Wednesday, February 14, 2018

"War for the Planet of the Apes" Wins Big at the 16th VES Awards

“War for the Planet of the Apes” was the big winner at the 16th VES Awards.

Winner of four awards, including Outstanding Visual Effects in a Photoreal Feature, "Apes" was the top earner of live-action feature film awards, with "Blade Runner 2049" taking home two awards, and "Dunkirk" and "Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2" getting one award.

Listed below are all the live-action feature film winners. For the full list of winners, read Deadline's coverage. The full list of nominees is here. Congratulations to all the winners!


Outstanding Visual Effects in a Photoreal Feature

War for the Planet of the Apes, Joe Letteri, Ryan Stafford, Daniel Barrett, Dan Lemmon, Joel Whist

Outstanding Supporting Visual Effects in a Photoreal Feature

Dunkirk, Andrew Jackson, Mike Chambers,Andrew Lockley, Alison Wortman, Scott Fisher

Outstanding Animated Character in a Photoreal Feature

War for the Planet of the Apes; Caesar, Dennis Yoo, Ludovic Chailloleau, Douglas McHale, Tim Forbes

Outstanding Created Environment in a Photoreal Feature

Blade Runner 2049; Los Angeles, Chris McLaughlin, Rhys Salcombe, Seungjin Woo, Francesco Dell’Anna

Outstanding Virtual Cinematography in a Photoreal Project

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2; Groot Dance/Opening Fight, James Baker, Steven Lo, Alvise Avati, Robert Stipp

Outstanding Model in a Photoreal or Animated Project

Blade Runner 2049; LAPD Headquarters, Alex Funke, Steven Saunders, Joaquin Loyzaga, Chris Menges

Outstanding Effects Simulations in a Photoreal Feature

War for the Planet of the Apes, David Caeiro Cebrián, Johnathan Nixon, Chet Leavai, Gary Boyle

Outstanding Compositing in a Photoreal Feature

War for the Planet of the Apes, Christoph Salzmann, Robin Hollander, Ben Morgan, Ben Warner



Sunday, February 11, 2018

Visual Effects, Oscars and the Box Office in 2017

"Star Wars: The Last Jedi" was the top earner of this year's visual effects Oscar nominees, at $1.3B global box office. 

Just as I did for 2016 films2015 films, 2014 films2013 films2012 films and 2011 films, I thought it would be interesting to track the average global box office grosses from this year's Academy Award nominees, per category.


The average global box office of Best Visual Effects Oscar nominees was $700.8B (up from $575M last year).

The five nominees for this year's visual effects earned a total global box office gross of about $3.5B (up from $2.8B last year). The monster earner was "Star Wars: The Last Jedi" at $1.3B, with "Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2" next up at $864M. The other behemoth Oscar nominee at the box office was "Beauty and the Beast" at $1.2B, which boosted the Art Direction and Costume Design categories.

The last five years at a glance:

Average global box office of Best Visual Effects films:
2017 (90th Academy Awards) - $701M
Top Grosser: Star Wars: The Last Jedi, 1.3B

2016 (89th Academy Awards) - $575M
Top Grosser: Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, 1.0B

2015 (88th Academy Awards) - $657M
Top Grosser: Star Wars: The Force Awakens, $2B

2014 (87th Academy Awards) - $723M
Top Grosser: Guardians of the Galaxy, $774M

2013 (86th Academy Awards) - $698M
Top Grosser: Iron Man 3, $1.2B

2012 (85th Academy Awards) - $763M
Top Grosser: The Avengers, $1.5B

2011 (84th Academy Awards) - $662M
Top Grosser: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part II, 1.35B

I wrote this concerning the 2011 box office when I charted the box office averages for the 84th Academy Awards, and unfortunately, this still is true.


It also illustrates the sad state of the visual effects community. The average Oscar nominee for visual effects made over $662 million globally, and yet our industry has relatively little power in Hollywood.


All data from boxofficemojo.com .


Monday, January 29, 2018

The VFX Predictinator, 90th Academy Awards Edition


What is The VFX Predictinator? Start here.

Even though The Predictinator failed at predicting "Ex Machina" two years ago (probably because we're now in a post-digital era and our assumptions are no longer rock solid), the formula bounced back last year, correctly predicting "The Jungle Book" to win the visual effects Oscar.

