If you want a reminder of why The Martian was nominated for a best visual effects Oscar, check out this highlight reel from MPC, the lead VFX company for the film. While the film was shot in an actual desert (southern Jordan, to be exact), director Ridley Scott still needed plenty of CG assistance to bring the story to life.
It's particularly intriguing to see how MPC helped make The Martian look as if it was actually shot on Mars, thanks to some color and landscape tweaking. The reel also shows off some more subtle effects, including the glass and reflections for Damon's helmet. Naturally, there are spoilers, so avoid this video if you haven't seen the film.
[Photo credits: Twentieth Century Fox]