Inside Movies and Pop Culture with Gregory Ellwood

'Star Trek,' 'Transformers 2' and 'Avatar' battling for Visual Effects Oscar

14 flicks will try to upset James Cameron's CG breakthrough

<p>Optimus Prime has quite a battle on his hands if he thinks he can beat &quot;Avatar&quot;&nbsp;for the Best Visual Effects Oscar.</p>

Optimus Prime has quite a battle on his hands if he thinks he can beat "Avatar" for the Best Visual Effects Oscar.

Credit: Paramount Pictures

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced the 15 semi-finalists for the Achievement in Visual Effects for the 82nd Academy Awards today.  The contenders are as follows:


“Angels & Demons”
Avatar
“Coraline”
“Disney’s A Christmas Carol”
“District 9”
“G-Force”
“G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra”
“Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince”
Sherlock Holmes
Star Trek
“Terminator Salvation”
“Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen”
2012
Watchmen
Where the Wild Things Are

According to the Academy, the members of the Academy’s Visual Effects Branch Executive Committee, who selected the semifinalists, will narrow the list to seven early next month.  At that point, all members of the Visual Effects Branch will be invited to view 15-minute excerpts from each of the seven shortlisted films on Thursday, January 21. Following the screenings, the members will vote to nominate three films for final Oscar consideration.

This year, there is no question "Avatar" will win and make the cut.  The question is who the other two nominees will be.  Yes, it's that competitive.  Whether it's "District 9," "Where the Wild Things Are," "Star Trek," "2012" or "Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen," three of those features are going to be left out in the cold.

Who do you think should be recognized alongside "Avatar"?  Share your thoughts below.

As the season heats up, look for breaking awards season news and commentary daily on Awards Campaign.  For the latest, follow @HitFixGregory on Twitter.

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