The race for the Oscar for Best Visual Effects is on, and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has put it into full gear by releasing the list of films that will comprise the final 15 contenders. As you might remember from previous years, this only the first cut. Over the next few weeks, the Academy’s visual effects branch will narrow the list down to seven films, then watch 15-minute clip reels and bring it down to five nominees for a January 25th announcement. Which leaves us the never-difficult task of picking through the list and deciding two things: which films we think deserve the 5 nominations, and which five films will actually get the nominations. First, lets take a look at the list.

Here are the final 15 contenders for the Academy Award for Best Visual Effects:

  • Alice in Wonderland
  • The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader
  • Clash of the Titans
  • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1
  • Hereafter
  • Inception
  • Iron Man 2
  • The Last Airbender
  • Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief
  • Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time
  • Scott Pilgrim vs the World
  • Shutter Island
  • The Sorcerer’s Apprentice
  • TRON: Legacy
  • Unstoppable

Personally, I’m yet to see TRON: Legacy. With that said, here are some thoughts. Inception had some wildly innovative effects. It was perhaps the year’s “biggest” effects film, and one that could yield some nominations in other categories. It will be on the minds of Academy voters, so it’s got a shot. Other nice surprises: how about Scott Pilgrim vs. the World? Some of the more creative and fun effects we’ve seen this year, and definitely something fresh. It would be nice to see it get a nomination, as many of these other films — I’m looking at you, Iron Man 2, Narnia, Percy Jackson and Shutter Island — have done things we’ve seen before. The Sorcerer’s Apprentice feels like the sleeper, as it was very ambitious visually, pulling off some complicated and wildly imaginative effects. I wouldn’t be surprised to see it contend all the way up to Oscar night. I’m understandably bored with many of the other choices. The likes of The Last Airbender, Unstoppable, Prince of Persia, Clash of the Titans and Alice in Wonderland move down the list simply because they weren’t very interesting movies. Some of the effects were interesting, but on the whole the films were forgettable.

That leaves TRON: Legacy. So we’ll see.

What do you think will make the final five? Which film should win Best Visual Effects?

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