Academy Names Visual F/X Selections

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences selected seven pictures for the special effects and sound editing categories Wednesday, giving George Lucas‘ Industrial Light & Magic and Skywalker Sound plenty to celebrate.

The monster f/x shop nabbed four of the seven slots with its work on Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Men in Black II, Minority Report and Star Wars: Episode II Attack of the Clones. ILM was actually the lead house on The Chamber of Secrets, with British f/x shops Cinesite, Mill Film and Moving Pictures Co. also providing visuals for the film.

Sony Pictures Imageworks, meanwhile, received a nomination for visuals on Spider-Man and its contributions to The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers. The main f/x house for The Two Towers, however, was once again the New Zealand-based WETA, which won last year’s Oscar for best f/x for The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring.

The last f/x shop in the running is Digital Domain for its computer-generated work on xXx. Of the seven tapped to compete, the actioner is the only film dominated by physical rather than digital f/x.

Sony Pictures’ live-action pic Stuart Little 2, which featured three major digital charcters, and MGM’s spy thriller Die Another Day, which contained more effects than any other previous James Bond films, were surprisingly passed over.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, f/x houses for the seven films in contention will provide the Academy with 15-minute reels of their work for a Feb. 5 “bakeoff,” where three of them will be chosen for Oscar nominations.

Minority Report, Spider-Man, The Chamber of Secrets, The Two Towers and xXx also made the semifinalist list in the sound editing category, as well as Road to Perdition and We Were Soldiers.

Each film’s sound team is required to submit a 10-minute reel for the Academy. Voters will select the three nominees for Oscar contention Feb. 4.