This year in Visual Effects (the one category that annually rewards the biggest blockbusters) seven finalists have survived the bakeoffs. Three of the following will be named nominees by the end of January.
The Bourne Ultimatum
<---The Golden Compass
I Am Legend
Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End
Did you just doze off? Are you nodding your head with sleepy eyes in awards fatigue induced apathy.
A little context might help wake you up. It’s far more interesting to view these finalists through the prism of what's already been vetoed. AMPAS voters wisely ignored the tacky CGI fests that were The Rise of the Silver Surfer and Stardust (neither of which made the semi-finals) . But among the semi-finalists that did not make the finals what is it that Spider-Man 3, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Ratatouille, Beowulf, Sunshine, Live Free or Die Hard and National Treasure: Book of Secrets and The Waterhorse: Legend or the Deep are lacking in relation to um... Evan Almighty?
Some of the rejected are givens. Few probably want to hear Waterhorse with a preface like "The Oscar Nominated..." But among the booted eight are some eye-popping wonders. What, pray tell, is lacking in Sunshine's visuals? Nothing I'd argue. Animated films never fare well here but my guess is Pixar's annual advancements in the CG Animation medium are statue worthy. It's nice to see old school effects like Bourne Ultimatum in the running but given the complete Casino Royale shut out last year, Bourne enthusiasts shouldn't get their hopes up.
And while we're on the subject of bake-offs, wouldn't it be great to have "best of" clip reels for all the categories for voters to ponder. Or, since 2007 cinema has been so retrograde about gender politics, how about a literal bake off for Best Actress. Angelina Jolie is an awesome movie star and humanitarian but can she bake a cherry pie?