Best Visual Effects & Make-Up from Aliens to Gangsters + Surprise Best Actress Joan Allen

King Kong 2005 Best Visual Effects: 1st-rate production valuesKing Kong 2005: Will the reclusive giant ape allow his beloved blonde (Naomi Watts) to become a hungry tyrannosaur's next meal? Peter Jackson's remake of Merian C. Cooper and Ernest B. Schoedsack's 1933 classic isn't exactly a critical favorite; even so, the film boasts first-rate production values, including those in the special effects (both sound & visual) area. Hence it's no surprise that some of the members of King Kong's visual effects team(s) responsible for the reconstruction of 1930s New York City, a couple of T-Rexes, and Kong himself (“played” by Andy Serkis) have been shortlisted in four of the Visual Effects Society Awards' various “Best Visual Effects” categories.

Jumbo 'King Kong' & 'War of the Worlds' remakes + latest 'Star Wars' & 'Harry Potter' flicks among Best Visual Effects nominees

Peter Jackson's King Kong, an oversized remake of Merian C. Cooper and Ernest B. Schoedsack's 1933 classic starring Fay Wray; Steven Spielberg's bombastic horror sci-fier War of the Worlds, starring Tom Cruise and Dakota Fanning as post-alien-attack refugees; George Lucas' most recent entry in the seemingly never-ending Star Wars franchise, Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith; and Mike Newell's entry in the seemingly never-ending Harry Potter franchise, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire are four top contenders for the 2006 Visual Effects Society Awards in various “Best Visual Effects” categories.

Among the other big-screen titles also in the running for Best Visual Effects of some kind or other are Christopher Nolan's Batman Begins, starring Christian Bale as the latest Batman incarnation; North American critics' favorite animated feature, Nick Park and Steve Box's Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit; and another remake, Tim Burton's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, starring Johnny Depp as Willy Wonka, a role previously played by Gene Wilder in Mel Stuart's Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory back in 1971.

Best Visual Effects surprise: 'Memoirs of a Geisha'

The only real surprise among the Visual Effects Society's “Best Visual Effects” nominees is Rob Marshall's Memoirs of a Geisha, toplining Ziyi Zhang as the memoirist. The period drama boasts great production values, but it's not in any way a movie that relies on visual effects to tell its story. Admittedly, that's why it has been shortlisted in the Outstanding Supporting Visual Effects category.

Sam MendesJarhead, starring Jake Gyllenhaal as a U.S. Army sniper during the first U.S.-led Iraq War, and Ridley Scott's Kingdom of Heaven, starring Orlando Bloom as a highly fictionalized version of 12th-century crusader Balian of Ibelin, aren't “special effects movies” either. However, both flicks do rely on action sequences, which almost invariably means the use of special visual and sound effects. Hence, their nominations in the supporting “Best Visual Effects” category isn't all that surprising.

Update: See below the Visual Effects Society Awards' 2006 winners and nominees in the various motion picture categories. The Best Visual Effects picks were announced at the Hollywood Palladium in Los Angeles on Feb. 15.

Best Visual Effects in a Visual Effects Driven Motion Picture
The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch & the Wardrobe - Dean Wright, Randy Starr, Bill Westenhofer, Jim Berney.
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire - Jim Mitchell, Theresa Corrao, Tim Alexander, Tim Webber.
* King Kong - Eileen Moran, Joe Letteri, Christian Rivers, Eric Saindon.
Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith - John Knoll, Roger Guyett, Rob Coleman, Denise Ream.

Outstanding Supporting Visual Effects in a Motion Picture
Jarhead - Pablo Helman, Jeanie King, Grady Cofer, Brett Northcutt.
* Kingdom of Heaven - Wes Sewell, Victoria Alonso, Tom Wood, Gary Brozenich.
Memoirs of a Geisha - Robert Stromberg, Julia Frey, Paul Graff, Adam Watkins.

Best Single Visual Effect of the Year
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - “Nut Room” - Nick Davis, Nikki Penny, Jon Thum, Ben Morris.
Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith - “Opening Space Battle” - John Knoll, Jill Brooks, David Weitzberg, Jeff Sutherland.
* War of the Worlds - “Fleeing the Neighborhood” - Dennis Muren, Pablo Helman, Sandra Scott, Marshall Krasser.

