There are many very impressive special effects being featured in this years Academy Awards. While look at Oscar nominees, I found a slide show that explains which software the movies used to create their special effects. Maya was featured in movies such as Rise of the Planet of the Apes, Harry Potter and even Transformers. The companies use Maya and other Autodesk softwares as the basis and core of their creative ventures. The programs ability to capture the lifelike characteristics such as hair, eyes, and muscles make for very realistic CGI. The story mentions that Harry Potter used MudBox as well for their digital modeling. The lavish art design of Huge and the CGI effects of Maya created an detailed set of 1930's Paris, taking of a year of work to complete and done by Pixonmondo. You really see the variety of how Maya can be used in films. In Rise of the Planet of the Apes, it is being used to create hundreds of animals that need to pass as realistic and in movies like Real Steel it is used to create two robots battling. There is the complete difference in textures, from fur to metal, and the movements which each character makes. Maya is the connecting factor between Transformers and Huge, two movies with very different art styles and audiences.
I definitely wasn't aware that Maya had such a prominent role in the art direction and animation of movies. The fact that it is featured in the best movies of the year makes learning the program that much more exciting.