AMPAS narrows the visual effects field to seven

Posted by · 10:11 am · January 6th, 2009

Iron ManLast month, the Academy whittled the contenders for Best Visual Effects down to 15 hopefuls.  Today, the branch has chipped away at it further.

And then there were seven:

“The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”
“The Dark Knight”
“Hellboy II: The Golden Army”
“Iron Man”
“Journey to the Center of the Earth”
“The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor”

And from the press release:

On Thursday, January 15, all members of the Academy’s Visual Effects Branch will be invited to view 15-minute excerpts from each of the seven shortlisted films. Following the screenings, the members will vote to nominate three films for final Oscar consideration.

The most surprising omissions are probably “The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian” and “The Incredible Hulk.”  Maybe “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull” if you want to go there, but I don’t.  I can’t believe it made the list of 15, frankly.  And after watching “Hancock” again over the holiday, as well as the visual effects featurette, I was beginning to think it might have a decent shot.  But my guess is that we’re still looking at “Button” and “Iron Man” as sure bets with “The Dark Knight” likely filling in the third and final slot.

Then again, this show of love for “Hellboy II” could translate to somewhat unexpected nominations both here and in the makeup field.  And I feel like “Journey to the Center of the Earth” has more stroke with this group than many are assuming.

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25 responses so far

  • 1 1-06-2009 at 10:49 am

    mike said...

    The effects in Journey to the Center of the Earth where dismal I thought…

    My hopeful 3 would be:
    Hellboy 2
    Iron Man (or TDK, but I loved the work in Iron Man more).

  • 2 1-06-2009 at 11:01 am

    Matt said...

    You can cancel Narnia from any nominations now that Visual Effects & Makeup are a no go. Definitely a blow for Indiana Jones as well. Very shocked by Journey to the Center of the Earth. I also expected Hancock to make into the top 7.

    I agree with Mike, I think it will be CCBB, Hellboy & Iron Man, with TDK as wildcard.

  • 3 1-06-2009 at 11:12 am

    actionman said...

    The snubbing of Cloverfield, which had ingenious effects, in favor of COMPLETE CRAP like Mummy 3 and Journey to the Center of the Earth (both of which looked BEYOND PHONY) is a fucking joke.

    When the Academy passed over the groundbreaking work in Transormers last year I realized that nobody in the group really knows what they’re talking about.

  • 4 1-06-2009 at 11:12 am

    actionman said...


  • 5 1-06-2009 at 11:13 am

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    Well, the branch does. The Academy at large, not so much.

  • 6 1-06-2009 at 11:21 am

    Mr. Harmonica said...

    It most likely will be Iron, Knight, and Button. I can’t see anything else making it. Hellboy, maybe. Indiana Jones was atrocious. ILM should be embarrassed.

  • 7 1-06-2009 at 11:24 am

    JC said...

    Do those 15-minute excerpts show before-and-after visual effects sequences? TDK could easily win a bunch of these technical awards simply to make up for it not winning one of the big ones (BP, etc.). But the interesting thing about it is that most of the effects are damn near invisible. The sign of exceptional technical work, but not as in-your-face as something like Benjamin Button or Hellboy II, which sort of draw attention to themselves, somewhat.

  • 8 1-06-2009 at 11:24 am

    A.J said...

    Well Journey to the Center of the Earth has the quantity thing going for it and the 3D thing. Not to mention it wasn’t meant to look real but more cartoony. It may slip in over Knight.

  • 9 1-06-2009 at 11:30 am

    Glenn said...

    As much as I am a fan of the movie, I’m not sure what “Australia” is doing on the list.

  • 10 1-06-2009 at 11:48 am

    actionman said...

    yeah, that cattle stampede looked like playstation 2 crap.

  • 11 1-06-2009 at 11:51 am

    JC said...

    It really depends on whether or not they’re simply voting based on how “aesthetically pleasing” the visual effects in any given film are.

    For instance, there’s no way that many of the visual effects in Spider-Man 2 and 3 were meant to look photo-real….they seemed to have a deliberately cartoony bend to them. And if someone likes that stylistic approach, they could very well vote for it.

    But, yeah, as in previous years, it may very well come down to the most (artistically) praised of the visual effects-based films cleaning up the awards, by default.

  • 12 1-06-2009 at 12:59 pm

    Joseph said...

    My vote’s with Button this year.

  • 13 1-06-2009 at 1:02 pm

    Joel said...

