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The Special Achievement Award is an Academy Award given for an achievement that makes an exceptional contribution to the motion picture for which it was created, but for which there is no annual award category. Many of the film projects that received these awards were noted for breaking new ground in terms of technology, where an awards category simply did not yet exist for the given area. New awards categories were often opened in following years. For example, Toy Story was awarded a special achievement award as the first computer-animated feature film in 1996, before the best animated feature category debuted in 2001.[1]

The award may only be conferred for achievements in productions that also qualify as an eligible release for distinguished achievements and meet the Academy's eligibility year and deadlines requirements. Special Achievement Awards were primarily given between the 1970s and 1990s, with only a single award being given since 2000.


This table displays the individuals who received the Special Achievement Oscar for their contributions to film. The category was inaugurated in 1972.

Year Recipient(s) Achievement Film
1972 (45th) L. B. Abbott
A. D. Flowers
Visual Effects The Poseidon Adventure
1974 (47th) Frank Brendel
Glen Robinson
Albert Whitlock
1975 (48th) Peter Berkos Sound Effects The Hindenburg
Albert Whitlock
Glen Robinson
Visual Effects
1976 (49th) Carlo Rambaldi
Glen Robinson
Frank Van der Veer
King Kong
L. B. Abbott
Glen Robinson
Matthew Yuricich
Logan's Run
1977 (50th) Ben Burtt Alien, Creature and Robot Voices Star Wars
Frank Warner Sound Effects Editing Close Encounters of the Third Kind
1978 (51st) Les Bowie
Colin Chilvers
Denys Coop
Roy Field
Derek Meddings
Zoran Perisic
Visual Effects Superman
1979 (52nd) Alan Splet Sound Editing The Black Stallion
1980 (53rd) Brian Johnson
Richard Edlund
Dennis Muren
Bruce Nicholson
Visual Effects The Empire Strikes Back
1981 (54th) Ben Burtt
Richard L. Anderson
Sound Effects Editing Raiders of the Lost Ark
1983 (56th) Richard Edlund
Dennis Muren
Ken Ralston
Phil Tippett
Visual Effects Return of the Jedi
1984 (57th) Kay Rose Sound Effects Editing The River
1987 (60th) Stephen Hunter Flick
John Pospisil
1988 (61st) Richard Williams Animation Direction Who Framed Roger Rabbit
1990 (63rd) Eric Brevig
Rob Bottin
Tim McGovern
Alex Funke
Visual Effects Total Recall
1995 (68th) John Lasseter First Feature-Length Computer-Animated Film[2][3][4] Toy Story
2017 (90th) Alejandro González Iñárritu Virtual Reality Flesh and Sand


  1. ^ "We Need More Special Achievement Oscars to Honor What is Interesting in Cinema". 23 February 2014.
  2. ^ "1995 Academy Awards". infoplease. Retrieved January 31, 2009.
  3. ^ King, Susan (September 30, 2015). "How 'Toy Story' changed the face of animation, taking off 'like an explosion'". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved September 30, 2015.
  4. ^ "Three Pixar execs get special Oscars". San Francisco Chronicle. February 1, 1996. Retrieved March 12, 2009.