Academy Award for Best Visual Effects
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|Academy Award for Best Visual Effects|
|Presented by||Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences|
|Currently held by||Bill Westenhofer
Erik-Jan de Boer
Donald R. Elliott
Life of Pi (2012)
History of the award 
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences first recognized the technical contributions of special effects to movies at its inaugural dinner in 1928, presenting a plaque for "Best Engineering Effects" to the first Best Picture Oscar winner, the World War I flying drama Wings.
Producer David O. Selznick, then production head at RKO Studios, petitioned the Academy Board of Governors to recognize the work of animator Willis O'Brien for his groundbreaking work on 1933's King Kong.
But it was not until 1938 when a film was actually recognized for its effects work. A Special Achievement Award for Special Effects in the Paramount film Spawn of the North. The following year "Best Special Effects" became a recognized category, although on occasion the Academy has chosen to honor a single film outright rather than nominate two or more films.
From 1964 to 1971, the name of the category was Best Special Visual Effects. The name was since changed, in 1977, to Best Visual Effects.
Usually, there are three nominated films. In 1979, there were five films nominated. Sometimes, no award is given. Other times, a single film is given the award outright.
In 2007, it was decided that a list of no more than 15 eligible films would be chosen, from which a maximum of 7 would be chosen for further consideration. A vote would then proceed, with a maximum of three nominees. Since 2010, there are five nominees. No more than four people may be nominated for a single film.
According to the official Academy Award rules, the criteria are:
(a) consideration of the contribution the visual effects make to the overall production and
(b) the artistry, skill and fidelity with which the visual illusions are achieved.
Dennis Muren has the most nominations ever (with 15) and the most awards ever (with 8).
A number of filmmakers have had their movies honored for their achievements in visual effects; i.e., five films produced by George Pal, five by director/producer George Lucas, five by director James Cameron (who began his career in Hollywood as an effects technician), four by directors Steven Spielberg and Peter Jackson, and three by director Robert Zemeckis. Stanley Kubrick won his only Oscar ever, in this category, in 1969, for 2001: A Space Odyssey (The film's credits list four effects contributors, including Douglas Trumbull. However, according to the rules of the Academy in effect at the time, only three persons could be nominated for their work on a single film, which would have resulted in the omission of either Trumbull, Tom Howard, Con Pederson or Wally Veevers. Only Kubrick's name was submitted as a nominee in this category, resulting in his winning the award, which many consider a slight to the four men whose work contributed to the film's success.)
Early Awards for Special Effects 
- 1927-1928: Wings - Roy Pomeroy
"For outstanding achievement in creating special photographic and sound effects"
- 1938: Spawn of the North - Gordon Jennings, assisted by Jan Domela, Dev Jennings, Irmin Roberts and Art Smith; transparencies by Farciot Edouart, assisted by Loyal Griggs (Note: Award also given to sound effects artists as well)
Special Effects (Note: From 1939 to 1962, Visual Effects nominations were shared with Sound Effects nominations as a combined Special Effects category. Only visual effects artists are listed below unless specifically noted.)
- 1939: The Rains Came - E. H. Hansen
- 1940: The Thief of Bagdad - Lawrence Butler
- The Blue Bird - Fred Sersen
- Boom Town - A. Arnold Gillespie
- The Boys from Syracuse - John P. Fulton
- Dr. Cyclops - Farciot Edouart and Gordon Jennings
- Foreign Correspondent - Paul Eagler
- The Invisible Man Returns - John P. Fulton
- The Long Voyage Home - R.T. Layton and Ray Binger
- One Million B.C. - Roy Seawright
- Rebecca - Jack Cosgrove
- The Sea Hawk - Byron Haskin
- Swiss Family Robinson - Vernon L. Walker
- Typhoon - Farciot Edouart and Gordon Jennings
- Women in War - Howard Lydecker, William Bradford and Ellis J. Thackery
- 1941: I Wanted Wings - Farciot Edouart and Gordon Jennings
- 1942: Reap the Wild Wind - Farciot Edouart, Gordon Jennings and William L. Pereira
- The Black Swan - Fred Sersen
- Desperate Journey - Byron Haskin
- Flying Tigers - Howard Lydecker
- Invisible Agent - John P. Fulton
- The Jungle Book - Lawrence Butler
- Mrs. Miniver - A. Arnold Gillespie and Warren Newcombe
- The Navy Comes Through - Vernon L. Walker
- One of Our Aircraft is Missing - Ronald Neame
- Pride of the Yankees - Jack Cosgrove and Ray Binger
- 1943: Crash Dive - Fred Sersen
- 1944: Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo - A. Arnold Gillespie, Donald Jahraus and Warren Newcombe
- 1945: Wonder Man - John P. Fulton
- 1947: Green Dolphin Street - A. Arnold Gillespie and Warren Newcombe
- 1948: Portrait of Jennie - Paul Eagler, J. McMillan Johnson, Russell Shearman and Clarence Slifer
- 1951: When Worlds Collide - No nominees named
(When Worlds Collide was the sole nominee and won the award outright.)
- 1952: Plymouth Adventure - No nominees named
(Plymouth Adventure was the sole nominee and won the award outright.)
- 1953: The War of the Worlds - No nominees named
(War of the Worlds was the sole nominee and won the award outright.)
- 1954: 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea - No nominees named
- 1955: The Bridges at Toko-Ri - No nominees named
- 1956: The Ten Commandments - John P. Fulton
- 1957: The Enemy Below - Sound Effects by Walter Rossi (Note: Listed for reference only; this is not a Visual Effects award win.)
- 1959: Ben-Hur - Visual Effects by A. Arnold Gillespie and Robert MacDonald
- 1960: The Time Machine - Visual Effects by Gene Warren and Tim Baar
- 1961: The Guns of Navarone - Visual Effects by Bill Warrington
- 1962: The Longest Day - Visual Effects by Robert MacDonald
Visual Effects Awards 
The tables below display the Oscar nominees for Best Visual Effects. This does not include the recipients of the Special Achievement Awards. They are divided into sections based on the name changes and the winners are presented in bold text with a blue background.
Special Effects 
|1963 (36th)||The Birds||Ub Iwerks|
|Cleopatra||Emil Kosa, Jr.|