The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has recognized the achievements of motion picture VFX artists since 1928, in the form of the annual Academy Award for Best Visual Effects. The name of the award has changed several times over the years, but the intent has always been the same: to honor outstanding achievement in the field of visual effects.
Below is a list of the award recipients from 1977-2012, courtesy of Wikipedia (click here for the for full list, beginning in 1928).
If I'm not missing something (and please, correct me if I'm wrong), in the 84 years of the award's existence, not a single woman has even been nominated for an award.
Do women not excel in the field of visual effects? Are they serving as underlings and therefore being overlooked for awards? Are they grossly underrepresented in the field? Or are they simply failing to be recognized for their work...
What do you think?
Academy Award for Best Visual Effects - Historical Nomination and Recipient List
|1977 (50th)||Close Encounters of the Third Kind||Roy Arbogast, Douglas Trumbull, Matthew Yuricich, Gregory Jein and Richard Yuricich|
|Star Wars||John Stears, John Dykstra, Richard Edlund, Grant McCune and Robert Blalack|
|1978 (51st)||Superman (Special Achievement Award)||Les Bowie, Colin Chilvers, Denys Coop, Roy Field, Derek Meddings and Zoran Perisic|
|1979 (52nd)||Alien||H. R. Giger, Carlo Rambaldi, Brian Johnson, Nick Allder and Denys Ayling|
|The Black Hole||Peter Ellenshaw, Art Cruickshank, Eustace Lycett, Danny Lee, Harrison Ellenshaw and Joe Hale|
|Moonraker||Derek Meddings, Paul Wilson and John Evans|
|1941||William A. Fraker, A.D. Flowers and Gregory Jein|
|Star Trek: The Motion Picture||Douglas Trumbull, John Dykstra, Richard Yuricich, Robert Swarthe, Dave Stewart and Grant McCune|
|1980 (53rd)||The Empire Strikes Back (Special Achievement Award)||Brian Johnson, Richard Edlund, Dennis Muren and Bruce Nicholson|
|1981 (54th)||Dragonslayer||Dennis Muren, Phil Tippett, Ken Ralston and Brian Johnson|
|Raiders of the Lost Ark||Richard Edlund, Kit West, Bruce Nicholson and Joe Johnston|
|1982 (55th)||Blade Runner||Douglas Trumbull, Richard Yuricich and David Dryer|
|E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial||Carlo Rambaldi, Dennis Muren and Kenneth F. Smith|
|Poltergeist||Richard Edlund, Michael Wood and Bruce Nicholson|
|1983 (56th)||Return of the Jedi (Special Achievement Award)||Richard Edlund, Dennis Muren, Ken Ralston and Phil Tippett|
|1984 (57th)||Ghostbusters||Richard Edlund, John Bruno, Mark Vargo and Chuck Gaspar|
|Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom||Dennis Muren, Michael McAlister, Lorne Peterson and George Gibbs|
|2010||Richard Edlund, Neil Krepela, George Jenson and Mark Stetson|
|1985 (58th)||Cocoon||Ken Ralston, Ralph McQuarrie, Scott Farrar and David Berry|
|Return to Oz||Will Vinton, Ian Wingrove, Zoran Perisic and Michael Lloyd|
|Young Sherlock Holmes||Dennis Muren, Kit West, John Ellis and David W. Allen|
|1986 (59th)||Aliens||Robert Skotak, Stan Winston, John Richardson and Suzanne Benson|
|Little Shop of Horrors||Lyle Conway, Bran Ferren and Martin Gutterbridge|
|Poltergeist II: The Other Side||Richard Edlund, John Bruno, Garry Waller and William Neil|
|1987 (60th)||Innerspace||Dennis Muren, William George, Harley Jessup and Kenneth F. Smith|
