Academy Narrows VFX Oscar Contenders to 10

Daniel Craig

Skyfall was directed by Sam Mendes, the Oscar-winning director of American Beauty. Watch the trailer here.

"Skyfall," "Life of Pi" and "Cloud Atlas" are among the shortlisted films.

Ten films have been shortlisted to compete for the Oscar in visual effects at the 85th Academy Awards.

The films are, in alphabetical order, The Amazing Spider-Man, Cloud Atlas, The Dark Knight Rises, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, John Carter, Life of Pi, The Avengers, Prometheus, Skyfall and Snow White & the Huntsman.

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Men in Black 3 and Battleship were among the hopefuls that didn't make the cut. Neither did the final installment of the Twilight Saga, Breaking Dawn -- Part 2, though no film in that franchise has ever made the Academy’s short list for VFX.

Franchise films figured heavily in the selection. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is the first of three Hobbit films that will make up a prequel to Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings trilogy. All three LOTR films previously won Oscars for visual effects.

The work on Hobbit was created at Jackson’s Weta in Wellington, lead by four-time Oscar winning VFX supervisor Joe Letteri. Weta—along with ILM—shared large amounts of the VFX on another shortlisted film, The Avengers.

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Sony Pictures Imageworks’ work on the Spider-Man franchise has also previously been recognized by the Academy. Both Spider-Man and Spider-Man 2 were nominated, with the second film taking home the Oscar.

Another sequel that has some history in the category is The Dark Knight Rises. The Dark Knight was nominated for a VFX Oscar in 2009. Double Negative returned as the lead VFX house for the series' finale.

Skyfall's inclusion is notable since 007 has made only two previous appearances in the VFX category, scoring one win, for 1965’s Thunderball, and an additional nomination for 1979’s Moonraker.

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The convincing tiger that's featured in Life of Pi helped Ang Lee's movie secure a spot. Rhythm & Hues was the lead VFX house on Pi.

If any of the short-listed films also earns a best picture nomination when the Academy Awards nominations are announced Jan. 10 that could boost its chances in the VFX category. Historically, a VFX contender that also is a best picture nominee has gone on to win the effects category when up against non-best picture nominees. Just in the last five years, the VFX winners have include best pic nominees The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Avatar and last year’s Hugo.

All members of the visual effects branch will be invited to the Jan. 3 "bake-off" to view 10-minute excerpts from each of the shortlisted films. Following the screenings, the members will vote to nominate five films for final Oscar consideration.