Oscars Week: Best Visual Effects

Welcome to the least represented category of them all – Best Visual Effects. This has been one of the more predictable categories, particularly in this decade, because a Peter Jackson directed film has won four of the seven years. I call this the least represented category because mainly, there are usually only three films nominated. 1979 was the first and only year to have five nominees (Alien, The Black Hole, Moonraker, 1941, Star Trek), and some years only had one clear film that could even make the cut. This is also one of the most frustrating categories due to the fact that most people do not understand how a really bad film with amazing effects could surpass another much better film with equally impressive effects. For instance, 1995’s winner Babe beat out Apollo 13, so wtf? So how do they pick the winners exactly?

I will start off with the fact that the judges are fed a fifteen minute clip of the best visual effects that each film has to offer. So when analyzing these three films, the real question is:

Which film, if it were only fifteen minutes long, would kick the most ass?

oscars-viz1.jpgThe Golden Compass
(Michael Fink, Bill Westenhofer, Ben Morris and Trevor Wood)

This is the second nomination for both Michael Fink and Bill Westenhofer. I am guessing that Westenhofer was the main man being that his first nomination came from another animal-filled fantasy/adventure film, The Chronicles of Narnia. The film undoubtedly had the talent to create a something that was fun to look at. The fact that you get to see animals seamlessly integrated into environments and airships is cool and all, but the undeniable yes factor of this film would have to be fighting polar bears. Unfortunately though, this film did not contain one hundred minutes of awe-inspiring effects, let alone fifteen minutes. The Golden Compass may have snubbed a few more worthy films of their nominations.

oscars-viz2.jpgPirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End
(John Knoll, Hal Hickel, Charles Gibson and John Frazier)

This is probably the most esteemed group of men to represent any of the three films. This is the ninth nomination for Frazier, who is oddly enough also nominated for his involvement in Transformers this year. This is fifth nomination this decade for Knoll, with two of those nominations coming from the two other Pirates of the Caribbean films. Hickel and Gibson were both involved with the other two Pirates films as well, giving this group a total of 19 nominations and 5 wins. The first Pirates did not win in 2003 because this was the year of the final Lord of the Rings film, but did take home Oscar in 2006 with Pirates 2. No matter what happens, John Frazier will be taking home an Oscar…but for which film?

(Scott Farrar, Scott Benza, Russell Earl and John Frazier)

Another strong group here, including the afore mentioned John Frazier. For Farrar though, this is his fifth nomination and he already has one win. This film could literally win with a slow-motion Megan Fox montage, and not even show anything to do with the Transformers. The film might not quite be Shakespearean theater, but it most definitely contains more than the required amount of eyegasms that the academy would be looking for. Unfortunately though, I just don’t think that the academy can appreciate the leaps and bounds that this film took. You can probably expect a more predictable and conservative pick, passing up a far more innovative and impressive nominee in Transformers.

Who’s going to win?
Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End

Who should win?

Who got overlooked?
300, I Am Legend, Sunshine

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