Speed Reads

Oscars 2016

Ex Machina scores huge upset by winning a Best Visual Effects Oscar on a $15 million budget

It wouldn't be Hollywood if the underdog didn't occasionally come out on top. The sci-fi thriller Ex Machina — which was made for a threadbare $15 million — just scored a huge upset by winning the Best Visual Effects Oscar, topping The Martian ($108 million), The Revenant ($135 million) Mad Max: Fury Road ($150 million), and Star Wars: The Force Awakens ($200 million).

Ex Machina's low-budget Oscar victory is pretty much unprecedented in modern Hollywood history. Recent Best Visual Effects winners include blockbuster spectacles like Interstellar ($165 million), Gravity ($100 million), and Life of Pi ($120 million); the last winner with a budget under $100 million was 1999's The Matrix ($63 million). With any luck, Ex Machina's unlikely win will remind Hollywood that when it comes to visual effects, sometimes less really is more.