We ran the numbers for The VFX Predictinator with the nominees for Best Visual Effects for the 90th Academy Awards, based on data for January 13, 2018. Here are the results, as promised, but without our typical annual, long-winded accompanying article.
  • 5.31 points for “War for the Planet of the Apes"
  • 4.72 points for "Blade Runner 2049"
  • 4.34 points for "Star Wars: The Last Jedi"
  • 4.19 points for "Kong: Skull Island"
  • 3.63 points for "Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2"


APES ON TOP
The Predictinator chose "War for the Planet of the Apes" to win the visual effects Oscar, based on the classic criteria of having strong critical acclaim and the film's prominent organic character animation. It's a solid choice, and a gut-check confirms this.

THE SPOILER?
Following close behind is "Blade Runner 2049", which could upset "Apes", since it is, arguably the most 'artsy' and 'classy' choice for Academy voters. In fact, in a post-digital world, the most classy choice has been winning the visual effects Oscar more frequently ("Ex Machina", "Life of Pi" and "Gravity", for example).

AND THE REST
In third is "The Last Jedi", which earned points for its huge box office, but suffers from being a sequel. Rounding out the list are "Kong: Skull Island" and "Guardians 2", which are strong hits but will probably not resonate with Academy voters.


We’ll see what happens when the 90th Academy Awards take place on March 4, 2018.


Tuesday, January 23, 2018

90th Academy Award Nominees for Visual Effects

The nominees for the 90th Academy Awards have been announced. As always, the nominees were determined by the visual effects branch of the Academy after attending a bake-off of 10 films.  The full Academy membership will vote on the winners of each category.  The awards ceremony will take place on March 4, 2018.

Here are the nominees for Achievement in Visual Effects for the 90th Academy Awards. Congratulations to everyone involved in the creation of these amazing images.

BLADE RUNNER 2049
John Nelson, Gerd Nefzer, Paul Lambert and Richard R. Hoover
This is Nelson's fourth Oscar nomination, the third for Hoover, and the first for Nefzer and Lambert.

GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY, VOL 2
Christopher Townsend, Guy Williams, Jonathan Fawkner and Dan Sudick
This is Sudick's eight nomination, Williams' third nomination, and Townsend's and Fawkner's second nominations.

KONG: SKULL ISLAND
Stephen Rosenbaum, Jeff White, Scott Benza and Mike Meinardus
This is Rosenbaum and Benza's third nomination, the second nomination for White, and the first for Meinardus.

STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI
Ben Morris, Mike Mulholland, Neal Scanlan and Chris Corobould
This is Corobould's and Scanlan's third nominations, Morris' second, and Mulholland's first.

WAR FOR THE PLANET OF THE APES
Joe Letteri, Daniel Barrett, Dan Lemmon and Joel Whist
This is Letteri's tenth nomination, the fourth for Lemmon, the third for Barret, and the first for Whist.



Tuesday, January 16, 2018

VES Announces Nominations for 16th VES Awards

The nominees for the 16th Visual Effects Society Awards were announced today, and “Blade Runner 2049” and “War for the Planet of the Apes” lead the feature film competition.

Earning seven nominations each are the “Blade Runner” sequel and the latest “Planet of the Apes” film. Earning four nominations was “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” and “Kong: Skull Island”. “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2”, “Only the Brave” and “Thor: Ragnarok” earned two nominations each. Earning a single nomination was “Beauty and the Beast”, “Darkest Hour”, “Downsizing”, “Dunkirk”, “Mother!” and “Life”.

Of the ten films that were in the Academy bake-off, the four films that didn’t earn any VES Awards nominations are “Okja”, “Alien: Covenant”, “Valerian” and “The Shape of Water”.
Listed below are all of the live-action feature film categories. To see all of the nominees, visit The Hollywood Reporter's coverage. The nominees for the VES Awards are chosen by an Awards nomination process for qualified applications. The full VES membership votes for the winners of the awards, which will be announced at a banquet on February 13, 2018. To learn more about the Visual Effects Society, visit their web site.

