The 89th iteration of the Academy Awards – Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences, more commonly known as the Oscars, is due to be held on the 26th of February 2017 and the anticipation regarding who bags the big prizes is already heating up across the globe. Widely considered the biggest awards ceremony for films across the world, the Oscars do generate a lot of buzz and are highly revered by not just the American film industry, but the film fraternity the world over.

Being a part of the visual effects industry, the team here at Toolbox Studio, a VFX studio in India, has been waiting with eager anticipation to see who the Academy’s board of governors – whose visual effects branch comprises of three stellar constituents of the VFX industry in Craig Barron, John Knoll, and Bill Taylor – would pick for the coveted VFX award; Best Visual Effects in the 2017 Oscars.

On the 2nd of December, the board of governors announced their 20 film shortlist that is in contention for the award, a list they will further whittle down to 10 before the awards ceremony. The list in full comprises of some of the biggest hits of the 2016 calendar year, and we’ve listed them below for your consideration.

 The 20 film shortlist for the 2017 Oscars

  • Alice through the Looking Glass
  • Arrival
  • The BFG
  • Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice
  • Captain America: Civil War
  • Deadpool
  • Deepwater Horizon
  • Doctor Strange
  • Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
  • Independence Day: Resurgence
  • The Jungle Book
  • Kubo and the Two Strings
  • Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children
  • Passengers
  • Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
  • Star Trek Beyond
  • Suicide Squad
  • Sully
  • Warcraft
  • X-Men: Apocalypse

Going through this shortlist, it is evident that the choice for best visual effects is not an easy one all, because there are some absolutely astounding contenders in this particular ring, and Messrs Barron, Knoll, and Taylor definitely have an arduous task ahead of them.

However, we have gone ahead and made our own five-film shortlist that we think are the top contenders for the award.

Our list of top five contenders for the 2017 Oscar for Best Visual Effects

1. The Jungle Book

Jon Favreau’s 2016 adaptation of Rudyard Kipling’s seminal literary masterpiece, this film essentially used CGI to create all characters but for the main lead, the young jungle-bred orphan Mowgli – played by Neel Sethi, who spent all his time in front of a green screen. With the might of Walt Disney Pictures behind the project and an array of superstars lending their voices to the iconic characters such as Ben Kingsley, Scarlett Johansson, Idris Alba and Bill Murray but to name a few, the film has been a global hit. Despite the stellar cast, and the amazing story that the film drew inspiration from, the visual effects have been the one of the major cornerstones for its success. As such, we can expect the Jungle Book to be right up there or thereabouts for sure.

2. Captain America: Civil War

Civil War is one of two films from the list that operate within the Marvel Cinematic Universe or MCU along with Doctor Strange (Deadpool and X-Men: Apocalypse are also based on Marvel Comics but aren’t part of the MCU, at least not yet). Another hugely successful global blockbuster, Civil War cleverly marries VFX with live action in an almost imperceptible blend. This, and that explosive Airport fight sequence are enough to put Civil War firmly in the running for the award.

3. Warcraft

If you are into videogames then Warcraft is something you will have at least come across, if not actively played. So when Duncan Jones took on this behemoth of the gaming world and attempted to turn it into a film, eyebrows were raised. The end result was the highest grossing video game adaptation of all time, and a triumph in visual effects. In fact, despite the film underperforming at the box office, the visual effects were lauded by both critics and viewers, with the plot being the reason cited for the movie’s tepid performance at the box office.

4. Doctor Strange

The movie with some of the most glitzy and flashy effects on the list, owing to Doctor Strange’s unique set of powers including the creation of mandalas of light, portals for teleportation, time-travel, and flight all require a lot of effects to look good. And they do! The film has been largely well received, and the effects are a visual spectacle and have been appreciated as such by critics and fans. Doctor Strange will definitely challenge for top billing come February at the Oscars.

5. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

A part of another massively popular cinematic universe, this one belonging to the world of Harry Potter, Fantastic Beasts is set seven or eight decades before the Harry Potter era. Marking the debut of author JK Rowling in the role of screenplay writer, this film is the first of a five-instalment franchise. As the name suggests, there are some amazing ethereal animals on show, and like Harry Potter, since this world is based around witches and wizards, there is a lot of VFX enhanced magic on show as well. With the biggest box office opening of 2016 (ahead of Civil War and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice), this movie has had tongues wagging for the beauty and intricacy and magnificence of the magical elements and beasts on show, and as such makes a strong case for the VFX award at the Oscars.

Do you agree with our list? Which film and VFX Studio do you think will take home the big award? Let us know in the comments section below!

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