Blade Runner 2049 by Denis Villeneuve was a visual feast for a movie, and on Sunday night, he took home the Oscar for Achievement in Visual Effects. Visual effects supervisors John Nelson, Paul Lambert and Richard R. Hoover, in addition to special effects supervisor Gerd Nefzer, took the stage to accept the award.
The film was facing an important list of films, including Guardians of the Galaxy 2, Kong: Skull Island, Star Wars: The Last Jedi and War for the Planet of the Apes. The sequel to Blade Runner was nominated for five Academy Awards at night ceremonies, although they were completely in technical categories: in addition to visual effects, she was nominated for editing and mixing sound, production design and cinematography. The film lost those first three awards over the course of the night to Christopher Nolan's Dunkirk and Guillermo del Toro's The Shape of Water, respectively. At the time of the victory of the visual effects, the cinematography prize was still outstanding, although the film has been widely favored in the category, particularly because it would be the first victory for the legendary cinematographer Roger Deakins, who has been nominated in the category 13 previous times without winning.
Villeneuve had a difficult challenge ahead when he decided to direct the sequel to Ridley Scott's seminal classic. Blade Runner reached a legendary status not only among moviegoers, but as a cultural artifact. Creating a film that could live up to that legacy would always be difficult. As our review points out, ultimately, we feel that Blade Runner 2049 did not fully comply with the thematic promise of the original film, but it was undoubtedly one of the most beautiful films that have been made in recent years. The triumph of visual effects feels like an appropriate tribute, but if Deakins ends up taking home his first Oscar, then the film will really have won.