Supernal Dreams: Academy Boosts Visual Effects Nominees to Five

Inception (20100
INCEPTION, a likely nominee for visual effects

As I’ve suggested here for the last two years, limiting the Academy Award for “Best Visual Effects” to only three nominees seems quite unfair, since all the other categories (except make-up) have five nominees. Given the overwhelming number of films that feature superlative effects work these days, it has become increasingly obvious that this is a change that has been long overdue. Last May, the Visual Effects branch finally acted, when their three Governors (Richard Edlund, Craig Barron and Bill Taylor) chaired a meeting and recommended that the change be made to five nominees.  According to an article on the meeting in Variety by David S. Cohen, the change actually met with some heated resistance from Academy members.
The two main objections cited in the Variety article were that four additional names (for each of the two additional films nominated) would have to be read on the Oscar show, and that if five movies were nominated, the final award might not go to “cutting-edge” effects work. Such objections seem silly at best, and luckily wiser heads prevailed, so this years award for “Best Visual Effects” will indeed feature five contenders for the first time since 1979 when ALIEN won the final prize.
Since we are still only seven months into the year and there are already more than five worthy nominees, (among them:  INCEPTION,  IRON MAN 2,  ALICE IN WONDERLAND,  THE TWILIGHT SAGA: ECLIPSE,  ROBIN HOOD,  CLASH OF THE TITANS and even THE LAST AIRBENDER),  this is obviously a change for the better.  Likewise, last year several worthy films, such as 2012  and TERMINATOR SALVATION failed to make the cut because there were only three slots available.
The Academy explained the change in their official press release:  “Since 1963, when the Special Effects award was discontinued and new separate categories for achievements in visual effects and sound effects were established, the only period during which it was possible to have five visual effects nominees was 1977 through 1979. In only one of those years (1979) were five achievements actually recognized. Between 1980 and 1995, two or three productions could be nominated; since 1996 the rules have dictated there be exactly three nominees.”

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