Visual Effects Oscar contenders announced

Considered titles include 'Casino,' 'Superman,' 'X-Men'

There were several surprises as the Motion Picture Academy Friday announced the seven films in consideration for the Visual Effects award at February’s Oscars.

Pics, which will present their work at the vfx “bakeoff” on Jan. 17, are MGM’s “Casino Royale,” Fox’s “Eragon,” “A Night at the Museum” and “X-Men The Last Stand,” Disney’s “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest”; and Warner’s “Poseidon” and “Superman Returns.”

Among vfx shops, Lucasfilm’s Industrial Light & Magic worked on three nominees, as the sole shop on “Pirates” and co-lead on “Poseidon” and “Eragon.” Moving Picture Company was also on three: lead on “X-Men,” co-lead on “Poseidon” and contributor to “Casino Royale.”

Shops with two films in the race include Weta Digital, co-lead on “Eragon” and “X-Men”; Rhythm & Hues, lead on “Night at the Museum” and contributor to “Superman Returns”; and Framestore CFC, with”Superman Returns” and “X-Men.”

Sony Pictures Imageworks was the lead shop on “Superman Returns.”

Several films that had high hopes for the competish were passed over, including Paramount’s “Charlotte’s Web” and “Flags of Our Fathers.”

“Charlotte’s Web’s” effects work, much of it from Tippett Studios, had been highly touted for its talking animals, especially the eponymous spider.

The omission of the “Flags of our Fathers” represents a blow to Digital Domain, which has been aiming to re-establish itself as a first-rank shop for feature films.

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