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Oscars 2017: Best Visual Effects Longlist

Another day, another category gets whittled down.

All the people covering this have called it a shortlist. But it’s not. The shortlist comes later. Unless you’re gonna call the next list with 10 contenders the short(er)list, then you can call it that. This is a longlist. I’m not saying otherwise just for clicks.

But still — they narrowed the Visual Effects field down to 20 films, and pretty soon they’ll narrow it down to 10. So for now, we’ll go over the 20 and then guess which ten they’ll narrow it down to in like three or four weeks.

Here’s your longlist:

Alien: Covenant
Beauty and the Beast
Blade Runner 2049
Dunkirk
Ghost in the Shell
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle
Justice League
Kong: Skull Island
Life
Logan
Okja
Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales
The Shape of Water
Spider-Man Homecoming
Star Wars: The Last Jedi
Thor: Ragnarok
Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets
War for the Planet of the Apes
Wonder Woman

Okay cool. Not a terrible list.

Right off the top, you can be pretty sure that they won’t shortlist:

Ghost in the Shell
Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle
Life
Okja
Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales

Jumanji has solid effects, but nothing I would think they’d go out of their way to shortlist. Life — no fucking way. Okja’s effects look good, but also look very CGI. Not the kind of thing they’d go for. Pirates — the last one got shortlisted, but there were 15 that year, and I think they’re done with this franchise. Notice Transformers didn’t even make the cut. They’re done with these old hat franchises.

So we’re down to 15. And looking at the rest — here are ones that sound like they’d be shortlisted but are probably closer to red herrings:

Justice League
Kong: Skull Island
Logan
Thor: Ragnarok

Logan, to start — great film, great seamless effects… but what effects really are there? This is more what the VES awards would call “supporting Visual Effects.” It’s not crazy, and it’s so realistic that the effects really don’t fit what they do here.

Thor, meanwhile — a lot of effects, but nothing particularly outstanding. Again, another movie that doesn’t wow you with the CGI. They love Marvel, and they love when they do Hulk, but Marvel’s got three options here, and while this is the most critically acclaimed, I’m not sure it’s tops for a shortlist. I’m probably wrong, but that’s my guy.

Kong — lot of monsters, they like the big ape, but did they like it enough? Does that matter? I don’t know. I’m feeling that it’s more likely to get left off, if only because if they shortlist it, I immediately throw it to the back of the line and assume it’ll never get nominated.

Justice League — giant, incoherent mess. Maybe it’ll sneak on a shortlist, but does anyone think it actually gets nominated? I’d leave it off. Besides, you gonna vote for a movie where Superman without a moustache looks that creepy?

So now, that leaves eleven movies left. If I had to take one of the remaining bunch off, I’d say Guardians 2, just because. But that’s just I needed to take something off. I feel like the first Guardians didn’t have “wow” effects but got nominated on charm. So for that matter, maybe Thor does get nominated. This — I don’t think it’ll make the final list. Maybe a shortlist, but I don’t know.

Assuming that’s off, that leaves ten movies, and my guess for what the shortlist is gonna be:

Alien: Covenant
Beauty and the Beast
Blade Runner 2049
Dunkirk
The Shape of Water
Spider-Man Homecoming
Star Wars: The Last Jedi
Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets
War for the Planet of the Apes
Wonder Woman

Most people looking at this would assume Alien: Covenant gets left off the shortlist. It was just okay, generally thought of as a disappointment. But consider this — Prometheus was nominated in the category. And Ridley Scott’s team (who I’m assuming are most of the same people) get on a bunch. I think that has a chance at a shortlist and nothing more. If you disagree, then swap it for Guardians, because I think we’d all agree on the rest of them.

Beauty and the Beast looks great. Sure, a lot of it is production design and costumes, but I think they’ll shortlist it. Possibly the second choice, after Alien, for being left off in favor of something like Thor or Guardians, but I think this has a pretty solid chance at a shortlist, owing to the general like for the film, Disney’s overall strength (consider that they have five of the twenty overall contenders in this category and could legitimately see all five shortlisted) and the fact that it made a lot of money.

Blade Runner is on, and likely nominated. I don’t think anyone will disagree strongly with that.

Dunkirk — shortlisted at least. But Nolan gets nominated. I think we all figure that’s on.

The Shape of Water — maybe it doesn’t get shortlisted, but I feel like it will. Nomination seems unlikely (though possible, if they love the film as much as it seems, this early on), but a shortlist seems probable.

Spider-Man seems like a guaranteed shortlist and a 50/50 on a nomination, depending on what else makes the shortlist. Marvel will get one film on, and this seems most likely.

Star Wars will be nominated. I mean, of course.

Valerian will be shortlisted and possibly even nominated. I’m not 100% sold on the nomination just yet, but the shortlist is gonna happen. This is a movie that, while a huge bomb, was lauded by everyone for its visuals, no matter what they thought of the film as a whole. It creates an entire world, and visual effects artists love that sort of thing. It’ll get shortlisted and it might be a film that I’m guessing is nominated over something larger because of that. We’ll see. I still say it’s for sure getting shortlisted.

And Wonder Woman will be shortlisted for sure. If they don’t, then I’ll be impressed. It’s not that the effects were so great, it’s that it’s the film celebre of the category. It’ll probably get straight up nominated based on that alone. I don’t necessarily think it should, but I’m not here to be subjective. I’m here to figure out what they’ll nominate. And until I see them do otherwise, this will 100% make a shortlist. After that, we can talk.

– – – – –

Visual Effects is a strange beast, and sometimes odd things make it. I remember The BFG making the shortlist last year. Though even there, I realized it was because of Spielberg. Here, I would be somewhat surprised if any of those first five I took off make the shortlist, but past that, I think it’ll go largely as I suspect. I feel like there are 12 major contenders for 10 spots, and you’ll see some combination of those on the eventual shortlist. MAYBE one goes awry and something else gets in, but that’s about it. This year seems pretty easy up until the category stage.

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2 responses

  1. lacourseauxetoiles

    I don’t see why you think Thor isn’t going to make it on, but think Spider-Man will. Spider-Man’s visual effects were just ok and were not at the center of the film (half of the film was just a high school drama, which was great, but had almost no visual effects in it at all). In addition, Thor got nominated at the Critics Choice Awards while Spider-Man didn’t. And how can you say that the reason Thor won’t make it on is because it doesn’t wow you with CGI when massive parts of it are driven by the visual effects, but then say that Spider-Man is guaranteed to be shortlisted when it has far less CGI?

    Also, you forgot to talk about War for the Planet of the Apes.

    December 9, 2017 at 6:33 pm

  2. I WANT Kong to make the eventual category (being possibly my favorite film of 2017 so far), but with both 2013’s Pacific Rim and 2014’s Godzilla having failed to make their final categories (almost criminally so), I don’t have much hope that Kong will make the shortlist, much less the ultimate category.

    December 10, 2017 at 1:36 am

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