Oscar Circuit: Best Visual Effects

Special Effects are on display in this particular category…

life-of-pi-tiger-richard-parkerAnd the Nominees are…

The Avengers – Janek Sirrs, Daniel Sudick, Jeff White, and Guy Williams
Oscar Scene: Hulk smashing
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey – David Clayton, Joe Letteri, Eric Saindon, and R. Christopher White
Oscar Scene: The introduction to Gollum
Life of Pi – Erik De Boer, Donald Elliott, Guillaume Rocheron, and Bill Westenhofer
Oscar Scene: Any involving Richard Parker
Prometheus – Charley Henley, Martin Hill, Richard Stammers, and Trevor Wood
Oscar Scene: The Opening Scene
Snow White and the Huntsman – Phil Brennan, Neil Corbould, Michael Dawson, and Cedric Nicolas-Troyan
Oscar Scene: The Mirror Man

A category often filled with summer blockbusters, it’s not every day that the Best Visual Effects field has a Best Picture nominee contained within it. That alone makes it one of the more interesting categories, but it’s hardly the only reason for that. Many of the other tech categories are harder for layman to comprehend and as such feel a bit exclusionary (Film Editing or Sound Mixing, for example), whereas this category is a lot simpler to wrap your brain around. This year, happen to have a bit of mix between high octane and low key contenders, which I find unique. Of the 5 nominees, it seems like more or less a 2 horse race. Which are they, you ask? Well, lets dive right in and find out!

First a bit of history for everyone, as I like to do for the Oscar Circuit pieces each year. The last dozen winners in this category have been Hugo, Inception, Avatar, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, The Golden Compass, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest, King Kong, Spider-Man 2, and The Lord of the Rings Trilogy. There’s not a whole lot you can take from this, as was the case last year, but I’d say that it shows a little bit of the taste that the voters have in the category.

The Avengers is the first nominated film, and it always seemed like a lock for a nomination in this category. The men nominated for this work are Janek Sirrs, Daniel Sudick, Jeff White, and Guy Williams. While Marvel films have been able to get Oscar nominations in the past, they don’t tend to win. I think this flick has a shot in the race, but it’s not a real big one. In short, don’t count it out, but don’t bet on it either come the night of the Academy Awards.

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is the second nominated film, and it’s another nominee that was more or less expected. There’s some very solid effects work here, but the 48 frames per second was divisive and could be a factor in voting. The nominated men for this movie are David Clayton, Joe Letteri, Eric Saindon, and R. Christopher White. The affection some Academy members have for the franchise may work in its favor, but as a less than fully embraced entry, it might have a hard road ahead, even without the 48fps issue. Still, it’s currently the #2 pick in my eyes for this category.

imagesLife of Pi is the third nominated film, and the frontrunner if you ask me. The rare movie that works the effects into the story rather than vice versa, I think voters will be heavily in favor of this one, especially since it’s often subtle and centers around the realistic creation of an animal that functions as a central character in the narrative. The gentlemen nominated for the film are Erik De Boer, Donald Elliott, Guillaume Rocheron, and Bill Westenhofer. Considering how much Oscar voters liked this movie, this nomination could easily be the one that translates into a win. For my money, this is the clear alpha male of the group.

098-de-545-v0028-ri-623D56A-jpg-191659-jpg_182114Prometheus is the fourth nominated film, and the high tech nominee of the group. The flick itself wasn’t amazingly well liked, but it had major summer movie buzz and the effects are hardly the issue that anyone has with it. The guys looking to win beat the odds and win the Oscar for their work on the flick are Charley Henley, Martin Hill, Richard Stammers, and Trevor Wood. I wouldn’t expect them to be winners when all is said and done, but stranger things have happened. This is the #3 choice as far as I can see.

Snow White and the Huntsman is the fifth and final nominated film, and it’s more or less an expected filler nominee. The film itself was roundly dismissed by critics, but if there’s one thing to praise about it…it’s the visual effects. The men who did this work on the flick are Phil Brennan, Neil Corbould, Michael Dawson, and Cedric Nicolas-Troyan. It’s the least likely movie to win as far as I can see, but it’s not a terrible nominee at all. Just don’t expect the Academy to honor it.

Essentially, the race is between The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey and Life of Pi, with the latter far out in the lead. In a bubble, I could see any of the nominees winning, but the fact of the matter is that Life of Pi is so beloved by voters that almost none of them will be able to overtake it. The Avengers or Prometheus could shock, and The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is the spoiler, but this looks to be a category in which to honor Richard Parker We’ll see what ultimately happens though, as this certainly isn’t a category that’s all wrapped up in a neat little package…not by any stretch just yet.

Prediction: Life of Pi

Snubbed: Captain America: The Dark Knight Rises, The Impossible, Looper

Thoughts? Discuss in the comments!

What do you think?

Film Lover

Written by Joey Magidson

When he’s not obsessing over new Oscar predictions on a weekly basis, Joey is seeing between 300 and 350 movies a year. He views the best in order to properly analyze the awards race/season each year, but he also watches the worst for reasons he mostly sums up as "so you all don't have to". In his spare time, you can usually find him complaining about the Jets or the Mets. Still, he lives and dies by film. Joey's a voting member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association.


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