Tuesday, December 8, 2015

A Look at the 20 Titles On the Best Special Effects Shortlist

Scene from Mad Max: Fury Road
In today's cinema, there's a lot of reliance on special effects to compliment the story. It's something that is both accepted and controversial to purists. The best examples of special effects are those that don't draw attention to themselves and end up making it look like practical effects. The Academy has released its 20 nominees on the shortlist vying for this year's Best Special Effects Oscar nominations. While there are a few familiar big budget blockbusters, there's also a few that are likely to make you a little confused. The following is the list of films on the list followed by any additional thoughts.

Avengers: Age of Ultron
Bridge of Spies
Ex Machina
Furious Seven
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2
In the Heart of the Sea
Jupiter Ascending
Jurassic World
Mad Max: Fury Road
The Martian
Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation
The Revenant
Star Wars: The Force Awakens
Terminator Genisys
The Walk

Overall, it's a decent bunch of movies. Among the ones that I was more surprised to see is Bridge of Spies. For what it's worth, I really like the film and feel that it is among the best work of director Steven Spielberg. However, it's not necessarily one that I immediately think about when it comes to special effects. While I think that this gives it something of an edge, I have little faith in the film coming up strong here, though I do expect it to be a strong contender in every other category, including Best Picture, Best Actor (Tom Hanks), and Best Original Screenplay. While I understand The Revenant would also be impossible to film without special effects, it does seem strange that a film so set on naturalism would be praised for it (which is about as dumb as when the "single take" nature of Birdman got a Best Editing nomination last year). Still, it is yet to be seen if The Revenant and its mixed reception will have any major impact at the Oscars.

It is interesting to note that The Hunger Games has yet to earn any Oscar nominations, even in technical categories. While this is in keeping with other young adult franchises, it would be interesting to see its chances. Likewise, I am excited to see Ex Machina on here, if just because it means that the sleeper hit of the summer actually panned out and is getting plenty of attention. Meanwhile, I can appreciate what director Robert Zemeckis did with The Walk, but I still think that it is a very dumb concept.

I am not an expert at predicting technical categories. However, I do think that among the categories that I do think that Mad Max: Fury Road will inevitably get nominated, it includes technical. Beyond the film's hype, it's been praised heavily for its awe-inspiring stunts. The fact that it looks so real only adds to the film's general appeal. Again, I don't believe that the film is the action film Best Picture nominee we're predicting it to be, but I do think that there's enough of a push to get it into some of the fields. Among the others to likely get it, I think that Star Wars: The Force Awakens will get it on simple principle of being one of the biggest films of 2015 (despite not being out for another 10 days). 

What do you think will make the final cut?

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