Visual effects race whittled down to 15

Posted by · 3:43 pm · December 10th, 2010

This is the first year the race for Best Visual Effects will feature five nominees.  So take a third of these lucky semi-finalists and there we are.  The five I think most are expecting to show up are still in the mix.

The most surprising omission for me is “Black Swan,” which used digital wizardry to very startling effect, especially in the film’s final act.  I also expected “The Tempest” to show up, but I guess it just leaves too bad a taste in people’s mouths.

I’m happy to see “Shutter Island” get singled out.  If we start seeing the guilds respond to the work in this film (and indeed, we might), I think it would be fair to start taking it’s Best Picture chances seriously.  It’s holding up for more than you might expect.  And “Hereafter” shows up on this list, too.  I wouldn’t be surprised if it slid in for its opening sequence (which is rather respected in the VFX community).

Full list after the jump.  The category’s Contenders page has also been updated with a proposed ranking.

Via AMPAS press release:

“Alice in Wonderland”
“The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader”
“Clash of the Titans”
“Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1”
“Iron Man 2”
“The Last Airbender”
“Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief”
“Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time”
“Scott Pilgrim vs the World”
“Shutter Island”
“The Sorcerer’s Apprentice”
“TRON Legacy”

[Photo: Paramount Pictures]

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32 responses so far

  • 1 12-10-2010 at 3:52 pm

    BulgingThrobbingShroom said...

    No Black Swan even on the not-so-short list? Typical.

  • 2 12-10-2010 at 3:55 pm

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    Yeah, that’s a bummer.

  • 3 12-10-2010 at 4:01 pm

    Parrill said...

    As much as I loved the film, the efx for Black Swan were just a little bit on the weak side…but only a little.

    So what is it:
    Iron Man 2
    Alice and Potter?

    I’d rather see Pilgrim and Shutter in there but that aint happening.

  • 4 12-10-2010 at 4:01 pm

    Hans said...

    So it’s still a bake-off? Didn’t realize that, just thought it’d be a standard pencil-in-five-choices race now.

    But I lurve me some Scott Pilgrim on there.

  • 5 12-10-2010 at 4:16 pm

    Graysmith said...

    I’d say..

    1. Inception
    2. Tron Legacy
    3. Alice in Wonderland
    4. Harry Potter 7

    With Iron Man 2 and Narnia duking it out for the last spot.

  • 6 12-10-2010 at 4:22 pm

    DylanS said...

    Percy Jackson & the Olympians has no right to be on that list. Everybody who saw that knows that the visual effects sucked!

  • 7 12-10-2010 at 4:49 pm

    RyanT said...

    God I’d give anything for Scott Pilgrim to get nominated for an Oscar. This is its shot (though sound editing/mixing should also be strongly considered).

  • 8 12-10-2010 at 5:06 pm

    forts said...

    1. TRON: Legacy
    2. Alice In Wonderland
    3. Inception
    4. Harry Potter 7
    5. Iron Man 2

    Shutter Island may be able to sneak in while Scott Pilgrim will get shut out (Rightfully so considering its competition)

  • 9 12-10-2010 at 5:25 pm

    JJ1 said...

    No Black Swan – bummer.
    No The Social Network – i.e., Winklevoss.

    Otherwise, a bang-on 15.

    Happy to see SI on there. And I gotta give some props to Percy Jackson. I kinda dug it, and it’s cornball effects.

  • 10 12-10-2010 at 5:27 pm

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    Oh yeah, didn’t even catch the TSN snub.

  • 11 12-10-2010 at 5:27 pm

    Chad Hartigan said...

    Yeah, The Social Network should be on there.

  • 12 12-10-2010 at 5:32 pm

    Parrill said...

    It’s so good they didn’t notice it.

    They like things more flashy in this category.

    Zodiac was the same way.

  • 13 12-10-2010 at 5:35 pm

    Dean said...

    It’s really frustrating they didn’t notice The Social Network even in this but it’s not that surprising since they didn’t nominate Fincher’s Zodiac which similarly used FX in a supporting manner but that were even more crucial to the feel of the film.

  • 14 12-10-2010 at 5:41 pm

    Estefan said...

    Well, it’s not like it’s the first time we’ve seen seamless use of the same actor playing twins on screen. The Parent Trap, anyone?

    I would really love to see Scott Pilgrim in the final nominations.

  • 15 12-10-2010 at 5:43 pm

    Glenn said...

    Ugh, why is this category 5 nominees again? oh, so more awful movies can claim themselves as Oscar nominees!

    What a stupid bunch of rubbish. No “Monsters” or “Enter the Void” either for the arthouse set, which is the only justification I could have found to expand the category to five nominees.

  • 16 12-10-2010 at 5:44 pm

    Lance McCallion said...

    Wow. Black Swan was easily my favorite visual effects work of the year. And they go with Unstoppable? I hardly even recall many effects shots in that one. Strange. The Social Network omission is also distressing. Oh well.

  • 17 12-10-2010 at 6:26 pm

    John said...

    I would have liked to see THE SOCIAL NETWORK on there, too.

    But what’s wrong with UNSTOPPABLE? Heaven forbid, they might actually be considering practical FX again?

  • 18 12-10-2010 at 6:35 pm

    Lance McCallion said...

