Note: Annihilation is no longer eligible for the Best Visual Effects Oscar. For some reason, it did not make the cut on the 2019 shortlist, in spite of it undoubtedly being the best visuals of any film on the below list. Alex Garland’s Ex Machina won this award for doing much less ambitious visual work. It doesn’t quite make sense.
Anyway, Best Visual Effects:
- Avengers: Infinity War
- Black Panther
- First Man
- Mary Poppins Returns
- Solo: A Star Wars Story
In the Mix:
- Welcome to Marwen
- Ant-Man and the Wasp
- Ready Player One
- Christopher Robin
- Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom
There are three films that I see as having the easiest path to a nomination. Black Panther, First Man, and Mary Poppins Returns. Personally, I found some of the visuals in Black Panther were lacking. But it is more of a general Oscar contender than Avengers, so if only one were to get in it would likely be Black Panther. Frankly, though, I think there is room for both (having Ant-Man and the Wasp in as well would be a bit overkill, though).
The visuals of Mary Poppins Returns is its biggest selling point, in my opinion. The animation is a throwback to the original. The various magical bits look rather seamless. If Mary Poppins Returns proves to be an all-around strong Oscar movie, it could win this one.
First Man is going to win a couple of technical awards (namely the sound categories). But its visual effects are quite strong, as well. The space flight sequences hinge on quality sound design and quality visual work. It succeeds on both accounts.
The other two spots are more up in the air. I have a good feeling about Avengers, but Solo is more of a crap shoot. It being a critical and financial failure does not help its case, as Hollywood may be quick to have people forget about it. (Then again, Suicide Squad won Best Makeup & Hairstyling).
Welcome to Marwen has good CG effects, albeit capturing the smooth, plastic nature of toys was all but perfected in 1995’s Toy Story. It is also a tepid, somewhat misguided Oscar-bait film. Something like Solo or Ready Player One is more likely to get in (even though Ready Player One looks like a PS3 video game).
Christopher Robin could dark horse. Another CG toy adventure, the textures of those toys look much better than Marwen. The only thing going against Pooh and his pals is they look like something out of my nightmares.
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—Alex Brannan (@TheAlexBrannan)