AMPAS will vote on expanding visual effects category to five

Posted by · 10:58 am · May 18th, 2010

Expansion is the thing these days.  And after last year’s shift from five Best Picture nominees to 10, it’s looking like the wheels are in motion to finally cough up another two slots in the category of Best Visual Effects, a move I think many will agree is a long time coming.

But we’re not there yet, mind you.  Variety’s David Cohen reports that the VFX branch’s executive committee voted “yay” on the proposal and that it now must be approved by the Academy’s Awards Rules Committee.  If they’re on board, we get five.

Cohen tries to use the old “move would help the Oscars’ efforts to bring popular pics to the show” line, but we all know Best Visual Effects is generally a haven for critically dismissed cotton candy.  Still, given the rise of effects wizardry over the years, a limited slate of three has left more than a few eyebrow-raising bridesmaids.  I’m fully in favor of this and hope it passes.  But cui bono?

I think “Iron Man 2” was looking like a lost cause for any nomination until this nugget came along.  Now it could conceivably slide into contention like the first, more widely acclaimed film.  Tim Burton’s “Alice in Wonderland” is also a possibility.  The two which would probably be the safest bets from here are “Inception” and “TRON Legacy,” but I’ve been wondering if the awe-inspiring visuals of M. Night Shyamalaan’s “The Last Airbender” might stand a fighting chance.  Now I know it will.

Other films that could benefit include “Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time,” “Clash of the Titans” and “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1.” However, a wild card in the race might be Terrence Malick’s hotly anticipated “The Tree of Life,” which is said to feature dazzling visual effects in a few sequences.

I also assume that, like with the Best Sound Editing category, which moved to five a few years ago, this would eliminate the bake-off process, leaving just the makeup branch with that paradigm.

Anyway, I’ll hold off until May 24, the post-Cannes Off the Carpet column, before offering up an official stab.  Hopefully by then the rules committee will have voted.  Let’s make it happen.




→ 29 Comments Tags: , , , , , , , | Filed in: Daily

29 responses so far

  • 1 5-18-2010 at 11:31 am

    James D. said...

    At the risk of sounding like a philistine, aren’t visual effects one of the more easily decided categories around? I mean, aren’t the quality of visual effects easier to quantify than an acting performance or a screenplay?

    They really should expand the Foreign Language Film category to ten. After all, if there are ten spots for American and British movies, why not ten for the rest of the world?

  • 2 5-18-2010 at 11:32 am

    Will said...

    i think this needed to happen a few years ago when there were more candidates and tougher competition

  • 3 5-18-2010 at 11:44 am

    Edward L. said...

    If only we’d had this in 2005, Revenge of the Sith would surely have got in. I’m still smarting over that!

  • 4 5-18-2010 at 11:46 am

    THE Diego Ortiz said...

    I like it, but there should be to categories to visual effects. (Yes, another award to hand out.)
    Best Visual Effects – CGI
    and
    Best Visual Effects – Non-CGI (or a better name)
    Non-CGI would include stuntwork.

  • 5 5-18-2010 at 11:57 am

    Loyal said...

    I’m guessing

    Alice in Wonderland (ugh)
    Chronicles of Narnia 3
    Harry Potter 6
    Inception
    Tron 2

    But it might as well be

    Inception
    Inception
    Inception
    Inception
    Inception

  • 6 5-18-2010 at 12:03 pm

    Robert Hamer said...

    I’m excited for this, mainly because it will allow smaller films with inventive special effects a better shot at a nomination, rather than *only* huge popcorn flicks.

    Think about it, how cool would it have been to see Zodiac or The Fountain get a nod in this category?

  • 7 5-18-2010 at 12:06 pm

    THE Diego Ortiz said...

    It won’t be Inception. Nomination yes, win no. Nolan doesn’t use a lot of CGI.

  • 8 5-18-2010 at 12:30 pm

    Kevin said...

    Inception will more than likely win based on the seamlessness of the more subtle CGI and effects wizardry. The Dark Knight actually used quite a bit of CGI in a number of sequences, but it was subtle and really hard to notice because it was so well done.

  • 9 5-18-2010 at 12:38 pm

    Jeremy said...

    FINALLY. I’ve been railing against this category for years. Given the increasing importance of visual effects in mainstream filmmaking, it was wholly illogical for the Academy to sideline the category. Long overdue.

  • 10 5-18-2010 at 12:47 pm

    Jonathan Spuij said...

    5 VFX nominees will probably mean only 3 Best Song nominees. You’ve gotta cut somewhere and that’s the best place to start.

  • 11 5-18-2010 at 12:49 pm

    JJ said...

    Agreed ^ Jeremy.

    And I’d say the 5 could be Inception, Tron, Prince of Persia, Last Airbender, & Harry 7.

  • 12 5-18-2010 at 12:55 pm

    Marshall said...

    If “Clash of the Titans” gets nominated….

  • 13 5-18-2010 at 1:31 pm

    Patryk said...

    About damn time.

  • 14 5-18-2010 at 2:14 pm

    Hans said...

    “…but we all know Best Visual Effects is generally a haven for critically dismissed cotton candy.”

