Today Variety has revealed that The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey nearly didn’t get nominated for an Oscar in the special-effects category. As the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences keeps pushing the nominating process to earlier dates, films released late in the year sometimes can’t be seen by those in charge of voting on which ones will make the final cut to compete for the Oscars.
The committee of 40 experts met on November 28 to come up with a short-list of 20 films that the members of the Academy in the special-effects section could see and vote on by January 3 to determine the final five nominees. Problem was, the committee members had nothing to look at from The Hobbit except its trailers!
The assumption was that this film would be a major visual-effects contender–but that was mainly based on the success of The Lord of the Rings and other Weta Digital work. Not all the members of the committee were happy with including a film virtually sight-unseen. In the end, The Hobbit got its nomination, but as the chair of the committee told Variety, “There will be a post-mortem to review the rules.”
What will probably happen is that the production companies will be pressured to provide sample reels of the effects in their films at a date early enough to make sure that committee members can see them, even if the film hasn’t been released yet. As Variety concludes, “Especially Part 2 of ‘The Hobbit.'”