The shortlisted films that didn’t receive nominations this year included “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness,” “Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore” and “Jurassic World: Dominion,” all flashy VFX flicks that fell short in favor of films with subtler effects (“All Quiet on the Western Front”) and directors who wanted to shoot as much as possible live on set rather than construct it in a virtual setting. Still, you can hardly call that a trend when the category also includes “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” and especially “Avatar: The Way of Water,” the latter a new standard in virtual filmmaking. As usual, of course, this is one of the categories with the highest average gross. 

Frank Petzold, Viktor Müller, Markus Frank and Kamil Jafar

Layer upon layer of detail, from vehicles to smoke and fog to explosions to severed limbs, were added to the huge battle scenes by the visual effects team. A big priority was not to call attention to the effects, so that the audience could keep their focus on the actors.

Richard Baneham, Joe Letteri, Eric Saindon, Daniel Barrett

More than a decade after winning this award for the first “Avatar,” James Cameron’s team used years of advancements to improve every aspect of the film, particularly facial performances. “This is coming from Jim’s desire to treat the digital world and the real world the same,” said Weta FX director and 12-time nominee Joe Letteri. “He wanted to use the camera like a real camera, see his actors, see the lighting, art-direct the shots, move sets and dressing around.”

Anders Langlands, Dan Lemmon, Russell Earl, Dominic Tuohy

Visual effects for “The Batman” were based around director Matt Reeves’ desire to shoot as much as possible in real life, including the enormous Batmobile chase. “Matt is very particular about things feeling grounded and believable,” said Anders Langlands. After the chase was filmed, the VFX team sped the cars up, moved them closer together, added rain and mimicked the lens flares created by cinematographer Greig Fraser.

Geoffrey Baumann, Craig Hammack, Dan Sudick, R. Christopher White

“Wakanda Forever” took the “Black Panther” franchise into new environments, including the deep undersea kingdom of Talokan. “We wanted it to look realistic, but we also had to have creative control to increase visibility or have certain colors come through, even though they’re quickly absorbed underwater,” said Weta FX’s R. Christopher White.

Ryan Tudhope, Seth Hill, Bryan Litson, Scott R. Fisher

For months, the narrative around “Top Gun: Maverick” was that the aerial footage was real. But by the time of the Academy’s visual-effects bakeoff in January, the filmmakers were admitting that the movie contained more than 2,000 VFX shots in which the effects team stitched together and spiced up the action with explosions, missiles, jets and enhanced environments.

Steve’s Perspective

Yes, there’s an 800-pound gorilla in this category, or maybe a $2 billion gorilla. It’d be hard to imagine “Avatar: The Way of Water” not winning, except that voters in the category have sometimes shown a tendency to go for lower-profile effects (“Ex Machina” over “The Martian” and “The Force Awakens”). That could conceivably help “All Quiet” or “Top Gun” — though “Avatar” is clearly the one to beat here.