Even though the Oscars don't often get around to honoring mainstream blockbusters in their major categories, the technical areas are where the likes of Transformers and Star Trek always get the chance to shine. Best of all for many pop culture nerds is the Visual Effects category, where you get the chance to debate whether the Starship Enterprise or the planet of Pandora was a cooler effect. Today the Academy announced their list of the 15 finalists who will compete for this year's Best Visual Effects Oscar (via Awards Daily). Here's the lineup:

“Alice in Wonderland”
“The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader”
“Clash of the Titans”
“Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1″
“Iron Man 2″
“The Last Airbender”
“Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief”
“Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time”
“Scott Pilgrim vs the World”
“Shutter Island”
“The Sorcerer’s Apprentice”
“Tron: Legacy”

There will only be three nominees in the end, and it's already easy to pick out some heavy hitters-- Inception obviously had some of the year's most dazzling and original effects, Tron: Legacy has the entire game grid plus young Jeff Bridges to brag about, Alice in Wonderland had some great mo-cap work for the Red Queen and Tweedledee/Tweedledum, and Scott Pilgrim vs. The World was crammed with visual effects that went far beyond your generic CGI creature stuff. Of course, this is a weird category, where The Golden Compass beat the original Transformers in 2007, so it's hard to predict.

Pick your favorites for the effects category below; the 2011 Oscar nominations are announced January 25.

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