Kong gong gives Weta boss entry to exclusive Oscar club

Weta Workshop boss Richard Taylor admitted he had "incredible butterflies" before being announced the Oscar winner for best visual effects in Los Angeles yesterday.

He now stands alongside Hollywood greats Clint Eastwood, Bob Hope and Francis Ford Coppola, as well as dozens of technicians with five Academy Awards.

"I had incredible butterflies in my stomach. Even as they read out the names it didn't sink in," Mr Taylor said from Los Angeles.

"It was a tough field this year - so many incredible movies. The quality of work was amazing. I'm just delighted we have been so honoured."

The Oscar went to Mr Taylor as well as Weta Digital's Joe Letteri, Brian Van't Hul and Christian Rivers for King Kong.

Actor Ben Stiller presented the effects award, dressed in a green jumpsuit to mimic those worn by set crews and actors working on sets with visual effects.

While Mr Taylor and his co-winners went to the Governor's Ball to celebrate, it was work as usual for Weta Workshop in Miramar.

Mr Taylor said the staff had enjoyed a special lunch yesterday, but then went back to work as there was a pressing deadline to meet.

His previous four Oscars have been for The Lord of the Rings trilogy.

Oscars were a mixed bag for all major movies at the Academy Awards this year, with New Zealand once again starring prominently.

Peter Jackson's King Kong, and Crash, Memoirs of a Geisha and Brokeback Mountain all snared three apiece.

Crash took the best picture award.

The other film made in New Zealand, The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, directed by Andrew Adamson, scored one award for best makeup.

Sound mixers Christopher Boyes, Michael Semanick, Michael Hedges and Hammon Peek accepted their Oscars for King Kong with Mr Peek commenting: "Go Kiwis!"

Mr Hedges said: "I'd like to thank our tremendously talented crew back at Park Road Post in Wellington, New Zealand. What a great job everyone."

Mr Boyes also thanked "the amazing film-maker Peter Jackson, Carol Cunningham, Jan Blenkin, Fran Walsh and my mom, Katherine".

The four men won in 2003 for The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King for sound mixing.

Sound editors Michael Hopkins and Ethan Ven der Ryn won King Kong's third Oscar. The pair won an Oscar for The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers in 2003.

They saluted Jackson for his vision in creating King Kong, and paid tribute to actor Andy Serkis who played Kong.

Jackson's US$207 million ($315 million) blockbuster earned four nominations - for best art direction, achievement in sound editing, sound mixing and visual effects.

Kong art director Grant Major lost to Memoirs of a Geisha's John Myhre.

Americans Howard Berger and Tami Lane won the Oscar for best makeup for the New Zealand-filmed Narnia. Berger and Lane have worked extensively in New Zealand, first with the television series Xena: Warrior Princess, starring Lucy Lawless, and later on The Lord of the Rings trilogy.

Charlize Theron was nominated for best actress and Frances McDormand for best supporting actress for North Country, directed by New Zealander Niki Caro. 

 
Top Oscar winners 

26 Walt Disney
11 Cedric Gibbons
11 Iain Neil
10 Farciot Edouart
9 Dennis Muren
9 Alfred Newman
9 Douglas Shearer
8 Edith Head
8 Alan Menken
8 Edward H. Reichard
8 Loren L. Ryder
8 Edwin B. Willis
7 Richard Day
7 Richard Edlund
7 Gordon Hollingshead
7 Fred Quimby
7 Gary Rydstrom
7 Billy Wilder
6 Rick Baker
6 Carl Hauge
6 Thomas Little
6 Manfred G. Michelson
6 Glen Robinson
6 Walter M. Scott
5 RICHARD TAYLOR
5 John Barry
5 Glenn M. Berggren
5 Daniel J. Bloomberg
5 Francis Ford Coppola
5 Charles R. Daily
5 David J. Degenkolb
5 Clint Eastwood
5 Bob Hope

- NZPA

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