Best Visual Effects – 1981

Official Nominations: Raiders Of The Lost Ark. Dragonslayer.

Just the two nominees this year, and a clear win for Raiders. It’s not so much the fact that Raiders was innovative, moreso that it does so much. Similar to Star Wars, it was a stepping stone towards the big budget special effects bonanzas to come, but crucially it uses its effects as a tool to serve the story, world, and characters. The closing moments of the Ark being opened and the Nazis being melted down to creamy goo, was one of the defining movie moments in my young life and one which encouraged me to seek out further gore effects while also gaining an appreciation for the craft. Dragonslayer meanwhile reunited much of the Star Wars team – the ILM guys using the film to show off their talents outside of the Lucasfilm world. Featuring more than the admittedly wonderful dragon effects, it’s the more innovative movie from an Effects perspective, and is deserving of the win too. In terms of its influence on me, and wider pop culture though, I have to go with Raiders.

My Winner: Raiders Of The Lost Ark.

Watch 'Raiders of the Lost Ark' Face Melt Scene in ULTRA Slow Motion - Bloody Disgusting

My Nominations: Dragonslayer. Raiders Of The Lost Ark. American Pop. An American Werewolf In London. Clash Of The Titans. Escape From New York. The Evil Dead. The Howling. Possession. Scanners. Time Bandits. Wolfen.

Baski continues his innovative techniques and desire to push the boundaries of what anAnimated Feature could be with American Pop, investing in both the emerging computer graphics techniques but also most noticeably in Rotoscoping to give the film its unique look. We all know American Werewolf In London is the winner for Make-up this year, and arguably it should not be nominated here. The film is a feast for the eyes, and it’s not simply the Make-up effects which make that possible, but the practical Visual Effects which make the action and chase scenes so impactful, not to mention the all time classic transformation scene. It’s one of the most influential movies of all time in terms of changing the mainstream’s perception of practical effects empowering storytelling.

Clash Of The Titans is one of the most important movies in my personal movie journey, opening my eyes to the ability of artists to bring impossible things to life and translating stories from dusty tomes into mass-market big screen thrills. Your average viewer now will likely view it all as hokey, but the effects were a revelation to me as a kid, before Jurassic Park came along, and they’re still incredibly impressive based on the tools available at the time. Escape From New York would set out the template for Blade Runner (which would improve in every feasible way), crafting a dank and neon drenched futurescape, while The Evil Dead is a barmy, off the wall masterpiece of visual creativity from the gore effects, to the colour palette, lighting, and the way the camera behaves. It’s another startling triumph in a year in which everyone seemed to take several giant leaps forward.

The Howling is the second big Werewolf movie of the year  and is the more serious horror movie while also having some stellar effects. Just not as strong in most respects that An American Werewolf In London. Wolfen distances itself from Horror and instead plays like a cop drama which just happens to feature a furry shapeshifter. Underseen compared with the other two, it’s worth a look if only for its cast and the thermo/heat tracking technique used to show the predatory stalking of the wolf. Possession is notorious for its stressful production, its manic tone, and its exciting effects – an interesting film but one which will ultimately frustrate. Time Bandits is another treat for the eyes, using a dizzying array of expertise to bring a visually difficult script to screen, while Scanners will forever be known for one thing – arguably the greatest head explosion put on screen. It’s wonderful – the film is so much more than one effect and that one scene, but that’s what it’ll be remembered for.

My Winner: An American Werewolf In London.

Let us know your winner in the comments!

Best Visual Effects – 1969

Official Nominations: Marooned. Krakatoa, East Of Java.

Two clear nominations this year, and one obvious winner. While Marooned isn’t the quantum leap in quality that the previous year’s 2001 was, it mimicked that movie’s approach to realism with its effects. Krakatoa is an effects bonanza and due to the age of the movie it simply doesn’t hold up today – however the technical wizardry and ambition are deserving of the nomination.

My Winner: Marooned.

Marooned 1.png

My Nominations: On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. Where Eagles Dare. The Valley Of Gwangi. Marooned. Doppleganger.

Only the official winner makes it over to my list, joining a few other interesting choices. Both Where Eagles Dare and On Her Majesty’s Secret Service are action packed and therefore are filled with a variety of explosions and other more visual effects to make the action all the more realistic, while The Valley Of Gwangi is another Ray Harryhausen special, though this one is rarely discussed. Finally, Doppleganger (also known as Journey To The Far Side Of The Sun) sees some further realistic space and rocket effects from the team behind Thunderbirds. 

My Winner: Marooned

Let us know which film of 1969 you feel has the Best Visual Effects!

Best Visual Effects: 1964

Actual Nominations: Mary Poppins. The 7 Faces Of Dr. Lao.

