Interstellar scooped the Academy Award for Best Visual Effects tonight, beating a field of some of the biggest movies of 2014. In an Oscar year dominated by smaller films, all five nominees were among the 16 highest-grossing pics of the year domestically — a fact that further cements the importance of VFX in today’s movie landscape.
The trophies went to visual effects supervisors Paul Franklin, Andrew Lockley – both of whom also won an Oscar for Christopher Nolan’s Inception four years ago – along with Ian Hunter and Scott Fisher, who both won on their first nom.
Nolan told the visual effects team for the sci-fi film to first meet with Caltech astrophysicist Kip Thorne in an attempt to bring realism to the film. The VFX crew later wrote a scientific study — lauded by Thorne, also an exec producer on the movie — about the computer code they used to get the light beams to travel through a time warp and black hole. With the special effects they created for Interstellar, the team did something that had never been done before by changing light rays using distorted paths and even the shapes of the millions of light beams to create a realistic look. “It’s the first time this has happened in any Hollywood film, that I’m aware,” Thorne told Deadline in November.
“Thank you to Chris Nolan and Emma Thomas for taking us on an amazing voyage across space and time,” Lockley said backstage. “And thank you to one of the smartest people on Earth, Professor Kip Thorne of Caltech, and all the explorers of science who show us the universe in all its amazing and terrifying beauty. And one of these (Oscars) apparently is good for a free drink, so we’re gonna go and test that out back there.”
Paramount’s Interstellar was shut out at the VES Awards a couple weeks back, a trophy show dominated by Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes. Before tonight, the Visual Effects Society has correctly predicted the Academy Award for Best Visual Effects 10 times in its 13-year history. Captain America was the only film up for the VFX Oscar that wasn’t also nominated for the top VES Award (Outstanding Visual Effects in a Visual Effects-Driven Photoreal/Live Action Feature Motion Picture). Meanwhile, Maleficent and The Hobbit: The Battle Of The Five Armies were the only pics nominated for the VES trophy that didn’t make the Oscar shortlist.
Interstellar won the Oscar over fellow big-payday nominees Guardians Of The Galaxy (the No. 2 film of 2014), Captain America: The Winter Soldier (No. 4), X-Men: Days Of Future Past (No. 9) and Planet Of The Apes (No. 11). Interstellar was the 16th-biggest grosser of the year domestically with $185.6 million, but it popped overseas with $484.7 million for a worldwide cume of $672.3 million.