|Predator||Joel Hynek, Robert M. Greenberg, Richard Greenberg and Stan Winston|
|1988 (61st)||Die Hard||Richard Edlund, Al DiSarro, Brent Boates and Thaine Morris|
|Who Framed Roger Rabbit||Ken Ralston, Richard Williams, Edward Jones and George Gibbs|
|Willow||Dennis Muren, Michael McAlister, Phil Tippett and Chris Evans|
|1989 (62nd)||The Abyss||John Bruno, Dennis Muren, Hoyt Yeatman and Dennis Skotak|
|The Adventures of Baron Munchausen||Richard Conway and Kent Houston|
|Back to the Future Part II||Ken Ralston, Michael Lantieri, John Bell and Steve Gawley|
|1990 (63rd)||Total Recall (Special Achievement Award)||Eric Brevig, Rob Bottin, Tim McGovern and Alex Funke|
|1991 (64th)||Backdraft||Mikael Salomon, Allen Hall, Clay Pinney and Scott Farrar|
|Hook||Eric Brevig, Harley Jessup, Mark Sullivan and Michael Lantieri|
|Terminator 2: Judgment Day||Dennis Muren, Stan Winston, Gene Warren, Jr. and Robert Skotak|
|1992 (65th)||Alien 3||Richard Edlund, Alec Gillis, Tom Woodruff, Jr. and George Gibbs|
|Batman Returns||Michael Fink, Craig Barron, John Bruno and Dennis Skotak|
|Death Becomes Her||Ken Ralston, Doug Chiang, Doug Smythe and Tom Woodruff, Jr.|
|1993 (66th)||Cliffhanger||Neil Krepela, John Richardson, John Bruno and Pamela Easley|
|Jurassic Park||Dennis Muren, Stan Winston, Phil Tippett and Michael Lantieri|
|The Nightmare Before Christmas||Pete Kozachik, Eric Leighton, Ariel Velasco Shaw and Gordon Baker|
|1994 (67th)||Forrest Gump||Ken Ralston, George Murphy, Stephen Rosenbaum and Allen Hall|
|The Mask||Scott Squires, Steve Williams, Tom Bertino and Jon Farhat|
|True Lies||John Bruno, Thomas L. Fisher, Jacques Stroweis and Patrick McClung|
|1995 (68th)||Apollo 13||Robert Legato, Michael Kanfer, Leslie Ekker and Matt Sweeney|
|Babe||Scott E. Anderson, Charles Gibson, Neal Scanlan and John Cox|
|1996 (69th)||Dragonheart||Scott Squires, Phil Tippett, James Straus and Kit West|
|Independence Day||Volker Engel, Douglas Smith, Clay Pinney and Joseph Viskocil|
|Twister||Stefen Fangmeier, John Frazier, Habib Zargarpour and Henry La Bounta|
|1997 (70th)||The Lost World: Jurassic Park||Dennis Muren, Stan Winston, Randal M. Dutra and Michael Lantieri|
|Starship Troopers||Phil Tippett, Scott E. Anderson, Alec Gillis and John Richardson|
|Titanic||Robert Legato, Mark Lasoff, Thomas L. Fisher and Michael Kanfer|
|1998 (71st)||Armageddon||Richard R. Hoover, Patrick McClung and John Frazier|
|Mighty Joe Young||Rick Baker, Hoyt Yeatman, Allen Hall and Jim Mitchell|
|What Dreams May Come||Joel Hynek, Nicholas Brooks, Stuart Robertson and Kevin Mack|
|1999 (72nd)||The Matrix||John Gaeta, Janek Sirrs, Steve Courtley and Jon Thum|
|Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace||John Knoll, Dennis Muren, Scott Squires and Rob Coleman|
|Stuart Little||John Dykstra, Jerome Chen, Henry F. Anderson III and Eric Allard|
|2000 (73rd)||Gladiator||John Nelson, Neil Corbould, Tim Burke and Stan Parks|
|Hollow Man||Scott E. Anderson, Craig Hayes, Scott Stokdyk and Stan Parks|
|The Perfect Storm||Stefen Fangmeier, Habib Zargarpour, John Frazier and Walt Conti|
|2001 (74th)||A.I. Artificial Intelligence||Dennis Muren, Scott Farrar, Stan Winston and Michael Lantieri|
|The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring||Jim Rygiel, Randall William Cook, Richard Taylor and Mark Stetson|
|Pearl Harbor||Eric Brevig, John Frazier, Ed Hirsh and Ben Snow|
