Oscars Predictions: Best Visual Effects – First Social Reactions to ‘Avatar: The Way of Water’ Drop Dec. 6, What Will Academy Voters Think?

Variety Awards Circuit section is the home for all awards news and related content throughout the year, featuring the following: the official predictions for the upcoming Oscars, Emmys, Grammys and Tony awards ceremonies, curated by Variety senior awards editor Clayton Davis. The prediction pages are Davis’ assessment of the current standings of the race and do not reflect personal preferences for any film or performance. Like any organization or body that votes, each individual category is fluid and subject to change. Predictions are updated every Thursday.

LAST UPDATED: Dec. 2, 2022

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2023 Oscars Predictions: Best Visual Effects

Tom Cruise plays Capt. Pete "Maverick" Mitchell in Top Gun: Maverick from Paramount Pictures, Skydance and Jerry Bruckheimer Films.
Tom Cruise plays Capt. Pete “Maverick” Mitchell in Top Gun: Maverick from Paramount Pictures, Skydance and Jerry Bruckheimer Films.

CATEGORY COMMENTARY: The first screenings for James Cameron’s “Avatar: The Way of Water,” the anticipated sequel to his 2009 best picture nominee, begin on Tuesday, Dec. 6 with the social embargo lifting at 6:00 PM EST / 3:00 PM PST. The review embargo lifts on Tuesday, Dec. 13. What will the reviews look like? Honestly, we have no idea. No one has seen it. The most I’ve heard around the beat are very select people who have seen footage from the film.

Is the film unbeatable though? I guess that depends on how you predict the film’s box office takes. If you think it will be the highest-grossing film of all time, it likely can’t lose. If it comes up short, both in story and financials, watch out for “Top Gun: Maverick” with its gorgeous practical effects or even “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever,” to nab Marvel Studios’ first win in this category.

Shortlist voting is headed our way and the jury is still out on how the branch will receive movies like the documentary “Good Night Oppy” and “RRR.” The latter of which (I think?) would be the first non-English feature ever nominated for visual effects.

See the latest film predictions, in all 23 categories, in one place on Variety’s Oscars Collective. To see the ranked predictions for each individual category, visit Variety’s Oscars Hub.

Find the SAG Awards predictions for film and Golden Globe predictions in all of the film categories on their respective pages.

See the 2022-2023 Awards Season calendar for all key dates and timelines.

ALL AWARDS CONTENDERS AND RANKINGS:

RRR
RRR

And The Predicted Nominees Are:

Rank

Film

Visual effects team

Distributor

1

“Top Gun: Maverick”

Ryan Tudhope (visual effects supervisor), Scott R. Fisher (special effects coordinator), Seth Hill (visual effects supervisor), Bryan Litson (visual effects supervisor)

Paramount Pictures

After thirty years, Maverick is still pushing the envelope as a top naval aviator, but must confront ghosts of his past when he leads TOP GUN’s elite graduates on a mission that demands the ultimate sacrifice from those chosen to fly it.

2

“Avatar: The Way of Water”

Joe Letteri, Richard Baneham, Eric Saindon, Daniel Barrett

20th Century Studios

Jake Sully lives with his newfound family formed on the planet of Pandora. Once a familiar threat returns to finish what was previously started, Jake must work with Neytiri and the army of the Na’vi race to protect their planet.

3

“Black Panther: Wakanda Forever”

Geoffrey Baumann, Craig Hammack, Hanzhi Tang (vfx supervisors), Dan Sudick (sfx supervisor)

Marvel Studios

The nation of Wakanda is pitted against intervening world powers as they mourn the loss of their king T’Challa.

4

“The Batman”

Dan Lemmon, Russell Earl, Anders Langlands (visual effects supervisors), Dominic Tuohy (special effects supervisor)

Warner Bros.

When a sadistic serial killer begins murdering key political figures in Gotham, Batman is forced to investigate the city’s hidden corruption and question his family’s involvement.

5

“RRR”

V Srinivas Mohan

Variance Films

A fictitious story about two legendary revolutionaries and their journey away from home before they started fighting for their country in the 1920s.

Next in Line

6

“Everything Everywhere All at Once”

To be added

A24

An aging Chinese immigrant is swept up in an insane adventure, where she alone can save the world by exploring other universes connecting with the lives she could have led.

7

“Good Night Oppy”

Ivan Busquets, Abishek Nair (visual effects supervisor), Marko Chulev, Steven Nichols (digital supervisors)

Amazon Studios

The film follows Opportunity, the Mars Exploration Rover affectionately dubbed Oppy by her creators and scientists at NASA. Oppy was originally expected to live for only 90 days but she ultimately explored Mars for nearly 15 years.

