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As you may have heard, the nominations for the 2017 Oscars have been officially announced as of a little while ago. There were surprises, upsets, and snubs; and with every nomination came a new film that you were surprised even got mentioned, much less nominated. However, seeing Rogue One: A Star Wars Story wasn't that big of a surprise, especially since Star Wars films historically land nominations in technical categories.
This year wasn't any different, as the film landed two key nominations in the fields of technical excellence, and we feel that there's a good shot that Gareth Edwards' stand-alone midquel could take home both statues. With that in mind, let's evaluate the fields the film is competing in, and see where we think the film stands. First, let's take a look at the nominees for Best Sound Mixing:
La La Land
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi
Now this is most certainly not an easy field to knock over. La La Land is riding high on a wave that's going to be hard to disrupt, so there's power in that corner. Not to mention Hacksaw Ridge and 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi are both aurally powerful war films, and Arrival is a lush world of ambience that mixes the otherworldly with the grounded.
However, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story has, quite possibly, the most lush soundscape of all of these films. With the standard Star Wars sound effects mixed in with all of the commotion and musical accompaniment, it's not hard to get caught up in that movie's auditory content. We're still not sure La La Land can be beat, but if anyone has a good shot at it, it's Rogue One.
As far as Best Visual Effects are concerned, here's the nominated class from 2016:
Kubo and the Two Strings
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
Honestly, it's probably going to come down to two movies in this category: Rogue One: A Star Wars Story and The Jungle Book. Both films are impressive in their usage of visual effects, with the latter film being an almost completely digital fabrication. Jon Favreau's jungle world is quite impressive when you look at it and realize very little of it actually exists in the real world.
That said, it's Rogue One: A Star Wars Story's achievements that should bring home the gold, at least in our opinion. Not only did they blend practical effects with a heady blend of CGI, but they also landed two major feats: they successfully integrated outtake footage from A New Hope into the film's climactic Battle of Scarif, and, naturally, they created a digital representation of Peter Cushing to reprise his role as Grand Moff Tarkin.
The Tarkin effects alone should land Rogue One: A Star Wars Story some sort of Oscar gold, as it's the stuff that special achievement trophies have been handed out for in the past. In the fine tradition of visual effects wizardry that Industrial Light and Magic has cultivated over the decades of its existence, Rogue One is truly an outstanding achievement.
It's a shame that Rogue One: A Star Wars Story didn't land some more nominations at this morning's Oscars, particularly in the fields of Best Score, Best Costume and Production Design, as well as Best Cinematography. Though in terms of Best Original Score, there was probably some sort of disqualification that came into play, considering the usage of pre-existing themes in Michael Giacchino's stunning score.
Still, with the two nominations the film does have, it's not hard to root for its chances of winning. The world of old school Star Wars came back, and in a way that was original and moving, all thanks to the wizardry that was on the screen. We can't wait to see how this film makes out on Oscar night, and we'd like to congratulate the Rogue One team on their nominations for this year's awards. May the Force be with you!