The 14th annual VES Awards are being handed out tonight at the Beverly Hilton, and Deadline is covering it live. The Visual Effects Society will dole out hardware in 23 film and TV categories. Patton Oswalt is hosting for the fifth time.
Star: Wars: The Force Awakens leads all films with seven nominations, and the leader on the TV side is HBO’s Game Of Thrones, which crashes in with nine.
Follow the action here.
We’re under way from the Beverly Hilton.
The director of the WES just accidentally called Ridley Scott “Sir Ridley Thomas”, which caused much laughter as he was corrected, apologized and embarassingly moved on.
Visual Effect Society Eric Roth onstage: “Without using any special goggles or headsets, just turn to your right or left and you’ll see the most amazing visual artists on this or any planet.”
He began his speech with a boozy (and fun) tribute to the work of visual effects workers throughout the industry. However, he maybe had a misstep referencing the current diverity debate. Saying that the effects industry is diverse because it thinks on a global scale (referencing the dispersed VFX workforce), he then thanked several of tonight’s sponsors from tech and VFX companies around the world.
And now, our host the inestimable Patton Oswalt is coming onstage. Cue me freaking out.
“wow! Keep it going for Eli Roth, ladies and gentlemen, the fabulous Sir Eli Roth coming out here. Wow, how do you follow the electric excitement… I keep telling people “don’t let him open”, you can’t have JOhn Denver following Black Sabbath!” – Patton Oswalt, being hilarious and riffing on Roth’s error.
“I”m your host, Imperator Pudgiosa!”
2015 has been crazy in terms of special effects. The Revenant, my god The Revenant, with Andy Serkis playing Leonardo DiCaprio fighting a real bear, how did he pull that off? It looked so real!”
“Also straight from their win at the AVN Awards, Anomalisa ladies and gentlemen.” Oswalt then referenced the film’s oral sex scene. Big laughs.
Referencing Mad Max: Fury Road’s feminist themes and discussion of sexual assault and patriarchy and rape, Oswalt calls it “an amazing documentary about life in 2015!”
“San Andreas tonight… it takes place in LA. You don’t need to have a giant earthquake be a disaster. You could just make it “It’s drizzling out,” people would have the same level of freaking out!” Oswalt, again.
Patton talks at length about Star Wars: “LIsten – I’ve had a lot of harsh things to say about the prequels,… but here’s the miracle that JJ Abrams pulled off. When Star Wars came out in 1977, it was like your amazing party friend who always had great coke and hookers. Then he comes back in 1980 with even better coke, then disappears for three years. Then he reappears three years later and he’s got that crazy 80s coke. But then 15 years later he comes back, now he’s sobered up up, he’s really into religion and government, and you’re like ‘hey man let’s do that coke’, and he’s like ‘no, let’s talk about where the coke came from, let’s get into these hooker’s back story.” BIG LAUGHS by the way. “And now his nephew comes along, his nephew has amazing weed and he’s just fun and you’re like, now we’re in good hands. So thank you JJ Abrams for the great coke. CINEMATICALLY, my God!”
Oswalt kills it with this line: “There is a diversity problem in our industry, and way more than other aspects of it, this awards show does something about it. We have white shut ins that are abused by their producers, black shut ins that are abused by their producers, Asian, latino, it doesn’t matter who you are as long as you’re being screeamed at and told to get it in a week early. It’s all about diversity!”
Oswalt wraps it up, and now the first presenter, and it’s Terry Crews!
“Man, coke and hookers that was funny… I am honored to be here tonight. I owe a lot to the visual effects community. People in hollywood don’t know this but I began my career as a visual effect. Nobody looks this amazing who wasn’t designed by professionals” – Crews.
Outstanding Supporting Visual Effects in a Photoreal Episode
Vikings; To the Gates
You know what Erik? I’m good with this. Vikings is awesome.
Appropriately, one of the winners onstage is wearing a kilt. YES I KNOW KILTS ARE NOT NORDIC. I mean manliness.
Crews is presenting the second award – “Here are the nominees whose work stood out for not standing out, he says.” Well put. In other news I stayed up too late watching Bridesmaids on Friday night (rockstar life here) and had completely forgotten Crews is in that movie. And is great BTW.
Outstanding Supporting Visual Effects in a Photoreal Feature
They are keeping these acceptance speeches as clipped and speedy as the Oscars. Waiting to see who the first winner will be to get played offstage.