Outstanding Animated Character in a Live Action Motion Picture
The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe - “Aslan” - Richie Baneham, Erik De Boer, Matt Logue, Joe Ksander.
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire - “Dragon” - Steve Rawlins, Eric Wong, Robert Weaver, Steve Nichols.
* King Kong - “Kong” - Andy Serkis, Atsushi Sato, Guy Williams, Eric Saindon.

Outstanding Animated Character in an Animated Motion Picture
Madagascar - “King Julian” - Rex Grignon, Denis Couchon.
Robots - “Fender” - Robin Williams, David Torres, Mark Piretti, Ben Williams.
* Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit - “Gromit” - Loyd Price.

Outstanding Created Environment in a Live Action Motion Picture
Batman Begins - “Gotham City Monorail Chase” - Alex Wuttke, Pete Bebb, Dayne Cowan, Imery Watson.
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire - “Black Lake Environment” - Andy Kind, Ivan Moran, Rob Allman, Justin Martin.
* King Kong - “New York Dawn Attack” - Dan Lemmon, R. Christopher White, Matt Aitken, Charles Tait.
Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith - Jonathan Harb, Hilmar Koch, Yanick Dusseault, Brett Northcutt.

Outstanding Models and Miniatures in a Motion Picture
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire - “Hogwarts School” - Jose Granell, Nigel Stone.
Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith - Brian Gernand, Pamela Choy, Ron Woodall, Kevin Reuter.
* War of the Worlds - Ed Hirsh, Steve Gawley, Joshua Ong, Russell Paul.

Outstanding Compositing in a Motion Picture
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire - “Voldemort's Nose” - Ben Shepherd, Uel Horman, Charley Henley, Nicolas Aithadi.
King Kong - “T-Rex Fight” - Erik Winquist, Michaell Pangrazio, Steve Cronin, Suzanne Jandu.
* War of the Worlds - Marshall Krasser, Michael Jamieson, Jeff Saltzman, Regan McGee.

George Méliès Award for Artistic Excellence: John Lasseter.

Visual Effects Society Board of Directors Award: Jim Morris.

War of the Worlds Best Visual Effects + Sound: Hardly great horror but impressive productionWar of the Worlds: Earth in peril. Steven Spielberg's alien invasion movie War of the Worlds may not be the greatest horror, sci-fi, or horror/sci-fi movie ever made, but most people who've seen it would likely agree that it does look and sound impressive. So no wonder this special effects fest is a favorite for various Best Visual Effects awards this season. Also unsurprising is the news that this latest movie version of H.G. Wells' 1897 classic novel The War of the Worlds (notice the added article) happens to be a potential contender for an Academy Award in the Best Sound Editing category.

Best Sound Editing Oscar contenders: From aliens to wizards

From Best Visual Effects to Best Sound Editing: the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has announced the list of seven semifinalists for the 2006 Academy Award in the Best Sound Editing category.

The list is a diverse one, ranging from Steven Spielberg's mind-numbingly loud War of the Worlds remake to, (again) somewhat surprisingly, Rob Marshall's Memoirs of a Geisha; from Peter Jackson's deafening King Kong remake to James Mangold's musical biopic Walk the Line, starring Joaquin Phoenix and Reese Witherspoon as, respectively, American folk/country singers Johnny Cash and June Carter.

Giant Ape & memoirist Geisha + Johnny Cash & June Carter

Still up for the 2006 Best Sound Editing Oscar are, in alphabetical order and with the director in parentheses:

  • The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (Andrew Adamson).
  • Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (Mike Newell).
  • King Kong (Peter Jackson).
  • Memoirs of a Geisha (Rob Marshall).
  • Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith (George Lucas).
  • Walk the Line (James Mangold).
  • War of the Worlds (Steven Spielberg).

Ten-minute clips from each of the seven films will be screened for the Academy's Sound Editing Award Committee on Jan. 24. Committee members will then vote to nominate three films for Oscar consideration.

The 2006 Oscar nominations will be announced on Jan. 31, at 5:30 a.m. PT. The Oscarcast will be held on Sunday, March 5, at the Kodak Theatre at Hollywood & Highland.

Best Make-Up Oscar contenders: From aliens to gangsters

From Best Visual Effects and Best Sound Editing to Best Make-Up: the Academy has also announced the titles of the seven films still in contention for the Best Make-Up Oscar.

