The Academy Award for Best Visual Effects kicked off with a Lucas-versus-Spielberg battle of the buddies in 1977, Star Wars pipping Close Encounters to the inaugural gong. Since then, it’s recognised barrier-busting movies like Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Terminator 2, Jurassic Park and The Matrix. This year is no exception in the innovation stakes, especially if you’re a fan of jungle-real tigers, extra-terrestrial nastiness, Hulk smashing and trolls, lots of trolls.
Nominees: Joe Letteri, Eric Saindon, David Clayton and R. Christopher White
Modest and unshowy, Weta Digital supremo Joe Letteri has in recent years pioneered a revolution in effects work from the company’s Wellington HQ. Weta gave us the performance-capture of Gollum and King Kong, the digital detail of Pandora in Avatar and now the dwarves’ encounter with Tom, Bert and William in Trollshaws and Goblin-Town in The Hobbit. Weta Digital has picked up five Oscars since it was set up by Peter Jackson, Richard Taylor and Jamie Selkirk back in 1993, and a sixth looks like a strong possibility.