Oscar Picks 2016

Oscar Picks 2016

This year, as I did in 2015, I am again compiling a list of which films I think will win during the Academy Awards.

Best Visual Effects

2015 seemed to be the Year of the Bear when it came to visual effects, but the Star Wars: The Force Awakens team at ILM created a wide range of fantastic and believable effects that are sure to win out. After snatching 4 trophies at the VES awards, there seems to be little doubt as to the outcome of this category.

Best Animated Feature Film

There is a strong showing of animated feature nominees this year, but sadly, Inside Out is the only film from the major U.S. studios to be nominated. And previous years have shown that mainstream appeal weighs heavily with Academy voters. Besides that, the film is wonderfully endearing and original and has already received accolades, including a Golden Globe and 10 Annies.

Best Sound Editing

After already having received a BAFTA, Lon Blender and Martin Hernandez are promising candidates for picking up an Oscar in this category for The Revenant. Beyond that, however, their work is excellent. The Soundworks Collection has some good interviews on The Revenant and other Oscar-nominated films for sound here.

Best Sound Mixing

The broader Academy typically lumps sound editing and sound mixing together, so I am also naming The Revenant here.

Best Cinematography

Emmanuel Lubezki, the Oscar-winning DP for Gravity, gets my vote for his outstanding camera work on The Revenant. I have yet to see the film, but the clips I have seen display excellent work by Mr. Lubezki.

See the full list of nominees here: http://oscar.go.com/nominees/animated-feature-film.


2015 Oscar Picks

Once again the Academy Awards are around the corner, so here I am presenting my picks of who will win tomorrow. As listing all the categories here would make this post much too lengthy, I will restrict myself to just those areas that I am most familiar with. So to start off with, here is my pick for Best Visual Effects.
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Weekend Project #2

This semester at college I am doing a series of weekend projects. I am about to begin the second project in that series, which will be a simple test of slow-motion and some CG integration. I started my first project in January, but that post is still coming.

This project will involve a camera doing a 360 degree orbit around two people who appear to be frozen in place. I also want to simulate a water splash that will be between the two actors. The video will be filmed at 60fps and retimed to 120fps using optical flow with Kronos. Below are some drawings to illustrate my idea.ImageImage

Why ‘Jack the Giant Slayer’ Failed

Earlier this year, the movie Jack the Giant Slayer was released. For certain reasons that I have had on my mind for some time, this movie bothered me. The story is based on the “Jack and the Beanstalk” fairytale. While the story is decent, I look at fairytale films as low-budget, poorly conceived fare. I find such genre films could justify a nearly $200 million budget.

$200 million doesn’t seem too significant as the box office take came just short of that amount. However, when one considers that a typical blockbuster film may spend $100 million on marketing alone (!), this results in a significant loss for Warner Bros (source: Hollywood Reporter: ‘Jack the Giant Slayer’ Could Lose up to $140 Million). Should such an enormous budget have been approved when there is little to no precedent for a fairytale-based film? (The exception to this is The Brothers Grimm, which is based more on the men who compiled fairytales than any specific story). The film may have been more successful if it had had a much lower and more appropriate postproduction budget. As a student of animation, part of me is pleased that VFX makes up an increasing amount of the budgeted resources for films as Hollywood realizes the impact that good CGI can have on a film’s popularity. The Catch-22, however, is that the overall box office revenue doesn’t necessarily increase, or it doesn’t increase enough to keep up with the marked increase of $100 million+ film budgets. This increasing demand for effects affects the VFX houses and artists most significantly as film studios and producers exert more and more pressure to get high-quality results, while paying as little as possible and forcing effects productions to run on extremely thin margins.

What I find especially disturbing is the attitude that VFX can turn an average movie into a major hit. While it is true that movies with impressive visuals perform better, on average, than other similar, less glitzy films, VFX should not be used as a magic wand to hook audiences. Jack the Giant Slayer seems to be promoting the idea that good storytelling can be replaced with flash and sizzle.


The movie failed to succeed in part because it tried to achieve too much. The astounding amount of money spent on its numerous creature effects and set extensions was more than should have been budgeted to a film that is otherwise less than exciting.

Other Sources: Hollywood Reporter: Analyst Downgrades Theater Chains after ‘Disastrous’ ‘Jack the Giant Slayer’ Opening