"Bake offs" sounds like something the Academy would have asked 1950s candidates for Best Actress to do. But no, it's a term for the winnowing of contestants in various Oscar races prior to the nominations themselves. They almost never go for visual effects that aren't solely computer generated which is why (we presume) that Where the Wild Things Are's fantastic blend of puppets, stunts, sets, makeup effects and CGI didn't place. The seven finalists for Oscar's Best CGI competition also known as best visual effects are:
flying dragons, 3D, actors as statuesque blue aliens, spaceships and exo-skeletons
- District 9
prawn-like aliens, grotesque transformations, and badass weaponry
- Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince
sinewy sinister black clouds, frequent apparating, and the usual
- Star Trek
world destruction, space drilling, and boldly going where 9 other films had gone before
- Terminator Salvation
heavy metal, resurrecting Ahnuld, aerial craziness and a brand new cyborg
- Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen
giant f***ing robots... again
mass global destruction imagined by sadistic computer artists
Sam Worthington -- the unofficial new mascot of the category!
My predictions for the Oscar nominees are in red. For those of you who've already forgotten what the semi-finalists were, know that those 7 films above were found worthier of effects honors than these eight: Where the Wild Things Are, Sherlock Holmes, GI Joe Rise of Cobra, Watchmen, Angels and Demons and animated pictures Coraline, G-Force and Disney's A Christmas Carol. Do you agree or think this branch need their eyes checked (or their minds opened) before they do any more baking?
Oscar Trivia: Should Avatar win the Oscar for visual effects it will be the 5th James Cameron film to do so: Aliens, The Abyss, Terminator 2 and Titanic were all winners. And he's only made 8 features. His only film to be nominated that did not win this category was True Lies.