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It's that time of year again in the film world, with awards season closing out and film festivals gearing up (to see the SVA at Sundance 2020 preview, click here). Last week brought the news of the 2020 Academy Award nominations, and many of this year's top contenders, including movies competing for Best Picture and Best Animated Feature, had SVA talent behind the scenes.
Nominated for six Oscars, including Best Picture, the "anti-hate satire" Jojo Rabbit features the musical work of composer Michael Giacchino (BFA 1990 Film and Video), who already has two Oscar nominations—including a win for his work on Disney/Pixar's Up—to his name.
Alumnus Mark Ulano (BFA 1975 Film and Video), received two nominations in the same category, Sound Mixing, for his work on Quentin Tarantino's Once Upon a Time in Hollywood and interstellar space drama Ad Astra. Ulano previously won an Oscar for his work on Titanic, and has been nominated for the award four times to date.
A number of BFA Computer Art, Computer Animation and Visual Effects alumni and faculty worked on Ad Astra: lead compositor Yunsik Noh (faculty), VFX supervisor Eran Dinur (faculty), lead matte painting supervisor Nick Constandy (2014) and digital compositors Unggyu Choi (2016), Jasmine Carruthers (2016) and Mina Choe (2013). Many in this group did VFX work for other Oscar-nominated films as well. Noh, Dinur, Choe, Constandy and Carruthers served in key visual effects positions on the Harriet Tubman biopic Harriet, which won two nominations, as did additional BFA Computer Art, Computer Animation and Visual Effects alumni HaeDeun Woo (2018), Byeo Ri Kim (2018) and Ryan Rakes (2016). Noh, Dinur, Carruthers, Choe, Woo, Constandy and Choi also contributed effects to the black-and-white arthouse drama and Best Cinematography nominee The Lighthouse.
Many of the animated films nominated for Oscars this count SVA alumni on their crews. Rendering technical director Jessica P. Monteiro (BFA 2010 Computer Art, Computer Animation and Visual Effects), character animator MontaQue Ruffin (BFA 2013 Computer Art, Computer Animation and Visual Effects) and RenderMan software developer Andrew Bell (BFA 2000 Computer Art) all worked on Disney/Pixar's Toy Story 4.
How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World features the work of lighting artist Fatema Tarzi (BFA 2000 Computer Art). Four BFA Computer Art, Computer Animation and Visual Effects alumni worked on Disney's Frozen II: character artists Michael Altman (2014) Brett Taggart (2015), Cat McDonnell (2017) and effects animation apprentice Elana Lederman (2016).
As has become custom in recent years, a massive Marvel movie has again been nominated for some kind of technical feat. Avengers: Endgame will compete in the Best Achievement in Visual Effects category, and the movie features contributions from pre-visual and post-visual artist Shendy Wu (BFA 2012 Computer Art, Computer Animation and Visual Effects) and senior compositor in digital domain John Brennick (BFA 2004 Computer Art).
Martin Scorsese's The Irishman scored 10 Oscar nominations, one for Best Visual Effects, due in part to the efforts of Tom Szenher (BFA 2013 Computer Art), who served on the production as pipeline technical director for the facial capture team, which worked to de-age stars Joe Pesci, Al Pacino and Robert De Niro (whose father, the late painter Robert De Niro, Sr., taught at SVA). Additionally, alumnus Randall Emmett (BFA 1994 Film and Video) is one of The Irishman's producers.
Finally, MFA Social Documentary Film alumni Siyan Liu (2015), Lulu Men (2016) and Danni Wang (2015) respectively served as field producer, camera operator and translator on Best Documentary nominee American Factory.
Congratulations to all of those who contributed to this year's Academy Award-nominated films! This year's awards ceremony airs on ABC on Sunday, February 9, beginning at 8:00pm EST; for more information, visit oscar.go.com.