The nominations: Visual Effects
The film: Demigod Loki (Tom Hiddleston) encounters an alien leader known as the Other who make a deal: Loki will come to Earth a retrieve the Tesseract, a powerful energy source of limitless potential, and use it to create a doorway between two universes, bringing the Other and his army the Chitauri to subjugate the people of Earth. On Earth, the Tesseract is being held in a secret research facility by spy agency S.H.I.E.L.D. and its director Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson). Fury arrives on alert to the bunker in time to see Loki steal the Tesseract and brainwash several of his operatives, including Clint Barton a.k.a. Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner). In response to the threat, Fury puts in place the “Avengers Initiative,” calling together the superheroes of the world to fight a world terror.
Agent Natasha Romanoff a.k.a. the Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) recruits Dr. Bruce Banner a.k.a. The Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), Agent Coulson (Clark Gregg) recruits Tony Stark a.k.a. Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), and Fury recruits Steve Rogers a.k.a. Captain America (Chris Evans). While Banner uses his knowledge of gamma radiation to try and locate the Tesseract, Rogers and Stark are able to capture Loki. On their way to containment, Loki is intercepted by his brother Thor (Chris Hemsworth), who tries to convince Loki to go home to the mythic Asgard. Iron Man and Captain America come to a standoff with Thor, and the three agree to fight this evil Loki has brought to Earth together.
Progress becomes slow and opinions become divided amongst the heroes as to a plan of action, but as they scuffle, Barton, still under Loki’s command, leads an assault on S.H.I.E.L.D.’s helicarrier headquarters. The chaos sets off Banner, triggering his change into the Hulk. While Thor attempts to head off the rampage of Banner’s rage monster, Iron Man and Captain America work furiously to repair the rapidly descending flying aircraft carrier. Black Widow manages to cure Barton of Loki’s hold, but Loki escapes, killing Agent Coulson in the process. He uses the Tesseract and opens the portal, unleashing the ghoulish Chitauri upon New York City. Now Captain America, Iron Man, The Hulk, Thor, Black Widow, and Hawkeye have to truly ban together to defeat their alien nemesis before the world’s leaders take a more aggressive plan of action to purge their problem away.
The odds: If some filmmaker came around twenty years ago and said to the world that he intended to make a sophisticated and well-rounded superhero movie that was both entertaining as hell and meant to be taken seriously by non-comic-book-geek types, most everyone out there probably would have laughed at him. But after the egregious albeit well-meaning step forward by Bryan Singer and the mighty leap by Christopher Nolan, comic culture has become an integral part of twenty-first century culture; and now, thanks to cult-geek hero Joss Whedon, it is officially awesome. Avengers may only be nominated for one category, one that is filled with plenty of pomp and circumstance as well as more highbrow fare; the as-deep-as-it-is-wide emotional epic Life of Pi is likely at odds with the visually stunning Prometheus and the ever impressive CGI of Middle Earth with The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey if it is at odds at all. It is nice though to see this movie honored, if only just a little bit because it is chalk full of intrigue, hilarity, action, and imagination not to mention Whedon’s bold choice to omit any and all possible romantic subplots involving Scarlett Johansson’s black cat-suit clad lady super assassin Black Widow and which ever of the strapping men in the film, a bold choice that paid off. A single Oscar nomination is the least the exclusive AMPAS could do to pay homage for the film with the biggest opening weekend box office opening (by a huge margin) of all time - $207,438,708. All hail The Avengers.