As they say, the third time’s the charm. Rise of the Planet of the Apes and Dawn of the Planet of the Apes both earned visual effects artists Daniel Barrett, Joe Letteri, and Dan Lemmon nominations in this category, and all three (along with Joel Whist) are nominated here for War for the Planet of the Apes, the ostensible final film in the rebooted Planet of the Apes series. We called this race for Rise of the Planet of the Apes way back in 2012, underestimating that Hugo, which isn’t without its own fair share of impressive visual effects, would benefit from the “prestige” factor that comes with being a best picture nominee. We learned our lesson, and four years later we rightfully called the race for Interstellar, as it was the most nominated film in this category. There is, then, a case to be made for Blade Runner 2049, which enters the Oscar race with five nominations and is a strong competitor in at least three of them. But there’s a reason why War for the Planet of the Apes both outperformed Blade Runner 2049 at the box office and at the Visual Effects Society Awards, as the photorealistic effects that dominate Matt Reeves’s pop masterpiece set a bar so high that not only is it impossible to imagine it being cleared any time soon, but they make the FX work from Rise of the Planet of the Apes seem like it’s from the Ray Harryhausen era. While it’s worth noting that the VES Awards previously gave their top prize to the first two films in the rebooted Planet of the Apes series, it’s difficult to imagine AMPAS not wanting to give Andy Serkis’s swan song as Caesar a pat on the head for a job well done across the three films.
Will Win: War for the Planet of the Apes
Could Win: Blade Runner 2049
Should Win: War for the Planet of the Apes