Best Visual Effects Predictions

Current Predictions (10-10-11):
Rise of the Planet of the Apes
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Pt 2
The Tree of Life

Best Visual Effects Notes (10-10-11): The key to picking the Visual Effects category is not going with the film that has the best explosions but the one that needs to be honored for a special merit in visual innovation. A quick look at recent winners presents the meticulous head replacement of The Curious Case of Benjamin Button and the innovative use of Stereo technology in Avatar. It’s easy to guess the biggest and loudest film in this category but that’s a trap. Really this is the closest to a consistent “Special Achievement” Oscar that the show has.

As such, I think the front-runner here might actually be Tree of Life. It’s not wall-to-wall effects and the story certainly doesn’t depend on any specific innovation in VFX technology, however, the breath of the effects are exhaustive and spectacular. No other film’s effects will move people the way Tree of Life’s do. Sure, the film doesn’t depend on its effects, but, like Curious Case, that will be seen as an asset rather than a detriment. Unless something shocks with a sense of artistry and scope beyond Tree of Life, I will be very surprised if it’s not at least nominated. 

I’m interested in what Hugo brings to the table. Scorsese has played with VFX in the recent past but this one looks like it might be dynamic spectacle from begins to end. The novel lends itself to effects heavy cinema with drama to balance it out. Again, if Hugo catches fire, this category, and many others, could easy swing its way.

Harry Potter gets another nod for being a sturdy example of well done VFX. Honestly, nothing in any of the Harry Potter films has stood out to me in the way of VFX. The work is solid, well-crafted, and often very exciting. It’s not particularly innovative or original though. I suspect Potter will get nominated but fall short of the win again.

Thor and Rise of the Planet of the Apes were surprisingly compelling action movies that blended strong VFX with live action drama. I believe both are very deserving of recognition. In a perfect world both of these films would get nominated, which may happen unless the film I will speak about below actually breaks through.

Many Oscar prognosticators will pick Transformers: Dark of the Moon. Be wary of this inclination. Many of my friends work in the VFX world, some of whom have even worked on the Transformers franchise. They have continuously expressed how lazily the work in Transformers continues to be done. Beyond it’s incomprehensibly bad storytelling, the film’s single most important element (the battle scenes) is also handled with a lack of clarity or good taste. No other Transformers movie has been nominated in this category. Don’t expect that to change this year.

Good Bets:
Rise of the Planet of the Apes
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2

Strong Chances:
Transformers: Dark of the Moon
Captain America: The First Avenger
Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides
The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn
Super 8
Real Steel

Wishful Thinking:
The Tree of Life
The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo

Bad Bets:
Cowboys & Aliens
Green Lantern
X-Men: First Class

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