There’s obviously a certain bloc of voters in the Academy’s visual effects branch who loved seeing CGI open up a world of animal-on-animal violence, as when Polar Bear #1 clocks the jaw right off Polar Bear #2, or when that monkey gets slapped around by Nicole Kidman. Unless they mistook the seemingly post-produced softening of the actress’s Botox-rigid face as one of the film’s supposed visual effects, they’ve once again gone out of their way to reserve a slot for anthropomorphized members of the animal kingdom, just a couple years after The Chronicles of Narnia did precisely the same thing (and well over a decade after Babe surprisingly swiped the trophy from Apollo 13). The Golden Compass has an odd and off-puttingly dour look about it—at times, I thought I was watching a tribute to those fable-transcribing mid-century nationalist epics from Russia—but I sincerely doubt many will take that as a positive. Even if they do, those fucking Pirates of the Caribbean movies continue to carry the torch as the ne plus ultra of supremely ugly-looking films with shoddy effects. (That the exact same team that won this award last year managed to slip in this year’s lineup instead of the equally irritating but lamentably trend-setting visuals of 300 suggests this is simply a group of voters that prefers their porridge cold…though to their credit, they appear to have finally gotten over the Harry Potter and Spiderman series.) Transformers’ speed-demon visuals carry little pomp, but they emerge as the only sensible option in this lineup.
Will Win: Transformers
Should Win: Transformers