Oscar's visual effects list set

Category: 300 News | Posted by: admin
Article Date: January 4, 2008 | Publication: Variety | Author: DAVID S. COHEN
Publication/Article Link:Variety

Oscar's visual effects list set
'Evan,' 'Transformers' make final cut
By DAVID S. COHEN
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences visual effects branch genuflected to “Evan Almighty” but swatted “Spider-Man 3” as it announced the seven semifinalists for the vfx Oscar.

The seven films that will compete in the vfx “bakeoff” are “The Bourne Ultimatum,” “Evan Almighty,” “The Golden Compass,” “I Am Legend,” “Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End,” “300” and “Transformers.”

U's entries “Evan Almighty” and “Bourne Ultimatum” were darkhorses in the field, especially “Evan Almighty,” which received little campaign support from either U or from its lead vfx houses, Rhythm & Hues and Industrial Light & Magic.

Both shops fared well on the bakeoff list. ILM was also a key contributor to “Pirates” while R&H did the work on the animals in New Line’s “The Golden Compass.”

Conspicuous by its absence was Sony’s “Spider-Man 3.” The second installment in the Spidey franchise won the vfx Oscar two years ago and Spidey 3's “birth of the Sandman” sequence is one of the year's most buzzed-about vfx sequences. Sony saw its other contender, “The Water Horse” (Weta Digital) , also fall short.

On the other hand, the studio’s vfx house, Sony Pictures Imageworks, got some consolation when “I Am Legend” made the list. Pic is one of two Warner releases to make the cut; the other, “300,” had caused some grumbling in vfx circles that the work on the film was more production design than visual effects. Its inclusion reflects the continuing blurring of categories as digital filmmaking techniques become more ubiquitous.

Warner’s “Harry Potter” franchise, a perennial bridesmaid in the category, did not make the short list this year.

The vfx branch had taken the unprecedented step of including two animated films, “Beowulf” and “Ratatouille” in its long list of 15 contenders, but neither made the bakeoff..

Last year's winning franchise, Disney's “Pirates of the Caribbean,” will go for a repeat but will face stiff competish, especially from Paramount's “Transformers.”

The vfx bakeoff will be held Jan. 16 at the Academy’s Samuel Goldwyn Theater. Each film will present a 15-minute highlight reel. The branch members in attendance will vote immediately afterward on the three nominees.