By TREVOR HOGG
There are strange variables in play in the 2023 Oscar race for Best Visual Effects. For one, filmmaker Taika Waititi and actress Tessa Thompson did a scene breakdown video for Vanity Fair and made fun of some visual effects work in Thor: Love and Thunder, without mention of the groundbreaking camera and lighting techniques utilized by Marvel Studios Visual Effects Supervisor Jake Morrison to create six separate lighting passes simultaneously for the Moon of Shame sequence without interrupting principal photography. In an interesting twist, the comments sparked an Internet frenzy about the unreasonable demands and deadlines that digital artists have to contend with on a daily basis, with the backlash possibly having a ripple effect on other MCU contenders Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness and Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.
Then, there is the matter of Top Gun: Maverick where the filmmakers and studio are marketing how everything was done practically. However, to achieve the desired cinematic scope there are over 2,000 visual effects shots that have been seamlessly integrated into the remarkable aerial plate photography, such as the opening Blackstar scene; that in itself should make the blockbuster, which received critical acclaim and earned $1.37 billion worldwide as of mid-August, a favorite to win. Curiously, though, the visual effects team led by Visual Effects Supervisor Ryan Tudhope has been grounded from promoting the film, and there is unlikely to be any campaign support from the VFX team to add fuel to the nomination fire. Nevertheless, there is a strong possibility that no perceived lack of VFX team publicity can stop Top Gun: Maverick from topping the field, as demonstrated by Dunkirk’s Oscar win in 2018.