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Oscars: ‘Rogue One,’ ‘Suicide Squad,’ ‘Fantastic Beasts’ Advance in Visual Effects Race

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story,” “Suicide Squad,” “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them,” and “The Jungle Book” are among the movies that could compete in the Oscar visual effects category. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced on Friday the 20 films that will advance in the race.

Here are all the pics that will compete in the VFX Oscar race:

“Alice Through the Looking Glass”
“Arrival”
“The BFG”
“Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice”
“Captain America: Civil War”
“Deadpool”
“Deepwater Horizon”
“Doctor Strange”
“Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them”
“Independence Day: Resurgence”
The Jungle Book
“Kubo and the Two Strings”
“Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children”
“Passengers”
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
“Star Trek Beyond”
Suicide Squad
“Sully”
“Warcraft”
“X-Men: Apocalypse”

The Academy’s Visual Effects Branch Executive Committee will narrow the list further to 10 for the bakeoff stage in a few weeks. From there, nominees will be chosen and announced on Jan. 24.

Frontrunners in the field appear to be films like “The Jungle Book,” “Rogue One,” and “Doctor Strange,” as outlined in a recent analysis of the category. But sleeper contenders include Steven Spielberg’s “The BFG,” which was supervised by five-time Oscar winner Joe Letteri, and Clint Eastwood’s “Sully,” which could be a surprise nominee for minimal yet effective work a la the director’s “Hereafter” several years ago.

The inclusion of Laika’s “Kubo and the Two Strings” is interesting as well, as the stop-motion film employed the studio’s usual blend of practical and digital wizardry.

Friday’s announcement of “Harry Potter” spinoff “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” bodes well for Warner Bros., given that the eight “Potter” movies generated a total of only three VFX nominations. The team is headed by supervisors Tim Burke and Christian Manz.

Marvel-Disney’s “Captain America: Civil War” is the top box office performer on the list, having hauled in $1.2 billion. Supervisors Dan DeLeeuw and Russell Earl were also nominated for the previous installment, “Captain America: The Winter Soldier.”

“Rogue One” is one of two films on the list that has not yet opened (it hits theaters on Dec. 16). Last year’s “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” nabbed a nomination for the team of Roger Guyett, Patrick Tubach, Neal Scanlan, and Chris Corbould. The original “Star Wars” won the VFX Oscar for John Stears, John Dykstra, Richard Edlund, Grant McCune, and Robert Blalack.

“Passengers,” the Jennifer Lawrence-Chris Pratt sci-fi adventure, also hasn’t debuted yet (it launches Dec. 21). Erik Nordby and Pete Dionne headed up the MPC team in completing the effects.

Films that missed the cut include Critics’ Choice nominee “A Monster Calls” and Disney’s “Pete’s Dragon.”

“Ex Machina” won the visual effects Oscar this year and “Interstellar” took the trophy in 2015.

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