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‘The Lion King,’ ‘Missing Link’ & ‘The Mandalorian’ Top 18th Annual VES Awards

‘The Lion King’ tops all photoreal features with three awards; ‘Missing Link’ is top animated feature film; ‘The Mandalorian’ leads broadcast wins. 

In a night filled with less host Patton Oswald banter than hoped for, and more Missing Link wins than expected, The Visual Effects Society, the industry’s global professional honorary society, held the 18th Annual VES Awards tonight. The prestigious event celebrates outstanding visual effects artistry and innovation in film, animation, television, commercials, video games and special venues.

Comedian Patton Oswalt “sparingly” served as host for the 9th time, keeping his opening comments and subsequent comedic interludes to a bare minimum. Whether his sparse presence was planned or a game-time decision, his normally combative jibes and riffs on the foibles of assembled digital giants are always enjoyable, even when they fall a bit flat. This year, he was mostly missing from the proceedings and his cherubic banter was missed.

More than 1,000 guests gathered at the Beverly Hilton to celebrate VFX talent in 25 awards categories. The Lion King was named the photoreal feature winner, garnering three awards. Missing Link was named top animated film, winning two awards. For a film that suffered through the worst box office run of any previous LAIKA film, the critically acclaimed underdog’s wins for Outstanding Animated Character and Outstanding Animated Feature came as quite a surprise. The Mandalorian was named best photoreal episode and garnered two awards, with Game of Thrones and Stranger Things 3 also winning two awards each. Hennessy: The Seven Worlds topped the commercial field with two wins.

Andy Serkis presented the VES Award for Creative Excellence to acclaimed visual effects supervisor Sheena Duggal.  Joey King presented the VES Visionary Award to acclaimed director-producer-screenwriter Roland Emmerich.  And VFX Supervisor Pablo Helman presented the Lifetime Achievement Award to Academy, DGA and Emmy Award winning director-producer-screenwriter Martin Scorsese, accepting via video from New York.  Scorsese’s The Irishman also picked up two awards, including Outstanding Supporting Visual Effects in a Photoreal Feature. 

Awards presenters also included: helmers J.J. Abrams, Jon Favreau, Rian Johnson and Josh Cooley, actors Storm Reid, Madeline Brewer, Janina Gavankar, Sophie Skelton and Maxwell Jenkins.  Lisa Campbell, Autodesk’s Chief Marketing Office and SVP, presented the Autodesk Student Award.

Winners of the 18th Annual VES Awards are as follows:

Outstanding Visual Effects in a Photoreal Feature

The Lion King

Robert Legato, Tom Peitzman, Adam Valdez and Andrew R. Jones

Outstanding Visual Effects in a Photoreal Episode

The Mandalorian: The Child

Richard Bluff, Abbigail Keller, Jason Porter, Hayden Jones and Roy Cancinon

Outstanding Visual Effects in an Animated Feature

Missing Link

Brad Schiff, Travis Knight, Steve Emerson and Benoit Dubuc

Outstanding Visual Effects in a Commercial

PlayStation: Feel The Power of Pro

Sam Driscoll, Clare Melia, Gary Driver and Stefan Susemihl

Outstanding Supporting Visual Effects in a Photoreal Feature

The Irishman

Pablo Helman, Mitch Ferm, Jill Brooks, Leandro Estebecorena and Jeff Brink

Outstanding Supporting Visual Effects in a Photoreal Episode

Chernobyl: 1:23:45

Max Dennison, Lindsay McFarlane, Clare Cheetham, Paul Jones and Claudius Christian Rauch

Outstanding Animated Character in an Animated Feature

Missing Link: Susan

Rachelle Lambden, Brenda Baumgarten, Morgan Hay and Benoit Dubuc

Outstanding Animated Character in a Photoreal Feature

Alita: Battle Angel - Alita

Michael Cozens, Mark Haenga, Olivier Lesaint and Dejan Momcilovic

Outstanding Animated Character in a Commercial

Cyberpunk 2077: Dex

Jonas Ekman, Jonas Skoog, Marek Madej and Grzegorz Chojnacki

Outstanding Animated Character in an Episode or Real-Time Project

Stranger Things 3: Tom/Bruce Monster

Joseph Dubé-Arsenault, Antoine Barthod, Frederick Gagnon and Xavier Lafarge

Outstanding Created Environment in a Photoreal Feature

The Lion King: The Pridelands

Marco Rolandi, Luca Bonatti, Jules Bodenstein and Filippo Preti

Outstanding Created Environment in an Animated Feature         

Toy Story 4: Antiques Mall

Hosuk Chang, Andrew Finley, Alison Leaf and Philip Shoebottom

Outstanding Created Environment in an Episode, Commercial, or Real-Time Project

Game of Thrones: The Iron Throne; Red Keep Plaza

Carlos Patrick DeLeon, Alonso Bocanegra Martinez, Marcela Silva and Benjamin Ross

Outstanding Effects Simulations in a Photoreal Feature

Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker

Don Wong, Thibault Gauriau, Goncalo Cababca and Francois-Maxence Desplanques

Outstanding Effects Simulations in an Animated Feature

Frozen 2

Erin V. Ramos, Scott Townsend, Thomas Wickes and Rattanin Sirinaruemarn

Outstanding Effects Simulations in an Episode, Commercial, or Real-Time Project

Stranger Things: Melting Tom/Bruce

Nathan Arbuckle, Christian Gaumond, James Dong and Aleksandr Starkov

Outstanding Virtual Cinematography in a CG Project

The Lion King

Robert Legato, Caleb Deschanel, Ben Grossmann and AJ Sciutto

Outstanding Visual Effects in a Real-Time Project


Janne Pulkkinen, Elmeri Raitanen, Matti Hämäläinen and James Tottman

Outstanding Model in a Photoreal or Animated Project

The Mandalorian: The Sin; The Razorcrest

Doug Chiang, Jay Machado, John Goodson and Landis Fields IV

Outstanding Visual Effects in a Student Project

The Beauty

Marc Angele, Aleksandra Todorovic, Pascal Schelbli, Noel Winzen

Outstanding Compositing in a Feature

The Irishman

Nelson Sepulveda, Vincent Papaix, Benjamin O'Brien and Christopher Doerhoff

Outstanding Compositing in an Episode

Game of Thrones: The Long Night; Dragon Ground Battle

Mark Richardson, Darren Christie, Nathan Abbott and Owen Longstaff

Outstanding Compositing in a Commercial

Hennessy: The Seven Worlds

Rod Norman, Guillaume Weiss, Alexander Kulikov and Alessandro Granella

Outstanding Special (Practical) Effects in a Photoreal or Animated Project

The Dark Crystal: The Age of Resistance: She Knows All the Secrets

Sean Mathiesen, Jon Savage, Toby Froud and Phil Harvey

Outstanding Visual Effects in a Special Venue Project

Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance

Jason Bayever, Patrick Kearney, Carol Norton and Bill George

The Visual Effects Society is a professional global honorary society dedicated to advancing the arts, sciences and applications of visual effects and to upholding the highest standards and procedures for the visual effects profession. It is the entertainment industry's only official organization representing the extended global community of visual effects practitioners, including supervisors, artists, producers, technology developers, educators and studio executives.  VES’ more than 4,000 members in over 40 countries worldwide contribute to all areas of entertainment – film, television, commercials, animation, music videos, games, new media and special venues.  

Source: Visual Effects Society

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Dan Sarto is Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of Animation World Network.