VFX sets seven contenders

Jan. 21 bakeoff will narrow the field to three Oscar nominees

It’s the Na’vi versus the Decepticons, Captain Kirk against Voldemort — but Dr. Manhattan was left out in the cold.

The Motion Picture Academy Wednesday announced the seven films that will compete in the Oscar visual effects bakeoff.

The seven finalists for a nomination are Fox’s “Avatar”; Paramount’s “Star Trek” and “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen”; Warner Bros.’ “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince” and “Terminator Salvation”; and Sony’s “District 9” and “2012.”

Notable omissions from the list: Warner’s “Watchmen,” Disney’s “G-Force” and Paramount’s “G.I. Joe.: The Rise of Cobra.”

Among effects studios, Industrial Light & Magic worked on five of the seven finalists (all but “District 9” and “2012”), though its name will not be on “Avatar” should it be nominated. Digital Domain is on three pics, “Transformers,” “2012” and “Star Trek.”

Several shops have two pics in contention: Weta Digital was the lead on “Avatar” and contributed to “District 9”; London’s Double Negative has “2012” and “Harry Potter.”

Sony Pictures Imageworks worked on “2012,” and its India office contributed to “Terminator,” but its other contenders, “Watchmen” and “G-Force,” were left out.

The visual effects bakeoff will be held Jan. 21 at the Academy’s Goldwyn Theater, with 15 minutes of highlights screening from each film. Members of the branch attend and vote for the three nominees immediately afterward.

The final three nominees will be announced Feb. 2 along with the rest of the Oscar nominations.

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