2018 Oscar Predictions: Best Visual Effects (Updated: November 26, 2017)

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: November 26, 2017

Leading Contenders
Richard Bain, Ben Morris, Michael Mulholland, Chris Corbould, “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” (Walt Disney Studios

Berj Bannayan, Richard Betts, Chas Jarrett, Doug Spilatro, Chris Spry, “Logan” (20th Century Fox)
Dennis Berardi, “The Shape of Water” (Fox Searchlight Pictures)

Theodore Bialek, Lou Pecora, Doug Spilatro, Daniel Sudick, “Spider-Man: Homecoming” (Marvel Studios)

Frazer Churchill, Viktor Muller, Jessica Norman, Bill Westenhofer, “Wonder Woman” (Warner Bros.)
Richard Clegg, Paul Lambert, Viktor Muller, John Nelson, “Blade Runner 2049” (Warner Bros./Columbia Pictures/Alcon Entertainment)

Matthew Crnich, Ray McMaster, Kevin Andrew Smith, Doug Spilatro, Christopher Townsend, “Guardian of the Galaxy Vol. 2” (Marvel Studios)

Andrew Jackson, Andrew Lockley, Tim McGovern, Paul Corbould, “Dunkirk” (Warner Bros.)
Joe Leterri, Dan Lemmon, Eric Winquist, Dan Cervin, “War for the Planet of the Apes” (20th Century Fox)

Kyle McCulloch, Kelly Port, Glen Pratt, Paul Corbould, “Beauty and the Beast” (Walt Disney Studios)
Jake Morrison, Alexis Wajsbrot, Chad Wiebe, Brian Cox, “Thor: Ragnarok” (Marvel Studios)

Strong Contenders
Nicholas Brooks, Warren Appleby, “It” (Warner Bros./New Line Cinemas)

Gary Brozenich, Bill Kent, Sheldon Stopsack, Dan Oliver, “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales” (Walt Disney Studios)

Neil Corbould, Vincent Cirelli, Ferran Domenech, Marcus Dryden, Charley Henley, Dan Oliver, “Alien: Covenant” (20th Century Fox)

Erik De Boer, Jun Hyoung Kim, Jeon Hyoung Lee, Kyung-soo Park, “Okja” (Netflix)

Don ‘D.J.’ Des Jardin, Seth Maury, Keith Miller, Mark Holt, “Justice League” (Warner Bros.)
Scott Farrar, Julian Foddy, Berter Orpak, Jason Smith, Sheldon Stopsack, “Transformers: The Last Knight” (Paramount Pictures)

Ara Khanikian, Stephen Rosenbaum, Jeff White, “Kong: Skull Island” (Warner Bros.)

Loeng Wong-Savun, Paul Benjamin, “The Mountain Between Us” (20th Century Fox/Chernin Entertainment)

Possible Contenders
Eric Barba, “Only the Brave” (Lionsgate)

Nicolas Aithadi, Oliver Hohn, Don Lee, Dominique Vidal, Jonathan Webber, Loeng Wong-Savun, “The Dark Tower” (Sony Pictures)

Asregadoo Arundi, Erik Nash, Darren Poe, Edson Williams, “The Mummy” (Universal)

Jay Barton, Kelvin McIlwain, Mike Wassel, J.D. Schwalm, “The Fate of the Furious” (Universal)

Angus Bickerton, Steven Warner, “Kingsman: The Golden Circle” (20th Century Fox)

Jerome Chen, Robert Winter, J.D. Schwalm, “Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle” (Sony Pictures)

Lindy DeQuattro, James E. Price, “Downsizing” (Paramount)

Sean Andrew Faden, Andrew Durno, Steve Hamilton, Dan Sedlacek, “Power Rangers” (Lionsgate)
Michael Kulzer, Fredrick Nord, Michael Wortmann, Gabor Kiszelly, “Atomic Blonde” (Focus Features)

Patrick Ledda, George Murphy, David Watkins, “Murder on the Orient Express” (20th Century Fox)

Gregory L. McMurry, Marcus Taormina, Scott R. Fisher, “Bright” (Netflix)

John Moffatt, Adam Rowland, Doug Spilatro, David Watkins, “Life” (Columbia)

Jeffrey A. Okun, Chris Watts, Michael Meinardus, “Geostorm” (Warner Bros.)

UPDATED: November 26, 2017

Joe Letteri already has four Oscar on his shelf for his ground-breaking motion capture work on “The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers” (2002), “LOTR: The Return of the King” (2003), “King Kong” (2005), and “Avatar” (2009). Will he win a fifth for turning Andy Serkis into a talking monkey in “War for the Planet of the Apes”? That would put him three away from the record held by Dennis Murren. He’s also eligible for “Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets.”

The Corbould brothers – Chris, Neil, and Paul – could find themselves competing against each other for “Star Wars: The Last Jedi,” “Alien: Covenant,” and “Dunkirk,” respectively. Chris won for his work on “Inception,” while Neil took home trophies for “Gladiator” (2010) and “Gravity.” Paul competed for “Guardians of the Galaxy” (2014) and “Doctor Strange” (2016); he also has “Beauty and the Beast” in the mix this year.

Although superhero movies tend to compete here, one hasn’t won since “Spider-Man 2” (2004). Can two-time champ Bill Westenhofer (“The Golden Compass” in 2007 and “Life of Pi” in 2012) break that losing streak with “Wonder Woman”? If not, could the teams behind “Logan,” “Spider-Man: Homecoming,” or “Thor: Ragnorak” do it?

John Nelson shared in that win for “Gladiator” with Neil Corboud and could well win again for “Blade Runner 2049,” Denis Villeneuve‘s followup to Ridley Scott‘s 1982 sci-fi classic. The original competed in this category, losing to “E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial.”

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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