‘Ex Machina’ Provides First Oscar Night Shocker, Winning Best Visual Effects

Indie April 2015 release tops big budget best picture nominees.

Original Screen Play Oscar Race
Courtesy of A24

The Oscars ceremony was looking unlikely to hold many, if any, surprises after the first handful of prizes were awarded. Then came the best visual effects category.

Ex Machina” triumphed in the field, the first truly shocking moment of the evening as it was not only up against bigger, more widely-seen films (“Mad Max: Fury Road,” “The Martian,” “The Revenant” and “Star Wars: The Force Awakens”), but that it won against the grain in a category that can be very political with allegiances to the major visual effects houses in the industry.

Not only that, Alex Garland’s film became the first non-best picture nominee in the category to win over best picture nominees since “Tora! Tora! Tora!” topped “Patton” 45 years ago.

“Ex Machina” was also nominated for best original screenplay. Alicia Vikander, one of the film’s stars, dominated the precursor supporting actress circuit for her work in the film, though she won the Oscar Sunday for her performance in another film, “The Danish Girl.” It also picked up a Producers Guild nomination earlier in the season.

It was screenwriter Alex Garland’s directing debut, after writing screenplays for “The Beach,” “28 Days Later,” “Never Let Me Go” and “Dredd.”