Last year it was pretty obvious from the beginning of the year which film was going to take home the top prize for Best Visual Effects. James Cameron’s Avatar was not only the most expensive 3D film ever made, but it also was revolutionary in its use of cinema technology, introducing new effects and techniques that had never been put to film before. This year there is another film that seems to have the Visual Effects category all but locked down, although the race is going to be a much closer one. Christopher Nolan’s Inception has already been singled out as the critics’ favorite for having brilliant imagination and stunningly realistic effects work. Personally, I believe he deserves the Oscar for being smart and inventive without relying on 3D.
While Inception may have no immediate competition for the win, the films that will make up the other nominees is still uncertain. Since the Academy changed the rule to allow for five nominees in the Best Visual Effects category, there is now more room for creative work in films that were not immensely popular to sneak in. Last Wednesday the Academy narrowed the list of potential nominees down to seven, meaning two of those will not find their way onto the Oscar ballot when nominations are released at the end of the month. The seven finalists are:
Alice in Wonderland
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part I
Iron Man 2
Scott Pilgrim vs. the World
The films are pretty much the ones that were expected with the popcorn films that had the greatest critical or financial success being nominated. The Academy always leaves off movies like Prince of Persia or The Last Airbender, which despite having above average visual effects work were not well-received as a whole. Following the Academy’s announcement, the Visual Effects Society announced the nominees for their 2011 Awards. The lucky five are listed below.
Visual Effects Society Award
Outstanding Visual Effects in a VFX Driven Motion Picture
Iron Man 2
Alice in Wonderland
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1
Outstanding Supporting Visual Effects in a Motion Picture
Rarely do the films that offer supporting visual effects end up getting nominated for an Oscar because this branch of the Academy likes to reward the filmmakers who choose to hire a lot of their colleagues. That would make Hereafter an unlikely Oscar nominee, despite being on the Academy’s shortlist. The film that appears on the Academy shortlist and was completely snubbed by the VES nominations is Scott Pilgrim vs. The World. The film was loved by many critics and fans, but a complete flop at the Box Office, which is actually taken into consideration in this category. If there are enough fans of the frenetic visuals in Edgar Wright’s film it may sneak in, but that prospect seems unlikely.
For Oscar predictions I am going to stick with the five films that the VES has nominated for their top prize. All of those films had the magic combination of being financially successful and modestly well-reviewed. There is always a chance for a surprise, but it seems unlikely. This is the first year that the Academy is nominating five films for Best Visual Effects while the VES has always nominated five films so for the first time we will learn how much of a crossover there is between the two groups.
Which films do you think will get nominated for Best Visual Effects? What would nominate if you had a vote?