    Nothing’s wrong with Unstoppable, I figured that had more to do with stunts and such than effects, though there are certainly a few. Things get hit by a train mainly. Eh…

  • 19 12-10-2010 at 7:24 pm

    Speaking English said...

    “The Social Network” lost its spot with that awful CG breath. Totally distracting.

  • 20 12-10-2010 at 7:30 pm

    Jason K. said...

    This is NOT the first year that there are 5 nominees for Best Visual Effects. In 1979, “Alien” beat out “The Black Hole”, “Moonraker”, “1941” and “Star Trek: The Motion Picture”.

  • 21 12-10-2010 at 7:45 pm

    Jin said...

    We had 5 nominees in 1979 for visual effects. The nominees were Alien, The Black Hole, Moonraker, 1941 and Star Trek: The Motion Picture.

  • 22 12-10-2010 at 7:46 pm

    Jin said...

    Oops. I was 15 minutes late.

  • 23 12-11-2010 at 2:44 am

    red_wine said...

    Enter The Void snub is bad.
    The vagina perspective shot of the penis entering it is the most beautiful, creative, artistic and innovative VF Shot of the year! : ) You definitely haven’ seen anything like that in movies before.

  • 24 12-11-2010 at 5:29 am

    JJ1 said...

    Yeah, I’m not hatin’ on Unstoppable too much. The film got great reviews, good box office, and as John said, practical FX.

  • 25 12-11-2010 at 12:08 pm

    Ben M. said...

    Monsters and Splice stand out to me as the two films that were really snubbed and actually deserved consideration for the final five, but the genre and small scope of the movies probably doomed their chances.

  • 26 12-11-2010 at 12:51 pm

    Rashad said...

    monsters no, splice yes

  • 27 12-11-2010 at 2:44 pm

    al b. said...

    Lovin Unstoppable on this list!

  • 28 12-12-2010 at 2:47 pm

    Seth said...

    Unstoppable and Shutter Island were good but routine. Totally undeserved, especially with the omission of the inventive Black Swan. That said, these are my top 5:
    1 Tron
    2 Inception
    3 Alice In Wonderland
    4 Hereafter
    5 Either Iron Man 2 or Scott Pilgrim
    I’m glad to see that despite mixed reaction to the film itself, the visual effects branch recognized the intricate and successful combination of cg and live action in Hereafter. I thought that opening 10 minutes was fantastic. And I understand there is a lot of subtle performance enhancement of the young boy (tears, swapping out eyes from one take for another, etc.). Which was at least as hard as Social Network’s head swaps.

  • 29 12-12-2010 at 5:56 pm

    Jake A. said...

    Everyone assumes that it’s all practical, but Unstoppable also has about 300 visual effects shots.
    Granted, that’s less than most of these.
    But, does that really matter?
    Does budget matter?

    The goal of visual effects is to be invisible. Are the effects in the other films less visible than those in Unstoppable?

    It will be interesting to see what happens here.
    It seems like a long shot. It certainly won’t have a chance unless people are willing to judge visual effects apart from visuals (the imagery in some of these films IS amazing). But, it seems worthy of consideration.

  • 30 12-13-2010 at 1:27 am

    Seth said...

    Jake, don’t get me wrong: Unstoppable was very good work. But in terms of innovation or difficulty, it wasn’t anything special. Hard surface models (trains, etc) made to look real in live action photography? Been there, done that. My point was that “Hereafter” elevated the integration of live action & cg in a way that was truly innovative. Check out the latest Cinefex (yes, I’m a geek, I admit it). They shot ocean plates & then constructed these virtual moves and environments around those. Tough stuff. And I think the vfx Oscar should honor innovation, if nothing else.

  • 31 12-14-2010 at 2:02 am

    Jake A. said...

    That’s exactly my point.
    The award is for achievement. It’s for the seamless execution and artistry of the effects and their contribution to the story. Lately it’s been hard to see the distinction, but innovation is just the means to an end.
    I suspect that this film was chosen just for plain old craftsmanship. If so, I think it’s refreshing to see that acknowledged for its own sake. I think it’s brilliant, because it conveys the message that practical effects and artistry still have value next to technology and innovation.

    Still, I’d be right there with you on the “been there, done that” argument if a) innovation weren’t so commonplace and b) execution were more consistent among the innovators. But many films soar technically and then fall short on the basics (including rendering hard surfaces), and that clouds things. I’m thinking of one film in particular which has many shots that telegraph cg…and it’s the one I’d pick to win.
    Maybe the door has been left open just enough that it’s perhaps a stretch to summarily dismiss a film that really sticks the landing just because it didn’t invent a new trick.

    My favorites are films that present bigger challenges. I see two real contenders, and then a broad expanse before you get to the next. I’m partial to Hereafter too.
    But I really like to see this one in the mix.

  • 32 12-18-2010 at 6:23 pm

    Seth said...

    Jake, hats off. You make some strong and convincing points and are clearly someone who thinks these things through, as opposed to lemur voters jumping off cliffs as the vote w/ the mases, based on the hot trend. The Academy rules for vfx offer 2 key criteria: 1. consideration of the contribution the visual effects make to the overall production 2. the artistry, skill and fidelity with which the visual illusions are achieved. Based on that, I think a vote for either Hereafter or Unstoppable could easily be justified. Pity I can’t vote.