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Hollywood Contenders – The shortlist for Best Visual Effects at the Oscars has arrived

Star Wars Space Craft
Yesterday, the Academy Award hopefuls in Best Visual Effects were whittled down to just 20, as voters can now focus in on the achievements they’re most fond of. This is one of the few categories where we actually get to see what the voters are considering in advance of the nominations. We’re still a month and change away from the big announcement, but we can have a much more educated guess now today than we did just 24 hours ago, and that’s a plus for me. Below you’ll see which 20 the Academy is going to be choosing between, along with some quick thoughts on what might advance to the final five…

As a real quick primer, here’s what the previous winners in this category have looked like of late:

2014 – Interstellar
2013 – Gravity
2012 – Life of Pi
2011 – Hugo
2010 – Inception
2009 – Avatar
2008 – The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
2007 – The Golden Compass
2006 – Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest
2005 – King Kong
2004 – Spider-Man 2
2003 – The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
2002 – The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers
2001 – The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
2000 – Gladiator

As you can see, it certainly doesn’t hurt to be a Best Picture nominee in this category. It’s not a requirement, but it helps for sure. At times, it can seem like Best Visual Effects means Most Visual Effects, but by and large there isn’t an embarrassment in the lot. With the strong slate this year, that’s a streak we’re likely to have continue, and I’m all for that, obviously. In fact, one could even argue that this year’s winner, provided it’s one of a few noteworthy titles, might be one of the best choice in some time. That’s another story though, but one to keep an eye on.

The Walk Robert Zemekis 600x400

Among the snubbed hopefuls, we have titles like Cinderella, Crimson Peak, Fantastic Four, Kingsman: The Secret Service, The Man from U.N.C.L.E., Pan, Pixels, San Andreas, Ted 2, and Victor Frankenstein. I was slightly surprised that Cinderella and Pan didn’t make the cut, but they were never likely to get nominated anyway, so it’s hardly a big deal. One or two of the ones that did make the next stage are on the less noteworthy side, but you really can’t cry foul. Most years, something really egregious is left off, but that’s not the case here. Kudos to the branch here for actually making what seems like the right decision up and down the line in Best Visual Effects.

Here now is the short list for Best Visual Effects at the Oscars:

Ant-Man
Avengers: Age of Ultron
Bridge of Spies
Chappie
Everest
Ex Machina
Furious Seven
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2
In the Heart of the Sea
Jupiter Ascending
Jurassic World
Mad Max: Fury Road
The Martian
Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation
The Revenant
Spectre
Star Wars: The Force Awakens
Terminator Genisys
Tomorrowland
The Walk

furious 7 c

It’s a pretty strong long list of 20, if I do say so myself. The weak links/long shots here appear to be Chappie, Everest, Ex Machina, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2, In the Heart of the Sea, Jupiter Ascending, Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation, Spectre, Terminator Genisys, and Tomorrowland. Going by that theory, there’s still a solid ten contenders in a great spot for a nod. I’m not sure Bridge of Spies or The Revenant gets a nom, though the fact that they’re in the running for a Best Picture citation gives it a spark for sure. Ant-Man and Avengers: Age of Ultron might cancel each other out, though who knows, honestly? Jurassic Park might not seem like an obvious choice, but the box office take might demand that it’s cited somewhere (with the same, to a lesser extent, going for Furious 7). On the flip side, The Walk’s big CGI scene is so impressive that it could overcome its flop status. I feel confident that Mad Max: Fury Road, The Martian, and Star Wars: The Force Awakens get in, but after that trio, it’s anybody’s guess for sure…

jurassic world sea  600x303

Stay tuned to see which five films are ultimately nominated by the Academy!

About Joey Magidson

A graduate of Stony Brook University (where he studied Cinema and Cultural Studies), resides in Brooklyn, New York. He also contributes to several other film-related websites.

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