One of the highlights of Sunday’s Academy Awards broadcast was the presentation of Best Visual Effects. Rebel Wilson and James Corden presented the award in full costume as their Cats alter egos Jennyanydots and Bustopher Jones. The audience laughed when the duo said, “As castmembers of the motion picture Cats, nobody more than us understands the importance of good visual effects.”
It was a solid joke delivered perfectly (purrfectly? I’m sorry), and the two followed it up by playfully swatting at the microphone. Unfortunately, The Visual Effects Society didn’t take kindly to the gag, calling out the presenters for mocking VFX work.
.@TheAcademy – visual effects practitioners deserve immense respect for the artists & technicians & innovators they are and for their remarkable contributions to filmed entertainment. VFX is not a punchline or a proper scapegoat. Everything starts with a good story. #Oscars2020 https://t.co/JSxXVbDwpa
— VisualEffectsSociety (@VFXSociety) February 10, 2020
The VES released a statement saying,
“Last night, in presenting the Academy Award for Outstanding Visual Effects, the producers chose to make visual effects the punchline, and suggested that bad VFX were to blame for the poor performance of the movie CATS. The best visual effects in the world will not compensate for a story told badly.
On a night that is all about honoring the work of talented artists, it is immensely disappointing that The Academy made visual effects the butt of a joke. It demeaned the global community of expert VFX practitioners doing outstanding, challenging and visually stunning work to achieve the filmmakers’ vision.”
I don’t know guys … I feel like this was less about mocking VFX than it was mocking the clusterf*ck that was the Cats movie. Ever since the first trailer dropped, the film’s puzzling and disturbing look has been roundly met with a WTF?! heard all across the internet.
The film was a massive critical and commercial flop, released with unfinished special effects that were later corrected. And the disastrous effects weren’t solely the responsibility of the VFX artists. Dozens of people must have signed off on the effects, from the director to producers to studio executives. And they’re working off of a musical that doesn’t naturally lend itself to a movie.
Once again the Academy finds a way to insult VFX artists. Usually it’s a dumb joke about “geeks” or “nerds”, this year it was a dumb joke implying the failure of “Cats” was poor VFX.
— Hal Hickel (@halhickel) February 10, 2020
The failure of Cats is a real Murder on the Orient Express situation: everyone was the killer. But to deny that the VFX for Cats was disturbing would be to deny the most meme-able film of 2019. And the gag doesn’t mock visual effects as an industry or the artists that labor away to bring movie magic to life. It’s calling out this one bananas instance of VFX and poor choices. And if the stars of the debacle are willing to make fun of themselves and their movie, shouldn’t we all be able to do the same?
(via The Hollywood Reporter)
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