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Oscars: Academy announces vfx short list

10 pics include 'Planet of the Apes,' 'Tree of Life'

Established and rebooted franchises dominate the list of 10 pics that will compete in the Academy’s Jan. 19 visual effects bakeoff.

Several franchises that have so far found Oscar gold elusive are back in the bakeoff to seek nominations: The “Harry Potter” series, a perpetual bridesmaid in the Acad vfx race, will get one more chance with “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2.” The third “Transformers” pic will seek a nom, as will the fourth “Mission Impossible” and reboot “X-Men: First Class.”

“Pirates of the Caribbean” upholds the franchise tradition by making the bakeoff. Fox’s reboot/prequel “Rise of the Planet of the Apes” will also go for a nom.

The branch expanded the bakeoff this year from seven pics to 10, in part with the hope of including more dramas and artpics, like last year’s nominee “Hereafter.” They have selected Martin Scorsese’s period fantasy “Hugo,” and Terrence Malick’s metaphysical “The Tree of Life” in the bakeoff.

Also in the competish are Marvel period superhero origin story “Captain America: The First Avenger” and Disney’s boxing robot tentpole “Real Steel.”

Paramount dominates the list with four entries. Fox has three including Searchlight’s “Tree of Life,” Disney has two and Warner one.

Five titles were trimmed from the previously announced “long list” of contenders: “Cowboys and Aliens,” “Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows,” “Sucker Punch,” “Super 8” and “Thor.”

“Hugo” visual effects supervisor Rob Legato, a member of the vfx branch exec committee that chose the bakeoff films, told Variety : “The nature of the work has grown up to a certain degree.” Since tech breakthroughs like digital fur, fire and water have become rare, said Legato, “it’s about the art of the work, not the technology of the work. Everybody has the same tools. It’s about how did you use them to create art.”

With 10 entries, the vfx bakeoff — to be held Jan. 19 at the Acad’s Goldwyn Theater in BevHills — will feature only a 10-minute vfx highlight reel from each entry, down from the 15 minutes permitted when there were only seven entries. The branch members vote before leaving the building. Oscar nominees will be announced five days later, on Jan. 24.

The bakeoff is open to the public and is among the Acad’s most popular events.

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The films are listed below in alphabetical order:

• “Captain America: The First Avenger”

•”Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2″

•”Hugo”

•”Mission: Impossible — Ghost Protocol”

•”Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides”

•”Real Steel”

•”Rise of the Planet of the Apes”

•”Transformers: Dark of the Moon”

•”The Tree of Life”

• “X-Men: First Class”

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