Outstanding Visual Effects in a Photoreal Feature 
Blade Runner 2049, John Nelson, Karen Murphy Mundell, Paul Lambert, Richard Hoover, Gerd Nefzer
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, Christopher Townsend, Damien Carr, Guy Williams,Jonathan Fawkner, Dan Sudick
Kong: Skull Island, Jeff White, Tom Peitzman, Stephen Rosenbaum,Scott Benza, Michael Meinardus
Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Ben Morris, Tim Keene, Eddie Pasquarello, Daniel Seddon, Chris Corbould
War for the Planet of the Apes, Joe Letteri, Ryan Stafford, Daniel Barrett, Dan Lemmon, Joel Whist

Outstanding Supporting Visual Effects in a Photoreal Feature
Darkest Hour, Stephane Naze, Warwick Hewitt, Guillaume Terrien, Benjamin Magana
Downsizing, James E. Price, Susan MacLeod, Lindy De Quattro, Stéphane Nazé
Dunkirk, Andrew Jackson, Mike Chambers,Andrew Lockley, Alison Wortman, Scott Fisher
Mother!, Dan Schrecker, Colleen Bachman, Ben Snow, Wayne Billheimer, Peter Chesney
Only the Brave, Eric Barba, Dione Wood, Matthew Lane, Georg Kaltenbrunner, Michael Meinardus

Outstanding Animated Character in a Photoreal Feature
Blade Runner 2049; Rachael, Axel Akkeson, Stefano Carta, Wesley Chandler, Ian Cooke-Grimes
Kong: Skull Island; Kong, Jakub Pistecky, Chris Havreberg, Karin Cooper, Kris Costa
War for the Planet of the Apes; Bad Ape, Eteuati Tema, Aidan Martin, Florian Fernandez, Mathias Larserud
War for the Planet of the Apes; Caesar, Dennis Yoo, Ludovic Chailloleau, Douglas McHale, Tim Forbes

Outstanding Created Environment in a Photoreal Feature
Blade Runner 2049; Los Angeles, Chris McLaughlin, Rhys Salcombe, Seungjin Woo, Francesco Dell’Anna
Blade Runner 2049; Trash Mesa, Didier Muanza, Thomas Gillet, Guillaume Mainville, Sylvain Lorgeau
Blade Runner 2049; Vegas, Eric Noel, Arnaud Saibron, Adam Goldstein, Pascal Clement
War for the Planet of the Apes; Hidden Fortress, Greg Notzelman, James Shaw, Jay Renner, Gak Gyu Choi
War for the Planet of the Apes; Prison Camp, Phillip Leonhardt, Paul Harris, Jeremy Fort, Thomas Lo

Outstanding Virtual Cinematography in a Photoreal Project
Beauty and the Beast; Be Our Guest, Shannon Justison, Casey Schatz, Neil Weatherley, Claire Michaud
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2; Groot Dance/Opening Fight, James Baker, Steven Lo, Alvise Avati, Robert Stipp
Star Wars: The Last Jedi; Crait Surface Battle, Cameron Nielsen, Albert Cheng, John Levin, Johanes Kurnia
Thor: Ragnarok; Valkyrie’s Flashback, Hubert Maston, Arthur Moody, Adam Paschke, Casey Schatz

Outstanding Model in a Photoreal or Animated Project
Blade Runner 2049; LAPD Headquarters, Alex Funke, Steven Saunders, Joaquin Loyzaga, Chris Menges
Despicable Me 3; Dru’s Car, Eric Guillon, François-Xavier Lepeintre, Guillaume Boudeville, Pierre Lopes
Life; The ISS, Tom Edwards, Chaitanya Kshirsagar, Satish Kuttan, Paresh Dodia
US Marines; Anthem; Monument, Tom Bardwell, Paul Liaw, Adam Dewhirst

Outstanding Effects Simulations in a Photoreal Feature
Kong: Skull Island, Florent Andorra, Alexis Hall, Raul Essig, Branko Grujcic
Only the Brave; Fire & Smoke, Georg Kaltenbrunner, Thomas Bevan, Philipp Zaufel, Himanshu Joshi
Star Wars: The Last Jedi; Bombing Run, Peter Kyme, Miguel Perez Senent, Ahmed Gharraph, Billy Copley
Star Wars: The Last Jedi; Mega Destroyer Destruction, Mihai Cioroba, Ryoji Fujita, Jiyong Shin, Dan Finnegan
War for the Planet of the Apes, David Caeiro Cebrián, Johnathan Nixon, Chet Leavai, Gary Boyle

Outstanding Compositing in a Photoreal Feature
Blade Runner 2049; LAPD Approach and Joy Holograms, Tristan Myles, Miles Lauridsen, Joel Delle-Vergin, Farhad Mohasseb
Kong: Skull Island, Nelson Sepulveda, Aaron Brown, Paolo Acri, Shawn Mason
Thor: Ragnarok; Bridge Battle, Gavin McKenzie, David Simpson, Owen Carroll, Mark Gostlow
War for the Planet of the Apes, Christoph Salzmann, Robin Hollander, Ben Morgan, Ben Warner

Tuesday, January 02, 2018

The Visual Effects Industry Issues, 2018





Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Dar Robinson's "Stick" Stunt

On Twitter, I looked at an amazing stunt from 1985, and pondered how we would execute the same shot design today.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Analyzing a Shot from "Superman"


This was a fun one. On Twitter, I talked about this trick shot from "Superman". I hope you like it.