And now, next presenter, Erika Christensen.
Outstanding Compositing in a Photoreal Episode
Game of Thrones; Hardhome
And Game of Thrones: Hardhome wins. AKA the single best episode of the last season. Especially the “Come at me bro!” Night’s King. This team is my hero.
Outstanding Compositing in a Photoreal Commercial
For the 5th time tonight, whoever is in charge of piped in music plays a Bowie song, this time Heroes.
Outstanding Compositing in a Photoreal Feature
The Revenant; Bear Attack
That’s two for the Revenant already
The Revevant is cleaning up tonight. Could this be the film that finally ends the “Whoever plays Leo in a biopic will win an Oscar for the role before Leo wins one” meme?
For his sake, I hope so. But I will miss that meme so so much.
They’ll find a way to snub him and give it to the bear.
That would be the greatest ever Academy Awards.
Next presenter is Michael Pena! He comes out to the Star Wars fanfare.
“OK, teleprompter time! Every industry has its foundation myths, areospace has the wright brothers and kitty hawk… and visual effects has Gweorge Lucas and Industrial Light and Magic… it was their job to make the impossible, possible. I think most of you know by now they pulled it off. And that’s what they’ve continued to do over and over again for over 40 years.” He mentions several ILM effects film, including “The Martian – thanks for the job Ridley. and Ant-Man. Both of those are really good.” And now cue the tribute to ILM.
OH I realize I dropped the lede. Pena is presenting the tribute to ILM. Knowledge is power, Deadline readers!
and now the Chairman of the VES to present the award for Outstanding Models. He makes a very… politely received joke about fashion models. Ahem.
Outstanding Models in a Photoreal or Animated Project
Star Wars: The Force Awakens; BB-8
My kids will get a kick out of that.
The winner of outstanding models goes to the clear, obvious winner. BB-8 is one of the most incredible practical effects I’ve ever seen up close. So much personality in a ball with a hat.
Separate from any narrative criticisms reserved for The Force Awakens, the puppetry, props and modeling was almost tear-inducing for me. It’s absurd to talk about how something took you back to childhood, but it did.
Portia Doubelday now presenting outstanding created environment in an episode, commercial or real time project.
Erik clearly knows the way to my heart. I LOVE YOU BB-8!
Outstanding Created Environment in an Episode, Commercial, or
Game of Thrones; City of Volantis
Those of you not here can’t hear it, but the music supervisor for the evening has amazing twee taste in dance pop and I love them for it.
By the way, Ross, I’m taping the hockey game — so no spoilers.
YOu clearly think I’m someone who likes Hockey. I’m sorry for misleading you ;)
Walked right into that one.
Outstanding Created Environment in an Animated Feature
The Good Dinosaur; The Farm
I’m kind of surprised that the Good Dinosaur beat out Inside Out. The world of The Good Dinosaur is expansive and gorgeous, but I felt more connected personally to Imagination Land in Inside Out. Obviously this is why I don’t work in the VFX industry. And I suppose considering the lackluster response Good Dinosaur got upon release it’s great to see it recognized among its peers.
Agree, Ross. Sometimes Good Dino wide shots looked like live-action.
Outstanding Created Environment in a Photoreal Feature
Star Wars: The Force Awakens; Falcon Chase / Graveyard
Justin van der Lek
The Force Awakens becomes tonight’s second multi-winner. Now if we can get Kylo Ren to fight that bear.
Previous post is hilarious because the final act of The Force Awakens takes place in an icy waste just like the Revenant!
Oswalt is back: “Folks we are one eight of the way through the show, we are blazing through, the doors are locked, try to conserve water.”
How about Chewbacca vs. the Bear in a cage match?
Oswalt once again mocks Roth’s error. Mentioning the tribute to ILM, he says “I hope you put together as interesting a package for Ridley Scoot. Mr. Ridley Scoot, he has so many amazing movies.”
Chewie would win, hands down. He has thaty bowcaster. Though the bear might be Chewie’s mitochondrial eve.
Outstanding Visual Effects in a Special Venue Project
Fast and Furious: Supercharged
Fast And Furious Supercharged acceptance speech was played on by the latest from Tame Impala. This DJ has excellent taste people. Excellent. Also, I hope this comforts Vin since Fast Seven wasn’t nominated for Best Picture.
