“Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2″
Oscar scene: The climactic battle between Harry and Voldemort
Oscar scene: The train crash
Oscar scene: The final robot boxing match
“Rise of the Planet of the Apes”
Oscar scene: The apes rising
“Transformers: Dark of the Moon”
Oscar scene: The Decepticon wraps around a building
One of the more interesting categories out there for Oscar is Best Visual Effects. Many of the other technical categories are harder for the layman to comprehend and as such feel more exclusionary (Film Editing or Sound Mixing, for example), whereas this particular category is a lot simpler to wrap your head around. This year, we don’t especially have a lower key nominee as in years past (just look at Hereafter scoring a nod last year), so it’s pretty much going to be which film was the best feast for the eyes. Of the 5 nominees, it seems like a 3 horse race to me. Which 3 are they, you ask? Well, let’s dive right in and find out!
First a bit of history for everyone. The last dozen winners in this category have been Inception, Avatar, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, The Golden Compass, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest, King Kong, Spider-Man 2, The Lord of the Rings Trilogy, and Gladiator. There’s not a whole lot you can take from this, but I’d say that it shows a little bit of the taste that the voters have, though not entirely. I’ll come back to this at the end, but why don’t we take a look at the films up for a nomination this year?
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 is the first nominated film, and while I confess to never having seen it, there’s not denying that one thing that this franchise has done right is make it a visual treat. The men nominated for this work are Tim Burke, Greg Butler, John Richardson, and David Vickery. They could benefit from the Academy looking to give something to the franchise now that it’s complete, but I’d say that it’s the least likely of the most likely, if that makes any sense. In short, don’t count it out, but don’t bet on it either.
Hugo is the second nominated film, and the closest thing to a low key nominee we have this year. The integration of the effects to the overall story is the best of any flick in the hunt, but at the same time it lacks that “wow” factor that could be its Achilles’ heel. The nominated men for this movie are Ben Grossman, Alex Henning, Robert Legato, and Joss Williams. An improbably Hugo sweep would make this an easy call in favor of the film, but I think it’s going to come down to just how much voters were impressed by Martin Scorsese not calling attention to the effects themselves. It’s currently the #2 pick in my eyes.
Real Steel is the third nominated film, and easily the most surprising nominee in the field. I was quite surprised actually that it got nominated, especially with other contenders like The Tree of Life looking more likely for a nod. This isn’t to say that the effects aren’t good, just that the flick is an improbable nominee, and thusly is the long shot in the race. The gentlemen nominated for the film are Swen Gillberg, Erik Nash, John Rosengrant, and Danny Gordon Taylor. Honestly, I’d be shocked if this movie turned out to be the winner.
Rise of the Planet of the Apes is the fourth nominated film, and the frontrunner if you ask me. It’s got the right combination of subtlety and opulence that voters seem to like. Just look at the acclaim that Andy Serkis got for his effects assisted performance in the flick. I think it’s a winning recipe. The guys looking to win the Oscar for their work on the flick are Daniel Barrett, Dan Lemmon, Joe Letteri, and R. Christopher White. I expect them to be the winners when all is said and done, so bet on them if you’re so inclined. This is the alpha male of the group.
Transformers: Dark of the Moon is the fifth and final nominated film, and it’s more or less an expected filler nominee. 2 of the 3 films in the franchise have gotten this citation, and its yet to win. I expect that to continue, though it could be argued that their effects were better this time around. The men who did this work on the flick are Scott Benza, Matthew E. Butler, Scott Farrar, and John Frazier. It’s not the least likely movie to win, but I’m all but ready to dismiss it, and that has nothing to do with my distaste for the franchise. It’s just never been quite “winner” quality to the Academy.
Essentially, the race is between Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2, Hugo, and Rise of the Planet of the Apes. The flick in the lead is Rise of the Planet of the Apes, but I look at Hugo as the possible spoiler. I’m not counting Potter out either, but that movie is a bit farther behind. I said that I’d get back to the history of the category, and here it is. Potter and Transformers are hurt by the fact that they’ve had previous installments of their franchises nominated without a win. It’s not a be all end all situation, but it’s not a help, that’s for sure. We’ll see what happens though, as this certainly isn’t a category that’s all wrapped up…not by any stretch.
Prediction: Rise of the Planet of the Apes
Snubbed: Captain America: The First Avenger, Super 8, and The Tree of Life
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Tags: Best Visual Effects, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 2, Hugo, Real Steel, Rise of the Planet of the Apes, Transformers: Dark of the Moon