ILM has won 15 Oscars in its 32 year history, Weta Digital won the Visual FX Oscar four out of the last six years. SPI (Sony Pictures Imageworks) continues to shell out solid work since winning their first FX Oscar for "Spider-Man 2". Digital Domain is now under new leadership and is hoping to make a serious run at the top houses in the industry. Rythm & Hues continues to fly under the radar while securing contracts for huge movies like the last two 'X-Men' movies, the 'Narnia' films, and the upcoming "His Dark Materials: The Golden Compass". Who would you consider to be the best of the best in biz in the area of Visual Effects? My Top Five #1 Industrial Light & Magic (ILM): After all these years, I still rank them as the best in the industry. While many complained that their work on the Star Wars Prequels was "inconsistent", last year saw them produce one of the best CG characters created for the screen with Davy Jones in the Pirates sequel, which won them their 15th Oscar for screen FX. Historically, this is the FX house to beat. Their work on the original Star Wars Trilogy, the Indiana Jones Trilogy, "Who Framed Roger Rabbit", "The Abyss", 'T2', the Jurassic Park movies, and "Forrest Gump" have already secured the company's legacy. The early buzz I've heard on both Pirates 3 and "Transformers" indicates that ILM has produced some of the greatest FX work they've ever done. #2 Weta Digital: This company can coast for years just on their triumph of the LOTR trilogy, but they continue to push the visual envelope. While their overall effort in "King Kong" was surprisingly under-whelming, Kong himself represents (in my opinion) one of the top five best CG creations ever brought to the screen. The crew at Weta are currently working on the FX for the Fantastic Four sequel, as well as James Cameron's upcoming "Avatar". #3 Sony Pictures Imageworks (SPI): Thanks largely to their work on the Spider-Man franchise, SPI is considered the one of the top houses in the industry. While their accomplishments on the Spidey flicks (namely the second film) and "Superman Returns" are solid efforts, I was most impressed by their work on "Hollow Man". The early word is that "Spider-Man 3" represents the best work the company has ever done. #4 Rythm & Hues: SPI has some serious competition for that third spot because this FX house has been very consistent in the last five years with their work in 'X2', "X-Men: The Last Stand", and 'The Chronicles of Narnia'. They will provide the FX on the next two 'Narnia' adventures, as well as the upcoming 'His Dark Materials' franchise. #5 Digital Domain: Once the go-to company for Jim Cameron, things have been a little quiet for DD since winning the Oscar for "Titanic" ten years ago. The FX house is now under new leadership (one of the owners is Michael Bay) and looks to launch themselves back into the conversation of greatest FX house in the industry. The work the studio did on "I, Robot" was grossly underrated in my opinion. Look for Bay's upcoming 'The Prince of Persia' epic to put them back on the map. My Top Four fave (100%) CG characters for live-action movies... (listed alphabetically because I consider them all A+ work) Davy Jones "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest" (ILM) Gollum "The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers"/ "The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King" (Weta) Kong "King Kong" (Weta) Yoda "Star Wars: Episode III- Revenge of the Sith" (ILM) My fave FX sequences of the last ten years... (ranked by year movie was released) 1997 Planet P. Outpost Attack "Starship Troopers" (ILM) 1998 Taking the Beach "Saving Private Ryan" (ILM) 1999 The Pod Race "Star Wars: Episode I- The Phantom Menace" (ILM) 2000 The Storm Sequence "The Perfect Storm" (ILM) 2001 The Pteranodon Attack "Jurassic Park III" (ILM) 2001 The Cave Tomb Battle "The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring" (Weta) 2001 The Pearl Harbor Attack "Pearl Harbor" (ILM) 2002 The Times Square Fight "Spider-Man" (SPI) 2002 The Battle of Geonosis "Star Wars: Episode II- Attack of the Clones" (ILM) 2002 Yoda vs. Count Dooku "Star Wars: Episode II- Attack of the Clones" (ILM) 2002 The Warg Fight "The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers" (Weta) 2002 The Battle of Helm's Deep "The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers" (Weta) 2003 Nightcrawler's White House Attack "X2: X-Men United" (Rythm & Hues) 2003 The Freeway Chase "The Matrix Reloaded" (Manex) 2003 The Zion Attack "The Matrix Revolutions" (Manex) 2003 The Final Neo/Smith Fight "The Matrix Revolutions" (Manex) 2003 Shelob vs. Sam "The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King" (Weta) 2003 The Battle of Gondor "The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King" (Weta) 2004 The Train Fight "Spider-Man 2" (SPI) 2005 The Battle of Coruscant "Star Wars: Episode III- Revenge of the Sith" (ILM) 2005 The Jedi Purge "Star Wars: Episode III- Revenge of the Sith" (ILM) 2005 The First Attack "War of the Worlds" (ILM) 2005 The Final Battle "The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch & the Wardrobe" (Rythm & Hues) 2005 Kong vs. the V-Rexes "King Kong" (Weta) 2005 Kong vs. the Planes "King Kong" (Weta) 2006 Dark Phoenix vs. Professor X "X-Men: The Last Stand" (Rythm & Hues) 2006 The Battle on Alcatraz "X-Men: The Last Stand" (Rythm & Hues) 2006 The Plane/Shuttle Rescue "Superman Returns" (SPI) 2006 The Final Kraken Attack "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest" This is a list I definitely plan on re-visiting after this summer. These represent my opinions so be kind.