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VFX Finalists. Which will have the honor of losing to Gravity at the Oscars?

The Academy has named ten films finalists for the visual effects Oscar and now the branch members will screen 10 minute clip packages from each film and make their selections.  Half of these films recede into the ether and the other half enters the history books as "Oscar Nominated" on January 16th, 2014. 

the cavalry in Iron Man 3... soon to be Oscar nominated


I am clearly not adept at predicting the finalists because two of the film's I had actually predicted for nominations did not even make the list: say goodbye to the Man of Steel and Oz: The Great and Powerful. Other films that Oscar won't even be considering now for this prize include: The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, The Conjuring and The Wolverine. 

Each of the ten films listed above will be able to hide their clunkiest CGI and just show the really great stuff to the branch. Which films will be nominated and share the honor of losing to Gravity? Time will tell but it might be too steep a wall for World War Z to scale since Oscar doesn't like zombie flicks (in any category) and a bridge too far for Thor since he wasn't nominated last time around. Franchise history suggests that the crews on Iron Man 3 and The Hobbit can start fitting their tuxes. If we still had only 3 nominees in this category the nominees would be Gravity, The Hobbit and Iron Man 3. Which means there are essentially only two spots open. Any combo of the others seems possible which means we'll soon be haunted by this agonizing possibility: will The Lone Ranger be forevermore referred to as  'The Oscar-nominated The Lone Ranger'?)

A final tangential thought: I'm glad that we don't have bakeoffs and "showreels" for acting categories. Could you imagine? Not that greatest hits clips aren't how some people experience the acting nominees in the age of YouTube but you can't properly judge a whole unless you've seen all the parts. Even the lesser parts. Each of these ten films will be able to hide their clunkiest CGI and just show the really great stuff. Which films will be nominated and share the honor of losing to Gravity? Time will tell. 

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Reader Comments (23)

Gravity, Iron Man 3, Hobbit, Pacific Rim and... Elysium? Gosh. Thor: The Dark World is the only other contender that was a hit though, which might be something to consider.

December 6, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterGlenn

It took me a while to remember what is Oblivion. I'm guessing the last two spots go to Pacific Rim and Star Trek, though funnily the only "visual effects" from Star Trek that had everyone talking about is that controversial Alice Eve strip scene.

Just out of curiosity, are they showing a continuous 10 minutes clip from the movie or they can cut and edit a few scenes into the 10 minutes? Wouldn't it be fun if you make a guess on which clips these films show? For Thor, they better show 10 minutes reel of only Tom Hiddleston, 'cause admittedly that's the biggest visual satisfaction of the movie LOL.

December 6, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterPJ

I think World War Z can hide that it's a zombie film if they carefully put together their effects reel and don't refer to the zombies as zombies.

I hope Pacific Rim gets in. It's not a great film, but it's really really pretty. I want Elysium in, too, because the tech suit and space station looked fantastic onscreen (even if they were really poorly served by the story). We know The Hobbit will get in. I'd chose Iron Man over Thor but only because Iron Man actually introduced new visual effects for that series while Thor just did the same things again.

December 6, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterRobert G

I'm glad to see Oblivion sneak in here. The CG was mostly unobtrusive, blending seamlessly with some top notch practical effects. You wouldn't know to look at it, but the crew went back to rear-projection for some of the shots. The atmosphere of that film feels very old-school, like some of the great sci-fi flicks of the '70s.

It's also heartening that the nominating committee wasn't suckered into giving a pass to The Great Gatsby's ridiculously overblown CG. The only FX award that candy-coated theme park ride deserves is most visual effects. It seems likely it rivaled some of this year's superhero flicks for the sheer amount of processors needed to render all that nonsense. /rant

December 6, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterW.J.

Star Trek into Darkness has only had one other movie in the [rebooted] series, which was Oscar-nominated in this category... so maybe Darkness will join this group too.

December 6, 2013 | Unregistered Commentermatt

Nathaniel, the coverage of the visual fx bake-off is always informative and pretty funny on other sites. Have you ever tries to attend? Maybe it will give you new appreciation for a boring category. :-) I'd love for you, Katey, Nick,and Joe to fight over your favorite VFX supervisors.

December 6, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJtagliere

Nathaniel-you weren't the only one who was predicting both Man of Steel and Oz for a nomination-I was thinking they were both fighting it out for fifth, but apparently it was for eleventh.

I think we can all start counting on Gravity (duh), The Hobbit, Iron Man 3, and Pacific Rim for the four nominations, with either Elysium (shudder-I loathed that movie) or Star Trek taking the final slot. I think the stench off of The Lone Ranger is enough so that it won't make the list (the Makeup branch, on the other hand, has no qualms about giving out the "Oscar-nominated" title to such a film, so I wouldn't put it past them). However, Oblivion (which I didn't see) could be a threat-it's forgotten by most everyone, but looking at the trailer again it could be a potential contender as it certainly looks "handsome."

