Ben Grossmann

Ben Grossmann

FAIRBANKS — The nominations for the 86th Academy Awards were announced early Thursday morning, and for the second time in two years, a former Interior Alaskan’s name was on the list.

Ben Grossmann, 36, was one of four men nominated for Best Visual Effects for the movie “Star Trek: Into Darkness.” Grossmann, who grew up in Delta Junction and attended the University of Alaska Fairbanks, won the Oscar in that category for the Martin Scorsese movie “Hugo” in 2012.

Roger Guyett, Patrick Tubach and Burt Dalton also were nominated for their work on the “Star Trek” movie.

Grossmann is a visual effects supervisor and has worked on more than 25 movies, including “Behind Enemy Lines,” “Spiderman,” “Master and Commander,” “Sin City,” “Land of the Lost,” “The Day after Tomorrow” and “Alice in Wonderland.”

Grossmann said he had set his alarm so that he could watch the 5:48 a.m. Oscar nomination announcement but missed it because his 3-year-old daughter had a nightmare earlier that morning and he had just gotten back to sleep. 

“I heard my alarm go off, but I figured, well, I’ll just wait for a little while and see if anything else happens. Then after about seven minutes my phone started going ‘ding, ding, ding, ding, ding, ding,’ and I thought, ‘Oh, I guess that bodes well.’ People don’t rapid fire text you to say they’re sorry to hear you didn’t get it,” Grossmann said.

Grossmann said that while the other nominated movies are all “fantastic,” there is one “stand-out competitor” this year.

“I think the most remarkable work that we all agree is pretty spectacular is the film ‘Gravity.’ It would be very surprising if we overcame them,” Grossmann said. “It is a unique contribution this year. ‘Gravity’ is an amazing movie that transcended a new style of filmmaking that is more experiential.”

“Gravity,” directed by Alfonso Cuaron, tells the story of two astronauts stranded in space and has been hailed by critics for its special effects and emotional impact.

Grossmann conceded that he was fairly certain the Best Visual Effects Oscar would go to “Planet of the Apes” in 2012 so he could be wrong about this year’s winner.

Grossmann’s work on “Star Trek: Into Darkness” also has received a nomination for Special Visual Effects by the British Academy of Film and Television Arts and for Outstanding Visual Effects in a Visual-Effects Driven Feature Motion Picture by the Visual Effects Society. According to Grossmann, the Oscar winner can usually be predicted by who wins the craft or trade awards.

“Eight out of the last 10 times, the Oscar award went to the recipient of the VES award. One time it went to the winner of the supporting visual effects award. So basically the winner of the Visual Effects Society award goes on to win the Oscar,” Grossmann said.

The VES awards will be Feb. 14 in Los Angeles. The BAFTA awards will be held in London on Feb. 16. 

Grossmann will be attending the BAFTA awards even though he has just started a new business and is “very, very busy.” His company, “Magnopus,” will focus on visual research, development and design but is not primarily a visual effects company, he said.

“Part of the vision of the company is that, rather than focus exclusively on Hollywood films, we think that VFX artists are capable of so much more in so many other industries, in coming up with things from a unique perspective. We’re forming this company with a lot of extremely, brilliantly talented people from the industry. We are designing and prototyping ideas here.”

Grossmann said that he will continue to work on films.

“The leadership of big VFX movies is something that fits into our description,” Grossmann said. “We’re already working on some but I can’t say what they are, unfortunately.”

The 86th annual Academy Awards will be held March 2 in Los Angeles and broadcast on ABC.

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