Oscar 2007: Short List of Visual Special Effects Films

January 4, 2008–The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences visual effects branch announced the seven semifinalists for the VFX Oscar.
The seven films that will compete are The Bourne Ultimatum, Evan Almighty, The Golden Compass, I Am Legend, Pirates of the Caribbean: At Worlds End, 300 and Transformers.

Universal's entries Evan Almighty and Bourne Ultimatum were darkhorses in the field, especially Evan Almighty, which received little campaign support from either U or from its lead vfx houses, Rhythm & Hues and Industrial Light & Magic.

Both shops fared well on the bakeoff list. ILM was also a key contributor to Pirates while R&H did the work on the animals in New Lines The Golden Compass.

Conspicuous by its absence was Sonys Spider-Man 3. The second installment in the Spidey franchise won the vfx Oscar two years ago and Spidey 3's birth of the Sandman sequence is one of the year's most buzzed-about vfx sequences. Sony saw its other contender, The Water Horse (Weta Digital) , also fall short.

On the other hand, the studios vfx house, Sony Pictures Imageworks, got some consolation when I Am Legend made the list. Pic is one of two Warner releases to make the cut; the other, 300, had caused some grumbling in vfx circles that the work on the film was more production design than visual effects. Its inclusion reflects the continuing blurring of categories as digital filmmaking techniques become more ubiquitous.

Warners Harry Potter franchise, a perennial bridesmaid in the category, did not make the short list this year.

The vfx branch had taken the unprecedented step of including two animated films, Beowulf and Ratatouille in its long list of 15 contenders, but neither made the bakeoff..

Last year's winning franchise, Disney's Pirates of the Caribbean, will go for a repeat but will face stiff competish, especially from Paramount's Transformers.

The vfx bakeoff will be held Jan. 16 at the Academys Samuel Goldwyn Theater. Each film will present a 15-minute highlight reel. The branch members in attendance will vote immediately afterward on the three nominees.