2018 Oscar Predictions: Best Visual Effects (Updated: January 14, 2018)

The Oscar for Best Visual Effects is particularly tough to predict early on because of the complicated system by which the nominees are determined in three stages. First, the members of the executive committee of the branch cast preferential ballots to determine 20 films for further consideration, which will then be winnowed down to 10 semi-finalists. All members of the branch are invited to a screening of excerpts from these 10 films at which potential nominees may discuss their work. Ballots are counted using a system of re-weighted range voting to determine the five nominees. (Scroll down for the most up-to-date predictions for this years Best Visual Effects race.)

Because of these screenings, films that otherwise haven’t been talked about all season long suddenly find themselves in the final five. Indeed, just last year, the stop-motion animated “Kubo and the Two Strings” landed a nomination over frontrunners “Arrival” and “The BFG.”

When it comes to picking the winner of Best Visual Effects, you can’t go wrong with the film that is most reliant on effects to tell its story. Recent winners “The Jungle Book” (2016), “Gravity” (2013), “Life of Pi” (2012), “Avatar” (2009) and “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” (2008) would have been impossible to make without the advent of computer-generated effects. Titles that blend such CGI with old-school practical effects, such as “Interstellar” (2014), “Hugo” (2011), or “Inception” (2010), have also prevailed in recent times.

Please note: Only those films with confirmed release dates are listed below. Check back often as new contenders are scheduled while others are dropped due to delays or critical reaction. While no more than four people can be eligible for a single film, we’ve listed more than four contenders next to certain films because we do not yet know which individuals will be submitted.

UPDATED: January 14, 2018

And then there were 10. The motion picture academy has significantly narrowed the race for Best Visual Effects, cutting the field in half from the preliminary shortlist of 20 to 10 Oscar contenders. The Visual Effects Branch executive committee selected the following films to advance to nominations voting:

“Alien: Covenant”
“Blade Runner 2049″
“Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2”
“Kong: Skull Island”
“The Shape of Water”
“Star Wars: The Last Jedi”
“Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets”
“War for the Planet of the Apes”

Among these 10 films are two of the top box office draws of the year: “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” and “Star Wars: The Last Jedi.” Also in the mix are more serious fare such as “Dunkirk,” “The Shape of Water” and “Okja” as well as sequels such as “Blade Runner 2049” and “War for the Planets of the Apes.”

The 10 films that didn’t make the cut were:

“Beauty and the Beast”
“Ghost in the Shell”
“Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle”
“Justice League”
“Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales”
“Spider-Man Homecoming”
“Thor: Ragnarok”
“Wonder Woman”

Now that the executive committee of the branch has decided on the 10 semi-finalists, all members of the branch will be invited to a screening of excerpts from these films at which potential nominees may discuss their work. Ballots are counted using a system of re-weighted range voting to determine the five nominees that will be revealed on Jan. 23.

Best Picture | Best Director | Best Original Screenplay | Best Adapted Screenplay
Best Actor | Best Actress | Best Supporting Actor | Best Supporting Actress
Best Cinematography | Best Costume Design | Best Film Editing | Best Production Design
Best Makeup & Hairstyling | Best Sound Editing | Best Sound Mixing | Best Visual Effects
Best Original Score | Best Original Song
Best Animated Feature | Best Documentary Feature | Best Foreign Language Film
Best Animated Short | Best Documentary Short | Best Live-Action Short

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