Analyzing a Shot from "Superman"
https://storify.com/tvaziri/analyzing-a-shot-from-superman-1978



Saturday, May 06, 2017

I Talked About "Inglourious Basterds" on Defocused Podcast With Some Friends


I was thrilled to be a guest on the Defocused podcast, episode #146. Our main topic was the Quentin Tarantino film "Inglourious Basterds", and it was an honor to share the stage with Joe Rosensteel, Dan Sturm, and Merlin Mann.


Last year, I was on Defocused to talk about "Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan", which ran for three fun-filled hours.

Tuesday, April 04, 2017

I Was a Guest on the Auralnauts Podcast


I was thrilled to be a guest on the Auralnauts podcast. I'm a huge fan of their work, and we had a terrific discussion about film, how I got started in visual effects, ROGUE ONE, and much more.

Auralnauts link: https://www.auralnauts.com/podcast
Overcast link: https://overcast.fm/+HGgRtieyU


Monday, March 13, 2017

Box Office Breakdown of MPAA Ratings, 1980-2015


For years I've discussed the slow death of the PG-rated live-action film, and the ascendancy of the PG-13 rated live-action film, but never really had numbers to back up my assumptions. It took much longer than I was expecting, but I finally finished my box office analysis.

I took each year's top ten films at the box office (starting in 1980), and calculated the percentage of the year's box office per MPAA rating, and even broke out PG and G between live-action and animated films. The data shows my assumptions were accurate--PG-rated live-action films dominate the box office in the early 1980's until PG-13 films began to take over. Today, PG-rated live-action films barely make a blip on the radar.

Many thoughtful articles have been written about the ascendancy of PG-13 at the expense of live-action PG films. Here are just a few:

Monday, February 27, 2017

"The Jungle Book" Wins the Oscar

Congratulations to the entire visual effects team behind "The Jungle Book" for their Academy Award win for Best Visual Effects! (And, yep, The VFX Predictinator got it right.)

THE JUNGLE BOOK
Robert Legato, Adam Valdez, Andrew R. Jones and Dan Lemmon
This is the third Oscar win for Legato ("Hugo" and "Titanic"), the second for Jones ("Avatar"), and the first for Lemmon and Valdez.


Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Visual Effects, Oscars and the Box Office in 2016

"Rogue One: A Star Wars Story" was the top earner of this year's visual effects Oscar nominees, at $1.0B global box office (as of 2/15/2017). 

Just as I did for 2015 films, 2014 films2013 films2012 films and 2011 films, I thought it would be interesting to track the average global box office grosses from this year's Academy Award nominees, per category.


The five nominees for this year's visual effects earned a total global box office gross of about $2.8B. The monster earner was "Rogue One: A Star Wars Story" at a little over $1B; rounding out the Visual Effects nominees were "The Jungle Book" at $976M, "Doctor Strange" at $673M, "Deepwater Horizon" at $119M, and "Kubo" at $70M.

The last five years at a glance:

Average global box office of Best Visual Effects films:
2016 (89th Academy Awards) - $575M
Top Grosser: Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, 1.0B

2015 (88th Academy Awards) - $657M
Top Grosser: Star Wars: The Force Awakens, $2B

2014 (87th Academy Awards) - $723M
Top Grosser: Guardians of the Galaxy, $774M

2013 (86th Academy Awards) - $698M
Top Grosser: Iron Man 3, $1.2B

2012 (85th Academy Awards) - $763M
Top Grosser: The Avengers, $1.5B

2011 (84th Academy Awards) - $662M
Top Grosser: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part II, 1.35B

I wrote this concerning the 2011 box office when I charted the box office averages for the 84th Academy Awards, and unfortunately, this still is true.


It also illustrates the sad state of the visual effects community. The average Oscar nominee for visual effects made over $662 million globally, and yet our industry has relatively little power in Hollywood.


All data from boxofficemojo.com .



