AWARDS

'The Time is Now' - Andy Serkis' 'Rise' Oscar Campaign Has Begun!

by
December 5, 2011
Source: SlashFilm, THR

Andy Serkis in Rise of the Planet of the Apes

The Time is Now, rise up my simian friends and revolt! We heard that this was coming, but were waiting to actually see something. Although I'm not sure if this is just fan-made or not, SlashFilm has posted "one of the many versions of the Oscar ad" that Fox has started running for Rise of the Planet of the Apes, supporting Andy Serkis, who played Caesar by way of performance capture, for Best Supporting Actor. I can tell you right now I am all for this, he was fantastic in the film, making it one of my favorites and I think he deserves to be recognized. But will all this make a difference? We'll have to see. Ads & more links below.

The original news came from THR last week, saying that Fox was going to begin an Oscar push for Andy Serkis, which was optimistic on their part, but potentially not enough to make a difference, though I'm hoping that's not the case. That's why these Oscar ads, like the two below (one from SlashFilm, other from Tumblr), stating "The Time is Now", hit the issue right on the head—saying that now is indeed the time to recognize a performance capture actor in his prime. But then there's the never-ending Uggie "dog Oscar" vs mocap debate, and if this gets in, what about Tintin, which Serkis is in anyway—the debate goes on and on.

Here's the first two Time Oscar ads. I'd love to see more and if we find any more, I'll be sure to post them.

The Time is Now - Andy Serkis for Oscar The Time is Now - Andy Serkis for Oscar

It's great to see a few ads like these so far, and I'd love to support this campaign, but I've been wondering when we'd see some real content. A few interviews have been hitting recently, including a great Q&A at Hollywood Reporter, where he says things like: "Acting is acting. Performance capture is a technology, not a genre; it's just another way of recording an actor's performance. It's very interesting being in two movies this year that are manifested completely differently but use the same process." Serkis also spoke to In Contention, reiterating, "I absolutely believe [that performance capture] should be a part of the acting category. At the end of the day, performance capture is a technology. It's not anything other than that."

If you want to see more, MTV has a glimpse at the mo-cap apes behind-the-scenes from the DVD/Blu-Ray, hitting shelves next week. There's also a great article on The Guardian posing the question, "Should Andy Serkis's monkey capture a mo-cap Oscar?" Here's one of his more effervescent sections on the possibility:

"I'm inclined to think that Fox and Serkis have a point here. But that doesn't mean I expect, or would even like to see, the actor on the best supporting nominees list when it's announced early next year. Here's why..."

"Apart from anything else, no one really knows how to quantify greatness in motion-captured acting yet, mostly because the number of films which have properly made use of the technology remains low. To put it bluntly: until we've seen bad motion-captured acting, it's going to be very difficult to say just how good the good stuff is. Serkis may have to accept that his career-defining performances will only truly be recognised as the technology becomes more commonplace, and awards bodies have a context within which to place his acting." -Sekis via The Guardian

That's some pretty honest criticism, but it's true. He also poses some more challenging questions, like "does that make it one of the year's best performances, or just one of 2011's most groundbreaking turns?" This is how hard it is for actors' to vote, is essentially what he's saying, and what it'll just be instantly ruled out before it has any chance, unfortunately. But there's still hope, which is why this campaign is underway! "If the performance is emotionally engaging and means something to an audience, then that is generated initially by the work of the actor," Serkis tells In Contention. "The enhancement of it in a film where the ownership, the authorship of the character originates from the actor, that's significantly different than an animated movie, where the authorship of the character really belongs to a much bigger group of people."

We'll keep supporting Serkis for Oscar (there's even @OscarForAndy) and hope enough Academy or SAG members take notice and give him a chance. I'm not sure if they'll listen to Fox's blunt "The Time is Now" messages, but we can only hope something sticks. I'm sure there will be plenty of debate/discussion about whether Serkis is even good enough to be nominated, or if this would/could ever happen, but I'm pulling for it. Why not, it would be great to see him nominated (and win) and I think he deserves it! What about you?

