"The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey" reaped a leading seven bids for the 11th annual Visual Effects Society awards while "Life of Pi" and "The Avengers" each picked up six nods. (See full list of nominations here.)
These three contend in the VES equivalent of the Best Picture race -- visual effects in a visual effects-driven feature motion picture -- along with "Battleship" and "Prometheus."
Alll but "Battleship" are among the 10 films still vying for the five Visual Effects slots at the Oscars.
Four of the other Oscar semi-finalists -- "Cloud Atlas," "John Carter," "Skyfall" and "Snow White and the Huntsman" -- were shut out of these kudos while "The Amazing Spider-Man" and "The Dark Knight Rises" earned only one nomination each.
"Argo," "Flight," "The Impossible," "Rust and Bone" and "Zero Dark Thirty" are competing for the supporting visual effects award.
And "Brave," "Hotel Transylvania", "ParaNorman," "Rise of the Guardians" and "Wreck-It Ralph" contend in the animated feature race. "ParaNorman" picked up a leading five animation bids, with "Brave" earning four and "Rise of the Guardians" three.
Last year, two of the Oscar nominees -- "Rise of the Planet of the Apes" and "Hugo" -- each won two VES awards. "Hugo," which won the supporting visual effects award, went on to claim the Oscar over, among others, "Apes," which took the top prize at the VES.
In 2010, "Inception" won all four of its bids including the top prize. It took home the Oscar too. In 2009, "Avatar" won six of the seven VES races in which it contended and also prevailed at the Academy Awards. At the VES, "Avatar" is tied with "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest" for second place while "The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers" reigns supreme with seven awards.
In 2008, "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" won the top prize with both the VES and the Oscars. However, in 2007, the top VES winner "Transformers" lost the Visual Effects Oscar to "The Golden Compass."
Over the first five years of the VES kudos, the winners matched four times --- in 2006 ("Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest"), 2005 ("King Kong"), 2003 ("The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King") and 2002 ("The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers"). In 2004, the VES chose "Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban" while the Oscar went to "Spider-Man 2."
The nominees in 24 categories of film, animation, television, commercials, special venues and video games were chosen by VES members who viewed submissions at the FotoKem screening facilities in Burbank and New York, FotoKem’s Spy in San Francisco, and facilities in London, Sydney, Vancouver and Wellington. Winners will be announced Feb. 5 at the Beverly Hilton Hotel. Richard Edlund is to receive the lifetime achievement award while Ang Lee is feted with the Visionary Award.