Now it’s time for the nominees for virtual cinematography.
Outstanding Virtual Cinematography in a Photoreal Project
Star Wars: The Force Awakens; Falcon Chase / Graveyard
Star Wars winners played onstage by The Weekend “I Can’t Feel My Face”. God dang I love this dj so much.
Star Wars now has the most wins of any film tonight, and given the loud cheers in the room every time it’s mentioned, I’m not shocked. Also, I saw the movie so I’m also not shocked because of that.
Sadly, they missed the opportunity to have Anthony Daniels come out to trash-talk The Revenant in character as Three P-0.
What is this “Star Wars”? I can’t keep up with your little French indie pics, Ross.
Outstanding Visual Effects in a Real-Time Project
The Order: 1886
GIven how abused and exploited in terms of pay versus hours, time and job security – it’s rough work people – the creative side of the video game industry is, I’m glad to see The Order win this one.
Oswalt is back, making yet another joke at Roth’s expense by mispronouncing Ridley Scott’s name. Honestly, it never gets old.
Now the student award is being presented.
Outstanding Visual Effects in a Student Project
The nominees for student projects were Citipati, Skål, Jagon and Korser.
By the way, I haven’t been quoting from the acceptance speeches very much. Suffice to say, these people really value their team members and humbly acknowledge the sheer number of people who help this work come together. (Not snark by the way, just saving time.)
Scott Ross just introduced the tribute to Syd Mead before they give him the VES Visionary Award. “The oracle from Saint Paul Minnesota has designed movies… luxury automobiles, consumer products… theme parks, and you get the idea. Pretty outrageous,” says Ross. “Often times his only brief was to design something that no one had seen before. And time after time, he’s done just that… I’ve personally had the pleasure of watching this man give so much of his time to young artists… and while his creativity takes him to other worlds, he has his feet firmly planted in the here and now.”
Scott Ross goes on: “The best advice I’ve heard him give young artists is this — “If they don’t pay you, it’s a hobby.” Don’t we all know that. This man is the whole package, he’s brilliant, talented, caring, funny, and practical.”
Mead has worked on so many projects it’s hard to keep count.
Syd’s onstage now.
“this is phenomenal,” he says to a standing ovation. “Thank you for recieving this award. It’s at once humbling and exhilarating.”
He mentions the first film he worked on start to finish was Blade Runner, thanking Ridley Scott and others, then pays tribute to his life partner Roger, who Mead says, has worked with him “40 years to stablizie our personal, social and business lives.” He ended his speech with a nod to the VES. “So thank you again visual effects society. I admire the expertise in this room. It’s the best in the world.”
Outstanding Effects Simulations in an Episode, Commercial, or
Game of Thrones; Hardhome
Another win for Game Of Thrones, and the second tonight for the greatest episode of season 5 and a contender for the best ever in the entire series.
Outstanding Effects Simulations in an Animated Feature
The Good Dinosaur
That’s twice The Good Dinosaur has topped Inside Out.
The Good Dinosaur didn’t connect with audiences but the VFX community loves it.
Outstanding Effects Simulations in a Photoreal Feature
Mad Max: Fury Road; Toxic Storm
Mad Max finally wins one, and honestly I’m a bit surprised it hasn’t clearned up more. Then again, there isn’t a “HOLY CRAP DID YOU SEE THAT CAR” trophy tonight”
Oswalt comes onstage as Ziggy Stardust is playing off The Good Dinosaur team, and says “Don’t play Bowie! It makes me sad he’s gone. Can’t you guys get together and CGI him back? Too soon?”
Dennis Haysbert and his dulcet tones arrive onstage to loud applause from the women in the audience. And from me (in my heart.)
Outstanding Animated Performance in an Episode, Commercial, or
SSE; Pier; Orangutan
Outstanding Animated Performance in an Animated Feature
Inside Out; Joy
Finally, Inside Out wins one, making three wins total for Pixar tonight. Sorry, every other animated film released this year. We’re looking into the Oscars future tonight, and I hope I don’t look like an idiot for saying that in three weeks.
Outstanding Animated Performance in a Photoreal Feature
The Revenant; The Bear
We’re back to a three way tie between the Revenant, Star Wars, and Game of Thrones for most awards tonight.
