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'Star Wars: The Force Awakens' VFX Reel Guns Hard For Oscar Glory

By Kristy Puchko | Videos | January 18, 2016 |

By Kristy Puchko | Videos | January 18, 2016 |

Visual Effects isn’t the sexiest Oscar category, mostly because the average moviegoer has no idea how much what they’re seeing has been manipulated in postproduction. But with the Oscars, teams who worked tirelessly perfecting a director’s vision with hours of rotoscoping, compositing, CGI and renders get a moment in the spotlight.

Get the edge on your Oscar pool by watching these VFX reels from the 2016 Academy Award nominees.

First up, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, which has everything from interactive droids, to massive explosions, CGI environments, and even a pair of crucial characters created from motion-capture. The smart money this year is on this one.

But The Force Awakens has some stiff competition when it comes to Mad Max: Fury Road. Sure, this action-stuffed sequel won scads of praise for its extensive use of practical effects like the Doof Warrior’s fire-spewing guitar. But VFX had a pivotal part to play in building the film’s brutal terrain, and layering on the practical stunts and color to make already iconic moments.

For the marvelous Ex Machina, VFX meant erasing Alicia Vikander’s lovely limbs and scalp to replace it with a transparent wire mesh filled with whiz-bang tech. It might sound small compared to its big-budget rivals, but behold how beautifully it was done!

How do make Mars on Earth? That’s what The Martian’s VFX breakdown reveals:

I wasn’t able to unearth a VFX reel from The Revenant, but its nomination comes down mostly to that gruesomely real-looking bear assault. There are some pirated vids of it online, but their poor quality belies the impact of that scene. Let’s just say this: The Revenant’s visual effects were impressive enough that it bumped out The Avengers: Age of Ultron, Ant-Man, and Jurassic World, all movies that featured boatloads of showy VFX.

Kristy Puchko wants you to know Ex Machina is on Amazon Prime right now, and gets better with every rewatch.