    As true as that has been (Superman Returns, Poseidon, etc.), take a look at the last couple of years of nominees: TDK, Iron Man, District 9, Star Trek, Avatar, CCoTB. It reads like a resume of the best that the Hollywood blockbuster machine has had to offer, all of them being both critical and commercial hits. This suggests to me that the Academy may be wising up to films that go for an easy VFX nomination while sacrificing plot, quality, writing, etc. (2012, Transformers 2).

    So if an expansion to 5 means more recognition for quality blockbuster hits, then I’m all for it. I would have loved an HP6 nomination last year but not at the expense of the perfect VFX slate (and, for that matter, the only perfect category last year).

  • 15 5-18-2010 at 2:27 pm

    Gustavo H. Razera said...

    At long last. I mean, really.

  • 16 5-18-2010 at 2:42 pm

    Jonathan Spuij said...

    It’d be fun if they handed the trophy to Avater again, just for laughs.

  • 17 5-18-2010 at 3:40 pm

    Maxim said...

    Why stop at five? Let’s expend to 10.

    Hooray for worthless inclusions.

  • 18 5-18-2010 at 4:13 pm

    Tom said...

    I think that five for VFX is a good call. I think there are so many movies that use clever and creative effects to help create the tone and style of the film. In my ballot last year I would have voted for movies like Gamer, The Lovely Bones, and The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus, movie that are truly inventive in the way they use FX, over big bloated FX-driven flicks like 2012 and Trannies 2.

  • 19 5-18-2010 at 4:15 pm

    aspect ratio said...

    About time. Ridiculous to have 10 nominees for sound in two categories and just 3 for visual effects. This expansion should’ve been done several years ago, there’s definitely enough worthy contenders in any given year now for there to be five nominees.

    Good move, AMPAS.

  • 20 5-18-2010 at 4:34 pm

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    It might not only be worthless inclusions, Maxim. It could afford the opportunity Robert Hamer describes above. Try not to be so miserably argumentative all the time. It’ll be worth it, trust me.

  • 21 5-18-2010 at 7:18 pm

    MovieMan said...

    The big contenders so far are “Alice in Wonderland,” “The Book of Eli,” “Clash of the Titans,” “Green Zone,” “Iron Man 2,” and “Robin Hood.” None of these films are good. Pity. Hopefully there could be other good films out of the unfolding group.

  • 22 5-18-2010 at 9:33 pm

    PJ said...

    I’ve been wondering if the awe-inspiring visuals of M. Night Shyamalaan’s “The Last Airbender” might stand a fighting chance
    Is this going by just the trailers, Kris?

  • 23 5-19-2010 at 12:00 am

    Glenn said...

    Ugh.

  • 24 5-19-2010 at 12:32 am

    RJL said...

    “Try not to be so miserably argumentative all the time. It’ll be worth it, trust me.”

    Has someone listened to his podcasts? Apparently not.

  • 25 5-19-2010 at 2:58 am

    Cde. said...

    “Robert Hamer said…

    I’m excited for this, mainly because it will allow smaller films with inventive special effects a better shot at a nomination, rather than *only* huge popcorn flicks.

    Think about it, how cool would it have been to see Zodiac or The Fountain get a nod in this category?”

    I think The Tree of Life will be the smaller film that gets in this year. It combines CGI creatures (which the academy usually loves) with practical effects from Peter Parks (The Fountain) and, allegedly, Douglas Trumbull. Hell, if the Trumbull thing is true, it could easily get a nomination in a field of three. The awards season release date is going to help it out too.

  • 26 5-19-2010 at 8:48 am

    JJ said...

    MovieMan says, “The big contenders so far are “Alice in Wonderland,” “The Book of Eli,” “Clash of the Titans,” “Green Zone,” “Iron Man 2,” and “Robin Hood.” None of these films are good. Pity. Hopefully there could be other good films out of the unfolding group”.

    While I don’t think any of those movies were ‘great’, I do think a lot of them were ‘good’.

    AND, don’t we always think/assume that any movie will be better than it is (most of the time).

    Sure, I could have made improvements to Alice, Eli, Robin Hood, Iron Man 2, but so could you, and you, and you, and tons of other people.

    That’s NOT the movie that was made, and it never would have been. I think expectations on movies are getting too high. That’s my opinion of the day.

    Sorry to get tangential, the topic is special effects, but I spoke of them in an earlier post (5 is better than 3). :-)

  • 27 5-19-2010 at 5:03 pm

    ninja said...

    The winner will be decided between Inception and Tron Legacy. No other movie looks more fab than these two in visual department. AIW is a lock for anom but will probably win for costume/make-up. Other 2 nominees will be Potter and hopefully Airbender for element-bending effects.

  • 28 5-20-2010 at 11:59 pm

    Andy said...

    I would say, at this point, if there are five nominees they’ll likely be…

    Alice in Wonderland
    Inception
    The Last Airbender
    The Tree of Life
    Tron Legacy

    with Iron Man and Potter as alternatives.

  • 29 5-27-2010 at 8:29 pm

    Fitz said...

    Realistically Inception and Tron Legacy are the only real contenders although Iron Man 2, Alice, and Airbender could sneak in.