    Good ones:
    Benjamin Button (should win)
    Hellboy 2
    Iron Man (runner-up)

    Wild Cards:
    Dark Knight (not much to work with here, I don’t think)
    Journey to the Center of the Earth (sorry, but it could happen)
    Mummy 3 (I liked the movie alright, but I really liked the effects)

    What the…:
    Australia (the movie was good, but it seems more of a cinematographer’s film than an effects film)

    Really wish “Cloverfield” were in this instead of “Australia.”

  • 14 1-06-2009 at 2:03 pm

    Jonathan Spuij said...

    Wow I had Narnia on my shortlist already, together with Button and Iron Man who are both locks. Third one and perhaps a dark horse for the win is Journey to the Center of the Earth. Remember folks, it’s in 3D. And aside from that, The Golden Compass made a surprise win too last year.

  • 15 1-06-2009 at 2:14 pm

    sirio11 said...

    I think Button will win. After the movie I couldn’t help but realize that basically everything is possible now and I wonder what should we expect from special effects 10 years from now.

  • 16 1-06-2009 at 2:18 pm

    michael mckay said...

    Button and Iron Man should both make the field.

    As far as the third choice…I think it’s between Hellboy and The Dark Knight.

  • 17 1-06-2009 at 2:36 pm

    Chad said...

    Not much to work with in The Dark Knight? Because there was no CGI?

    Do you know what a visual effect is? Creating the illusion that two people are fighting is a visual effect. Creating the illusion that a man can fly is a visual effect. Creating the illusion that guns fire real bullets is a visual effect. If the Academy wasn’t so narrow minded films with seamless and essential effects like United 93 and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind would be walking away with these awards and not shit like Narnia or Spider-Man.

  • 18 1-06-2009 at 2:36 pm

    Brian Kinsley said...

    I can’t imagine Button not winning. It’s the lone nominee that pushes the field of visual fx forward. Although, Golden Fucking Compass.

    And why does everyone dismiss TDK’s fx so easily? Two Face, people.

  • 19 1-06-2009 at 2:43 pm

    Brian said...

    I’m thinking Hellboy II is going to get a bunch of nominations in the technical categories. Makeup, visuals effects, art direction, and costume design. Maybe even cinematography.

  • 20 1-06-2009 at 3:45 pm

    JoesBO said...

    I don’t find it surprising at all Indy Jones isn’t here as the CG sucked. I’m greatly disappointed though that ‘Cloverfield’ got dumped.

  • 21 1-06-2009 at 5:08 pm

    Glenn said...

    The big miss for me is “Speed Racer”. I know a lot of people hated it – I really digged it – but those effects were groundbreaking weren’t they? From what I read they seemed to be and they looked amazing. Oh well.

    “And why does everyone dismiss TDK’s fx so easily? Two Face, people.”

    Er, maybe BECAUSE of Two Face. That thing looked really silly (well, i thought so anyway) and would’ve been better with traditional make-up work.

  • 22 1-06-2009 at 5:30 pm

    Matt said...

    The Academy always snubs a few films in the top 7 for visual effects. If I recall both Spiderman 3 and HP 5 didn’t make it to the shortlist last year.

  • 23 1-07-2009 at 7:02 am

    D. said...

    The Academy snubbing Transformers last year, as someone already mentioned, really hurt my confidence in this and the sound categories, and made it clear they’ll nominate a blockbuster, but choose a better-reviewed film if given the chance.

    That said, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, The Dark Knight and, to a lesser extent, Iron Man are in a rather comfortable position here, being relatively succesful at the box office, relatively well-recieved and the effects being relatively well-executed in all three. And none of them winning would dissapoint — the effects in Button are said to be groundbreaking, The Dark Knight pulls them off seamlessly (many people believed Harvey Dent’s scars were makeup), while Iron Man takes the more old-fashioned, explosions-and-flying-men approach and does it well.

    Hellboy II and Australia seem to be too much of art directors’ films to let the effects sink in. The inclusion of the latter would be welcome, however not likely.

    That leaves us with The Journey to the Center of the Earth and The Mummy 3. Sadly, the track record for this category (always having one god-awful film nominated, see also Best Makeup) advises us that one of them will almost surely make the top three, thus replacing either Iron Man or, more likely, The Dark Knight.

    So, the final three might look like this: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button; Iron Man; The Journey to the Center of the Earth OR The Dark Knight.

  • 24 1-07-2009 at 7:05 am

    D. said...

    Correction: While reffering to Hellboy II and Australia, I wrote the inclusion of the latter would be welcome, while I meant the former. So, Hellboy II, not Australia, yet both unlikely.