Oscars 2015: Best Visual Effects Longlist

The Academy announced their longlist for Best Visual Effects. There are 20 films on it. In a few weeks, this list will be narrowed down to 10 films, and then of those 10, 5 will be nominated. So really all there is to do now is speculate about how unlikely a bunch of these movies are to even be shortlisted. Because Terminator? Okay.

Anyway, here’s your longlist:

Avengers: Age of Ultron
Bridge of Spies
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
Star Wars: The Force Awakens
Terminator Genisys
The Walk

Without a moment’s hesitation, here are my completely unfiltered and knee-jerk thoughts on the matter:

What are the special effects in Bridge of Spies? The locations? No way this gets shortlisted. First one off.

Mockingjay is a no. None of the others were even shortlisted. So that’s off.

I also don’t remember a Fast and Furious movie getting shortlisted ever, so that’s off too.

Terminator — wouldn’t that shock you? The franchise has a history here, but there’s no way. There’s just no way. And if they do shortlist it, that just makes guessing the category 1 movie easier.

The Revenant seems incredibly unlikely. Though if that bear does rape as good as they say, maybe that is worth a shortlist.

Tomorrowland was too much of a disappointment for them to shortlist. I’d be surprised if Disney managed four films on a shortlist to boot. So I’d say, while it wouldn’t shock me, I’d be moderately surprised, given the talent overall. Though this does feel like one of those shortlisted films that you’d think for a second could sneak on. Though I don’t think they’re campaigning that hard for this.

So that’s five right off the top. I’d say Tomorrowland would rank closer to 12 or 13 if I had to rank the chances of them getting on.

The Martian also seems very unlikely. It could sneak on a shortlist, but you have to realize, if they nominate this, it fucks over the entire category. Remember, no Best Picture nominated film has ever LOST this category (in the modern effects era, i.e. post Star Wars) unless it was to another Best Picture nominee. So if The Martian gets on (and in all likelihood it’s going to be nominated for Best Picture), that really fucks up the entire category, voting-wise. So I’m gonna skew toward them nominating all action heavy effects films, since look at how many we have on here.

Everest would be nice, but I highly doubt they’ll even shortlist it. From looking at recent years, these types of movies don’t go very far at all. Because it’s all about digital environments and it’s all supporting VFX. They don’t go for that here unless it’s something like Hugo where it’s like, “Holy shit, look how good the 3D looks.” So highly doubtful this makes a shortlist.

The Walk — maybe. It’s breathtaking and the final sequence is worth the price of admission. Is that enough to make a shortlist? Possibly. Again, though, Best Picture. Though I’m not sold this even makes Best Picture quite yet. So that part might be safe. I can see this making it, but I feel like it’s not exactly what they go for in this category. That said, I feel like they’ll campaign hard for this to make it on.

We’re down to 11. Notice the other elephant in the room I haven’t talked about yet, which is Jupiter Ascending. Don’t assume they won’t shortlist this even though we all think it was a piece of shit. I’ve seen crazier shit make a shortlist. That said — lizard people.

So that leaves us with 10 movies, and the 10 that are unlikely to be our shortlist. Since at least one of the above films will end up on the shortlist. I’m more here to just analyze what could be nominated. To guess the shortlist in this case is stupid. But let’s see what we have:

Ant-Man — likely a shortlisted film. The shrinking scenes were widely praised and the quantum realm part looked great. I say definitely a shortlist, possibly a nominee.

Avengers: Age of Ultron — They double dipped with Marvel last year, they could very well do it again. Ultron is a character and is entirely mo-cap. Plus, Avengers. Solid bet at a nomination, definite for a shortlist, no chance at a win.

Chappie — almost definitely a shortlisted film. Chappie as a character is exactly the kind of stuff they go for. It’s even a red herring nominee. I don’t think they will, since Ultron steals a lot of this movie’s thunder, but this should make the shortlist.

Ex Machina — Ooh… interesting. While I’d love to see this make a shortlist, I don’t know if there are enough effects for them to really go for it. I can actually, the way this category usually ends up, see them going with Tomorrowland or Jupiter Ascending over this. So, would be nice, but I’d be (pleasantly) surprised to see them shortlist this.

In the Heart of the Sea — ooh, good one. I could see them shortlisting this easily. Though wouldn’t surprise me at all if it didn’t. Small chance at an actual nomination, but I could see a shortlist here.

Jurassic World — I’d be surprised if they didn’t shortlist this. Nomination — doesn’t need to be there. Shortlist, how could they not? I want to see the shortlist before I proclaim this a nominee or not. But for sure they should shortlist this. The amount of money this made… that should be enough to get it nominated, to be honest.

Mad Max: Fury Road — 100% shortlisted and likely nominated. This could even potentially win, since the effects are universally beloved here. There are really two contenders this year, and the other one is…

Star Wars: The Force Awakens — just nominate this now. We all know it’s gonna be. Right now either this or Mad Max is winning unless some Best Picture gets on the list somehow. Though maybe this year sets precedent. Who knows. Either way, yes, clearly, to this.

Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation — Nah. They’ll shortlist it, probably, but it won’t get nominated. Ghost Protocol got longlisted but not shortlisted. And that was up against Alice in Wonderland. So I doubt they’d go for this past maybe a shortlist.

Spectre — Should get shortlisted for sure. Skyfall got shortlisted but wasn’t nominated. Which means this is less likely to get on than that was. But they should shortlist it.

– – – – – – – – – –

If I’m guessing a shortlist right now, I’ll say…

  • Ant-Man
  • Avengers: Age of Ultron
  • Chappie
  • In the Heart of the Sea
  • Jurassic World
  • Mad Max: Fury Road
  • Spectre
  • Star Wars: The Force Awakens
  • Tomorrowland
  • The Walk


That’s my guess. Not feeling solid about Tomorrowland, but fuck it. It was either that, Jupiter Ascending or Rogue Nation. I just feel like they’ll throw enough at it to get it on there. Though whatever, it’s just a shortlist.

For the category, I’m looking at:

  • Ant-Man
  • Avengers: Age of Ultron
  • Jurassic World
  • Mad Max: Fury Road
  • Star Wars: The Force Awakens

And if anything isn’t making it on from there, it’s Ant-Man. And they’ll toss on something like In the Heart of the Sea or The Walk, or one of those classier titles. But right now, I’d say the bottom four seem like mortal locks to make it through to the final category. But we’ll see. They’ll cut our list of 20 in half soon enough.


One response

  1. I must say, it makes no sense at all why you’re not predicting ‘The Martian’ to get on. Let me ask you this… have you ever seen a Best Picture nominee with a bunch of VFX not be nominated in the VFX category? And when you say that no Best Picture nominee has ever lost in the VFX category, all that really tells me is that The Martian is winning Best VFX.

    December 8, 2015 at 9:49 am

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