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Academy Awards VFX Short List

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Scott Roberts
Academy Awards VFX Short List
on Jan 5, 2012 at 4:20:52 pm

I thought in case anybody wanted to debate special effects awards for this years films, I'd post now that the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts & Sciences has released the 10 film shortlist for the Best Visual Effects Oscar, which will be narrowed down to the 5 official nominees later this month. Felt like appropriate talk for the COW.

Here are the 10 short listed films:

* Captain America: The First Avenger
* 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
* Transformers: Dark of the Moon
* The Tree of Life
* X-Men: First Class

I'd throw Tree of Life out right away, because I hated that movie. Real Steel and Pirates 4 may have had alright effects, but they were terrible movies, so I'd throw them out. While I really liked the movie, there were a few moments in X-Men First Class where the effects seemed unpolished, so I'd get rid of that. Based on the remaining 6, Mission Impossible had the least noticeable special effects to me, so I'd throw that one out.

Leaving my 5 guesses at nominees being Transformers, Planet of the Apes, Captain America, Harry Potter, and Hugo. And based on how visually stimulating it is, with a high profile director, great use of 3D, and lots of critical acclaim, I'm gonna say Hugo wins the Best Visual Effects Oscar this year.

Anyone agree/disagree? Or you can throw the Oscar element out of this completely, which film do you guys think had the most impressive visual effects this year?


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Mark Suszko
Re: Academy Awards VFX Short List
on Jan 5, 2012 at 4:34:36 pm

I'm going to have to go ahead and disagree with you a little bit on one thing you said, friend.

Special Effects that nobody sees and perceives as effects at all, are often what the entire exercise is ABOUT. Making something like a traditional glass matte painting or 3-d digital set extension seem so real you just accept it as such and ignore it, is often the most difficult effect of all. When the effect people do their jobs wrong, effects shots stand out like sore thumbs and take you out of your suspension of disbelief. But when they get it RIGHT, it creates the internally accepted and integrated reality of the movie for the audience, every bit as does the work of the photographer or director or editor. The award should not be just for the most elaborately contrived and overt artificiality, but measured against creating a convincing new narrative reality.

Also, I have to say, the Academy owes Andy Sirkis an Oscar ever since LOTR's Gollum. They don't understand that mo-capped performances ARE Actual performances, just with a different kind of makeup and prothetics over the top of it.


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Scott Roberts
Re: Academy Awards VFX Short List
on Jan 5, 2012 at 4:48:17 pm

Yeah, I definitely agree with you. I remember last year when the effects team behind Black Swan released their subtle effects reel, I was blown away at how much of the film they had polished over without anyone noticing. I would love to see that kind of reel for EVERY film. Mission Impossible may be the same kind of deal, but in my memory, it just didn't scream visual effects film to me. It was more of just an awesome action film. I don't doubt that there were great effects in play throughout the whole thing (like making Tom Cruise look tall... ZING!), but I would still put the 5 I mentioned ahead of it on a VFX list.

[Mark Suszko] "Also, I have to say, the Academy owes Andy Sirkis an Oscar ever since LOTR's Gollum."

I don't think they will change this 'no animated character' policy anytime soon. They just don't want to open that can of controversial worms. Even though it would do nothing but give them credibility as relevant thinkers... but ya know, these are the same people who think The King's Speech will have a more lasting legacy than The Social Network...


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