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‘Godzilla Minus One’ earns historic win at the Oscars

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“Godzilla Minus One,” the latest installment in the long-running kaiju ("giant monster") franchise, took home best visual effects at the 96th Academy Awards on Sunday.

What it bested: The film, directed by Takashi Yamazaki, beat “The Creator,” “Napoleon,” “Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One” and Marvel’s “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3” in the category at the event held at Dolby Theater in Los Angeles.

Box office success: Following its Japanese release on Nov. 3, 2023, “Godzilla Minus One” has been a box office hit, earning approximately $106 million worldwide on a $15 million budget. With $56 million coming from the U.S. alone, it stands as the highest-grossing Japanese-language film ever released in the country.

Why it matters: This year marked the first time the "Godzilla" franchise received a nod and win at the Oscars since its big screen debut in 1954. This recognition is also historic as "Godzilla Minus One" reportedly became the first Japanese movie to ever receive an Oscar for best visual effects.

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Yamazaki, who also worked as the film's VFX supervisor, said the victory signified his inclusion in the shortlist of directors who have also won a VFX award at the Oscars. Stanley Kubrick, the VFX supervisor of the 1968 masterpiece “2001: A Space Odyssey,” is notably among them.

Meanwhile, visual effects director and producer Kiyoko Shibuya became the third woman to win an Oscar for VFX, following Suzanne M. Benson for 1986’s “Aliens” and Sara Bennett for 2014’s “Ex Machina.”

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What they're saying: Yamazaki was joined by Shibuya, computer graphics director Masaki Takahashi and visual artist Tatsuji Nojima on stage to receive the award. In his speech, Yamazaki noted how his career was inspired by “Star Wars” and “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” after seeing them about 40 years ago.

“To someone so far from Hollywood, even the possibility of standing on this stage seemed out of reach,” he said. “The moment we were nominated, we felt like Rocky Balboa welcomed into the ring as equals by our biggest rivals, which was already a miracle. But, here we stand.”

 

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