Best Visual Effects is a fun Oscar category. Historically speaking, at least. I googled this award for like two minutes and was delighted at what I found. Just the growth of the award as technical capabilities have excelled. It’s fascinating. Just a little over a decade ago, the category only held three nominees. In some years, the category wasn’t even a competition; they just gave it to a film.
More about this in a bit. For now, let’s look at the nominees.
- Blade Runner 2049
- Guardians of the Galaxy vol. 2
- Kong: Skull Island
- Star Wars: The Last Jedi
- War for the Planet of the Apes
Will Win: Blade Runner 2049
Could Win: War for the Planet of the Apes
Should Win: War for the Planet of the Apes
Pop quiz, hot shot! How many Oscars has the new Apes franchise won? Zero. Big goose egg. Nada.
How many times has the franchise been nominated for Best Visual Effects? Three. Every Andy Serkis-led film has landed in this category. What films did Rise and Dawn lose to? Hugo and Interstellar, respectively. Bigger Oscar contenders swept the rug out from under the Apes films both times.
What do we have in 2018? A bigger Oscar film waiting to pull the rug out from under War for the Planet of the Apes, thereby pissing off a lot of Andy Serkis fans. (Just to ease the pain of this group: Serkis himself would not get an Oscar if War does win. He’s an actor, not a visual effects designer. But I digress).
The Academy likes Blade Runner 2049. It has five nominations. It is almost certainly going to win one. Can it wrap up another here? I think so. I mean, the Academy could reward War for the Planet of the Apes with an award that is symbolically for the trilogy as a whole. But it seems to me that the Academy has an aversion to the series.
You might be wondering about the other films in this category. None of them stand out as being able to overcome Blade Runner or War for the Planet of the Apes.
For one, a Star Wars movie has not won for Best Visual Effects since the original trilogy, and only the 1977 Star Wars has won the award in competition (Empire and Return of the Jedi were given the award outright with no other nominees chosen).
And Kong: Skull Island? Why give the award to one giant CGI ape when a different nominee has a whole town full of almost photo-real CGI apes?
But, hey, I’ll show some humility here. Two years ago, the last film I expected to take the Best Visual Effects award was Ex Machina, despite it being one of my favorite films of that year. I was proved wrong there; I could be proved wrong here.
As always, thanks for reading!
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—Alex Brannan (@TheAlexBrannan)