.00%
2001 A.I. 20 20 40 40 2 0 20.00%
2001 Moulin Rouge 20 20 20 1 0 10.00%
2001 Shrek 20 20 20 1 0 10.00%
2001 Harry Potter and the Sorceror’s Stone 20 20 20 1 0 10.00%
2001 Pearl Harbor 20 20 20 1 0 10.00%
2002 Lord of the Rings, The: The Two Towers 40 40 40 120 120 3 3 42.86%
2002 Spider-Man 20 20 40 40 2 0 14.29%
2002 Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones 20 20 40 40 2 0 14.29%
2002 Minority Report 20 20 20 1 0 7.14%
2002 Gangs of New York 20 20 20 1 0 7.14%
2002 Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets 20 20 20 1 0 7.14%
2002 Men in Black II 20 20 20 1 0 7.14%
2003 Lord of the Rings, The: The Return of the King 40 40 40 120 120 3 3 40.00%
2003 Pirates of the Caribbean, The: The Curse of the Black Pearl 20 20 20 60 60 3 0 20.00%
2003 Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World 20 20 20 60 60 3 0 20.00%
2003 Big Fish 20 20 20 1 0 6.67%
2003 Kill Bill Vol 1 20 20 20 1 0 6.67%
2003 Matrix Reloaded 20 20 20 1 0 6.67%
2004 Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban 20 20 40 80 80 3 1 25.00%
2004 Spider-Man 2 40 20 20 80 80 3 1 25.00%
2004 Day After Tomorrow 40 20 60 60 2 1 18.75%
2004 Aviator, The 20 40 60 60 2 1 18.75%
2004 House of Flying Daggers 20 20 20 1 0 6.25%
2004 I, Robot 20 20 20 1 0 6.25%
2005 King Kong 40 40 40 120 120 3 3 40.00%
2005 Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe 20 20 20 60 60 3 0 20.00%
2005 Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire 20 20 40 40 2 0 13.33%
2005 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory 20 20 20 1 0 6.67%
2005 Batman Begins 20 20 20 1 0 6.67%
2005 Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith 20 20 20 1 0 6.67%
2005 War of the Worlds 20 20 20 1 0 6.67%
2006 Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest 40 40 40 120 120 3 3 40.00%
2006 Children of Men 20 20 40 40 2 0 13.33%
2006 Superman Returns 20 20 40 40 2 0 13.33%
2006 Casino Royale 20 20 20 1 0 6.67%
2006 Pan’s Labyrinth 20 20 20 1 0 6.67%
2006 Charlotte’s Web 20 20 20 1 0 6.67%
2006 Fountain 20 20 20 1 0 6.67%
2006 Poseidon 20 20 20 1 0 6.67%
2007 Golden Compass 40 40 20 100 100 3 2 31.25%
2007 Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End 20 20 20 60 60 3 0 18.75%
2007 Transformers 20 40 60 60 2 1 18.75%
2007 Spider-Man 3 20 20 40 40 2 0 12.50%
2007 Bourne Ultimatum 20 20 20 1 0 6.25%
2007 Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix 20 20 20 1 0 6.25%
2007 I Am Legend 20 20 20 1 0 6.25%
2008 Curious Case of Benjamin Button 40 40 40 120 120 3 3 37.50%
2008 Iron Man 20 20 20 60 60 3 0 18.75%
2008 Dark Knight 20 20 40 40 2 0 12.50%
2008 Quantum of Solace 20 20 20 1 0 6.25%
2008 Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull 20 20 20 1 0 6.25%
2008 Cloverfield 20 20 20 1 0 6.25%
2008 Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian 20 20 20 1 0 6.25%
2008 Hellboy II: The Golden Army 20 20 20 1 0 6.25%
2009 Avatar 40 40 40 40 160 152 4 4 36.54%
2009 District 9 20 20 20 20 80 76 4 0 18.27%
2009 Star Trek 20 20 20 20 80 76 4 0 18.27%
2009 2012 20 20 40 36 2 0 8.65%
2009 Hurt Locker, The 20 20 20 1 0 4.81%
2009 Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince 20 20 20 1 0 4.81%
2009 Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen 20 20 20 1 0 4.81%
2009 Lovely Bones 20 20 16 1 0 3.85%
2010 Inception 40 40 40 40 160 152 4 4 31.67%
2010 Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part I 20 20 20 20 80 76 4 0 15.83%
2010 Alice in Wonderland 20 20 20 20 80 76 4 0 15.83%
2010 Black Swan 20 20 40 40 2 0 8.33%
2010 Toy Story 3 20 20 40 40 2 0 8.33%
2010 Iron Man 2 20 20 40 40 2 0 8.33%
2010 Tron: Legacy 20 20 40 36 2 0 7.50%
2010 Hereafter 20 20 20 1 0 4.17%
2011 Hugo 40 20 40 20 120 116 4 2 21.64%
2011 Rise of the Planet of the Apes 20 20 40 40 120 112 4 2 20.90%
2011 Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 20 40 20 20 100 96 4 1 17.91%
2011 War Horse 20 20 40 40 2 0 7.46%
2011 Adventures of Tintin 20 20 40 40 2 0 7.46%
2011 Transformers: Dark of the Moon 20 20 40 40 2 0 7.46%
2011 Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides 20 20 20 1 0 3.73%
2011 Captain America: The First Avenger 20 20 20 1 0 3.73%
2011 Real Steel 20 20 20 1 0 3.73%
2011 Super 8 20 20 16 1 0 2.99%
2011 Tree of Life 20 20 16 1 0 2.99%

