Oscar VFX (visual effects) nominated Tuesday (could Harry Potter finally win?)
My family has only a few traditions, and the newest one is attending the Oscar Visual Effects Bake-off.
Last year was my first time attending and with films like Avatar and District 9 in the running, it was quite a night. While not as amazing as last year (how could it be?), the 2011 bake-off was also a night filled with visual wonder that blew me away.
The Visual Effects Bake-off is a way for the Visual Effects Branch of the Academy to decide which films will be nominated for an Oscar. Seven films are put on a short-list (or list of possible contenders). A 15-minute highlight reel of the visual effects from each film is shown, with introductions and Q & A’s book ending each one. Then, the Visual Effects branch votes for the final nominees before it goes to the entire Academy of Oscar voters.
The short list this year was: Inception, Alice in Wonderland, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, Iron Man 2, Tron: Legacy, Hereafter, and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1. There was one big change this year. Every year before this one, three films out of seven are chosen by the Visual Effects branch of the Academy to be nominated. This year, the Visual Effects branch voted for five films to be nominated.
This change served very well for Harry Potter. Every film in the franchise has been short-listed, but has never gotten a nomination. While they consistently displayed strong highlight reels, Potter has never managed to grab a nomination.
Sorry kids, but it isn’t the type of film that Oscar voters usually vote for. Harry Potter just isn’t considered a “serious” movie. Yet with five spots, Deathly Hallows Part 1 brought delight to Potter fans and was able to get nominated. Does it have a chance of winning? Maybe not this year, but visual effects experts all agree that the final film has a big shot.
Potter’s nomination was not much of a surprise. Nor did nominations for Inception and Alice in Wonderland surprise anyone. Even before the bake-off, the talk was that they were set to be in the five.
In Inception, worlds are built and bended in a dream-like fantasy setting. In Alice in Wonderland, Helena Bonham Carter as the Red Queen has a head that appears to be 20 times larger than her body.
What was the real surprise? Tron: Legacy not getting nominated. The film, laden with cool effects such as light-cycles and battles with Frisbee-like weapons or a younger version of actor Jeff Bridges, seemed to have everything going for it. (I, personally, wasn’t impressed, and the Academy seemed to agree with me for once.)
Now with three of the nominations going to Inception, Potter, and Alice, and Tron out of the running, there are three films and only two spots left. Those three films are Iron Man 2, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, and Hereafter. Who rose victorious? Iron Man 2 and Hereafter.
To my disappointment, the Academy wasn’t impressed with Scott Pilgrim’s artsy and highly stylized look. But Iron Man 2 and Hereafter both had impressive Visual Effects, and there is no doubt in my mind that they deserved their nominations.
I ended up staying up past my bedtime, but it was all worth it. I got to watch some of the highlights from my favorite (and sadly some least favorite) films of the year. ‘Cool’ is probably the best word I can use to describe the Visual Effects Bake-off.
PHOTO: A scene from Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part I. (Photo Courtesy WARNER BROTHERS)