During the Oscars, James Corden and Rebel Wilson coasted onto the stage in feline regalia to hand out the award for Best Visual Effects, purring this derogatory opening line: “As cast members of the motion picture Cats, nobody more than us understands the importance of good visual effects.” But not everybody was laughing.
In a statement released Monday, the Visual Effects Society condemned the Academy Award’s producers for including the line (delivered by Wilson) that seemed to mock the VFX artists behind Tom Hooper’s so-bad-it’s-genius Cats. The statement criticised the Academy for making VFX “the butt of the joke” and suggested that there’s no way a movie like that could’ve been saved…even with the greatest special effects in the world.
“On a night that is all about honouring the work of talented artists, it is immensely disappointing that The Academy made visual effects the butt of a joke,” the statement said. “The producers chose to make visual effects the punchline, and suggested that bad VFX were to blame for the poor performance of the movie Cats. The best visual effects in the world will not compensate for a story told badly.”
It was admittedly a tasteless joke. One that not only mocked the VFX industry as some of its artists were about to receive an award but conveniently managed to overlook Hooper’s bad direction and the dumber-than-life performances in the film, most notably Wilson’s and Corden’s. Mill Film was the team behind Cats, which also worked on many of the Harry Potter films. They got some last-minute help from the Sonic the Hedgehog studio MPC Vancouver (which was shuttered shortly after).
As we saw last year with Sonic the Hedgehog, where MPC Vancouver had to go back to the drawing board to recreate the character, the VFX industry can be brutal, rivaling the video game industry for how it overworks its artists. One former MPC Vancouver employee shared that he was working 80 hours a week at one point to get Cats ready in time.
However, the Visual Effects Society is also kinda overreaching. Cats was beautifully horrible for many reasons, one of the biggest being the special effects. Hell, they had to do a movie patch because some of the effects weren’t even finished upon release! That’s not what I call an industry “best.” But still, it’s unfair for the Academy (through Wilson and Corden) to dump it on the VFX instead of, you know, the whole damn creation. Bustopher Jones (Corden) was not only jumping into trashcans of garbage but metaphorical trashcans of movie failure. The visual effects were inside one of them, but there was plenty of other garbage to go around.
Parasite took home four awards during the Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Director. Joaquin Phoenix won Best Actor for his portrayal of the Joker. Cats, which wasn’t nominated for a dang thing at the Oscars but swept the Razzies nominations, is still playing in select cities with special rowdy or midnight screenings, because this movie will last forever. Macavityyyyyy!