While not necessarily and landmark year for visual effects, the 2 official nominations show advancement of the field and hold scenes which are still outstanding today. For the flight mechanics, merging of animations and other pieces, Peter Ellenshaw, Hamilton Luske, and Eustace Lycette won the award for Mary Poppins. As much as Mary Poppins did for visual effects, The 7 Faces Of Dr. Lao blows the competition out of the water. The invention on display is superb, but it is the variety of effects which cement this as my winner. On a much lesser budget than Disne’ys extravaganza, Jim Danforth’s exemplery stop motion work reflects the crazed mind of an escaped, under-your-bed lunatic. The work forshadows later films such as Clash Of The Titans, but the wizardry here is exquisite.

My Winner: The 7 Faces Of Dr Lao.

 My Nominations: Mary Poppins. The 7 Faces Of Dr. Lao. Goldfinger. Mothra Vs Goldzilla. 633 Squadron.

Added to my nominations come three films of varying effects bonanza-ing. Goldfinger arguably begins the love affair between Bond and gadgets, M vs G has a number of catastrophic fights between the Titans, while 633 Squadron features realistic air battles. It seems odd to me that any of these 3 films were left out of the official nominations.

My Winner: The 7 Faces Of Dr Lao.


Who is your pick for the best visual effects of 1964? Let us know in the comments!

Best Special Effects: 1963

Official Nominations: Cleopatra. The Birds.

Two entirely different films with two entirely different approaches to effects were nominated this year. Cleopatra’s epic scope in every facet of film-making means that Special Effects were also considered, with Emil Kosa Junior picking up the official win for some terrific matte work. Aside from these shots which show things like Cleopatra’s arrival in Alexandria and breath life into the epic, there actually isn’t a lot else to speak of. The Birds also has a number of famous matte shots, but a number of nice transitions that you wouldn’t normally notice during watching because they are so smooth. I can mention a number of scenes from the movie, such as the birds arranging on the climbing frame which are a mixture of effects and expert animal handling. Shots like the birds hovering above such scenes as the gas station explosion, the swooping attack on the school kids, and Tippi’s attack in the attic were a mixture of animatronics, trained birds, rotoscoping, and matte work – all superb from Albert Whitlock and Ub Iwerks.

My Winner: The Birds.

My Nominations: The Birds. From Russia With Love. The Great Escape. Jason And The Argonauts. X: The Man With The XRay Eyes.

Only The Birds makes it over to my nominations, but it is joined with a couple of true innovators, and a couple of action movie classics. Both The Great Escape and From Russia With Love feature a wide array of action set pieces which required both potent stunt work and detailed special effects, with explosions and chases galore. Corman’s X was on made on a shoestring but is an inventive little thriller with some wonderful effects – from the seedy see-through clothes vision to Milland’s ‘eyes’ to the Spectarama colours and blurring, it’s a treat for effects purists. My clear winner though is Ray Harryhausen for his glorious work on Jason And The Argonauts. His assorted creations are given breath as they stalk the characters and terrify the audience, blending seamlessly in to the real life scenery. The first time you see Talos emerge, and the first time you experience the skeleton warrior attack are moments which will stay with you forever.

My Winner: Jason And The Argonauts.

Let us know your pick for the best Special Effects of 1963 in the comments!

Best Special Effects: 1962

Actual Nominations: The Longest Day. Mutiny On The Bounty.

Only two films were nominated this year, with Robert MacDonand and Jacques Maumont winning for The Longest Day, a film where realism was key. Mutiny has plenty of sea-faring escapades, but the sheer scope and variety of effects earns The Longest Day my vote.

My Winner: The Longest Day

My Nominations: The Longest Day. Mutiny On The Bounty. The Day Of The Triffids. Dr.No. King Kong Vs Godzilla. Brothers Grimm.

I copy over the 2 actual nominees and had a host of other films which missed out. Dr No gets an obvious vote due to a myriad of well-executed traditional effects, while my remaining three choices are a little more outlandish in their efforts. King Kong Vs Godzilla is one of the most successful in the Godzilla series, thanks largely to some stunning set pieces which are still highly regarded today (the Octopus attack in particular). The Wonderful World Of The Brothers Grimm is a marvel for effects and make-up fans. The Day Of The Triffids may look dated now but somehow the effects still work well enough to make the film’s scares effective.

My Winner: King Kong Vs Godzilla

Best Special Effects- 1961

Actual Nominations: Guns Of Navarone. The Absent Minded Professor

Clearly a quiet year then for this category according to The Academy. We know that isn’t true though. My winner here is GOFN.

Guns Guns Guns

My Nominations: Guns Of Navarone. The Absent Minded Professor. Atlantis. The Day The Earth Caught Fire, Mothra. The Pit And The Pendulum.

My Winner: The Day The Earth Caught Fire

My pick goes to the superb The Day The Earth Caught Fire and Les Bowie. Due to the mix of matte paintings, crumbling effects, post nuke imagery and orange-o-vision, the film retains a unique vision.

The Day The Earth Caught Fire

Let me know your thoughts? Did I miss out on some effects extravaganza!?