There were a number of surprises at this year’s Oscars, including Bong Joon-ho’s Parasite’s end-of-the-night sweep that turned it into the first foreign-language film to win Best Picture. On a less celebratory note, Cats — the instantly infamous film version of the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical — got thrown under the bus by two of its stars. Dressed as their feline characters, James Corden and Rebel Wilson sauntered on stage to present the Visual Effects trophy, and made sure to get in a dig at their own film’s much-disliked (and incomplete) CGI.
The bit got laughs, at the ceremony and online. But one group did not find it funny. As per Deadline, the Visual Effects Society, which represents practitioners from all over the globe, issued a strongly worded statement, taking umbrage with Corden and Wilson’s joke.
“On a night that is all about honoring the work of talented artists, it is immensely disappointing that The Academy made visual effects the butt of a joke,” the statement read. “It demeaned the global community of expert VFX practitioners doing outstanding, challenging and visually stunning work to achieve the filmmakers’ vision.”
They also took issue with the way Corden and Wilson suggested the blame lie with the people who worked on the film’s f/x. They also suggested the blame lay with director Tom Hooper: “The best visual effects in the world will not compensate for a story told badly.”
At the Oscars, Corden told the crowd, “As castmembers of the motion picture Cats, nobody more than us understands the importance …” — then Wilson joined him to finish the line, “of good visual effects!”
Cats was infamously released without all of its effects finished. Hooper even had his team rush back to work, around the holidays, to fix a film that was already in theaters.