Lists

  • Best Oscar Winner Snubbed by the BAFTAs:  The Abyss
  • Best BAFTA Winner Snubbed by the Oscars:  The Fifth Element
  • Best Oscar Nominee Snubbed by the BAFTAs:  Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones
  • Best BAFTA Nominee Snubbed by the Oscars:  Pan’s Labyrinth
  • Best Film Snubbed by the Oscars and BAFTAs but Nominated by the VES:  The Fountain
  • Best Film Snubbed by all four groups:  Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow
  • Worst Oscar Winner:  Plymouth Adventure
  • Worst BAFTA Winner:  The Witches of Eastwick
  • Worst VES Winner:  Transformers
  • Average Nighthawk Winner  (9 point scale):  5.35
  • Average Oscar Winner  (9 point scale):  4.54
  • Average BAFTA Winner  (9 point scale):  6.77
  • Average VES Winner  (9 point scale):  7.90
  • Average Nighthawk 2nd Place  (9 point scale):  4.09
  • Average Nighthawk Nominee  (9 point scale):  4.32
  • Average Oscar Nominee  (9 point scale):  3.26
  • Average BAFTA Nominee  (9 point scale):  4.66
  • Average VES Nominee  (9 point scale):  5.70
  • Total Oscar Score:  82.90
  • Average Oscar Winner Rank:  2.03
  • Average Oscar Winner Rank Among Nominees:  1.39

See It Only for The Visual Effects

note:  Of the 16,000+ films I have seen through 2011, there are 13 that earn points for Visual Effects but nothing else.  Of those 13, 7 of them are ***, so are good films.  Of the other six, four of them earn only a 1 or 2 in VE.  These are the last, ranked by the Visual Effects.

  1. Hollow Man  (2000, **)
  2. Poltergeist II: The Other Side  (1986, **)

Since 2011

Oscar Notes:  Since 2011, Spielberg has had one more film nominated and Peter Jackson has had two.  Star Wars, as a franchise has earned four more nominations.  The Marvel Cinematic Universe has managed seven nominations since 2011, only missing out in 2015.  The only sequel, however, to actually win the Oscar is Blade Runner 2049.  Since 2011, Disney, thanks to those two franchises, has accounted for 14 of the 35 nominations with Fox (7) and Warner Bros (7) accounting for most of the rest.  Sci-Fi continues to dominate with 4 of the 6 winners and almost half the nominees.  Two VE winners and three other nominees have been nominated for Picture but none have won the award.  There have still been no Foreign nominees.  Though almost half the nominees since 2011 earned no other noms, only Jungle Book has won the award without another nom.  Kubo and the Two Strings became the first film to earn VE and Animated Film nominations.  Joe Letteri has risen up the ranks so he is now tied for 3rd with 280 points.