|2002 (75th)||The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers||Jim Rygiel, Joe Letteri, Randall William Cook and Alex Funke|
|Spider-Man||John Dykstra, Scott Stokdyk, Anthony LaMolinara and John Frazier|
|Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones||Rob Coleman, Pablo Helman, John Knoll and Ben Snow|
|2003 (76th)||The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King||Jim Rygiel, Joe Letteri, Randall William Cook and Alex Funke|
|Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World||Dan Sudick, Stefen Fangmeier, Nathan McGuinness and Robert Stromberg|
|Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl||John Knoll, Hal Hickel, Charles Gibson and Terry Frazee|
|2004 (77th)||Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban||Roger Guyett, Tim Burke, John Richardson and William George|
|I, Robot||John Nelson, Andrew R. Jones, Erik Nash and Joe Letteri|
|Spider-Man 2||John Dykstra, Scott Stokdyk, Anthony LaMolinara and John Frazier|
|2005 (78th)||The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe||Dean Wright, Bill Westenhofer, Jim Berney and Scott Farrar|
|King Kong||Joe Letteri, Brian Van't Hul, Christian Rivers and Richard Taylor|
|War of the Worlds||Dennis Muren, Pablo Helman, Randal M. Dutra and Daniel Sudick|
|2006 (79th)||Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest||John Knoll, Hal Hickel, Charles Gibson and Allen Hall|
|Poseidon||Boyd Shermis, Kim Libreri, Chas Jarrett and John Frazier|
|Superman Returns||Mark Stetson, Neil Corbould, Richard R. Hoover and Jon Thum|
|2007 (80th)||The Golden Compass||Michael Fink, Bill Westenhofer, Ben Morris and Trevor Wood|
|Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End||John Knoll, Hal Hickel, Charles Gibson and John Frazier|
|Transformers||Scott Farrar, Scott Benza, Russell Earl and John Frazier|
|2008 (81st)||The Curious Case of Benjamin Button||Eric Barba, Steve Preeg, Burt Dalton and Craig Barron|
|The Dark Knight||Nick Davis, Chris Corbould, Tim Webber and Paul Franklin|
|Iron Man||John Nelson, Ben Snow, Dan Sudick and Shane Mahan|
|2009 (82nd)||Avatar||Joe Letteri, Stephen Rosenbaum, Richard Baneham and Andrew R. Jones|
|District 9||Dan Kaufman, Peter Muyzers, Robert Habros and Matt Aitken|
|Star Trek||Roger Guyett, Russell Earl, Paul Kavanagh and Burt Dalton|
|2010 (83rd)||Inception||Paul Franklin, Chris Corbould, Andrew Lockley and Peter Bebb|
|Alice in Wonderland||Ken Ralston, David Schaub, Carey Villegas and Sean Phillips|
|Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1||Tim Burke, John Richardson, Christian Manz and Nicolas Aithadi|
|Hereafter||Michael Owens, Bryan Grill, Stephan Trojanski and Joe Farrell|
|Iron Man 2||Janek Sirrs, Ben Snow, Ged Wright and Daniel Sudick|
|2011 (84th)||Hugo||Rob Legato, Joss Williams, Ben Grossmann and Alex Henning|
|Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2||Tim Burke, David Vickery, Greg Butler and John Richardson|
|Real Steel||Erik Nash, John Rosengrant, Danny Gordon Taylor and Swen Gillberg|
|Rise of the Planet of the Apes||Joe Letteri, Dan Lemmon, R. Christopher White and Daniel Barrett|
|Transformers: Dark of the Moon||Scott Farrar, Scott Benza, Matthew E. Butler and John Frazier|
Note: Portions of this posting have been pulled from Wikipedia. The full text is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.
