By D.G. McCabe
There is one category of Oscar that defies the high brow and the artistic, stands in the face of the critically acclaimed, gives the film critics nightmares, and other such things. It has been given to many films squarely in the critical doghouse, but made a killing in at the box office (Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest (2006), Independence Day (1996)) or films simply in the critical doghouse (The Golden Compass (2007), What Dreams May Come (1998)). This is the Visual Effects category.
This year we have The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, Life of Pi (Also up for Best Picture), The Avengers, Prometheus, and Snow White and the Huntsman as nominees. Two popular franchise films, a best picture nominee, and two box office flops, one so bad that you’d have to see it three or four times just to be slightly confused about its plot (Prometheus).
In previewing the Oscars, it’s always a good idea to check the guild awards first because a lot of the voters give them deference in their selections. The Life of Pi won the “Best Feature” award at the 2013 Visual Effects Society Awards. The VES Awards do not always pick the Visual Effects Oscar – they didn’t last year when “Rise of the Planet of the Apes” won the VES Award and Hugo won the Oscar – but they have been 7/10 since the first VES Awards in 2002. Since Life of Pi is also up for Best Picture, I would say that it’s the favorite in this category, so don’t feel compelled to vote for the Avengers or the Hobbit in your Oscar pools just because you’ve seen and enjoyed them but didn’t get around to seeing Life of Pi.
(c) 2013 D.G. McCabe