ILM did effects for the Revenant, and for lots of other nominees/winners tonight. Between that and Pixar wins, Disney is basically the top dog tonight.
Looks like a dogfight for most hardware overall tonight.
Star Wars, Game of Thrones and Good Dinosaur all nominated in one more category. Revenant is not.
Kate Mara introduced the tribute to Ridley Scott. “In a field not known for longevity, Ridley Scott has now [had] five successful decades,” she says. “We all know his work: Alien, Blade Runner, Thelma and Louise… and most recently The Martian” LOUD CHEERS. “That’s not bad Ridley… Ridley gives visual artists who work with him the chance to work at the top of their game… film, tv, commercials, he’s really done it all. Anyone who has seen or worked on any of his movies knows he’s absolutely fearless. I’ve come to believe there’s only one explanation for this. I’m pretty sure ridley scott is an android.”
Ridley is coming out now to a standing ovation.
He comes out to Starman. More Bowie. More sad feels.
Shoulda been “Fame”
“Thank you for this wonderful honor. And thank for for what you just did,” Scott began his speech. He then embarked on a fun, occasionally funny and definitely rambling discussion of his experience using visual effects. (The food was rich and the drinks flowed freely, so we forgive.)
The speech got into details, deep details, sometimes trivial, sometimes illuminating, for instance the fact that they made the forest in Legend look so vast using mirrors, which led to plenty of the pigeons they used in the film smacking into the mirrors. “There were no casualties,” though, Scott says, “just a lot of dazed pigeons.”
“My hat comes off to all you guys and gals, with all your passion and genius and evolving ideas… I love the process, working with you wherever you are,” Scott concluded his speech.
Nikolaj Coster-Waldau out to present the next award.
Outstanding Visual Effects in a Commercial
OK, so SSE Pier, Game of Thrones, The Revenant, Star Wars, and Pixar are killing it tonight.
Coster-Waldau makes an awkward joke about the possibility of George R.R. Martin running out of books. Don’t worry Nikolaj, GRRM has already been lapped by the show.
Outstanding Visual Effects in a Photoreal Episode
Game of Thrones; The Dance of Dragons
Annnd Game of Thrones takes the lead. And before you ask, no, the acceptance speech does not reveal the fate of Jon Snow. Sorry everyone.
“We’ve made it people, we’re at the last presenter of the night, you did it, give yourselves a round of applause”, Oswalt says. “This person is the only other person in the room other than JJ Abrams who understands what it’s like to have 100,000 pounds of nerd pressure on you.” Out comes Batman v Superman director Zach Snyder.
“I love you Zach,” says Oswalt. “Do NOT f**k this up.” Big laughs.
“Visual effects allows people to do the impossible,” says Snyder, cracking up. Starting again, he continues “and visual effects in animated features can push boundaries even further… visual effects experts find ways to make us believe.” he says about the nominees for outstanding visual effects in an animated feature.
Outstanding Visual Effects in an Animated Feature
The Good Dinosaur
During the clips part of this award, the clip for Anomalisa was the beginning of the sex scene. Just as awakward in public.
Well, Good DInosaur officially crushed it tonight. I have no idea what this means for Pixar at the Oscars, but this has to feel like vindication of a sort. Congratulations to that team.
Final award of the night. When Snyder said so, “YAY”, literal “YAY” came from the audience.
OK PEOPLE, CLIFFHANGER: Will Star Wars win one last time? The revenant? Mad Max? Or will The Martian get a nod finally? San Andreas? My hope is Furious Seven and no I am not kidding about that.
Outstanding Visual Effects in a Photoreal Feature
Wars: The Force Awakens
Disney was the night’s biggest winner, with Pixar owning all animation categories, and Star Wars narrowly edging out the Revenant for the live action film with the most wins. Does this mean it’ll win in its Oscar categories? I have no idea – I’ll leave that to Deadline’s actual experts. But It does mean that cute robots always beat angry bears. That’s just science, people.
The Star Wars team, accepting their awards, reference Oswalt’s comments earlier in the night about Star Wars, and the party friend with great cocaine. “It’s all true people. I can’t even remember this movie!” Big laughs.
That, by the way ladies and germs, is the end. We’re free, we can leave. And you can stop reading, knowing you received nothing but the best possible commentary from a universally acclaimed Genius. I am of course talking about Erik. Thanks man!
Well played, Ross. Extra donut for you.
Good night, all.