Making a List
Issue: Volume 36 Issue 7: (Nov/Dec 2013)

Making a List

I have a confession: I make lists. In fact, I have several lists on my desk right now. A list of phone calls to be returned. A list of potential stories to check out. A list of images I need to download today. A list of videos I need to add to the CGW website. There’s even a list of errands I need to run at lunchtime, none of which involve food. (My grocery list is on the kitchen counter.) I will spare you the details about the list making that goes on when I have to travel. And, needless to say, my teenager bolts for the door when he sees me coming with a list of his homework assignments.

I may be a bit obsessed with lists, but it’s difficult to escape them. They are informative, and they keep things on track and in perspective. Soon the Academy will be whittling down the list of contenders in the 2014 Oscar race. For best visual effects, there are a number of possibilities (see “The Gold Standard,”). Certain films from this past summer looked like obvious selections moving into the fall, but a strong year-end lineup most likely will change things up. This includes Gravity, which is pulling support in a number of Oscar categories, including visual effects (see “ Gravitational Pull,”).

Another late entry that should be a big vote getter is the second film in The Hobbit trilogy: The Desolation of Smaug. It appears that Peter Jackson and the studios find magic in the month of December, as all three Hobbit films will be, or have been, released in that month. The same held true for The Lord of the Rings series. And, Walt Disney Animation is also hoping to get studios into the holiday spirit with the release of Frozen during Thanksgiving weekend. The timing can be considered an early Christmas “presence” of sorts for audiences. But, is it a gift for the studios? It seems so. The last few Oscar winners for VFX were late-year releases: Life of Pi, Hugo, Avatar, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, The Golden Compass, King Kong…. As for animation, the summer seems to be the lucky season for films in this genre, especially for Brave, Rango, Toy Story 3, Up, Wall-e, Ratatouille. Perhaps, though, it is more of a Pixar thing, since all of those, with the exception of Rango, were Pixar releases.

This year, the list of animated features vying for an Oscar contains the names of many veterans (Disney, Pixar, Sony Pictures Animation, Studio Ghibli, and DreamWorks Animation), although there are a few relative newcomers in the hunt, including Reel FX. In fact, Reel FX Animation Studios released its first animated feature creation, Free Birds, in November (see “Birds of a Feather,”). Another list to consider: Pixar films have done extremely well at the Oscars. But this year, its greatest competition may come from within its own family, as Monsters University goes head to head against Walt Disney Animation’s Frozen (see “ Winter Wonderland,”).

Another race that is heating up involves the new game consoles. Earlier this year, we listed a number of new machines planned for release starting this holiday season (see “Console Wars Redux,” March/April 2013). While there are a number of newcomers stepping into the market, the big competition is between Microsoft’s Xbox One and Sony’s PlayStation 4. As of this writing, launch day was right around the corner, and stories abound with commentary about which system is better and which should be at the top of everyone’s wish list.

You know, the funny thing about lists is they change constantly. So, I think it's time for me to make some new ones.