21 Jan

Best Visual Effects

In interest of being thorough about the Academy Awards, I’ve decided to dedicate a blog entry for every category.  The news media will focus on the top five categories, eventually I will too.  These posts are in the interesting of examining all arena of the Oscar race, even those categories that instinctively draw the urge to visit the fridge when they are handed out.  Today: Visual Effects.

  • Tim Webber, Chris Lawrence, Dave Shirk and Neil Corbould for Gravity
  • Joe Letteri, Eric Saindon, David Clayton and R. Christopher White for The Hobbit: The    Desolation of Smaug
  • Christopher Townsend, Guy Williams, Erik Nash and Dan Sudick for Iron Man 3
  • Tim Alexander, Gary Brozenich, Edson Williams and John Frazier for The Lone Ranger
  • Roger Guyett, Patrick Tubach, Ben Grossmann and Burt Dalton for Star Trek Into      Darkness.

Of all the technical categories (most of which are admittedly a snore), this is probably the most fun.  It is also one of the oldest – it is among the very few awards still in existence from the very first awards handed out back in 1929.  Then called “Best Engineering Effects”, the first award went to the first film to win the top prize, William Wellman’s “Wings.”  Therefore it is not at all surprising that since the art of the cinema has moved so heavily toward big-budget action-oriented movies, the visual effects get better and better.

The nominees in this category, as with Best Picture, are flexible.  They can range from two to five nominees.  Fortunately, in the past five years, the list has remained solid at five.  The nominees this year range form the sublime (Gravity) to the ridiculous (The Long Ranger), yet they are all perfect examples of their craft.  Choosing the winner is always pretty easy. A a good indicator of a win here is that the past five winners – Life of Pi, Hugo, Inception, Avatar and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button – have been best Best Picture nominees (but not winners).

Gravity is the only film in this category to be nominated for Best Picture, and was the top nominees at the Visual Effects Society.

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug continues the tradition of nominating every leg of Peter Jackson’s Middle Earth saga.  All three of “The Lord of the Rings” films won in this category, but the first installment of The Hobbit last year failed to win here.  Is it just not as popular?

Iron Man 3, like The Hobbit is a regular fixture of this award, yet, like Spider-Man before it, hasn’t won in this category.

The Lone Ranger is this year’s head-scratcher; a nominee in a slot that many felt should have been filled by Pacific Rim.  The fact that the movie was one of the year’s most hated big-budget action pictures makes it even more of a mystery.

Star Trek Into Darkness is nothing surprising as a nominee.  Star Trek does not has as a long history with this award as you might think.  Being a science fiction perennial you are surprised to find that only two previous films – Star Trek The Motion Picture, 2009’s Star Trek – have landed in this category.

Who Will Win: Gravity
Who Should Win: Gravity
Darkhorse:The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug


The 86th Annual Academy Awards: Best Visual Effects

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Posted by on 01/21/2014 in Blog


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