Christopher Nolan has become known for his innovative blockbusters, and that visual innovation has led his films to multiple Oscar nominations and wins in craft categories. His 2020 film “Tenet,” pretty much the only big-budget tentpole movie to open during the COVID-19 pandemic, continues that trend with its bids for Best Production Design and Best Visual Effects. If it wins the latter award it’ll be his third film to claim that prize, following “Inception” (2010) and “Interstellar” (2014).
The nominated visual effects artists include two-time Oscar winner Andrew Lockley (“Inception” and “Interstellar”), one-time Oscar champ Scott R. Fisher (“Interstellar”), one-time previous Oscar nominee Andrew Jackson (“Mad Max: Fury Road”), and Oscar first-timer David Lee. The film has already won for its visual effects at the Critics Choice Awards and earned nominations from the BAFTAs and Visual Effects Society.
“Tenet” might have run into trouble in the Best Visual Effects Oscar category if it had been nominated alongside a Best Picture nominee like “Mank,” which had made the academy’s shortlist. Best Picture contenders nominated for their visual effects usually win even if they’re not obvious choices, like last year when the supporting effects in “1917” managed to beat the wall-to-wall CGI of “Avengers: Endgame,” “The Lion King” and “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.”
But this happens to be a year without a major effects film in the Best Picture lineup, due in no small part to movies like “Dune” and “Black Widow” being delayed due to the global health crisis. In fact, “Tenet” is tied with “Mulan” as the most nominated film in the Visual Effects category with two apiece. The rest of the nominees — “Love and Monsters,” “The Midnight Sky” and “The One and Only Ivan” — didn’t make the cut anywhere else.
So it’s no surprise that “Tenet” has such an overwhelming lead in our Oscar odds, according to the combined predictions of Gold Derby users. Though one of the Expert journalists we’ve surveyed, a couple of our Top 24 Users, and three All-Star users think “Midnight Sky” will upset. One of our Top 24 is even going out on a limb for surprise nominee “Love and Monsters” to prevail. If that happens, Nolan and company may want to travel backwards through time to figure out how it happened.
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