Predict Best Visual Effects Oscar: Is ‘Star Wars’ about to make a comeback?

star wars force awakens

We’ve launched the Best Visual Effects category in our Oscars predictions center. Even though this award used to belong to summer blockbusters, 10 of the last 15 winners have been Best Picture nominees, including six of the last seven: “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” (2008), “Avatar” (2009), “Inception” (2010), “Hugo” (2011), “Life of Pi” (2012) and “Gravity” (2013).

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That could be good news for Best Picture contender “The Martian,” Ridley Scott‘s sci-fi blockbuster. Scott also directed previous Best Visual Effects champs “Alien” (1979) and “Gladiator” (2000).

But one of the biggest question marks in this category is whether “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” will return the franchise to its former awards glory. The first “Star Wars” film won this category in 1977. Its sequels “The Empire Strikes Back” (1980) and “Return of the Jedi” (1983) then won special achievement Oscars for their effects. The first two prequels, “The Phantom Menace” (1999) and “Attack of the Clones” (2002) were both nominated, but the final prequel, “Revenge of the Sith” (2005) became the first and only “Star Wars” film not to be recognized for its visual effects.

Will the academy welcome “Star Wars” back now that director J.J. Abrams has taken the reins? Abrams also rebooted “Star Trek” for the big screen, and both of his films in that franchise — “Star Trek” (2009) and “Star Trek Into Darkness” (2013) were nominated for Best Visual Effects.

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Another filmmaker to watch is Robert Zemeckis. His film “The Walk” tells the true story of Philippe Petit, an acrobat who walked on a high wire between the twin towers of the World Trade Center. The film earned raves for its visuals, and the academy loves his work. Four of his films have been nominated for Best Visual Effects and three have won: “Who Framed Roger Rabbit?” (1988), “Death Becomes Her” (1992) and “Forrest Gump” (1994).

The “Jurassic Park” franchise made a big-screen comeback this year with “Jurassic World,” the fourth film in that franchise, which is the top-grossing movie of the year to date (though that could change when “Star Wars” opens). The original “Jurassic Park” won this award in 1993, and its first sequel, “The Lost World” (1997), was also nominated. No such luck for “Jurassic Park III” (2001). Will the academy grant the franchise re-entry?

No comic book movie has won Best Visual Effects since “Spider-Man 2” in 2004. It’s the only such film to win the race competitively; before that “Superman” won a Special Achievement Award for its effects in 1978. But a few comic-book adaptations are in the running this year. Marvel’s effects-heavy “Avengers: Age of Ultron” and “Ant-Man” were big box-office hits. “Fantastic Four” offers another set of Marvel heroes (though produced by 20th Century Fox) that could be recognized here.

Other sci-fi films that could contend include “Mad Max: Fury Road,” “Jupiter Ascending,” “Chappie,” “Ex Machina,” “Terminator: Genisys” and “Pixels.” Fantasy films vying for bids include “Cinderella,” “Pan” and “Crimson Peak.” Lavish actioners like “Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation,” “In the Heart of the Sea,” “Furious 7” and “Spectre” could also enter the contest.

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Who do you think will win Best Visual Effects? Make your predictions beginning with this category at the bottom of this post and you could earn a place of honor on our leaderboard and a starring role in next year’s Top 24 Users (the two dozen folks who do the best predicting this year’s Oscar nominations).

As some of our Users turn out to be our smartest prognosticators, it’s important that you give us your predictions. Your picks influence our Users racetrack odds, which also factor into our official combined odds.

Photo Credit: Walt Disney Studios

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