One of the better moments during Sunday night’s Oscars telecast was that of presenters and “Cats” cast members James Corden and Rebel Wilson dressing up in cat costumes to present the Outstanding Visual Effects award.
Tom Hooper’s adaptation of the famed musical has become something of a punchline throughout the awards season, criticised on a number of levels for its downright oddness – the visual effects in particular (which famously underwent changes while the film was in cinemas) have come under heavy criticism in reviews.
So, as part of the presenter’s award show banter, Corden and Wilson joked that “nobody more than us understands the importance of good visual effects”. The line elicited big laughs and applause from the room.
One group not in on the joke though is Hollywood’s Visual Effects Society – a group of more than 4,000 artisans – has issued a press release speaking out against the telecast for making them the butt of a joke:
“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. The Visual Effects Society is focused on recognizing, advancing and honoring visual effects as an art form — and ensuring that the men and women working in VFX are properly valued.
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. Our artists, technicians and innovators deserve respect for their remarkable contributions to filmed entertainment, and should not be presented as the all-too-convenient scapegoat in service for a laugh.
Moving forward, we hope that The Academy will properly honor the craft of visual effects — and all of the crafts, including cinematography and film editing — because we all deserve it.”
Representatives for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences have issued no immediate comment on the matter. Various VFX artists from other productions have defended the work in “Cats,” calling it visionary but saying the audience doesn’t buy the film’s aesthetic which is entirely upon the director. Certainly the dancing cockroach kickline scene has proven something of a make or break moment for people.
After two months in release, the film itself has earned only $75 million at the worldwide box office.