Monday, February 13, 2017

Oscar Pool Ballot, 89th Academy Awards

It's time for the Awesomest Oscar Pool Ballot In The History Of Oscar Pool Ballots.

Every year I create a special ballot based on a typical Academy Awards printable ballot -- but on my ballot, each category has a different point value. The highest valued category is "Best Picture," while the mainstream films' categories are valued at two points. The non-mainstream categories (like the documentary and short film categories) are valued at one point.

This way, in a tight race for the winner of the pool, the winner most likely would not be determined by the non-mainstream films (in other words, blind guesses).  This year, I started with a ballot from Fandango, since Oscar.com didn't make a pretty, printable ballot this year. Again.

Download the ballot here for the 89th Academy Awards and use it at your Oscar party.


And if you're wondering why Tom Cruise is on my ballot... he's been on every one of my Oscar ballots. Because he's soooooooooo cool.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

The VFX Predictinator, 89th Academy Awards Edition


What is The VFX Predictinator? Start here.

After bloviating in two giant posts about the reasons we might have incorrectly predicted the Visual Effects Oscar winner last year, we have decided to run the numbers for the 89th Academy Awards, perhaps for the last time:

  • 5.48 points for “The Jungle Book”
  • 4.19 points for “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story”
  • 3.87 points for “Kubo and the Two Strings”
  • 3.17 points for “Deepwater Horizon”
  • 3.09 points for “Doctor Strange”

The charred, withered, barely-breathing remains of The VFX Predictinator predicts that “The Jungle Book” will with the visual effects Oscar in the 89th Academy Awards. Here’s the full set of scores:


Directed by Jon Favreau, “Jungle Book” is a photorealistic live-action film that is nearly fully computer generated. The live-action portions of the film featuring young actor Neel Sethi were filmed on soundstages in Los Angeles. Computer graphics dominate each “Jungle Book” frame in, arguably, the most photoreal, most extensive, and most immersive use of CG environments and characters in a single film. “Jungle Book” advances upon the success of Oscar-winning “Life of Pi” (2012) to a staggering degree. Oh, and all the animals in the film talk, too. (Some even sing.)

“Jungle Book” took the most points in a competitive field this year; only 1.29 points separate “Jungle Book” from its closest competitor, “Rogue One”. Let’s take a look at the Predictinator criteria and how the race worked out for the five films.

A COMPETITIVE SLATE
On a number of fronts, the five Oscar nominated visual effects films are quite competitive. Most significantly, the five films all scored similar Tomatometer ratings from critics. In fact, these five films were the highest rated movies for critical acclaim for the 27 years of Oscar races that we’ve tracked. “Kubo” took home the most points for Critical Acclaim (with its 97% Tomatometer rating), while the lowest rated film was “Deepwater Horizon” with a very strong 83%. While this criteria was competitive, the scores for this category are relative to one another, so “Jungle Book” earned .75 points more than “Deepwater”.

None of the five films took away more than two Oscar nominations. As a result, no film earned any “Academy” points (a film starts earning “Academy” points only if it earns at least four Oscar nominations). Also, none of the five films were penalized for being a sequel; sequels, historically, are shunned at the Academy Awards. As you may have noticed, we did not label “Rogue One” a sequel. Even though the film is part of a cinematic universe, we decided that since the film follows a new set of characters, rather than a returning set of characters going on another adventure, it does not earn the sequel identity.

As an aside, if we continue running the Predictinator past this year, we are considering clarifying this piece of criteria to possibly include “reboots” and “films in an established cinematic universe”, since we feel like those films are also historically shunned at the Academy Awards.

With $364M domestic box office take, “Jungle Book” was the #2 earner among nominees (after “Rogue One”’s $522M), which decimated the box office point values for “Deepwater” and “Kubo”, since we score box office points relative to one another.


HOW JUNGLE BOOK ENDED ON TOP
“Jungle Book” finished with a score 1.29 points higher than its next closest competitor, “Rogue One”. Most significantly, “Jungle Book” earned an important point for its primary visual effects consisting of organic creatures, and an additional .75 points for facial acting. None of the other four visual effects nominees earned any points in either of these two categories. The magnificent organic character animation in the film gives the movie a leg up, since, historically, the full Academy favors films with synthetic character animation and, particularly, animation that features characters that talk and emote.

The digital human work featured in “Rogue One” we deemed as supporting visual effects, not the primary visual effects created for the film. Space battles, environments, and “the world of Star Wars” are the primary vfx work of the film. We gave the same ruling last year to “The Force Awakens”, which featured computer generated characters Maz and Snoke as supporting visual effects elements.


