Though technically stretching the definition of "live action," Disney's new "Jungle Book" film stars a real human boy as Mowgli and a whole bunch of computer generated talking animals that you probably wouldn't realize were not real if nobody told you.
"Ex Machina" won the Oscar for visual effects on a $15 million budget. I mean, come on.
We all know about "Avatar," the recently dethroned box office king which had CGI cat people and a CGI jungle that looked so real that some people got depressed because they would never actually be able to go there.
I found out that the tiger in "Life of Pi" was a computer creation after I watched the movie. I'm still not quite sure I believe it.
Obviously we all inherently knew that a child wearing an elderly version of Brad Pitt
's face in "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" was not a real thing. But good lord.
Director Peter Jackson
and actor Andy Serkis
revolutionized performance capture in film with Gollum in the latter two "Lord of the Rings" movies. Even more than a decade later Gollum is still one of the best digital performances we've seen.
It might look unremarkable now, but in 1999 and for several years after, that first time we saw "bullet time" in "The Matrix" was a shocking thing.
lent his talents to the role of Caesar (pictured) in the new "Planet of the Apes" series.
Another lowish-budget affair for something with this level of visual effects, "District 9" utilized a sort of digital prosthetic to create the prawn aliens rather than practical makeup.
The first two "Pirates of the Caribbean" sequels were covered in CGI, but no part of them was more impressive than Davey Jones and his crew.
Even today the dinos in "Jurassic Park" look pretty great. For 1993, they're mindshattering.
It's basically impossible to convincingly pull off a metallic silver look with computer effects, and "Terminator 2" didn't quite do it. But that film's T-1000 remains one of the best attempts we've seen even after 25 years.
"Minority Report" imagines a future that's coated in hologram ads and holocomputers you operate with gestures, and it's just seamless. For a movie that came out in 2002, that's a hell of an accomplishment.
The "Transformers" demonstrate just how much we take ridiculously good CGI for granted these days. It's fun to scoff at the dumbness and Michael Bay
's rather over-the-top sensibilities. But these robots still deserve praise for how shockingly awesome they look.
Dishonorable mention: Not all astonishing CGI is astonishing in the good way. Anakin surfing on the back of this shaak is one of those other ones that we can never forget no matter how hard we try.