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The Forgotten Oscars 2011

By MICHAEL NEEL  |  February 28, 2011

Best Visual Effects: Scott Pilgrim vs. the World
Release Date: August 13

According to the Academy's rules, the Best Visual Effects Oscar is judged on the basis of: 1) consideration of the contribution the visual effects make to the overall production; and 2) the artistry, skill, and fidelity with which the visual illusions are achieved. Look at the winners since the creation of the award in 1964 — films like Star Wars, Cocoon, Babe, and Mary Poppins — and you'll notice a common thread. Each film's visual effects try to create a photorealistic illusion; they want to convince you that the aliens, talking animals, or flying nannies are real. Since 1964, a handful of films have pushed the art of illusion in unconventional directions, using visual effects to combine the real world with the fantastic and create an amalgam of the two. Who Framed Roger Rabbit (winner, 1988) and The Mask (nominated, 1994) are live-action cartoons — we're aware that we're watching something that is fabricated, but it casts a spell on us that's different from the conventional use of FX. These films are special, and were honored as such. Another such film came out in 2010, yet was ignored by the academy: Scott Pilgrim vs. the World.

>>READ: Phoenix review of Scott Pilgrim vs. the World<<

Scott Pilgrim is a true innovation in filmmaking — a movie where the characters exist in a video game world, play by video game rules, and can even score an extra life if they play well enough. It's Roger Rabbit with Zelda instead of Bugs Bunny. In the same way that Roger Rabbit mixes Bob Hoskins with hand-painted cartoons, Scott Pilgrim surrounds Michael Cera and Ellen Wong with graphics, props, and characters from 30 years of video games, everything from blocky, pixilated 8-bit Nintendo games from the '80s to slick, modern movement-based games like Dance Dance Revolution (which is re-imagined as "Ninja Ninja Revolution" -- frankly, that sounds like more fun). When Scott Pilgrim gets his extra life, it appears as an 8-bit icon next to his head, like something from Super Mario Brothers. It's not photorealistic at all, but it completely works. In the hands of a less imaginative filmmaker, the extra life would have been a million-dollar CGI creation that would probably be nominated for an Academy Award. I've never seen anything like Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, and in 10 years, people will be wondering why it didn't get the respect it deserves.

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  Topics: Features , Hollywood, Movies, Adam Green,  More more >
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