2017 was a year of incredible visual effects, as evidenced by the finalists the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has selected to advance in the visual effects race at the 90th annual Academy Awards.
The Academy announced its shortlist on Monday, and it spans futuristic dystopias, space operas, historical epics, and even a fantastical fish-out-of-water romance. The contenders are:
Blade Runner 2049
Kong: Skull Island
Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets
Last year's winner, The Jungle Book, scored awards for both Movie Pictures Company and Weta Digital, both of whom are on the list again with War for the Planet of the Apes, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, and Alien: Covenant, among others. Industrial Light & Magic has three strong contenders with Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Kong: Skull Island, and Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets. Method Digital and Double Negative scored multiple nods as well.
There's one wild card in here: A company called Mr. X did the effects for The Shape of Water. The company is better known for its TV projects, like The Shannara Chronicles and Vikings, but — as momentum continues to build for The Shape of Water — the Vancouver-based company could take the win and show the big guys how it's done.
Members of the Academy’s Visual Effects Branch executive committee will watch 10-minute clips from each film on Jan. 6 and then choose the final five nominees, who will be announced when the Oscar nominations are revealed on Jan 23.
The 90th annual Academy Awards airs on March 4 on ABC.