Sunday, February 2, 2014

One Category at a Time: Visual Effects

I'll try to keep this post short and sweet, because let's face it: There's no bigger slam dunk this year than Gravity's impending victory for the Best Visual Effects Oscar. This is hardly arguable, even for detractors of the film. But as locked up as the award is, there are still a few tidbits of trivia worth mentioning...
-This will mark the fifth -- that's right: FIFTH -- consecutive year that the winner of Best Visual Effects also wins Best Cinematography. It's also the sixth year in a row in which that film was a Best Picture nominee. The old rule about Best Picture nominees never losing this category unless it's against another Best Picture nominee has held true for over 30 years, and has only ever failed once when Patton lost to Tora! Tora! Tora! in 1971. Does this "BestPicNod + BestVFX = BestCinematography" formula mean we can project Hoyte von Hoytema to win next year's Best Cinematography Oscar for Christopher Nolan's Interstellar? If that happens, remember:
You read it here first!

-Iron Man 3 managed to maintain Tony Stark's perfect track record with the vfx branch. All four movies featuring the eponymous hero have been nominated for Best Visual Effects, but at some point the streak will have to end, right? How much longer can this branch swoon for that elaborate suit?

-Speaking of perfect track records, the Best Production Design snub for The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug means that Best Visual Effects is now the only category for which every one of Peter Jackson's Middle Earth movies has been nominated. Will the gravy train finally end for Weta with next year's final Hobbit film, especially since they also have Dawn of the Planet of the Apes in play? Or will the effects house be doubly represented like they were in 2009 with both Avatar and District 9?

-For me personally, one of the most laughable ironies of this Oscar season is that my early predictions from back in May were more accurate in this category than my official predictions on the eve of nominations! My initial year-old instinct that J.J. Abrams' sequel to his Star Trek reboot would net another effects citation panned out in the end, although I welched on that at the last second (despite BAFTA and VES nods) in favour of Oblivion. D'oh!
-Gore Verbinski's The Lone Ranger is a double nominee this year thanks to the visual effects branch chalking up its even combo of CG and practical effects over the digital proficiency of Pacific Rim (this year's most inexcusable snub, by the way). As much as I like seeing practical effects get their due, I gotta ask, where were these voters for The Dark Knight Rises or Skyfall last year, huh?

Will win: Gravity
Runner-up: none, but let's say... The Hobbit?

Should win: Gravity
Should've been nominated: Pacific Rim

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