Select your localized edition:

Close ×

More Ways to Connect

Discover one of our 28 local entrepreneurial communities »

Be the first to know as we launch in new countries and markets around the globe.

Interested in bringing MIT Technology Review to your local market?

MIT Technology ReviewMIT Technology Review - logo

 

Unsupported browser: Your browser does not meet modern web standards. See how it scores »

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, last week, announced its short list for the Special Effects categories. The final three nominees in this category will be chosen from among these seven films:

The Hulk
The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World
Peter Pan
Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl
Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines
X-man 2

Each of these films’ crews will be asked to submit a 15 minute demo reel to a special jury which will determine which one ultimately gets nominated.

What’s striking here is that all except Master and Commander fall into the science fiction or fantasy category, which suggests something about the marginalization such films receive come Oscar time.

Like most of you, I am certainly hopeful that the new Lord of the Rings movie will receive best picture, recognizing the extraordinary accomplishment of Peter Jackson’s series as a whole and the particular richness of its final installment. My opinion is that Return of the King makes the other two films look like a warm-up act! But, I would like to hope that it gets recognition for its gifted performances, including Andy Serkis’s performance (in digital drag) as Gollum. I wrote after the last Oscars about the strange logic where make-up (like Nicole Kidman’s nose in The Hours) enhances your chance at an acting award but digital effects decreases it.

But the other side of the coin is also troubling. The battle scenes and historic settings of Cold Mountain and The Last Samurai are as much dependent on special effects as the giant spiders and elephants in Return of the King. So, why do we still act as if only science fiction and fantasy films have special effects? Are special effects more or less award-worthy if we don’t notice them than if they dominate the film? The Hulk’s special effects were so disparged that they damaged the film’s box office, according to most analysts. You couldn’t ignore them but it doesn’t mean they deserve an award.

0 comments about this story. Start the discussion »

Reprints and Permissions | Send feedback to the editor

From the Archives

Close

Introducing MIT Technology Review Insider.

Already a Magazine subscriber?

You're automatically an Insider. It's easy to activate or upgrade your account.

Activate Your Account

Become an Insider

It's the new way to subscribe. Get even more of the tech news, research, and discoveries you crave.

Sign Up

Learn More

Find out why MIT Technology Review Insider is for you and explore your options.

Show Me