December 6, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJohn T

Glad Man of Steel was left out. Absolutely hated everything about that movie. What an ugly film.

December 6, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterSad man

Happy to see Oblivion get some love here. The movie featured several problems, but it looked great. I'd be quite pleased to see the other two slots go to it and Pacific Rim.

December 6, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterScottC

You'd be surprised how much support World War Z has. I think people in big studios were disturbed by the trade reporting that hung over that project and being called a disaster from the word go.

I think The Lone Ranger's whole 3rd act on the train is what pushed it here. It is one of the stronger CGI action scenes of the year, for sure. You can't go wrong with the "William Tell Overture".

December 6, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterCMG

jtagliere -- i have never been invited to any bakeoffs so I can't be covering them. sad face. plus what are the chances I'm in LA at the right time?

cmg -- i hope you're right. I think world war z is very impressive filmmaking-wise. it's the review i most sort of regret this year cuz i seemed kind of pissy about it but it had staying power. oh and also: i grouse about The Lone Ranger but the effects were very good, particularly, as you say, in the last act.

December 6, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterNATHANIEL R

I love The Lone Ranger, so would be delighted to call it "Oscar-nominated" in years to come -- even if I did share the consensus view that it's a stinker, it'd still be a handsome nominee here .

Deserves consideration for production design, costume design, score and sound, too.

December 6, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterGuy Lodge

Guy -- than you have a larger stomach for awful framing devices, and phoned-in star performances than I do!

That said, I do agree that the movie is not as awful as reviews made it out to be and that it's quite handsomely designed. But, alas, I've given up hoping for Penny Rose to ever win an Oscar nomination in costumes. They've overlooked her for so many great costume jobs that veritably screamed Oscar-Worthy!

December 6, 2013 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

I really liked the intertextual references and wit of Pacific Rim at the design and effects level, I do hope it makes it (I also just liked the movie in general).

December 6, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterBRB

Nathaniel, I would be *happy* to go to any bakeoffs in your stead. It's difficult to beat eating baked goods and watching things explode into Oscar Nominations. Even if there aren't baked goods involved.

My money's on Pacific Rim and Elysium. Both are headed by former Oscar nominees. Plus Pacific Rim is really, really pretty. If Gravity hadn't floated through the critical vacuum that is usually the VFX category, Pacific Rim would have been my choice this year.

December 6, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAnne Marie

anne marie -- WAIT. if baked goods are part of the bake off... then i'm all for them in every category. Can the best actress contenders please court me with muffins and cupcakes and loaves of hot bread?

December 6, 2013 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

Nathan, you said muffins and actresses in the same sentence. Bad boy!

December 6, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterbrookesboy

Thank God this year we're having a real category. In the 70s, some really sneaky-assed stuff was going on with the FX awards. In 74, the award was made an honorary citation, so Earthquake was just handed the prize, undeservedly so for its ridiculous camera-shaking and crumbling shoebox houses. The Academy was clearly snowed by the gimmick of Sensurround, which never made it past more than two movies. The Towering Inferno, with its spectacular effects work that still holds up today, was gipped in the worst way.

And in 73, George Cukor, then-Academy president, cemented his fuddyduddy status for all cinematic time by voiding the award that year because he was so against the "pornographic" Exorcist winning anything. Asshat.

Rant over.

December 6, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterbrookesboy

oops, sorry, typo, Sensurround was in three movies.

December 6, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterbrookesboy

Nathaniel, I bet Meryl makes a mean apple pie. And Emma Thompson bakes rum-soaked fruitcake. Just don't try Octavia Spencer's pie...

December 6, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAnne Marie

Much like with the makeup category, the Academy tends to confuse most with best, so typically, my favorites are excluded from the final list. They need to cut their losses and give the dang thing to "Gravity" already.

December 6, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterTroy H.

''Any combo of the others seems possible which means we'll soon be haunted by this agonizing possibility: will The Lone Ranger be forevermore referred to as 'The Oscar-nominated The Lone Ranger'?)''

I aways were annoyed with the perception that it a movie is bad, everything in it is bad. Yeah, the Lone Ranger was bad (not as bad as everyone is saying) but does not all the hard working people who made the VFX deserve recognition. Does the movie's script or acting being bad make their work any less good?

An objective opinion is that VFX Oscar should not be in any was about how good the movie was. It;s about the work. Same goes for any creative category.

December 6, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterVortep

I really can't imagine any other film beating "Gravity",

December 6, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJaragon

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