In order to truly appreciate a visual f/x film, it must be seen without all those unnecessary distractions — like plot, story, character arc, etc. — and viewed with the f/x all jumbled together in one 15-minute reel.
That’s exactly what took place Wednesday evening at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences screening theater, where filmmakers held a “bake-off” of the final seven films up for best visual f/x Oscar nominations.
Each film was presented by the Oscar-seeking f/x supervisors to an audience that included the visual f/x community as well as those voting on the films. Voters were looking for technique, execution, creative use of existing technology, how pioneering the work was and whether it pushed the boundaries of visual f/x.
The films and the individuals in contention to be nominated, in the order that they were screened, are:
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- “Small Soldiers” (Stan Winston, Stefen Fangmeier, David Andrews and Ken Pepiot);
- “Godzilla” (Volker Engel, Patrick Tatopoulos, Karen Goulekas and Clay Pinney);
- “The Truman Show” (Michael J. McAlister, Peter Chesney, Brad Kuehn and Craig Barron);
- “Mighty Joe Young” (Rick Baker, Hoyt Yeatman, Alan Hall and Jim Mitchell);
- “Babe: Pig in the City” (Bill Westenhofer, Grahame Andrew, Chris Godfrey and Neal Scanlon);
- “Armageddon” (Richard R. Hoover, Pat McClung and John Frazier);
- “What Dreams May Come” (Joel Hynek, Nicholas Brooks, Stuart Robertson and Kevin Mack).
Of the seven films, “The Truman Show” seemed to be in a class of its own in that its f/x were more “invisible” and extremely subtle when compared with the rest of the films.
The final nominees that will compete for the Academy Award for best visual effects will be announced Tuesday.