Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Oscar Winner Predictions: Best Visual Effects

The competition: Blade Runner 2049 (John Nelson, Gerd Nefzer, Paul Lambert and Richard R. Hoover), Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (Christopher Townsend, Guy Williams, Jonathan Fawkner and Dan Sudick), Kong: Skull Island (Stephen Rosenbaum, Jeff White, Scott Benza and Mike Meinardus), Star Wars: The Last Jedi (Ben Morris, Mike Mulholland, Neal Scanlan and Chris Corbould), War for the Planet of the Apes (Joe Letteri, Daniel Barrett, Dan Lemmon and Joel Whist)

Previous winners: The Jungle Book, Ex Machina, Interstellar, Gravity, Life of Pi, Hugo, Inception
My winner: Announcing shortly after the Oscars!

The facts: On the technical side of things: Nelson won previously for "Gladiator," and both he and Hoover have two previous nominations. Sudick has five previous nominations, while the other three have all been recognized for other Marvel films. Rosenbaum has won both times he was previously nominated, for "Forrest Gump" and "Avatar." White and Benza have been nominated before. Morris won for "The Golden Compass," Scanlan won for "Babe," and Corbould won for "Inception." Letteri has four wins out of nine previous nominations, Lemmon won last year for "The Jungle Book," and Barrett has two previous bids. At the Visual Effects Society Awards, “War for the Planet of the Apes” and “Blade Runner 2049” split most of the prizes. At BAFTA, “Blade Runner 2049” beat “Star Wars: The Last Jedi,” “War for the Planet of the Apes,” and two other films not nominated here.

All five of this year’s nominees are part of series or franchises that have previously been nominated here. Every “Star Wars” movie except for “Revenge of the Sith,” including the two entries released in the past two years, has been honored, with only the original three films winning the award. “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes” and “Rise of the Planet of the Apes” were cited in 2014 and 2011, and the first “Guardians of the Galaxy” was also nominated in 2014. Though this year’s entry isn’t a continuation but a reboot, “King Kong” did win this prize in 2005, and the 1976 version also won a special achievement award. Lastly, the original “Blade Runner” was a nominee in 1982 but lost to “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial.”

What does that mean for this year? Last year’s win for the live-action “The Jungle Book” suggests that something like “War of the Planet of the Apes,” which seems to be pretty popular, will prevail, though theoretically “Kong: Skull Island” could too. There’s no reason to think that either “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” or “Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol. 2” would break through now when recent installments of both haven’t won. And then there’s “Blade Runner 2049,” which is also nominated in four other categories and is truly an astounding visual effort.

Who should win: I get that animating a whole lot of apes is impressive, but there wasn’t much else about “War of the Planet of the Apes” that astounded me, especially in comparison to the previous films in the series. “Kong: Skull Island” was actually cooler, with so many different creatures brought to life. The same goes for “Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2,” which I’d be more than happy to see win but can’t imagine would happen. “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” is a great choice as most films in its series are, but I’d give this to “Blade Runner 2049” for truly wowing my eyes with its depiction of its dystopian future.

Who will win: Per my above analysis, this should be a race between two films. “War for the Planet of the Apes” has a lot of buzz and could well overtake Blade Runner 2049, which is nominated in four other categories and I think should be able to maintain its lead here.

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