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« Melissa Leo Talks Short Oscar Hopeful "The Sea Is All I Know"| Main| Burning Questions: How Much is "Overdue"Worth?»
Saturday
Dec 10 2011

Oscar's FX Semi-Finalists: Superheroes,Aliens,Dinosaurs, Mermaids

Wouldn't it be weird if Oscar had finalist rounds for all categories and not just a few of them?Can you imagine a runway elimination for Costume Design or a Supporting Actress pre-nom bake-off?But,bringing us back to reality,few categories do this.The effects branch does and after having a looksie at this year's showiest films,they've narrowed the Oscar posssibilities for "Best Achievement in Visual Effects"to 15.We're not sure why there are so many steps in the process but they'll narrow it down again in early January to 10 before 5 are named at the end of January on Oscar Nomination Morning (Or what Nathaniel callsChristmas Eve...Christmasbeing Oscar Night,his favorite holiday!)

The semi-finalist list bring us a few dinosaurs,a handful of mythical creatures,several aliens,a dozen colorful superheroes,a scary school (herd?pack?fleet?) of mermaids,andmanyrobots from small to super sized.

Captain America: The First Avenger
Cowboys & Aliens
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2
Hugo
Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol

Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides
Real Steel
Rise of the Planet of the Apes
Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows
Sucker Punch

Super 8
Thor
Transformers: Dark of the Moon
The Tree of Life
X-Men: First Class

DINOSAURS! There's no award for Best Supporting Visual Effects but I always root forthatfilm even though it's rarely nominated.I mean how are you going to ignore the visual effects ofEternal Sunshine backin its day.But they did.So this year's I'm really pulling for the audacious creation of the earth segment fromThe Tree of Lifesince we obviously can't have the destruction of the earth inMelancholia.Together they're a Double Scoop of Circle of Life Awesome.

OMISSIONS!Effects work that didn't make it to the finals include Tarsem's warring god boytoys inThe Immortals,the elaborate visual wows ofThe Adventures of Tintin,the apocalyptic beauty ofMelancholia's opening/closing segments, and the yellow clouds enlarged craniums alient whatnots and gooey green CGI messes ofGreen Lantern --someone mop that up!

FOUR NOMINEES...BUT THEY ARE LEGION

On Oscar nomination morning five films will be left standing and four lucky craftsmen will reap the benefits for each film,their names to be determined by the producers.It's interesting to note how many people work on a movie's effects sequences versus how many are nominated for what the teams deliver unto us.Let's takeCaptain Americafor an example.The Special Effects department which does models,pyrotechnics,explosives,snow,molds and other sundries and whatnots numbers 40.The Visual Effects department,which does ...uh...everything else [marvel at my intricate knowledge of the process!*snort*] numbers nearly 800 (!!!).Generally speaking one assumes the producers merely pick department heads because most of the job descriptions of those nominated are simply  "visual effects supervisor"though sometimes you'll get a "special effects supervisor"from the sister department.And occassionally something a lot more specific like last year's nomination for Michael Owens onHereafterwhose job title reads "designer: tsunami sequence,visual effects supervisor".

Beyond possibly previously OscaredCraig Barron(2 noms / 1 win) I'm not sure who would getCaptain America's nomination (should it receive one) since there are several visual effects supervisors most of whom would be first time nominees.But I think the producers ought to think outside theboxhyperbaric chamber and considerSimon Waterson,Chris Evans' trainer because this here was the movie's single greatest visual effect...

I rest my case.

If they need further convincing -- perhaps even towards an honorary Oscar --  please to note that Simon Waterson was also responsible for Daniel Craig'sCasino Royalebody.You owe Simon Waterson,moviegoer,even if you don't know it!

Which 33% of the semi-finalists do you think will call themselves Oscar Nominees come January's end?

Oscar Predictions -Visual Categories

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Reader Comments (11)

I'm guessing:

1."Rise of the Planet of the Apes"
2."Hugo"
3."Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows: Part 2"
4."Transformers: Dark of the Moon"
5."Super 8"

Then I'd say the alternates are "X-Men: First Class,""Real Steel"and "Tree of Life"

December 10,2011 | Unregistered CommenterTom C.

I think people are underestimating "Captain America".I think it will get nominated for skinnying down Chris Evans during the film's first act.Take note that much of "Tree of Life"'s visual effects was old-school and supervised by legendary FX guru Douglas Trumbull who was responsible for "2001".I think it will get A LOT of votes from the VFX Branch for that alone.

December 10,2011 | Unregistered CommenterIrvin

I don't want to saySuper 8is a lock (the film,when it's doing everything right,is non-stop effects work in the background),but it's got to be close,right?Captain Americacould slip through the cracks just likeSplicelast year because most of the effects are a mix of Make-Up and Special Effects.Hugowill get in.Suckerpunchdeserves to get in for creating--what--5 different high action fantasy film settings entirely out of CGI?Forget the controversial narrative and focus on the quality of the filmmaking.Rise of the Planet of the Apes,for sure.And I guess I'll sayHarry Potterfor all the fireworks during the big fight and the bank sequence.

Some combination of those six seems right to me.

December 10,2011 | Unregistered CommenterRobert G

Am I missing something,or was Attack the Block just not eligible?

Because I thought that its gorilla-wolf MFers were,give or take a Tree of Life dinosaur,the most powerful and memorable visual effect of the year.Impossible to forget their teeth,fur,and personality.

If Apes wins,though,I'll be more than happy,because DAMN,they have that coming.

December 10,2011 | Registered CommenterAndreas

I didn't know Simon Waterson was the one behind Daniel Craig's body in Casino Royale!(lol,that sounds funny) Talking about overdue people.

December 10,2011 | Unregistered CommenterLuiserghio

And I read somewhere that he was also responsible for the dietary regimen of Jake Gylenhaal pre-Prince of Persia.

December 10,2011 | Unregistered CommenterJorge Rodrigues

Jorge -- god Jake Gyllenhaal's regimen was such a waste.Prince of Persia didn't capitalize on all that hard work at all.Total shirtlessness: less than 30 seconds,i swear ;)

December 10,2011 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

Attack the Blockwas eligible.Visual Effects is even more cryptic than Makeup.An executive committee vets the possible nominees from a list of all eligible films,then calls for secret ballots to be cast.The ballots determine the films being considered for the Oscar nominations.The producers of those films then have to provide written descriptions of how they achieved the effects,a composite reel no longer than 10 minutes showcasing the effects,and a list of the four visual effects artists up for the award.These are then voted on by the branch to determine the nominees.

Now,what gets super-confusing (like that's not?) is how the addendum to the Visual Effects rules says only a maximum of 10 films reach the point where the producers have to submit the information packets.There's no mention of the long-list at all in the rules now.There's either poor copy-editing or an incomplete rules page at the Oscars site.亚博主页So is this the list of films that were vetted to be voted on by the committee with secret ballots or the list of films that actually get to explain their process before nominations are determined?

December 10,2011 | Unregistered CommenterRobert G

it really is just an honor to be nominated to be nominated to receive a nomination

December 11,2011 | Unregistered CommenterMike F

Mike F -- i'm sure it is.I do wonder how they decide who gets the nom,though.Must be frustrating for,say,person #5 on the list.

December 11,2011 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

I think a lot of "Attack the Block"used practical effects,but I may be wrong because they simply looked like practical effects and if they are indeed cgi that makes them really bloody amazing cgi because practical looks best.Wait,what?

December 12,2011 | Unregistered CommenterGlenn
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