Oscars 2015: Best Visual Effects Shortlist

They announced the Best Visual Effects Shortlist.

I’ve honestly forgotten what the longlist was, so I’m not even gonna bother looking back. This is the new reality. These are the 10 we have to deal with, from which we will get our category.

Avengers: Age of Ultron
Ex Machina
Jurassic World
Mad Max: Fury Road
The Martian
The Revenant
Star Wars: The Force Awakens
The Walk

Looking at this — most of these make sense. Something told me Tomorrowland was going to make the shortlist. I do remember thinking that much.


Star Wars is just on.

Mad Max is also probably on.

Jurassic World is probably on, but we’ll see.

Ant-Man and Avengers — interesting. This could be a year where one or both are left off.

Ex Machina seems too small a film for them to nominate, sadly.

The Martian could end up on there as the big Best Picture player.

The Revenant is very unlikely.

Tomorrowland has that weird “Lone Ranger” kind of shot, but it feels highly, highly doubtful.

The Walk has a fairly solid chance, but I’m learning toward no.

Right now, if I had to rank down

10. The Revenant — aside from the bear scene, there’s not a whole lot there for them to vote for. I don’t think they’re gonna go for one scene given what this category has become. They really need to love it, and I don’t know if they will. I’d be pretty shocked if they nominated this.

9. Ex Machina — it’s a tiny movie. Sure, effects were half the budget and were great, but you know what the smallest budget has been in this category the last five years? $50 million. This was $15 million. I’d be really surprised if they went here on that alone. The category has become entirely effects driven. This is just how it is. I can’t rank this higher than ninth. And theoretically, with The Revenant as a potential major player, this might even be ten of ten.

8. Tomorrowland — This is a tough one. Because usually when something “subpar” gets on, it’s Disney’s doing. The Lone Ranger, Snow White and the Huntsman. But to me, Snow White made money and Lone Ranger was all about great practical effects. I understood that one. Snow White, I still don’t quite get. But that movie didn’t have the stench this movie did. They lost a lot of money here, and there aren’t too many out and out bombs that make it. Plus, in a year with three Disney choices (shit, four), are they gonna populate the entire category with them? Unlikely, but to see it nominated wouldn’t shock me. I’m certainly not guessing it, though.

7. The Walk — Yes, the last act is incredible. But “effects”? It’s green screen. Mostly they just recreated the New York skyline. And it looked animated, a lot of it. I guess they could go here if they think broadly about it, but it feels unlikely. It does seem like one of the most solid bets of this “lower” tier, if you’re gonna pick any of them.

6. Ant-Man — I’m not sold that this won’t actually be nominated. Of the two Marvel movies they have this year, this one had the more memorable (and fun) visual effects. And in my mind, they nominate those movies. But the problem is, from here on out, what do you replace with this? So I have to keep it sixth, but I still might even guess it on my actual category.

5. Avengers: Age of Ultron — It’s Avengers. You have to assume they’d go for it until they don’t. But, with the mixed reviews, maybe they don’t? Still made a lot of money. But do people remember a whole lot about this? I bet effects people remember whole chunks. The big African city fight is memorable, and they do love the Hulk. And Ultron being a fully realized CGI character. I’m 60/40 on this. I can see them leaving this off in a “surprise.” But on the other hand, do we really think that’s gonna happen?

4. The Martian — My immediate instinct is that this can be left off. But apparently this is gonna be nominated all up and down the board. So we’ll see. To see this nominated here and in Best Picture means certain things. But we’ll get to that in a minute. I have to put it here because of it’s “stature” in the race (even though no one knows shit at this point until PGA/DGA and maybe BAFTA to a smaller extent), but I’m not 100% sold that this is a nominee (though it probably is.)

3. Jurassic World — dinosaurs. You have to assume this is a solid choice. Though like the three films I’ve ranked below this, I can think of just as many reasons why this won’t be nominated as much as reasons why it will. The money really helps.

2. Mad Max: Fury Road — for this not to be nominated will say a lot about what they consider visual effects to be nowadays.

1. Star Wars — are you gonna bet against it?

– – – – – – – – – –

So this is what we have. The key player here is The Martian. If The Martian is nominated, that changes everything and makes for a really interesting category. The other question is whether or not Mad Max will be nominated for Best Picture. Because if either or both of those are here and are nominated for Best Picture, that tells me two things — either a seismic shift is going to happen, and this will be the first time in the modern history of the category (i.e. almost 40 years) where a Best Picture nominee, when nominated in this category, did not win. Or it means that Star Wars will not win this category.

But that’s all something we discuss after we have a category. For now, I’m looking at six films for the category:


Avengers: Age of Ultron

Jurassic World

Mad Max: Fury Road

The Martian

Star Wars: The Force Awakens

I’m not guessing which five are gonna be nominated just yet, but I’ll wager a pretty good guess that my five will almost certainly come from this list of six. Which is pretty good.

If you’re asking me to pick five right now… shit, I don’t know. I guess Ant-Man is left off. Though that’s reasoned logic talking. My gut says Avengers is the “quality” cast-off there. But Jurassic World and The Martian also make sense. Definitely gonna need some time to consider this one.


2 responses

  1. Never thought we’d get an interesting category dilemma in Visual FX, of all places.

    December 21, 2015 at 10:33 pm

  2. I think The Walk will get on. It’s been getting a lot of notice from smaller groups, it’s Zemeckis, it was a critically praised film which underperformed severely…I think it’ll happen. I think the five are Force Awakens, Mad Max, The Martian, Jurassic World, and a toss-up between Ant-Man and Ex Machina, which may be small, but has remained a solid force in the race, especially for a low-budget science-fiction film that came out in the spring.

    December 22, 2015 at 1:49 pm

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