The Academy Award for Best Visual Effects is usually considered a minor one—but you might reconsider that notion after watching this video. Video essayist Nelson Carvajal, who last year cut together a video recap of all the Best Picture winners, and who has also done videos on everything from Kubrickian themes in There Will Be Blood to Al Pacino’s yelling, takes us through the achievements of the Best Visual Effects winners from Star Wars (whose 1977 win re-established the award in its modern form) to last year’s winner, Life of Pi.
What’s most striking to me is how often these movies have actually stood the test of time better than the winners of Best Picture. Though some grumps may dismiss spectacles like these as “just effects,” how many people today would take Kramer vs. Kramer over Alien, Ordinary People over The Empire Strikes Back, Chariots of Fire over Raiders of the Lost Ark, or Gandhi over E.T., as the Academy did? If American Hustle wins over Gravity, I can’t help but think that the Academy will be making that mistake once again.