One of the purposes of this blog is to review movies that people may not have seen ahead of the Oscars to help provide more investment in the Oscars themselves. Since the majority of the following movies were blockbusters, I thought I would consolidate since no one really needs an in-depth description for our visual effects superstars.


 


Movie
: Captain America: The Winter Soldier
What it’s up for: Visual Effects

This was probably my overall favorite movie of the year. I liked the first Cap, but I LOVED this one. Marvel always excels at visual effects. They employ several different visual effects companies to hit everything from flying heroes to crashing helicarriers.

The kicker for this one was dear, dying Peggy Carter. Now, apparently, the effects they created to show an aged Hayley Atwell are “groundbreaking”. That in and of itself is enough for a nomination. However, I personally found the effect off-putting. The lips were what gave her away. I know that old age makeup is the hardest makeup to utilize successfully (thanks, Face Off, for that trivia). I know that the effects artists tried to use prosthetics first. I understand why they would want to try and see if they could get help from the computer. Regardless, I think it would have looked better with prosthetics.


Movie
: Guardians of the Galaxy
What it’s up for: Visual Effects, Makeup

Speaking of Marvel, here’s the success story of the year in cinema. No one knew what a success this movie would become and I believe that part of this success is from the marriage of visual effects AND extensive use of makeup.

The visual effects were beyond belief. The key things that come to mind are the entire opening sequence with Star-Lord on Morag, the interiors of the Dark Aster, and, well, Groot. Using stand-ins for Groot and Rocket provided unique challenges for the cast and crew. The creation of brand new worlds is always a monumental task. Add that to the incredible array of makeup used on almost everyone and you’ve got an incredible look for a film. The fact that Zoe Saldana used makeup rather than CGI to make her skin green is a tribute to the makeup department. Then there are all the prosthetics on Drax – and even on the extras. They might lose to Budapest, but they’re definitely my pick.

 

Movie: Dawn of the Planet of the Apes   
What it’s up for: Visual Effects

Can someone please come up with an Oscar that Andy Serkis can be nominated for? He deserves some sort of recognition for all of his performance capture roles. He has basically defined that medium.

As a movie, I enjoyed this one more than the first one. It still wasn’t the greatest movie ever, but it was engaging. The visual effects, however, reached a whole new level. I thought the first Apes should’ve won in 2012 (Hugo won instead). I mean…HAIR! Hair is so ridiculously hard to create. They wrote new algorithms for the hair on these apes and you can tell. They look even better than the first ones. I was constantly impressed with how seamlessly they meshed the CGI apes in with the real environments. I can’t praise the visual effects enough.

Movie: X-Men: Days of Future Past
What it’s up for: Visual Effects

So, I had this movie explained to me, so I’m at the point now where I understand what happened here and why…but still. While watching the movie, I could not have been more confused. Hopefully now that this mess is done, we can move on in a linear fashion.

The visual effects in X-Men were great but standard. I’m not sure how else to put it. Compared to Apes or Interstellar, there wasn’t anything particularly groundbreaking present in the film. Not to say that what they did wasn’t incredibly difficult. They got nominated for a reason. Out of all the movies nominated, though, this one doesn’t make my top three.

Prediction
Let’s be real, the Academy is no friend to the blockbuster. Interstellar is most likely going to win.

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