BAFTA Notes:  Three franchise films have won the BAFTA since 2011: Force Awakens, Blade Runner, Black Panther.  Like at the Oscars, Sci-Fi has mostly dominated with four wins and almost half the nominations.  Films have won VE but no Picture winner has earned a VE nomination since 2011; on the other hand, Gravity became the first film to win British Film and VE (indeed, the first to win either when nominated for both).  Like the Oscars, almost half the nominees have earned no other nominations though two winners (Jungle Book, Black Panther) have won the award.  Gravity became the first film to win both Score and VE and with 6 wins has more awards than any other VE winner.  While Return of the King was the only film by 2011 to win Cinematography and VE, three more films have done it since (Life of Pi, Gravity, Blade Runner).  Joe Letteri and Neil Corbould have risen from their 5th place tie to 1st (Letteri – 300) and 2nd place (Corbould – 260).

BFCA Notes:  The BFCA has mostly stuck with the consensus (Life of Pi, Gravity, Jungle Book) or gone along with the VES in awarding the Apes films (Dawn, War).  In the other two years, they went their own way completely (Mad Max) and agreed with the BAFTAs the other time giving the award to a film that the Oscars and VES blanked completely (Black Panther).  With the exception of 2014, there has been at least one film every year that the BFCA nominated that received no other noms (Cloud Atlas, The Walk, Edge of Tomorrow, Jurassic World, A Monster Calls, Thor: Ragnarok, Wonder Woman, Mary Poppins Returns, Mission: Impossible – Fallout).  Thanks to voting too early, they missed out on nominating each of the Star Wars films from 2015 to 2017, the only group not to nominate those films.  The BFCA hasn’t had a weak year since 2012 but had its strongest field in 2014 (Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, Battle of Five Armies, Guardians, Interstellar, Edge of Tomorrow).

VES Notes:  For the most part, you can see the BFCA; the VES has agreed with them since 2012 all but twice (Force Awakens, Avengers: Infinity War).  Since 2011, the VES has also had its two most notable snubs, passing up the Oscar winner in 2015 (Ex Machina) and the BAFTA and BFCA winner in 2018 (Black Panther).  Since 2011, the VES has had one of its best slate of nominees (2017 – War for the Planet of the Apes, Guardians 2, Skull Island, Last Jedi, BR 2049, matching the Oscars though with different winners) and one of its worst (2015 – Force Awakens, Mad Max, Martian, Furious 7, San Andreas).

Nighthawk Notes:  Since 2011, Peter Jackson has another win (Unexpected Journey) and two more noms (the other two Hobbit films) so he’s ahead of Spielberg on wins but still well short on nominations.  That also means another Jackson Middle-Earth film wins as do three more Star Wars films (all but Solo).  There has been much less crossover with Picture since 2011 with only Gravity winning both awards, Force Awakens and First Man winning VE with a Picture nom and Revenant, Arrival and Dunkirk earning noms for both.

9 point Effects Since 2011:

  • The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
  • Life of Pi
  • Gravity
  • The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
  • Interstellar
  • The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies
  • Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens
  • Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
  • Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi
  • First Man
  • Avengers: Infinity War
  • Ready Player One
  • Solo: A Star Wars Story
  • The Lion King
  • Captain Marvel

The Nighthawk Winners:

  • 2012:  The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey  (Oscar, BAFTA, VES, BFCA)
  • 2013:  Gravity  (Oscar, BAFTA, VES, BFCA)
  • 2014:  Interstellar  (Oscar, BAFTA, VES, BFCA)
  • 2015:  Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens  (Oscar, BAFTA, VES)
  • 2016:  Rogue One: A Star Wars Story  (Oscar, BAFTA, VES)
  • 2017:  Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi  (Oscar, BAFTA, VES)
  • 2018:  First Man  (Oscar, BAFTA, VES, BFCA)

Chart / Consensus Notes:

