This slot was originally slated for Best Foreign Film, and then we realized that between the three of us, we'd only cumulatively seen two of the five films (Dogtooth and Biutiful), so VFX it is!
It's an odd feeling to be judging a film visually without judging its story, but that's what this category calls for, because, to be perfectly honest, most of these films were terrible. Alice in Wonderland is fine, I guess, if you like watching Tim Burton masturbate. I don't, but it's cool if you do. Harry Potter was fine, I guess, but only half a story in order to bilk the movie-going public (quite willingly) out of an extra billion dollars worldwide. Hereafter was fine, I guess, if reading is too troublesome. Inception was quite good, and Iron Man 2 was not good at all (yes, I know I'm in the minority on that, but I stand by this opinion -- editor's note in 3... 2... 1...).
“Alice in Wonderland” Ken Ralston, David Schaub, Carey Villegas and Sean Phillips
“Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1” Tim Burke, John Richardson, Christian Manz and Nicolas Aithadi
“Hereafter” Michael Owens, Bryan Grill, Stephan Trojansky and Joe Farrell
“Inception” Paul Franklin, Chris Corbould, Andrew Lockley and Peter Bebb
“Iron Man 2” Janek Sirrs, Ben Snow, Ged Wright and Daniel Sudick
Alice in Wonderland: I wanted to say that the visual effects got in the way of things like story and character, but really, the whole reason this movie was made seems to be to get a digital Helena Bonham Carter to put her feet up on some pigs. Burton's best films have always been practical effects films and it's a shame to see him stay on this path.
Harry Potter: The effects are fine, but will be tested much more in the second part with all of the object replication in Gringott’s and final battle.
Hereafter: This really only has two effects set pieces, and one of them isn't very big. The entire opening tidal wave sequence is a fairly impressive mix of practical and generated effects, but it overwhelms the otherwise restrained drama.
Inception: Impressive. Most impressive. Very well integrated, impossible to do without the effects, and the effects were impossible to do 15 years ago. Because of that I get the feeling that Inception will sweep the technical awards while getting shut out of the big awards.
Iron Man 2: Physics are not your enemy, I promise. In this situation they should be tamed not ignored. Good for Tom Hooper, turning down Iron Man 3.
Artists Paul Franklin, Chris Corbould, Andrew Lockley and Peter Bebb.