Oscars 2020: Fur flies over Cats visual effects jibe

Rebel Wilson and James Corden backstage at the OscarsImage copyright
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Rebel Wilson and James Corden backstage at the Oscars

The audience at the Oscars purred with delight when James Corden and Rebel Wilson turned up to present an award dressed as their characters in Cats.

Yet their catty jibe about the movie’s much-criticised visual effects left one party feline distinctly aggrieved.

In a statement released on Monday, the Visual Effects Society said it was “immensely disappointing that visual effects had been “the butt of a joke”.

The film musical received catastrophic reviews when it opened last year.

Tom Hooper’s adaptation of the Andrew Lloyd Webber show is also up for eight Golden Raspberrys, awards that celebrate the year’s worst films.

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Sunday’s ceremony saw Corden and Wilson present the Oscars for best visual effects while dressed as their characters Bustopher Jones and Jennyanydots.

“As cast members of the motion picture Cats, nobody more than us understands the importance of good visual effects,” they declared, before presenting the award to 1917.

Many critics found fault with the film’s effects, which were used to turn its starry cast into furry hybrids with both human and feline attributes.

Work on the film’s effects continued even after the film’s release, with updated prints of the film being sent to US cinemas after it had opened.

It followed reports that earlier prints had shown Dame Judi Dench’s character with a human hand – an oversight Corden and Wilson mirrored in their Oscar costumes.

Image Copyright @jenelleriley

Twitter post by @jenelleriley: This isn’t a joke  CATS was rushed into theaters before being finished so a new version is being sent to theaters with updated effects. How do you know if you have the old version? Look for Judi Dench’s human hand, wedding ring and all. Image Copyright @jenelleriley

In its statement, the Visual Effects Society (VES) said the duo’s skit had “suggested that bad VFX were to blame for the poor performance of the movie”.

“The best visual effects in the world will not compensate for a story told badly,” the society continued.

“Our artists, technicians and innovators deserve respect for their remarkable contributions… and should not be presented as the all-too-convenient scapegoat in service for a laugh.”

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the organisation behind the annual ceremony, has yet to respond.

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Neither Luke Perry (left) nor Orson Bean featured in the Oscars In Memoriam

Oscars organisers have also faced criticism in the wake of Sunday’s ceremony for omitting the late Luke Perry from its In Memoriam segment.

Perry, who died last March aged 52, made one of his last screen appearances in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, which won two Oscars on Sunday.

Perry’s Beverly Hills 90210 co-star Tori Spelling pointed out the omission on social media.

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Twitter post by @torispelling: Now two of the most creative and talented men I have ever known, loved, and lost have not been mentioned in the #oscars memoriam. First, my Dad Aaron Spelling who passed in 2006 and now my friend Luke Perry who passed in 2019. ?Image Copyright @torispelling

Other Twitter users described the omission from the tribute as “appalling”, “disrespectful” and “a huge mistake”.

Rene Auberjonois, Orson Bean, Robert Conrad and Cameron Boyce were among other late actors whose omission from the segment was remarked upon on social media.

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Twitter post by @IsntDaveOne: ??? They left out Robert Conrad and Orson Bean. #Oscars #InMemoriam #RIP Image Copyright @IsntDaveOne

A blunder from the past came back to haunt the Academy during Sunday’s ceremony, which drew the event’s lowest live TV audience to date.

The boo-boo in question was John Travolta’s notorious introduction of singer Idina Menzel in 2014 as “the one and only Adele Dazeem”.

While introducing Menzel on Sunday night, her Frozen co-star Josh Gad pointedly remarked that her name was “pronounced exactly how it is spelt”.

Comedian Utkarsh Ambudkar also referred to the gaffe during a re-cap rap in which he reminded “Mr Travolta” of his pronunciation aberration.

Menzel herself had got her own back long before, having introduced Travolta at the 2015 Oscars as “Glom Gazingo”.

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Adele Dazeem and Glom Gazingo at the 2015 Academy Awards

Another throwback came when Eminem appeared to perform his track Lose Yourself, which won best original song in 2003.

The rapper – real name Marshall Mathers – did not attend the Oscars that year so was not on hand to accept his Oscar from Barbra Streisand.

Speaking to Variety, Eminem said he thought it would be “kinda dope” to make a surprise appearance at the ceremony 17 years on.

“I kinda figured maybe since I didn’t get a chance to do it at the time, maybe it would be cool,” he told the trade paper.

Streisand herself got in on the action, telling Eminem via Twitter she had been “really looking forward to handing [him] the award”.

This year’s best song Oscar when to Elton John and Bernie Taupin for their Rocketman composition I’m Gonna Love Me Again.

That meant Diane Warren – up for the same award for her song I’m Standing With You – left the event empty-handed.

The US songwriter has yet to win the best song Oscar, despite being shortlisted 11 times for such songs as Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now and I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing.

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Diane Warren with Chrissy Metz (right), who sang I’m Standing With You on Sunday

Warren still has reason to celebrate though, having been named as one of the recipients of this year’s Polar Music Prize.

Sweden’s highest musical honour is awarded annually to both a pop performer and a classical artist.

Warren, who will receive her one million kronor (£80,600) prize alongside soprano Anna Netrebko in June, said she was “blown away” by the honour.

“Not bad for a former juvenile delinquent,” said the 63-year-old, who has written for Beyonce, Celine Dion and many other stars.

Sunday’s ceremony saw Renee Zellweger complete an awards season sweep by winning a best actress Oscar for Judy.

It followed a string of triumphs that included victories at the Bafta Film Awards, the Independent Spirit Awards, the Screen Actors Guild Awards and the Golden Globes.

The actress could be in line for even more glory at this year’s British LGBT Awards, where her portrayal of “gay icon” Judy Garland is up for “best media moment”.

Strictly Come Dancing’s first individual same-sex dance routine is also up for the award, one of several to be presented on 29 May.

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Sandy Powell gets signed by Brad Pitt (left) and Janelle Monae

Another woman who has been extremely busy this award season is the British costume designer Sandy Powell.

The three-time Oscar winner has spent the last fortnight persuading celebrities to sign a calico suit she plans to auction for charity.

Powell hopes to raise money for a campaign to buy Prospect Cottage, the Dungeness home where the film-maker Derek Jarman spent his final years.

“My idea was to get as many of the nominees as possible [to sign it],” Powell told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme earlier.

“People were really keen to do it – I even had people queuing up,” continued the designer, whose suit now boasts the autographs of Brad Pitt, Scarlett Johansson and many others.

British photographer Greg Williams was also kept occupied on Oscar night, taking candid snaps of the stars in their finery.

One of his pictures shows Oscar winner Joaquin Phoenix enjoying a vegan burger with partner Rooney Mara after the ceremony.

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Instagram post by gregwilliamsphotography: #joaquinphoenix who won the best actor Oscar tonight for his role in @jokermovie and #rooneymara tuck into their #montysveganburgers #vegan #farmsanctuary #gregwilliams #gregwilliamsphotography #LeicaQ2Image Copyright gregwilliamsphotography

Phoenix made an impassioned speech about animal rights as he collected his best actor Oscar for his performance in Joker.

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