Similarly, we also deemed the visual effects of “Kubo” to not qualify for ‘organic creature work’ as its primary visual effects. “Kubo”’s nomination for visual effects, the first for an animated film since 1993’s “The Nightmare Before Christmas”, is not without controversy. While live-action and animated films share techniques and concepts, their visually-oriented goals are substantially different. The vast majority of live-action films contain visual effects whose goal is to trick audiences into believing the sequences actually happened in front of real-life cameras, next to real human beings. Animated films do not share the same goal of tricking the audience in this way. Nevertheless, “Kubo” is a nominee, and just as we ruled for “Nightmare”, we deemed the primary visual effects of “Kubo” not to be the character animation in the film, but the creation of the entire world of the film. The art direction, creation, animation and assembly of the entire frame is the visual effect.

You may have noticed that we haven’t yet discussed “Doctor Strange”. Two years ago, we added the ‘is the film based on a comic book?’ criteria, which deducts one Predictinator point. “Strange”’s point value sits it solidly in the middle of the pack, just as most comic book movies typically do. To reiterate our reason for adding this criteria: comic book films have, historically, not been rewarded with visual effects Oscars.


FORGET ABOUT NUMBERS: THE GUT CHECK
We recently went into great detail discussing how our formula may be outdated since we may have already entered a new era of visual effects that renders our old assumptions no longer valid. We also qualified our argument with the “fluke year” defense: “Sometimes the 6000+ members of the Academy think differently than is expected; typically, the very next year, they go back to voting the way that is typically predicted.” This is the main reason we decided to run the numbers for this year’s race; if last year was, indeed, a fluke, then our philosophy remains sound.

Generally speaking, we feel pretty good about “Jungle Book” winning the Oscar; it’s the film that our gut tells us will win. It’s a nearly-universally loved film, with groundbreaking, well-executed visual effects. It was a giant hit, and Academy voters will feel good about rewarding this type of film.

That said, my wife and I have nagging concerns. Putting it mildly, last year’s “Ex Machina” win, which destroyed our formula, burned us pretty badly. As a result, we can’t help but look for potential spoilers, and attempt to pre-explain their potential victories.


POTENTIAL SPOILERS
The two potential spoilers of this race are, in our mind, “Deepwater” and “Kubo”. The two films are the least “Hollywood” of the five films, and considering the “Ex Machina” win from last year, we need to pay attention to these two well-regarded films.

“Deepwater” features a man vs. nature narrative (as opposed to the typical protagonist/antagonist structure of the three other nominees), whose visual effects strongly support the narrative, rather than serve the purpose of pure spectacle. Academy voters sometimes shun typically structured films with “good guys/bad guys”, especially when there’s a worthwhile alternative worth rewarding (“Hugo”, “Benjamin Button”, “Gravity” and “Life of Pi” are recent examples that come to mind).

 “Kubo” is a strong contender as well, considering the film represents a magnificent achievement in hand-created stop motion animation (along with a healthy, significant amount of computer graphics and digital compositing). Academy voters could vote for “Kubo” as a protest against computer graphics; “CGI is ruining movies!”, a misguided trope, still has traction in 2017. Even though a predominantly stop-motion animated film like “Kubo” couldn’t exist without modern technology, average Academy voters could reward the film as the anti-CGI nominee.

And, had “Arrival” made it past the bake-off to become a nominee, I’d be shouting from the rooftops that it could easily become this year’s “Ex Machina”. If “Arrival” earned a Visual Effects Oscar nomination, it would have earned nine Oscar nominations, and been a force to be reckoned with. (No, we are NOT going to run the numbers with “Arrival” as a nominee. It’s a lot of work. Feel free to do so on your own.)


SORTA-INTERESTING DETAILS
For only the second time in the last nine years, none of this year’s visual effects nominees also have a Best Picture nomination. In contrast, last year, three out of the five nominees were nominated for Best Picture (“Revenant”, “Mad Max: Fury Road” and “The Martian”). In addition, only one out of the ten films that participated in the visual effects bake-off was ultimately nominated for Best Picture (“Arrival”).

Marvel Studios earned its seventh visual effects Oscar nomination in nine years, with “Doctor Strange”. As a reminder, Marvel Studios debuted nine years ago with “Iron Man” (2008).

We’ll see what happens when the 89th Academy Awards take place on February 26, 2017.

Update: We got it right.