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10 Best VFX Movies of All Time

December 14, 2018
9 min read

The strongest sense a human being possess is sight. We remember what we see always. It is the primary key for getting something stuck on our minds. That is the main reason why movies or motion pictures gained so much prominence over the years since its inception. The people love to see some story unfold before their eyes and films provide just that. Several filmmakers rely on hitting the sweet visual spot of the audience with images that stick around in the memory forever. We, at the Cinemaholic, list out top movies with the top visual effects of all time. These movies made the best use of VFX and CGI to further storytelling.

1. Gravity (2013)

Alfonso Cuaron’s 2013 ground breaking space movie is easily one of the most visually striking film we have ever seen.  The uninterrupted 13 minute opening shot of the Earth from space is literally out of the world and spells awesome in every fleeting second. It captivated the audience from the very start and promised a world beyond imagination. Tim Webber supervised the stunning visual images and transformed Gravity into a movie which would remain in our minds long after its release. Space never seemed more real and so beautiful. Without a doubt, the best visual effects ever put on film.

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2. 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)

Stanley Kubrick’s 1968 science fiction film defined the rules for making of space/sci-fi movies around the world. The film was one of those works of sheer genius which was way ahead of its time and received its proper due and following much after its release. The images of space, spaceship and the monolith are evergreen and revered to even today. So powerful was the effect of the graphics, that it catapulted a film with minimal dialogue into achieving a cult status. ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’ is an astounding film for the sheer genius and novelty of the storyline and is legendary for the inception of the technique of showing space and all of those wild fantasies in cinema.

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3. Life of Pi (2012)

2012’s ‘Life of Pi’ isn’t certainly Ang Lee’s best piece of work. It lacked a strong storyline, the character depth was shallow, and there was little scope to explore any humanism. But the script had a huge field of hitherto untested VFX graphics and images to play with and Ang Lee exploited that to the full. 3-D never had such a profound real impact on cinema. The audiences were drawn into the visual labyrinth and would forget that the glasses were perched on their nose. The brilliance of the film lay in this. Technically speaking, this film is a masterpiece. The shots of the humpback whale breaching, the jellyfish covered waters, the sparkles and the carnivorous island are simply unforgettable and the recognition it received for this hard work and imagination is certainly worthy. Without these exceptional effects, this film would have been at sea quite literally.

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4. Avatar (2009)

James Cameron’s hiatus after the enigmatic success of ‘Titanic’ proved to be quite fruitful. ‘Avatar’ hit the theatres in 2009 and over time became one of the highest grossing movies of all time. The visual spectacle of Pandora is a treat to the eye and the audience was given a wondrous view into the fantastical land inhabited by the blue humanoids. ‘Avatar’ stands out for the ground breaking technological implementations, all under the supervision of the visionary filmmaker James Cameron. Extensive use of the newly invented motion capture technique, 3-D viewing and the excellent use of stereoscopic filmmaking made this film so effective. The visuals carried the film on its strong shoulders and the viewers were lost amidst the tall jungles of the dream world. Cameron created a dream out of which no one wants to be woken.

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5. Interstellar (2014)

One of the main reasons behind the immense popularity of Christopher Nolan is his tendency to create visual wonders in his complex stories. The effect is magnanimous, the jaw-dropping visuals create the perfect support for the maze in his stories and transport the viewer into a realm of the fantastical. In his space-time thriller, ‘Interstellar’, Nolan travels the galaxies looking for answers to the space-time conundrum and his travels are depicted through some mind-blowing moments which remain to haunt the minds of the audience. The scenes of the alien planets are wonderful and create a spectacle which only Nolan can. The climax presents one of the most ambiguous shots and stunning piece of visual wonder ever in cinema. The time graph just became real and all the fantasies and theories of solving the space-time puzzle were manifested right in front of our eyes. What a way to cement his legacy as one of the most prolific filmmakers of this generation!

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6. The Matrix (1999)

The Wachowskis, in 1999, created perhaps one of the most influential films of all time starring Keanu Reeves. ‘The Matrix’ is one of the most recognizable movies ever and you have to travel to extreme remote corners to find out one person who hasn’t seen and been enthralled by this movie. It is the ultimate reference book on how to make action films. The Wachowskis’ innovative techniques created a platform which directors even after almost 20 years use in their films. The ‘bullet time’ visual effect came into limelight because of ‘The Matrix’ and countless action movies implemented this style over and over again. The image of Reeves leaning back and the bullets whooshing over him is something which none of us can ever forget. The wire fu implementation was also among the first in Hollywood and acted as a source of inspiration for many. The existent words of praise aren’t enough for this landmark movie.

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7. Titanic (1997)

James Cameron’s magnum opus is the reincarnation of the sinking of the RMS Titanic. The previous attempts to cinematize the incident had failed miserably. When Cameron stepped up with an enormous budget, the critics had little faith in him. 14 Academy Award nominations and $2.18 billion later, ‘Titanic’ remains a firm favorite amongst the cine-lovers worldwide. Apart from the heart-breaking love story, the magnificent visuals and the innovative techniques used to shoot the grand picture make ‘Titanic’ a legendary movie. The breath-taking images of the enormous ship, the stunning sunsets, the detailing of the interior of the ship and the eventual collapse create a plethora of visual mastery and finesse. The moment where Jack and Rose stand at the hull of the ship and engage in the ‘Titanic Pose’ is an evergreen one. Rarely does a film engage its audience like the way this movie does. It is artwork at its sheer best.

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8. The Lord of the Rings Trilogy (2001-03)

Easily the best set of fantasy films ever made, the LOTR trilogy by Peter Jackson boasts of a grandeur like no other. The stunning visuals accompanied a compelling storyline, creating a set of movies which people rarely disliked. From hobbits to wizards, from warriors to ghosts, the films have them all and the empire it created is one all of us would certainly like to visit. The main achievement of the film series is its wonderful adaptation from the books, recreating J.R.R. Tolkien’s magical world perfectly on the screen. The war scenes were the highlight of a bucket-load of visual splendors. Such were its finesse that the technique was adapted and utilized in several notable productions including the famous ‘Game of Thrones’ TV series. The LOTR franchise set a benchmark for visual excellence and the 17 Academy Award wins are the perfect proof of its legacy.

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9. Inception (2010)

Perhaps the most influential film of the last decade, Christopher Nolan’s ‘Inception’ shattered all barriers with its unique storyline and the mind-boggling visual effects. The dream-within a dream-within-a dream was a concept nobody ever fathomed and Nolan delivered the previously unthought-of concept in such a flamboyant style that the audience found themselves believing in the mysterious tale. The dream world is ever changing and its construction totally depends on the imagination. Nolan used this basic line to generate a world which could be changed with a swipe of a hand or the flick of a finger. The way he showed those changes is truly remarkable. The houses standing horizontally and the skies flipping down during the dream walk are some images the audience won’t forget in a hurry. These superb effects helped in mystifying the confusing plotline even more and made ‘Inception’ the cult favorite as it is.

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10. Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)

The fourth installment of the Mad Max Franchisee, directed by George Miller was cited by many critics as the best film of 2015. Sporting a tale in a futuristic desert waste land, ‘Mad Max: Fury Road’ is hands-down one of the best actions films ever made. The wild unforgiving environment of the desert is fearfully breathtaking and the chase scene has to be one of the very best in the history of cinema. And who can forget the strapped and bound Max as the chase unfolds in the yellow sands. Six Academy awards were won quite deservingly, although a couple more should also have come in. It is an intriguing film and the images are certainly quite memorable.

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