Oscars Look: Best Visual Effects


Welcome to our annual Oscar Look series, formally known as “Oscar Circuit” – our deep dive look into each and every category that will be presented at the upcoming Academy Awards.  Each writer of AwardsCircuit.com will tackle a different category, offering up their own perspectives on those specific races.  If you miss a piece, click on the tag titled Oscar Look 2018. You can also see the official Oscar Predictions for that particular race by clicking on the link here or at the bottom of each article.  Make sure to include your own predicted winners in the comment section too!

And the Nominees are:

  • “Avengers: Infinity War” (Walt Disney Studios)
  • “Christopher Robin” (Walt Disney Studios)
  • “First Man” (Universal Pictures)
  • “Ready Player One” (Warner Brothers Pictures)
  • “Solo: A Star Wars Story” (Walt Disney Studios)


“Avengers Infinity War”

Nominees: Dan DeLeeuw, Kelly Port, Russell Earl and Dan Sudick
Oscar Scene: Any involving Thanos, particularly his endgame snap

The fact that the VFX branch threw the weight of its support on “Avengers: Infinity War” instead of franchise sibling “Black Panther” demonstrates how dead-set they are to make this the first MCU movie to nab such an honor. The entire film is one catastrophic action sequence after the next, giving the effects team the most challenging work of their careers for the studio. Likely working hand in hand with editors Jeffrey Ford and Matthew Schmidt, the crew was just as responsible for the blockbuster’s monolithic success as any supervising craftsman during the post-production phase. Josh Brolin’s motion capture performance stuns because of how conspicuous his humanity is, though never at the cost of his imposing nature. With its recent victory at the Visual Effects Society, the future foretells that Thanos might be gripping an Academy Award as tightly as he does the fate of the galaxy.

“Christopher Robin”

Nominees: Christopher Lawrence, Michael Eames, Theo Jones and Chris Corbould
Oscar Scene: Winnie the Pooh and friends hide from the heffalump

I suppose the Academy felt it a “bear necessity” to include Winnie the Pooh and his coterie of forest friends into their program. Alongside “Mary Poppins Returns” — which didn’t receive a nod in this category but still scored quite the love fest — AMPAS doubled down on their nostalgic love of Disney’s oldest properties, newly re-imagined. It’s unfortunate that this pining for anthropomorphic family movies didn’t include the vastly superior “Paddington 2.” This return to the Hundred Acre Wood scrapes by mostly on the believable interactions between the talented Ewan McGregor and his virtual scene partners. With better options inside and even excluded from the lineup, “Christopher Robin” would be the most shocking winner since “The Golden Compass” should it triumph.

“First Man”

Nominees: Paul Lambert, Ian Hunter, Tristan Myles and J.D. Schwalm
Oscar Scene: The launch of Apollo 11 into orbit

The criminally overlooked Neil Armstrong biopic was thrown a bone by the Academy for one of its lesser – yet still impressive – technical feats. The launch effects work is categorically supportive; overall the VFX teams adds a smaller contribution to the lauded lunar landing sequence than most viewers imagine. Still, the lack of love for Damien Chazelle’s cinematic miracle could elicit enough sympathy votes for a shocking outcome on Oscar night. If scorned devotees of “First Man” are out to seek retribution, there’s no easier path than usurping control of a category that’s mostly ignored by the Academy en masse.

“Ready Player One”

Nominees: Roger Guyett, Grady Cofer, Matthew E. Butler and David Shirk
Oscar Scene: “The Shining” stage of the OASIS program

Set in a virtual reality playground for a majority of its running time, “Ready Player One” seems like a default participant rather than a legitimate contender for the crown. Highly detailed avatars and expansive world-building draw even the most diehard of skeptics into this immersive OASIS. However, the over-saturation of computer imagery might overwhelm the senses rather the intended effect of titillating them. Furthermore, the Academy can easily dismiss this Steven Spielberg-directed effort as child’s play unworthy of mature evaluation.

“Solo: A Star Wars Story”

Nominees: Rob Bredow, Patrick Tubach, Neal Scanlan and Dominic Tuohy
Oscar Scene: The train heist on Vandor

The Oscar-nomination streak for the franchise set in a galaxy far, far away continues! Despite some drab lighting and a stray from the typical effects-rampant space battles, “Solo: A Star Wars Story” acquits itself with some pretty Force-ful visuals. Unlike “The Force Awakens” and “The Last Jedi,” this spin-off provides notable variation and greater detail to its alien character design. The aforementioned episodes were previously criticized for their generic and homogenized composition of assorted species. Best of all is the harrowing train heist sequence, executed with such complexity of motion and environmental chaos. If voters are enamored with this sticking point of spectacle quality, “Solo” could be the first “Star Wars” film to win an Academy Award since 1980’s “Empire Strikes Back.”

WILL WIN: “Avengers: Infinity War”

POTENTIAL SHOCKER: “Solo: A Star Wars Story”

SHOULD WIN: “Avengers: Infinity War”


Who do you foresee winning the Academy Award for “Best Visual Effects”? Let us know in the comments below!

Also please sure to check out our Official Oscar Predictions Page!