Genre visual effects at the Oscars

Posted by David Konow

Ever heard the old saying about genre films? They don’t win Academy Awards for Best Picture, but usually sweep the technical awards.

Now the nominations for best visual effects have been announced, and it’s an interesting line-up of genre films, along with one mainstream film that’s really pushed the envelope for modern technology.

 
That film is Life of Pi, which has generated rave reviews for not only being an incredible adaptation of the best-selling novel, but for applying 3D in a way that took the technology way beyond its gimmicky origins, and really brought the movie to life. This season is Oscar bait time, where it’s clear which big A-list movies are going for the gold, and you have the feeling Life of Pi will be competing for Best Picture along with Lincoln and Les Miserables. 
 
On the FX list are several of the usual suspects, The Amazing Spider-Man, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, The Avengers, and The Dark Knight Rises. There’s also several other genre films that didn’t hit it with audiences that are nominated including John Carter, which was a notorious money loser for Disney, and Cloud Atlas, which was apparently too ambitious and unwieldy to find its audience. 
 
Also up for FX Academy Awards are the 007 triumph Skyfall, Prometheus, which in spite of mixed reviews certainly got high marks for its visual brilliance, and Snow White & the Huntsman. The Hollywood Reporter tells us Men in Black 3 and the notorious dud Battleship were both hoping for FX awards too but didn’t make the cut, nor did Twilight Breaking Dawn. (The Reporter reminds us that none of the Twilight films have made the cut for a visual effects nomination).
 
I’m usually not one to Oscar pundit, but I do have a feeling that Life of Pi could be serious competition for The Hobbit, even though The Lord of the Rings films usually cleans up in the technical categories.

As for the films that tanked that had strong FX work like John Carter, I’m not sure which ones could potentially win, if they win at all, or if the superhero flicks could clinch an award or get shut out next year. In any event, there’s a lot of good genre material and groundbreaking technology to choose from this year for sure.