Wednesday, December 5, 2012

85th Oscar Visual Effects Updates (12/5/12)

Richard Parker may not have appreciated the water, the whale 
or the meerkats, but the Academy will!
The Academy recently announced a ten film short-list of features that will compete in the “Bake-Off” for a Visual Effects nomination. According to Academy rules, the branch membership receives written descriptions explaining the procedures used to create the effects, and then watches ten minutes of excerpts showing the effects described. Additionally, the branch is asked to vote based on two criteria: “consideration of the contribution the visual effects make to the overall production” and “the artistry, skill and fidelity with which the visual illusions are achieved”. This means that branch members are considering the entries with a level of expertise that audiences may miss if they’re only looking for the coolest explosion. Instead, they are looking for achievements that break new barriers artistically and technologically. 

Life of Pi seems like the clear winner in this category. As the only one of these films in contention for a best picture nomination, it is the one film that every academy member will feel obligated to see before they cast their ballots. Plus, you’ve got Academy favorite James Cameron calling it a masterpiece. Picking which of the superhero movies will fill the fifth spot was a much bigger challenge, but at the moment I think that the scope of The Dark Knight Rises will beat out the The Avengers and Spider-Man.

1. Life Of Pi (Predicted Winner) (previous rank 8)
2. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (previous rank 1)
3. Prometheus (previous rank 4)
4. Cloud Atlas (previous rank 7)
5 The Dark Knight Rises (previous rank 2)

6. The Avengers (previous rank 11)
7. The Amazing Spider-Man (previous rank 12)
8. John Carter (previous rank 25)
9. Skyfall (New)
10. Snow White And The Huntsman (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.
See predictions for other categories at the 85th Oscars HERE.
Switch to another year: 85th,  86th,  87th,  88th,  89th  


  1. Life of Pi's gotta win. I can't imagine 'The Avengers' not getting nominated.

    1. I struggled a lot with whether to include The Avengers. For some reason a lot of it looked fake to me and there was an unevenness about it. But depending on which clips they use it could take the place of TDKR

  2. While I don't necessarily see TDKR as a visual effects award worthy film, even for a nomination, I can't see it not getting in here.

    Waiting for the arrival of Life of Pi this side of the Atlantic. Does look absolutely stunning.

    1. I think you'll really love Life Of Pi Jaina. Some truly stunning visuals here.

  3. I can't see Life of Pi as the frontrunner. Yes its the critics favorite and its in 3D but you have to remember that The Hobbit is also in 3D and is in 48 fps which is said to improve the 3D experience. And lets be real too: we are talking about the Hobbit here, LOTR won the award for all 3 movies in 2D a decade ago. Life of Pi will have to go second on my list.

    1. You could very well be right Mike. But it is precisely the "decade ago" that gives me pause here. Sure, they've made upgrades that the VFX branch will appreciate, but are those going to translate for the folks who see the movie using DVD screeners? Are they going to think (likely unfairly) that they've seen this stuff done three times before? And even if they appreciate the upgrades, are they really going to feel like they have to reward all three Hobbit movies? Why not just wait and give them a truckload of wins at the end?

      But more importantly, I think that the team behind Life Of Pi is already building a stronger case that they are the future of VFX (whether that turns out to be true or not remains to be seen, but that's what they're claiming). Their whole campaign narrative is about being able to tell stories that (again, supposedly) couldn't be told before. About taking VFX beyond superheroes (and even hobbits) and expanding it to different types of stories. So while The Hobbit may have a lot of technical aspects that couldn't be done a decade ago, I doubt that Peter Jackson can make a convincing case that his story "couldn't have been told" a decade ago -- which is what folks like Ang Lee and James Cameron are claiming about Life Of Pi.

  4. I'm hoping you get through all the categories before the nominations are announced.

    1. Thanks my friend! I got a bit of a late start (or re-start), but hopefully I'll still make it in time. Several of the categories will be releasing short lists this month, so that should help too (even if it is cheating a little bit!)

    2. Well, some categories, such as Original Song and Original Score haven't been updated since May 2011. Rather a long time :)

    3. I haven't done much research on those yet, but I'd guess that song might go to Les Miserables or Skyfall, while score is maybe Lincoln or Life Of Pi?