Aquaman is a box office smash, ensuring that Jason Momoa's King of Atlantis has a franchise future in the DCEU, but that doesn't mean director James Wan is entirely happy with the film's reception in other areas.
Last month, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences released its shortlists for various categories at the 2019 Oscars, including Best Visual Effects. Ten films made the shortlist for the category, and as you might expect it's very heavy on genre. Marvel Studios was well-represented with Avengers: Infinity War, Black Panther, and Ant-Man and the Wasp all making the cut, and other contenders included Ready Player One, Mary Poppins Returns, and Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom. Though its vast undersea environments made it one of the most effects-heavy films of the year, Aquaman did not make the cut.
The shortlist announcement came just days before Aquaman's release, which Wan commemorated with a Facebook post thanking everyone in advance for going out to see the film. Among the commenters on that post was Aquaman's visual effects supervisor Kelvin McIlwain, who congratulated Wan on the film and expressed gratitude for having played a part in making it. A week later, Wan commented in responsed to McIlwain, blasting the Academy for leaving Aquaman off its VFX shortlist.
"Kelvin, you and your department are the unsung heroes of this film. The fact that your VFX peers in the Academy aren’t recognizing or appreciating what we/you’ve all contributed to the film and cinema is a f***ing disgrace."
There are a number of reasons why Aquaman could have been left off the VFX shortlist, including the sheer number of major effects-heavy blockbusters released in any given year now. Some of those films simply can't make the cut, and Aquaman was the last superhero film to hit theaters in 2018, so it may have simply been shrugged off by Academy members more focused on earlier releases in the subgenre that they'd had more time to study. Or, it could simply be that VFX artists didn't find the film to be up to snuff. Whatever the case, Wan — who recently pleaded with fans to be "respectful" over disagreements about the film — simply couldn't contain his passion for his VFX department this time.
The final nominees for the 2019 Academy Awards will be announced January 22.