Oscar Picks Seven for VFX

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences today announced the seven films being considered for contention in the Visual Effects category of the 79th Academy Awards. As usual, superhero pics and fantasy flicks abound this year, but there are also a few surprise omissions. Actual nominations will be announced from the Academy’s Samuel Goldwyn Theater on Tuesday, Jan. 23 at 5:30 a.m. PST. The Academy Awards will then be presented on Sunday, Feb. 25, at the Kodak Theatre at Hollywood & Highland Center, and televised live by the ABC Television Network at 5 p.m.

Vfx-laden films making the preliminary cut are Sony/Columbia’s Casino Royale, Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest, Warner Bros.’ Superman Returns and Poseidon, and 20th Century Fox’s Eragon, Night at the Museum and X-Men The Last Stand. Pirates, which was handled primarily by ILM, is an odds-on favorite to win this year, but the jury is still out since all the films feature fine work and Night at the Museum has yet to open.

Absent from the list are Paramount’s Charlotte’s Web and Mission: Impossible III, Warner Bros.’ The Fountain, Touchstone Pictures’ Apocalypto, Picturehouse’s Pan’s Labyrinth and Warner Independent Pictures’ The Science of Sleep. It’s curious that Casino Royale, a James Bond flick that few would consider an effects film, would be considered over these productions, whose effects have had a much higher profile.

On Wednesday, Jan. 17, the Academy’s Visual Effects Award nominating committee will view 15-minute film excerpts from each of the seven short-listed films. Following the screenings, members will vote to nominate three films for Oscar consideration.