Among the semifinalists are George Lucas' Star Wars prequel Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith; the period drama The Libertine, starring Johnny Depp; and Ron Howard's boxing drama Cinderella Man, starring Russell Crowe in the title role (not made up to look like Cinderella).

Less obvious Best Make-Up contenders are Stephen Frears' World War II-set “sex comedy” Mrs. Henderson Presents, which offers little sex or comedy, but features potential Best Actress Oscar nominee Judi Dench as the woman behind a risqué variety theater; and David Cronenberg's hard-hitting crime family drama A History of Violence, in which a scar-faced Ed Harris plays a deadly gangster.

'Narnia' & latest 'Star Wars' + Judi Dench 'sex comedy'

The seven movies in consideration for a Best Make-Up Oscar nomination are listed below in alphabetical order (once again, directors in parentheses):

  • The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (Andrew Adamson).
  • Cinderella Man (Ron Howard).
  • A History of Violence (David Cronenberg).
  • The Libertine (Laurence Dunmore).
  • Mrs. Henderson Presents (Stephen Frears).
  • The New World (Terrence Malick).
  • Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith (George Lucas).

Ten-minute clips from each of the seven films will be screened for the Academy's Make-Up Award Nominating Committee on Jan. 28. Only three of the seven films will end up getting a nomination.

And see below the list of this year's Chicago Film Critics Association Award winners, in addition to the Broadcast Film Critics Association's Critics' Choice Award winners and nominees, and a partial list of the Producers Guild of America Award winners and nominees.

See also: “British Academy Awards: Corruption & Racism + Doomed Gay Love & Jane Austen Top Nominations.”

Joan Allen The Upside of Anger: Best Actress for abandoned wife + mother who finds loveJoan Allen in The Upside of Anger. In Mike Binder's modestly budgeted romantic comedy-drama The Upside of Anger, Chicago Film Critics Best Actress winner and three-time Oscar nominee Joan Allen (as Best Supporting Actress for Nixon, 1995, and The Crucible, 1996; as Best Actress for The Contender, 2000) stars as a wife and mother whose husband has left home to set up house with his former secretary. She finds solace in the company of her good-looking, middle-aged neighbor (Kevin Costner), but then starts wondering whether their relationship is headed in the right direction. Also in the cast: Evan Rachel Wood and Keri Russell.

Chicago Film Critics winners

Best Film: Crash, dir.: Paul Haggis.

Best Foreign Language Film: Hidden, dir.: Michael Haneke.

Best Director: David Cronenberg, A History of Violence.

Best Actor: Philip Seymour Hoffman, Capote.

Best Actress: Joan Allen, The Upside of Anger.

Best Supporting Actor: Mickey Rourke, Sin City.

Best Supporting Actress: Maria Bello, A History of Violence.

Best Screenplay: Crash, Paul Haggis & Bobby Moresco.

Best Cinematography: Brokeback Mountain, Rodrigo Prieto.

Best Original Score: Brokeback Mountain, Gustavo Santaolalla.

Best Documentary: Grizzly Man, dir.: Werner Herzog.

Most Promising Performer: Miranda July, Me and You and Everyone We Know.

Most Promising Director: Bennett Miller, Capote.


Critics' Choice Awards: Winners & nominations

Best Film
* Brokeback Mountain.
Cinderella Man.
The Constant Gardener.
Good Night and Good Luck.
King Kong.
Memoirs of a Geisha.
Walk the Line.

Best Foreign Language Film
Caché / Hidden.
* Kung Fu Hustle.
Paradise Now.

Best Director
George Clooney - Good Night, and Good Luck.
Paul Haggis - Crash.
Ron Howard - Cinderella Man.
Peter Jackson - King Kong.
* Ang Lee - Brokeback Mountain.
Steven Spielberg - Munich.

Best Actress
Joan Allen - The Upside of Anger.
Judi Dench - Mrs. Henderson Presents.
Felicity Huffman - Transamerica.
Keira Knightley - Pride & Prejudice.
Charlize Theron - North Country.
* Reese Witherspoon - Walk the Line.

Best Actor
Russell Crowe - Cinderella Man.
* Philip Seymour Hoffman - Capote.
Terrence Howard - Hustle & Flow.
Heath Ledger - Brokeback Mountain.
Joaquin Phoenix - Walk the Line.
David Strathairn - Good Night, and Good Luck.

