Sunday, December 11, 2011

84th Oscar Visual Effects Updates (12/11/11)

Blowing Up Your Definition Of “Oscar Bait”

This is the time of year that other blogs begin ranting and raving about “Oscar Bait.” Some do so with excitement, while others try to look cool and hip by complaining about the Academy’s tastes. But whether you love them or hate them, everyone seems to agree on what “Oscar Bait” means. What I’d like to do is question that definition.

Sure, the acting branch loves to reward biopics, the costume designers go for period pieces and the screenwriters always make space for some quirky low-budget indie flicks, but if we are honest, we have to admit that those big budget films playing at your local multiplex have their chance at glory too. And not just in one place, but in multiple categories. When we look back at the history of categories such as Visual Effects, Sound Editing and Sound Mixing, we see nominations for films like Iron Man, Spider-Man, Harry Potter, The Dark Knight, Star Trek, Transformers, Pirates Of The Caribbean, The Matrix, Unstoppable, Salt, Tron, The Bourne Ultimatum, Jurassic Park, Avatar, Inception, District Nine and The Lord Of The Rings.

So why don’t these films get saddled with the “Oscar Bait” label? Can you really tell me that visual effects artists and sound engineers don’t like awards as much as actors do? Do the marketing gurus think that fanboys are too cool to care about statues? Or is it simply that by ignoring both the baiting and the accolades that these films receive, they get to continue the exaggerated talk of popular versus acclaimed films, while sneakily being rewarded by both camps?

This week the Academy released its long list of 15 films for Visual Effects consideration, and I correctly predicted 11 of them (73%), while all 15 of them (100%) were in my longer list, and my previously predicted nominees all stayed in the race. (You can see how I’m doing in the other races on my Tracker Record Page.)  Of particular note is that The Adventures Of Tintin didn’t make this list, probably because Spielberg is campaigning it as an animated film. (A strategy that could succeed wonderfully, or just as easily backfire, as I mentioned HERE.)

Here are today’s rankings for the 84th Oscar Visual Effects race, with previous ranking shown in parenthesis after each entry. I’m still predicting that Harry Potter will get a series-ending win over Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes, although the critical love for Hugo could easily overshadow both of them, especially since it looks more and more likely to get a best picture nod.

1. Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows Part 2 (Predicted Winner) (previous rank 1)
2. Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes (previous rank 2)
3. Hugo (previous rank 5)
4. Transformers: Dark Of The Moon (previous rank 3)
5. The Tree Of Life (previous rank 4)

6. Super 8 (previous rank 6)
7. Captain America: The First Avenger (previous rank 8)
8. Pirates Of The Caribbean: On Stranger Tides (previous rank 12)
9. Thor (previous rank 9)
10. X-Men: First Class (previous rank 11)
11. Real Steel (previous rank 39)
12. Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol (previous rank 18)
13. Cowboys & Aliens (previous rank 13)
14. Sherlock Holmes: A Game Of Shadows (previous rank 22)
15. Sucker Punch (previous rank 28)

As always, check the Tracker Pages in the upper right hand corner of this blog for the most updated predictions in all categories!
See Visual Effects predictions for other years HERE.
If you’re into visual effects, you might also like Cinematography and Film Editing.
Since I questioned the definition of “Oscar Bait”, you should check out my Sound Editing and Sound Mixing predictions also.
See predictions for other categories at the 84th Oscars HERE.
Switch to another year: 84th,  85th,  86th,  87th,  88th,  89th  


  1. cant believe that Immortals didn't make it for the top 15 long list..

  2. Great set of predictions. Although, I think it's going to end up being Rise of the Planet of the Apes vs. Hugo rather than Rise of the Planet of the Apes vs. Harry Potter.

    As for your question about "Oscar Bait", I think the films that compete in this category aren't referred to as such because I think the term is talking about films that are particularly geared towards Oscar voters and can pull off multiple victories on Oscar night (particularly in the Big 8 categories). While something like Transformers could win sound and effects categories, it's not something that is geared towards Oscar voters.

  3. Harry Potter should have a good shot to take this home along with many of the other technical categories. I think Rise of the Planet of the Apes could be a contender but personally, I didn't think it was seamless enough to be truly mindblowing.

  4. I too believe its gonna be between harry potter and rise of the planet of apes!!!great sets of predictions

  5. @F.Franklin, I didn't see Immortals, but was also surprised that it didn't make the long list. Maybe it was number 16?

    @Ryan, I think you're right that Apes and Hugo will probably have the highest scores from the VFX branch members themselves. But once the Academy as a whole gets a hold of it, it starts to become a popularity contest.

    I hear what you're saying about the big 8 categories, but I think I'm making it my new personal goal in life to break down the popular conception of the big 8 versus the other categories. It's no surprise that Shia LaBeouf isn't going to win an acting award for Transformers, but I think the academy does a pretty good job of rewarding films for what they are, if we pay attention to all the categories instead of just the supposed big ones.

    @Castor, I think that Apes could easily win it if the Serkis campaign takes off--- or in lieu of the Serkis campaign taking off, depending on your view.

    @F.Franklin, Thanks again!