Oscar Preview: Visual Effects

A category-by-category look at the Oscar crafts shoot

In a year that many say resulted in a lot of impressive work, response to the upcoming "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" could prove pivotal in the visual effects race. Lead VFX house Digital Domain produced a CG face of Brad Pitt aging in reverse. If the work meets its lofty expectations, it will be a leading contender.

Others that look like strong candidates for nominations in the category are the highly regarded work on "Iron Man" and "The Dark Knight" -- boxoffice hits that combined VFX designed for realism and compelling stories.

A number of high-profile sequels are also aiming to grab nominations, including "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull," "Hellboy II: The Golden Army," Universal's "The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor" and Disney's "The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian." But as demonstrated last year when "Spider-Man 3" and "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix" didn't make the VFX Oscar bake-off, a successful sequel does not guarantee entry into the Oscar VFX race.

Also during the year, some questioned if the acclaimed animated "WALL-E" could achieve the rare feat of competing in the mix, and meanwhile some buzz was building around Universal's "Wanted."

Fourth quarter releases including Fox's "The Day the Earth Stood Still," "Quantum of Solace" and Lionsgate's "The Spirit" are all also possible contenders.