Terrific article. It starts with drawing attention to the topic. I'm sure the boys enjoy sharing their office space with girls, but by the end of the next decade, it'd be awesome to see a girl at least nominated, for sure. Thanks for making this article. Well done. Laura
I think it's important to understand not too many women wanted to work in visual effects. When I started years ago there were a few women in vfx production offices and possibly one or two in a model shop. These days there are a lot more women involved (although it's still much less than 50%). When I started and was looking for a job Disney actually told me I couldn't do ink and paint work because they only hired women to do those jobs. I'm sure there might have been some prejudice from some people but in all the years working at companies or running a company I didn't see discrimination based on gender or race. Running a company pre-digital meant that almost every resume was from a man. We had a woman camera person working on a project but it was rare to find that.
So what you're seeing reflected in the list isn't a 'boy's club', it's simply the people who at that point wanted to do visual effects and who were in it long enough to advance.
Thanks for sharing your insight, Scott.
This list is definitely a reflection of the fact that, historically, a disproportionate number of women have been interested in visual effects as a career. However, I also believe that VFX is one of many "technical" fields that have repelled women in the past because social norms led them to believe that technical work was probably not something a women would enjoy or be particularly good at.
Consider the fact that certain aspects of the visual effects process (such as ink and paint) were defined as "women's work" and set aside for females. Drawing that line is, to me, an indication that other areas of visual effects were generally understood to be work best performed by men.
I don't believe that studios excluded women on the basis of gender, but rather that the perception of the field of VFX as male-dominated is both historically true and self-fulfilling.
The past aside, you're right about women becoming much more involved these days -- things are definitely changing (which is great).
Kristy, it is a pleasure to know you (online). Well said.
Thanks for that. :-)
Just to be the Devil's Advocate here but perhaps there are just more more male VFX artists, perhaps not currently studying or starting out because I know a lot of female VFX artists but most of them are younger and I would say that most of these awards are given to guys who have extensive careers in VFX and since until recently most people see it as a pretty nerdy field, perhaps women are only just now coming up to the level where they might be nominated.
Surely it's only a matter of time...
From my personal experience, I would say that about 1 in 4 of the vfx people I know are female.
I did get the impression it's a bit of a boy's club, today there really isn't an excuse.
You have a point, Scott. It seems to me that the only real form of resistance is the underlying but annoyingly pervasive idea that it's novel for a woman to work in VFX (in a role other than producer). It's a bit like the old riddle:
A father and son have a car accident and are both badly hurt. They are taken to separate hospitals. When the boy is wheeled in for an operation, the surgeon says 'I can't operate on this boy- he is my son!'. How is this possible?
While the perception that VFX is a "man's job" may not make a woman applicant a less viable candidate in they eyes of the hiring managers, or exclude her from the hiring process altogether, she may seem (to some, on a subconscious level) to be a less natural fit for the job.
The real damage inflicted by this perception lands on young girls who doubt their own interest in such things from a very young age.
On a (somewhat) related note, in 1986 I asked for a lightsaber for Christmas... and got a Strawberry Shortcake doll.
Kristy, great article! I completely agree with you that there is an unfair balance. Over the past 16 years I have been in the VFX field I have had the pleasure of working with many women in the creative arena from web designers to graphic designers all the way to photographers and producers. However, I have yet to work with in collaboration or for that matter as colleagues with any other females that are into VFX / motion design. It's tremendously disappointing. I wish that that high schools could adopt a program similar to the one that promotes girls to engage in the sciences and technology fields. That type of starter program would greatly benefit our industry. Thank you for shining light on this subject.
Thanks, Erik. Educational programs encouraging girls to participate in the field would be fantastic. Of course...job stability is also a concern. I don't know how I'd feel about urging hordes of students (of any gender) to commit to the uncertain world of VFX.
The wild price fluctuations in the VFX market can't go on forever. Region-of-the-moment schemes are bankrupting small studios that are forced to chase subsidies, not to mention the hardworking artists trailing behind them who end up losing their jobs anyway. Meanwhile, a few lucky houses (ahem....Digital Domain) are having money fights with the millions lavished on them by foreign countries looking for their share of the market. It's madness.