8

“Jurassic World: Dominion”

To be added

Universal Pictures

Four years after the destruction of Isla Nublar, Biosyn operatives attempt to track down Maisie Lockwood, while Dr Ellie Sattler investigates a genetically engineered swarm of giant insects.

9

“Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness”

To be added

Netflix

Doctor Strange teams up with a mysterious teenage girl from his dreams who can travel across multiverses, to battle multiple threats, including other-universe versions of himself, which threaten to wipe out millions across the multiverse. They seek help from Wanda the Scarlet Witch, Wong and others.

10

“Beast”

To be added

Universal Pictures

A father and his two teenage daughters find themselves hunted by a massive rogue lion intent on proving that the Savanna has but one apex predator.

Other Top-Tier Contenders

11

“Nope”

Guillaume Rocheron, Jeremy Robert (visual effects supervisor), Sreejith Venugopalan (DFX supervisor), Scott R. Fisher (special effects coordinator)

Universal Pictures

12

“Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore”

To be added

Warner Bros.

13

“Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio”

Aaron Weintraub

Netflix

14

“After Yang”

Ilia Mokhtareizadeh (visual effects supervisor)

A24

15

“Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile”

Joseph Bauer, Glenn Melenhorst

Sony Pictures

16

“Thor: Love and Thunder”

To be added

Marvel Studios

17

“Black Adam”

To be added

Warner Bros.

18

“The Northman”

Angela Barson (visual effects supervisor)

Focus Features

19

“Three Thousand Years of Longing”

To be added

MGM/United Artists Releasing

20

“The Woman King”

Sara Bennett, Andy Morley, David Sadler-Coppard, Cordell McQueen

Sony Pictures

Also In Contention

21

“Elvis”

Tom Wood, Julian Hutchens, Joshua Simmonds (visual effects supervisors), Adam Hammond (digital effects supervisor)

Warner Bros.

22

“Thirteen Lives”

Jason Billington (visual effects supervisor), Brian Cox (special effects supervisor), Bruce Bright (special effects assistant supervisor)

Amazon Studios/MGM

23

“Nanny”

Ari Rubenstein (sr. VFX supervisor), David Schnee (compositing supervisor), Josh Clos (CG artist), Chris Halstead (compositor)

Amazon Studios

24

“Sonic the Hedgehog 2”

To be added

Paramount Pictures

25

“Uncharted”

To be added

Sony Pictures

All Contenders Listed (Unranked-Alphabetical)

“A Love Song”

Alexey Platonov (visual effects supervisor)

Bleecker Street

“A Man Called Otto”

Simon Chase (visual effects supervisor)

Sony Pictures

“After Yang”

Ilia Mokhtareizadeh (visual effects supervisor), Raoul Marks (memory sequence creative director), Kyle Zemborain (compositing supervisor)

A24

“Armageddon Time”

Glenn Allen, Elad Offer, Dave Zeevalk, Josh Laurence

Focus Features

“All Quiet on the Western Front”

Markus Frank, Viktor Muller, Frank Petzold (vfx supervisor), Kamil Jafar (sfx supervisor)

Netflix

“Bardo, False Chronicle of a Handful of Truths”

Guillaume Rocheron (vfx supervisor), Olaf Wendt (vfx supervisor)

Netflix

“You Won’t Be Alone”

Marty Pepper (visual effects supervisor)

Focus Features

“Downton Abbey: A New Era”

Patricia Llaguno (visual effects supervisor)

Focus Features

“Babylon”

Jay Cooper (visual effects supervisor), Elia Popov (special effects coordinator), Kevin Martel (animation supervisor), Ebrahim Jahromi (CG supervisor)

Paramount Pictures

“Black Panther: Wakanda Forever”

Geoffrey Baumann, Craig Hammack, Hanzhi Tang (vfx supervisors), Dan Sudick (sfx supervisor)

Marvel Studios

“Bones and All”

Davide Luchetti (VFX executive producer), Fabio Cerrito (head of department), Virginia Cefaly (VFX producer)

MGM/United Artists Releasing

“Breaking”

Michael R. Currie (visual effects supervisor)

Bleecker Street

“Dog”

Joe Pancake (special effects supervisor)

MGM/United Artists Releasing

“Don’t Worry Darling”

Dan Schrecker (visual effects supervisor), Mathieu Raynault, Sylvain Theroux (visual effects by), Jeremy D. Hays (special effects supervisor)

Warner Bros.

“Elvis”

Tom Wood, Julian Hutchens, Joshua Simmonds (visual effects supervisors), Adam Hammond (digital effects supervisor)

Warner Bros.

“Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery”

Giles Haring, Sameer Malik, Erik Winquist (visual effects supervisor), Paul Stephenson (special effects supervisor)

Netflix

“Good Night Oppy”

Ivan Busquets, Abishek Nair (visual effects supervisor), Marko Chulev, Steven Nichols (digital supervisors)

Amazon Studios

“Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio”

Aaron Weintraub

Netflix

“Lightyear”

Jane Yen (visual effects supervisor), Bill Watral (effects supervisor), Chia-Chi Hu (compositing supervisor), Thomas Jordan (shading supervisor)

Pixar

“Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile”

Joseph Bauer, Glenn Melenhorst

Sony Pictures

“Matilda”

To be added

Netflix

“Minions: The Rise of Gru”

Frank Baradat, Milan Voukassovitch (computer graphics supervisor), Simon Pate, Milo Riccarand (effects supervisor)

Illumination/Universal Pictures

“Nanny”

Ari Rubenstein (sr. VFX supervisor), David Schnee (compositing supervisor), Josh Clos (CG artist), Chris Halstead (compositor)

Amazon Studios

“RRR”

V Srinivas Mohan (visual effects supervisor)

Variance Films

“Strange World”

Steve Goldberg (visual effects supervisor), Michael Kaschalk (head of effects animation), Marc Bryant, Henrik Fail (effects supervisor)

Walt Disney Pictures

“The Bad Guys”

Matt Baer (visual effects supervisor), Jeff Budsberg (head of look), Stephen Wood (head of effects), JP Sans (head of character animation)

Universal Pictures

“The Batman”

Dan Lemmon, Russell Earl, Anders Langlands (visual effects supervisors), Dominic Tuohy (special effects supervisor)

Warner Bros.

“The Northman”

Angela Barson (visual effects supervisor)

Focus Features

“The Sea Beast”

R. Stirling Duguid, Spencer Lueders, Jeremy Hoey, Brian Casper

Netflix

“The Silent Twins”

Jean-Michel Boublil (VFX supervisor)

Focus Features

“The Woman King”

Sara Bennett, Andy Morley, David Sadler-Coppard, Cordell McQueen

Sony Pictures

“Thirteen Lives”

Jason Billington (visual effects supervisor), Brian Cox (special effects supervisor), Bruce Bright (special effects assistant supervisor)

Amazon Studios/MGM

“Till”

Christian Wood (special effects supervisor)

Orion/United Artists Releasing

“Top Gun: Maverick”

Ryan Tudhope (visual effects supervisor), Scott R. Fisher (special effects coordinator), Seth Hill (visual effects supervisor), Bryan Litson (visual effects supervisor)

Paramount Pictures

“Turning Red”

Danielle Feinberg (visual effects supervisor), Dave Hale (effects supervisor), Jacob Brooks (simulation supervisor), Christian Hoffman (characters supervisor)

Pixar

“Wendell & Wild”

Heather Abels, Adrian Grey, Justin Graham, Sonja Burchard

Netflix

“Women Talking”

Kevin Chandon (visual effects supervisor)

MGM/United Artists Releasing

2023 Academy Awards Predictions

BEST PICTURE | DIRECTOR | ACTOR | ACTRESS | SUPPORTING ACTOR | SUPPORTING ACTRESS | ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY | ADAPTED SCREENPLAY | ANIMATED FEATURE | PRODUCTION DESIGN | CINEMATOGRAPHY | COSTUME DESIGN | FILM EDITING | MAKEUP AND HAIRSTYLING | SOUND | VISUAL EFFECTS | ORIGINAL SCORE | ORIGINAL SONG | DOCUMENTARY FEATURE | INTERNATIONAL FEATURE | ANIMATED SHORT | DOCUMENTARY SHORT | LIVE ACTION SHORT

The 95th Oscars ceremony will be held at the Dolby Theatre and televised live on ABC on Sunday, March 12, 2023.

2022 category winner: “Dune” (Warner Bros.) – Paul Lambert, Tristan Myles, Brian Connor and Gerd Nefzer

About Variety Awards Circuit:

Variety’s unmatched coverage gives its readership unbeatable exposure in print and online and provides inside reports on all the contenders in this year’s awards season races. In addition to predictions, the section includes — Awards Circuit Column, a weekly analysis dissecting the trends and contenders in the race; Awards Circuit Podcast, a weekly series featuring interviews with the top contenders in the awards race and an expert roundtable discussion with Variety’s leading editors and columnists; Awards Circuit Predictions Video Series, a deep dive into specific categories, led by the leading pundits.

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