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  • GBR114
    About time. Andy for life
  • Jaja
     Sure andy did a great performance and put in the base for the animation of the apes, but lets not forget that every single shot featuring an ape has been hand animated/adjusted/refined and perfected with a lot of shots actually fully hand animated. I think you can't say he is responsible for the performance of ceasar since its actually a huge collaboration between andy and dozens of animators.
    • pipo
      You would be stunned how many actors are being "corrected" digitally nowadays...
    • Barry
      Some of the Ceasar shots were 100% keyframed from scratch.
  • Eli
    I see a "Best Motion Capture Performance" category in the future as the technology expands and permeates the industry. I completely agree with Serkis about the performance being "emotionally engaging" and that being the point of acting, but it's an entirely new and separate beast. Now suddenly a character is being literally built by a group of people, rather than just one. I know it could be argued that ANY actor's performance is a creation of a group of people when you factor in the director, the writer, the editor, etc. but I think it's still a completely different process that we don't quite know how to quantify yet. I'd be excited for him to get it, but it's really an Oscar that should be shared by him and his animators, and that's not really the same thing when you pit it against what someone like Michael Fassbender is doing.
    • Streamline24
      I think if they decided to add "Best Motion Capture Performance" category it would, presumably, include Video game Motion Capture. 
    • Anonymous
      great comment, @c7cf3468a3c89c1119bb58376ecd59cf:disqus, i agree with you immediately about Fassbender, but then i also remember Serkis in Sex & Drugs & Rock n Roll, as Gollum and in 'Longford' and i know the guy can seriously act. roles like Ceaser *are* a team effort - i like the idea of a group award - but much of the animators' art builds on the actor's performance, rather than being independent of it. it's a collaboration. compare Serkis' mo-cap roles to the likes of Sam Worthington's cg character in Avatar, and you *can* tell what an actor is bringing to the finished product. he's unlikely to win one, of course, but to be nominated would be recognition of his - and the whole team's - work in bringing great character(s) to life.
  • Incidentalb
    All the poor Animators who had to clean up the mocap, Its not really only his performance but but of the teams of animators that helped him get here.
    • Jaja
      exactly, and I can guarantee you they made 5 times as many hours as Andy did... and probably worked harder on the show then him. 
    • Fnord
      Yeah but it's 80% his performance
  • Nerdinger
    --plus the add is fake!
  • F. Harmdon
    Without doubt, Serkis' performance is fantastic. However the incredible, and often incredibly subtle, detail added on top of his performance in post by the VFX guys at Weta make up the final 20% of the character. MoCo is not a 'plug-n-play' solution any more than VFX only contributes technical enhancements. These are complimentary arts & sciences being used to astounding effect together. Though to quell any fears of Serkis walking away with an Oscar, and the VFX not being mentioned, I'm reasonably sure that RotPotA will win Best VFX as well, so really - no harm, no foul.
  • Lebowski
    More power to Andy Serkis, who is a fantastic actor, but does anyone seriously believe that those cadaverous old fucks at the academy will consider this for one moment? They took about three decades to catch up with the civil rights movement, so I predict we will see Andy Serkis' disembodied head accepting a lifetime achievement award for mo-cap in 2075. 
  • Jon
    "Until we've seen bad motion-captured acting, it's going to be very difficult to say just how good the good stuff is." A statement as ignorant as that is proof this discussion is nothing more than submission to Mr. Serkis' relentless self promotion in recent years. The examples of horrid mocap (Polar Express, Beowulf, and the majority of video game cinematics among them) are too numerous to count. There is no comparison between the wonderful performances by the teams responsible for Gollum, King Kong and Caesar, and the plug-and-play garbage present in the majority of mocap productions. If critics can't tell the difference, then what other reason can there be for this discussion even happening except that those critics are buying the hype?
  • happy camper
    the visual effects director should just give him the oscar trophy if he receives it this year. problem solved.
  • http://www.thepixelpuse.com Aj Meadows
