Nomination voting will take place January 11-16, 2024, and the official Oscar nominations will be announced on January 23, 2024. The final vote will take place February 22-27, 2024. And finally, the 96th Academy Awards will air on Sunday, March 10 and will air live on ABC at 8:00 p.m. ET/5:00 p.m. PT. We update our predictions throughout awards season. So keep checking back with IndieWire for all of our 2024 Oscar picks.
The state of the race
With “Dune: Part Two” (Warner Bros.) out of the running (postponed to March 15, 2024), Gareth Edwards’ sci-fi thriller “The Creator” (20th Century/Disney) is emerging as the new favorite. The biggest threat, however, is Christopher Nolan’s “Oppenheimer” (Universal), while Disney also has “Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny” (Lucasfilm), “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3” (Marvel) and “The Little Mermaid.”
Other candidates include “Transformers: Rise of the Beasts” (Paramount), “Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One” (Paramount), “John Wick: Chapter 4” (Lionsgate), “Wonka” (Warner Bros.), “ Poor Things” (Searchlight Pictures), “Barbie” (Warner Bros.), “Blue Beetle” (DC/Warner Bros.) and “Napoleon.”
For Edwards, “The Creator” represents a significant evolution from “Monsters,” “Godzilla” and “Rogue One.” He shot an $80 million indie film with the lightweight Sony FX3 Prouse camera that an was shot in 80 locations in Southeast Asia and looks like it will cost $200 million. And he reverse-engineered the shoot by using ILM’s visual effects in post-production. It’s about a war between humans and AI, a mix of “Blade Runner” and “Apocalypse Now”, with John David Washington in the lead role as a hardened ex-special forces agent who meets a very special artificial AI child (Madeleine Yuna Voyles). meets that looks human. The naturalistic VFX (production supervised by Jay Cooper) includes animation of the simulants, a robot army, unseen environmental work and two late scenes in the StageCraft LED Volume.
For “Oppenheimer,” Academy Award-winning VFX supervisor Andrew Jackson (“Tenet”) worked closely with Oscar-winning SFX supervisor Scott Fisher (“Tenet,” “Interstellar”) to conduct lab experiments in aquariums for the simulated liquids and other to turn materials for the quantum physics sequences. Everything was shot on camera (including 65mm IMAX) and then manipulated, layered and assembled on the computer. The same applies to the nuclear explosion, which was a series of large and small practical explosions processed and assembled in the computer. The reason Nolan can claim that the film contained no CGI is because there was not a single shot that was derived from a CG simulation. With only around 100 VFX shots, the work plays a minor role, but is still a monumental achievement. The fact that less than 20 percent of the DNEG artists were listed in the credits is an unfortunate omission that does not detract from the excellence of their predominantly compositional work.
The aging of Harrison Ford in “Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny” was an impressive technical breakthrough from ILM that should attract significant attention at the Oscars despite the film’s disastrous box office performance. Additionally, the “ILM FaceSwap” utilized all the tools in its VFX arsenal and was implemented with the help of more than 100 artists. This wasn’t an AI-dependent solution (although machine learning did compile and analyze Ford’s hundreds of hours of footage from the first three Indiana Jones films). The deciding factors were the actor’s on-set performance and agility, coupled with the successful implementation of the light-based capture system called FLUX and the shot-specific workaround to complete the work, including numerous keyframe animations.
James Gunn’s Guardians finale became a touching Rocket story (including its painful origin story as a cruel lab experiment), and Framestore was instrumental in implementing the animation with intricate fur interactions. Additionally, Framestore utilized an expanded Groot design to make him a stronger and more powerful character. Wētā FX also returned, primarily to create the colossal ruby-covered spaceship, the Arête, and an entire city surrounding the Arête, loosely based on Seattle.
For Rob Marshall’s live-action adaptation of Disney’s The Little Mermaid, Framestore created the stunning underwater animation inspired by Blue Planet, including the CG versions of Sebastian (voiced by Daveed Diggs), Flounder (voiced by Jacob Tremblay) and Scuttle (voiced by Awkwafina). It all came together in a reimagining of the Oscar-winning number “Under the Sea.” Additionally, MPC created the sea witch Ursula (Melissa McCarthy) in layers for her musical number “Poor Unfortunate Souls” and the devastating finale.
The Transformers: Rise of the Beasts prequel offers a new wrinkle worth considering. It shows the first team-up between the Autobots and the Maximals. MPC and Wētā took over ILM, with the former handling design and both sharing robot animation. The animal-like Maximals, who mix fur and flesh with their metal parts, presented some new challenges, while Optimus Prime (voiced by Peter Cullen) was humanized as part of a character arc as part of his origin story.
Caught in the crossfire between “Barbie” and “Oppenheimer” at the box office, “Dead Reckoning” upped its VFX game for Tom Cruise’s spy franchise. ILM provided a CG version of the Fiat 500 for the Rome chase, extensive background terrain for the skydiving sequence and a combination of techniques for the spectacular Orient Express train sequence. Here the train fell car by car from the high, exploding bridge. The FX team broke down the full digital bridge into the individual bricks and fiber that would be created when building an actual bridge of this era and design, and used this as the basis for complete simulations of rigid body destruction. Dust, smoke and water simulations were then used to enhance the atmosphere and water splashes in the photography.
Greta Gerwig’s blockbuster “Barbie” featured 1,300 VFX shots from Framestore (produced by Glen Pratt). These were influenced by the film language of the 40s, 50s and 60s to complement the carefully designed sets and extend Barbie Land beyond the studio lot. Barbie Land’s hyperreal perfection required no dirt, dust, scuffs or blemishes, while the special finishes, materials and lighting options also meant unlearning normal rules. The opening riff from “Dawn of Man” to “2001: A Space Odyssey” utilized LED volume seamlessly fused with in-camera VFX, matte painting and real foreground props; The LED volume was also used for Barbie driving her signature pink Corvette to capture accurate interactive lighting references.
Paul King’s (“Paddington”) musical origin story “Wonka,” starring Chalamet as Willy Wonka, features VFX by Framestore. In the trailer you can see a Victorian “Harry Potter” meets “Oliver!” vibe. There is great joy about his magical sweets and all sorts of other bizarre sweets and animals. There’s also the old-fashioned trick of forced perspective with Hugh Grant’s tiny Oompa Loompa. But the simulated chocolate has a character all its own.
As for the rest: “Blue Beetle,” which stars Xolo Maridueña’s eponymous alien biotech superhero, Digital Domain created the animation using a new fabric system for the costume and used machine learning and a custom neural network to simulate the reaction of the fabric to support movement; “John Wick: Chapter 4” features 1,523 digital shots from multiple VFX companies producing shotgun shells, a blind assassin’s eyeballs, a CG dog, and hundreds of distances of ring fingers; Ridley Scott’s “Napoleon,” starring Joaquin Phoenix as the legendary French emperor, touts epic battles, huge crowds and background enhancements (including Egyptian pyramids used for target practice) from MPC and ILM; and Yorgos Lanthimos’ “Poor Things,” a wild, Victorian “Frankenstein” gender-bender, touts electrical lab experiments, retro backdrops and even cross-bred animals from Union VFX.
Potential nominees are listed in alphabetical order; No film will be considered a frontrunner until we see it.
“Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3”
“Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny”
“The little mermaid”
“John Wick: Chapter 4”
“Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One”
“Transformers: Rise of the Beasts”