“Avatar” garnered 11 Visual Effects Society Award nominations and its lead vfx studio, Weta Digital, grabbed nine, to lead the field for the eighth annual VES Awards.
James Cameron’s high-tech epic was nommed for the society’s top honor, outstanding visual effects in a vfx-driven motion picture, and grabbed two noms for visual effect of the year and three for created environment.
Avatar’s” dominance is no shock as it’s been a ground-breaker in several areas of vfx. It was a surprise, however, that “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen,” from Paramount and Industrial Light & Magic, received only one nom, in the top category.
Another vfx-laden tentpole also received just one nom: Warner’s “Watchmen.”
The surprise runner-up for total noms for a movie was Laika Animation’s stop-motion pic “Coraline.” The Focus release will vie with “9,” “Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs,” “Ice Age 3D” and “Up” in the animation in an animated feature category.
Industrial Light & Magic had six noms in total.
Among the pics in contention for this year’s vfx Oscar, “2012” and low-budget indie “District 9” grabbed three VES noms, “Star Trek” and “Terminator Salvation” have two, “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince” has one to go with the 11 for “Avatar” and one for “Transformers.”
On the TV side, “Battlestar Galactica,” “Defying Gravity,” “Fringe,” “Stargate Universe” and “V” contend for series honors.
Three skeins have two noms: “V,” “FlashForward” and “CSI.” ABC special “Disney’s Prep and Landing” also drew two.
Pepsi’s “Flight of the Penguin” spot took three noms, leading commercials. Among videogames, “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2,” “Fight Night Round 4,” “Need for Speed Shift” and “Uncharted 2: Among Thieves” were nommed for real-time visuals.
Among distribs, Fox took 15 noms, Sony’s various divisions have nine, followed by Warner Bros. with seven, Paramount and Focus with five apiece and Disney with three.
Cameron, who spoke the pic’s made-up Na’vi language from the stage at the Golden Globes, will have ample chance to teach the language to the VES, as he’s receiving lifetime achievement honors from the org this year.
The VES Awards will be presented Feb. 28 at the Century Plaza hotel in Los Angeles. Go to Variety.com/awardcentral for a complete list of nominees.