    Now, in my opinion I think this guy should win a whole mess of awards, but I don't know if the Academy would ever let it happen. They may one day create a 'best motion capture performance' award, but I don't see them nominating a motion capture performance for 'best supporting'. I totally hope I'm wrong of course, but I just don't see it happening.
  • KHD
    Incidentalb: Eric Reynolds was nominated for an ANNIE award (http://www.annieawards.org/consideration.html) for his animation work on 'Rise (etc.)'. Because he's a friend of mine I have the same question only in reverse... will Serkis' performance blind voters to the amazing work that Eric did? How these two awards are judged will say a lot about how digital work in films is viewed going forward.
  • D. Ludwig
    "Best Supporting Actor"? Why not "Best Actor?" After all, he is the main character of the film.
  • Guest
    I would like to push you all towards a thread on this and even Andy Serkis reply which just goes to show how little he seems to know about what he's trying to get a nomination for. http://forums.cgsociety.org/showthread.php?f=2&t=1022650 I have a friend at work here who worked at Weta, and an estimated 10% of his performance made it into King Kong - the rest was down to the animators - If you saw the rough live screen stuff in the tintin making ofs then you know how much of Andy's performance is making it on screen - its like puppet stuff. So should Brad Pitt have been nominated for Benjamin Button? The guy can't get a proper role.
  • http://twitter.com/rocio_carvajalc Rocio Carvajal C.
    Andy is awesome, he really does deserve to be recognized as a true *and very talented* pioneer.
  • Anonymous
    while i don't think he should get any sort of best actor award i do think he deserves some sort of special recognition reward from the academy 
  • http://chimptrainersdaughter.blogspot.com/ Dawn
    When I think back on the movies I saw this year, Serkis' Caesar is the character who stays with me. And isn't that what makes a great performance? Yes, the entire team -- writer, directors, sound editors, costume designers and, in this case, animators -- are incredibly important to the success of an actor, but the soul of the character comes from the actor. The audience had a glimpse into Caesar's soul because Andy brought it to the role. Hollywood should recognize and reward talent like this, in whatever form it manifests in a film. Since Caesar was the focus of the movie, they need to nominate Andy Serkis for best actor. (But supporting actor is okay too.)
  • Voice of Reason
    Worked for Dinklage
  • VVS
    Why is it hard to quantify how great a motion capture performance is? You see the actor's eyes...and they shape the character with their body. Both of these things are quantifiable, albeit subjective
  • http://www.sobrietytestmoviereviews.com/ SoberFilmCritic
    I can't lie.  I never was a big fan of the Planet of the Apes series.  We didn't have the technology to make it enjoyable in the past.  The apes always looked fake, and I was pretty critical of that.  Even in the 2001 flick Planet of the Apes, the monkeys were just humans in ape costumes.  In Rise of the Planet of the Apes, the reboot to the well-known series, we finally have the technology to do what a film like this deserves.  We used apes to portray the apes.  Granted, they are digital apes created using motion-capture technology.  That being said, Rise of the Planet of the Apes is a fun, thrilling sci-fi film that is a great way to reboot this series.  For more of my thoughts on Rise of the Planet of the Apes, check out my review on Sobriety Test Movie Reviews at http://bit.ly/v9CImz
  • CookieMonster
    Ok. Let's have a look another way around, shall we? Show me one decent, not-mocap, performance in a leading role by Andy Serkis. I have a surprise for you, there isn't one. Burke and Harre was an unbearable film to watch... They should make a montage of Andy's raw mocap performance, I'm sure it would be Oscar worthy!;) Bazinga!
    • Anonymous
      i'd recommend broadening your Serkis exposure beyond the poor Burke & Hare. although his performances aren't *always* great, as mentioned above he was genuinely superb as Ian Dury in Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll and in 'Longford', and can also shine in smaller roles, like in The Prestige or in the BBCs 'Little Dorrit'. as against that, he's merely OK in Deathwatch and properly bad in The Cottage, but then most actors have good and bad roles, and you can't judge an actor's career on one performance. his body of good work far exceeds his bad.
  • Andypidge63
    All this talk about how much of the performance was really Serkis... What about all the stunt men, body doubles, stand-ins and digital touch-ups that regular actors rely on? No film actor can take 100% credit for a performance, but Serkis clearly brought Caesar to life, good luck to him!
  • cheap bras
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