Tom Hooper's adaptation of the hit musical, starring the actors alongside other big names including Taylor Swift, Judi Dench, and Ian McKellen, was widely slammed by critics and viewers alike upon its release last year 2019 - with many criticising the effects used to make the stars look like felines.
At the Oscars on Sunday, February 9, 2020, Rebel and James donned furry cat costumes as they made their way onto the stage to present the award for Best Visual Effects, and joked, "As cast members of the motion picture Cats, nobody more than us understands the importance of good visual effects."
The quip didn't go down too well, however, with the Visual Effects Society, who insisted in a statement slamming The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences, who run the Oscars, that "the best visual effects in the world will not compensate for a story told badly."
"In presenting the Academy Award for Outstanding Visual Effects, the producers chose to make visual effects the punchline, and suggested that bad VFX were to blame for the poor performance of the movie Cats," the organisation said in a statement.
"On a night that is all about honouring the work of talented artists, it is immensely disappointing that The Academy made visual effects the butt of a joke. It demeaned the global community of expert VFX practitioners doing outstanding, challenging and visually stunning work to achieve the filmmakers' vision."
"Our artists, technicians and innovators deserve respect for their remarkable contributions to filmed entertainment, and should not be presented as the all-too-convenient scapegoat in service for a laugh. Moving forward, we hope that The Academy will properly honour the craft of visual effects - and all of the crafts, including cinematography and film editing - because we all deserve it."
The Academy has yet to respond.