Since Cats was such a gigantic bomb, it was inevitable that the Oscars would make fun of the film at some point. Enter Cats stars James Corden and Rebel Wilson dressed as giant cats to present the award for Best Visual Effects. During their intro, they said, “As members of the motion picture Cats, no one more than us understands the importance of good visual effects.” Everyone in the theater had a good laugh.
Here’s the thing, the VFX in Cats are bad, but it’s not because the people working on them were bad at their job. Even if the VFX had been perfect (and I don’t know what that looks like for cat-human hybrids), the film is incompetently shot and edited. VFX houses are underpaid and overworked as they try to meet impossible deadlines for studios. Even Marvel movies have some bad VFX, but you just have to meet the release date no matter what. The problem with Cats wasn’t that the VFX houses were bad; we know for a fact that they were given limited time to where Universal had to send out a patched version of the movie with upgraded VFX. Cats was a suicide mission for VFX houses that all stemmed from a bad vision from director Tom Hooper. A good craftsman doesn’t blame his tools, but from all the celebrities laughing at the joke, there are a lot of people who see no problem in blaming the tools.
The Visual Effects Society issued this statement to the Oscars getting a cheap joke by denigrating a difficult profession:
Statement from the Visual Effects Society
Los Angeles (February 10, 2020)
The Visual Effects Society is focused on recognizing, advancing and honoring visual effects as an art form – and ensuring that the men and women working in VFX are properly valued.
Last night, in presenting the Academy Award for Outstanding Visual Effects, 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.
On a night that is all about honoring the work of talented artists, it is immensely disappointing that The Academy made visual effects the butt of a joke. It demeaned the global community of expert VFX practitioners doing outstanding, challenging and visually stunning work to achieve the filmmakers’ vision.
Our artists, technicians and innovators deserve respect for their remarkable contributions to filmed entertainment, and should not be presented as the all-too-convenient scapegoat in service for a laugh.
Moving forward, we hope that The Academy will properly honor the craft of visual effects – and all of the crafts, including cinematography and film editing – because we all deserve it.