'Dune' wins 6 Oscars at Academy Awards

Denis Villeneuve's epic sci-fi film takes home the gold for cinematography, editing, score, visual effects, production design and sound.
Denis Villeneuve's epic sci-fi film takes home the gold for cinematography, editing, score, visual effects, production design and sound. (Image credit: Warner Bros.)

Interplanetary war in the far future made a colossal splash at the 94th Academy Awards ceremony last night at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood as director Denis Villeneuve's "Dune" took home six of the coveted gold trophies.  

This outstanding honor puts the $165 million feature film adaptation of Frank Herbert’s seminal 1965 novel in rare company, becoming the second of the most successful sci-fi movies at the Oscars by placing it in a tie with 2015's "Mad Max: Fury Road" with six wins.

During an evening with plenty of unexpected moments, it was no shock that this lavish production scored high marks on many voters' ballots with its sweeping vistas of the sands of Arrakis, feuding royal Houses, titanic alien worms, savage futuristic combat, and the prophecy of a superbeing come to deliver the planet of Dune and its mysterious native inhabitants. "Dune" is streaming now on HBO Max. If you're looking for how to see it now, check out our streaming guide for Dune.

Related: How does new 'Dune' hold up to  the1984 film and novel?

Legendary and Warner Bros.' epic sci-fi adaptation entered the gala occasion with ten nominations, and when the night ended, "Dune" took home Oscars for cinematography, editing, score, visual effects, production design and sound. Its only losses were for best picture, makeup and hairstyling, costume design, and adapted screenplay.'

Directed by Villeneuve, and co-written by Villeneuve, Jon Spaihts ("Doctor Strange"), and Eric Roth ("Forrest Gump," "Munich"), "Dune" rocketed to the top of the 2021 box office charts with a $400 million global haul and fans eagerly awaiting "Dune: Part 2" sometime next year.

Its stellar cast included Timothée Chalamet ("The King," "Interstellar"), Rebecca Ferguson ("The Greatest Showman"), Oscar Isaac ("Ex Machina," "Star Wars: The Force Awakens"), Jason Momoa ("Aquaman"), Josh Brolin ("Avengers: Endgame"), Stellan Skarsgård ("Thor") and Zendaya ("Spiderman: No Way Home").

In a controversial move, several technical craft Oscar categories were presented one hour prior to the live Academy Awards telecast this year, with the winners’ acceptance speeches edited into the main broadcast throughout the program.

As part of that earlier ceremony, the Best Sound Oscar was presented to "Dune's" supervising sound editors Mark Mangini and Theo Green, rerecording mixers Doug Hemphill and Ron Bartlett, and production sound mixer Mac Ruth.

"To do this for Denis is so close to my heart. He's such a wonderful human and one of the best filmmakers that I’ve ever worked with," said Bartlett in the press room backstage.

The sand worms of Dune in the now Oscar-winning sci-fi film. (Image credit: Warner Bros.)

Joe Walker was honored at the pre-show handout as well, winning for Best Film Editing. Patrice Vermette and Zsuzsanna Sipos were also recipients of the grand prize and took home Oscars for Best Production Design.

Cinematographer Graig Fraser ("The Batman") won his first Oscar statuette for Best Cinematography and legendary composer Hans Zimmer (“Inception,” “Interstellar”) won Best Original Score for his stirring music, but was not in the building to accept his golden award.

Not a huge surprise was "Dune's" well-deserved grand prize for Best Visual Effects. The winning crew included production VFX supervisor Paul Lambert ("First Man," "Blade Runner 2049"), special effects supervisor Gerd Nefzer ("Blade Runner 2049"),Tristan Myles of Vancouver VFX house DNEG, and Brian Connor, the VFS supervisor at DNEG Montreal.

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Jeff Spry
Contributing Writer

Jeff Spry is an award-winning screenwriter and veteran freelance journalist covering TV, movies, video games, books, and comics. His work has appeared at SYFY Wire, Inverse, Collider, Bleeding Cool and elsewhere. Jeff lives in beautiful Bend, Oregon amid the ponderosa pines, classic muscle cars, a crypt of collector horror comics, and two loyal English Setters.