Best Supporting Actress (tie)
* Amy Adams - Junebug.
Maria Bello - A History of Violence.
Catherine Keener - Capote.
Frances McDormand - North Country.
Rachel Weisz - The Constant Gardener.
* Michelle Williams - Brokeback Mountain.

Best Supporting Actor
George Clooney - Syriana.
Kevin Costner - The Upside of Anger.
Matt Dillon - Crash.
* Paul Giamatti - Cinderella Man.
Jake Gyllenhaal - Brokeback Mountain.
Terrence Howard - Crash.

Best Acting Ensemble
* Crash.
Good Night, and Good Luck.
Sin City.

Best Writer
Noah Baumbach - The Squid and the Whale.
George Clooney, Grant Heslov - Good Night, and Good Luck.
Dan Futterman - Capote.
* Paul Haggis, Bobby Moresco - Crash.
Larry McMurtry, Diana Ossana - Brokeback Mountain.

Best Documentary Feature
Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room.
Grizzly Man.
Mad Hot Ballroom.
* March of the Penguins / La Marche de l'empereur.

Best Animated Feature
Chicken Little.
Corpse Bride.
Howl's Moving Castle.
* Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit.

Best Picture Made for Television
* Into the West.
No Direction Home.
Warm Springs.

Best Composer
James Horner - The New World.
Gustavo Santaolalla - Brokeback Mountain.
* John Williams - Memoirs of a Geisha.
Nancy Wilson - Elizabethtown.

Best Song
“A Love That Will Never Grow Old”, Emmylou Harris - Brokeback Mountain.
* “Hustle & Flow”, Terrence Howard - Hustle & Flow.
“Same In Any Language”, I Nine - Elizabethtown.
“Seasons of Love”, Tracie Thoms, Jesse L. Martin & Cast - Rent.
“Travelin' Thru”, Dolly Parton - Transamerica.

Best Young Actor
Jesse Eisenberg - The Squid and the Whale.
Axel Etel - Millions.
* Freddie Highmore - Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.
Owen Kline - The Squid and the Whale.
Daniel Radcliffe - Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.

Best Young Actress
Flora Cross - Bee Season.
* Dakota Fanning - War of the Worlds.
Georgie Henley - The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.
Q'Orianka Kilcher - The New World.
Emma Watson - Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.

Best Comedy Movie
* The 40-Year-Old Virgin.
Kiss Kiss Bang Bang.
Mrs. Henderson Presents.
The Producers: The Movie Musical.
Wedding Crashers.

Best Family Film (Live Action)
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.
* The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.
Dreamer: Inspired by a True Story.
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.

Best Soundtrack
Memoirs of a Geisha.
The Producers: The Movie Musical.
* Walk the Line.

Freedom Award: George Clooney (“for illuminating our shared values of freedom, tolerance, and democracy”).

Distinguished Achievement in Performing Arts: King Kong for its “revolutionary cinematic achievement in synthesizing visual effects with an actor's performance to create the character.” The award was given to actor Andy Serkis, animation director Christian Rivers, and animation supervisor Joe Letteri.

† The names next to the Best Song nominees are those of the songs' performers (though in some cases they may also have been the actual composers).


Producers Guild of America (PGA) Awards: Partial list of winners & nominees


Diana Ossana.
James Schamus.

Caroline Baron.
William Vince.
Michael Ohoven.

Paul Haggis.
Cathy Schulman.

Grant Heslov.

James Keach.
Cathy Konrad.



Randy Fullmer.

Mireille Soria.

Jerry Davis.
John C. Donkin.
William Joyce.

Tim Burton.
Allison Abbate.

Claire Jennings.
Nick Park.







Visual Effects Society website.

Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences website.

Image of Naomi Watts, T-Rex, and King Kong in Peter Jackson's Best Visual Effects contender King Kong: Universal Pictures.

Image from Steven Spielberg's Best Visual Effects and Best Sound Editing contender War of the Worlds: DreamWorks / Paramount Pictures.

Joan Allen The Upside of Anger image: New Line Cinema.

“Best Visual Effects & Make-Up from Aliens to Gangsters + Surprise Best Actress Joan Allen” last updated in August 2018.

Best Visual Effects & Make-Up from Aliens to Gangsters + Surprise Best Actress Joan Allen © 2004–2018 Alt Film Guide and/or author(s).
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