We now know which films, specifically, are in the running for the Best Visual Effects Oscar this year. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced today that 20 films will advance in the race for the visual effects trophy, offering up a shortlist that is chock full of blockbusters. Indeed, while the big superhero movies are where you’d most expect to find the Best Visual Effects contenders, the reality is that almost every film released nowadays has some degree of visual effects regardless of genre. Robert Zemeckis’ World War II romance Allied, for example, was shot mostly on soundstages where Zemeckis utilized visual effects wizardry to bring WWII-era London to life. Alas, flashy is what gets you Oscars, and Allied failed to make it to the shortlist stage—although somewhat puzzlingly, the gorgeously colorful work in Ghostbusters didn’t advance either.
All six of this year’s superhero films made the cut, including Batman v Superman and Deadpool, as did the upcoming sci-fi romance Passengers. Likely to be a serious player is Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, which also made the cut, as well as the Harry Potter prequel Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. And in terms of low-key features or non-blockbusters, the Clint Eastwood drama Sully made the shortlist thanks to a pretty thrilling crash sequence, as did Denis Villeneuve’s critically acclaimed sci-fi film Arrival and the Peter Berg-helmed disaster drama Deepwater Horizon. An animated feature even made the shortlist—LAIKA’s stop-motion Kubo and the Two Strings is under consideration.
So what’s the frontrunner? Which films are the most likely to be nominated? It’s hard to argue against the visual effects wizardry on display in The Jungle Book, which I feel could even qualify as an animated feature given how few live-action elements made it into the finished film. That’s the one to beat, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see Rogue One, Fantastic Beasts, Warcraft, and possibly Doctor Strange make the full list of Oscar nominees.
The next step in the process will be a “bakeoff” where the VFX artists behind each film present a sizzle reel to members of the Academy’s Visual Effects branch, after which those Academy members will vote to result in the final list of nominees.
Take a look at the shortlist below, and let us know who you think should be nominated in the comments.
Alice Through the Looking Glass
Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice
Captain America: Civil War
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
Independence Day: Resurgence
The Jungle Book
Kubo and the Two Strings
Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children
Star Trek Beyond