"Pirates 2: Dead Man's Chest" was an amazing collaborative effort on behalf of ILM. Every single department was challenged to perform the finest work, and the final film really illustrates this.
Much has been made about the 12 year 'drought' for ILM between "Gump" and "Pirates 2," especially after consistently earning so many Oscars previous to "Gump" (14 out of 18, to be precise). No one was more cognizant of this 'drought' than ILMers, ourselves.
But just for perspective, I wanted to give props to the ILM productions that have been nominated (yet did not win) for the Academy Awards between 1994's "Forrest Gump" and 2006's "Pirates 2":
ILM's Academy Award Nominations between "Gump" and "Pirates 2":
- 1996, "Dragonheart" and "Twister"
- 1997, "The Lost World," and "Starship Troopers" *
- 1998, "Mighty Joe Young"
- 1999, "Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace"
- 2000, "The Perfect Storm"
- 2001, "Artificial Intelligence" and "Pearl Harbor"
- 2002, "Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones"
- 2003, "Master and Commander" and "Pirates of the Caribbean"
- 2004, "Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban"
- 2005, "The Chronicles of Narnia," "War of the Worlds"
Those are some amazing projects, with some crazy-good visual effects. Unfortunately, in almost every case, the film that won the Oscar was a much more enjoyable film, overall. Two great cases are 1996 and 2000, where "Independence Day" won the award over "Twister," and "Gladiator" beat out "The Perfect Storm." In each of those cases, the winners' visual effects, while being of very high quality, did not match the level of technical and aesthetic sophistication of the ILM nominees. However, the winners' films, themselves, are vastly superior to the losers' films.
I mean, "Twister" and "The Perfect Storm" are two truly awful films.
When it really comes down to it, the old adage is true. Visual effects are really only as good as the films they're in. You can't polish a piece of garbage movie with amazing visual effects, because in the end, it's still a piece of garbage.
And this is coming from a guy who worked on "Dungeons and Dragons." And "Van Helsing." And a lot of garbage in between.
link: VFX HQ - Academy Award Winners for visual effects