Star Wars: The Last Jedi and Blade Runner 2049 are among the 10 films released in 2017 that have made the shortlist for a Best VFX Oscar nomination. It comes as no surprise that Rian Johnson's The Last Jedi was yet another visual treat for Star Wars fans, while Denis Villeneuve's Blade Runner 2049 was arguably the best-looking movie to be released in 2017, with some impressive effects in its own right.
The AMPAS has begun to narrow its list down to five final nominees, starting with 20 films and whittling it down to 10. As you might expect, the shortlists have been dominated by effects-laden blockbusters, with a few lower-budget surprises along the way. But with the potential Best Visual Effects nominees trimmed to 10, The Last Jedi and Blade Runner 2049 have emerged as standouts and possibly the front-runners.
As reported by Variety, AMPAS announced its shortlist of 10 nominees for Best VFX on Monday. The Last Jedi and Blade Runner 2049 made the cut, as did fellow action/sci-fi films like Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, Alien: Covenant, and War for the Planet of the Apes. Christopher Nolan's acclaimed World War II thriller Dunkirk is also in the running, as are lower-cost visual showcases like Bong-Joon Ho's Okja and Guillermo del Toro's The Shape of Water. The next step is for the shortlist to be cut in half. Here's the full list of 10 films on the VFX shortlist:
Blade Runner 2049
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
The Shape of Water
Star Wars: The Last Jedi
Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets
War for the Planet of the Apes
In the case of The Last Jedi, a Best VFX win would be the first for the franchise since 1983's Return of the Jedi, which along with The Empire Strikes Back won a Special Achievement award for its effects without any other films being nominated. Every film in the series has at least been nominated for a VFX award. Much of Blade Runner 2049's effects were created practically, but the film had some stunning visuals in scenes involving Ana de Armas' holographic character Joi and with the surprise return of the replicant Rachael as a motion-capture character.
If mo-cap is the new standard for VFX achievements - it was the driving force behind last year's winner, The Jungle Book - then The Last Jedi and Blade Runner 2049 should at least expect nominations. It's the same reason that War for the Planet of the Apes, whose two predecessors also got nominated, should find itself in the final five. Practical effects helped Ex Machina win the award over The Force Awakens two years ago, which could bode well for both Blade Runner 2049 and Dunkirk's chances of not just being nominated but winning.
The Visual Effects Branch Executive Committee of the Academy will now screen 10-minute videos showcasing the VFX from each of the 10 nominated films to determine the final five nominees. They can expect to see CGI characters like The Last Jedi's Supreme Leader Snoke (Andy Serkis) and Blade Runner 2049's Rachael featured heavily. The Last Jedi is a virtual certainty to end up with a nomination, but a win is far from guaranteed with some strong competition joining it. Blade Runner 2049 also has a great chance to land its share of technical nominations, but probably has a better shot of winning Best Cinematography for Roger Deakins than for its VFX team.