Critical Confabulations

a theatre, film & pop culture review

Oscars Predictions 2015: Best Visual Effects

Note: This is my personal ranking, listed in order from best to worst, with #1 being my favorite. Prediction for the actual winner is in orange.

2015 ACADEMY AWARDS PREDICTION:
ACHIEVEMENT IN VISUAL EFFETS

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1. DAWN OF THE PLANET OF THE APES
Joe Letteri, Dan Lemmon, Daniel Barrett, & Erik Winquist

2. INTERSTELLAR
Paul Franklin, Andrew Lockley, Ian Hunter, & Scott Fisher

3. CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER
Dan DeLeeuw, Russell Earl, Bryan Grill, & Dan Sudick

4. GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY
Stephane Ceretti, Nicolas Aithadi, Jonathan Fawkner

5. X-MEN: DAYS OF FUTURE PAST
Richard Stammers, Lou Pecora, Tim Crosbie, & Cameron Waldbauer

You literally cannot tell the difference between the special effects in X-Men: Days of Future Past, Guardians of the Galaxy, and Captain America: The Winter Soldier. All three are Marvel films and all three utilize virtually the same effects. Due to this, the order above merely reflects my personal tastes for the films themselves (Captain America is damn good fun), because let’s be real: When has the Oscar ever gone to one of these super-hero films? Precisely twice (Superman, Spider-Man 2), otherwise it’s: Gravity over Iron Man 3 (2014), Life of Pi over The Avengers (2013), Inception over Iron Man 2 (2011), The Curious Case of Benjamin Button over Iron Man (2009) – they seriously dislike that Iron Man series – Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest over Superman Returns (2007), and on and on.

Continuing with the theme of the voters’ predilections, we have Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. In 2012, the Oscar was awarded to Hugo over Rise of the Planet of the Apes, so there’s no telling if voters are into Apes‘s impressive motion-capture CG – but they should be. Unlike most motion capture films which are created in Volumes – contained indoor environments – Dawn of the Planet of the Apes performed nearly all of its motion-capture work in practical environments. This insane (ly difficult) practice allowed for the creation of an even more realistic and immersive world with extraordinarily lifelike primates (helmed by the green-screen king Andy Serkis), and what’s more, these films are actually good, subtly exploring prejudice and advocating empathy and peace.

But what is Interstellar other than one gigantic special effect? That supermassive wormhole Gargantua is the film’s greatest accomplishment, and Christopher Nolan worked with physicist Kip Thorne to create the realistic space around the black hole. Not only that, but the visual effects team has published a black hole study. These guys are actually helping researchers better understand gigantic black holes and other cosmic phenomena. How can they not win a damn Oscar for that?

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