2012 Life of Pi 40 40 40 40 160 152 4 4 33.33% 1
2012 Avengers 20 20 20 20 80 76 4 0 16.67% 2
2012 Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey 20 20 20 20 80 76 4 0 16.67% 2
2012 Prometheus 20 20 20 60 60 3 0 13.16% 4
2012 Dark Knight Rises 20 20 40 36 2 0 7.89% 5
2012 Battleship 20 20 20 1 0 4.39% x
2012 Snow White and the Huntsman 20 20 20 1 0 4.39% x
2012 Cloud Atlas 20 20 16 1 0 3.51% x
2013 Gravity 40 40 40 40 160 152 4 4 30.65% 1
2013 Star Trek Into Darkness 20 20 20 20 80 76 4 0 15.32% 2
2013 Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug 20 20 20 20 80 76 4 0 15.32% 2
2013 Iron Man 3 20 20 20 20 80 76 4 0 15.32% 2
2013 Lone Ranger 20 40 60 60 2 1 12.10% 5
2013 Pacific Rim 20 20 20 60 56 3 0 11.29% x
2014 Interstellar 40 40 20 20 120 116 4 2 22.66% 1
2014 Dawn of the Planet of the Apes 20 20 40 40 120 112 4 2 21.88% 2
2014 Guardians of the Galaxy 20 20 20 20 80 76 4 0 14.84% 3
2014 X-Men: Days of Future Past 20 20 20 60 60 3 0 11.72% 4
2014 Hobbit: Battle of Five Armies 20 20 20 60 56 3 0 10.94% 5
2014 Walk 20 20 40 36 2 0 7.03% x
2014 Maleficent 20 20 20 1 0 3.91% x
2014 Captain America: The Winter Soldier 20 20 20 1 0 3.91% x
2014 Edge of Tomorrow 20 20 16 1 0 3.13% x
2015 Star Wars: The Force Awakens 20 40 40 100 100 3 2 20.16% 1
2015 Mad Max: Fury Road 20 20 20 40 100 92 4 1 18.55% 2
2015 Martian 20 20 20 20 80 76 4 0 15.32% 3
2015 Ex Machina 40 20 20 80 76 3 1 15.32% 3
2015 Revenant 20 40 20 80 76 3 1 15.32% 3
2015 Ant-Man 20 20 20 1 0 4.03% x
2015 Furious 7 20 20 20 1 0 4.03% x
2015 San Andreas 20 20 20 1 0 4.03% x
2015 Jurassic World 20 20 16 1 0 3.23% x
2016 Jungle Book 40 40 40 40 160 152 4 4 28.36% 1
2016 Doctor Strange 20 20 20 20 80 76 4 0 14.18% 2
2016 Rogue One 20 20 20 60 60 3 0 11.19% 3
2016 Deepwater Horizon 20 40 60 60 2 1 11.19% 3
2016 Kubo and the Two Strings 20 40 60 60 2 1 11.19% 3
2016 Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them 20 20 20 60 56 3 0 10.45% x
2016 Arrival 20 20 40 36 2 0 6.72% x
2016 Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children 20 20 20 1 0 3.73% x
2016 A Monster Calls 20 20 16 1 0 2.99% x
2017 Blade Runner 2049 40 40 20 20 120 116 4 2 22.66% 1
2017 War for the Planet of the Apes 20 20 40 40 120 112 4 2 21.88% 2
2017 Dunkirk 20 40 20 80 76 3 1 14.84% 3
2017 Star Wars: The Last Jedi 20 20 20 60 60 3 0 11.72% 4
2017 Kong: Skull Island 20 20 40 40 2 0 7.81% 5
2017 Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2 20 20 40 40 2 0 7.81% 5
2017 Shape of Water, The 20 20 40 36 2 0 7.03% x
2017 Thor: Ragnarok 20 20 16 1 0 3.13% x
2017 Wonder Woman 20 20 16 1 0 3.13% x
2018 First Man 40 20 40 20 120 116 4 2 22.66% 1
2018 Avengers: Infinity War 20 20 40 20 100 96 4 1 18.75% 2
2018 Ready Player One 20 20 20 20 80 76 4 0 14.84% 3
2018 Black Panther 40 40 80 72 2 2 14.06% 4
2018 Solo: A Star Wars Story 20 20 40 40 2 0 7.81% 5
2018 Christopher Robin 20 20 40 40 2 0 7.81% 5
2018 Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald 20 20 20 1 0 3.91% x
2018 Welcome to Marwen 20 20 20 1 0 3.91% x
2018 Mary Poppins Returns 20 20 16 1 0 3.13% x
2018 Mission: Impossible – Fallout 20 20 16 1 0 3.13% x

See It Only For the Visual Effects:

The only film that meets the above criteria (below ***, no points except VE, at least a 3) is Welcome to Marwen which is **.  However, I feel I should point out War for the Planet of the Apes which earns an 8 and earns no other points (though at least is a *** film), the only film (before or after 2011) to earn higher than a 6 and earn no other points.

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