The Oscar races are starting to shape up: the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences has already announced the ten animated shorts that have made the 2014 shortlist and the 20 qualifying animated features (they don’t vote on a shortlist for features because there aren’t enough submissions).

But the contenders in one Oscar category of interest to the animation community remain a total mystery: visual effects.

Sometime within the next couple weeks, the Academy’s Visual Effects Branch Executive Committee will release its ten-film shortlist for this category. After that list is announced, all members of the Academy’s Visual Effects Branch will have the opportunity to view 10-minute excerpts from the ten films, and then vote on the final five nominees.

While there’s not even a shortlist, we already have a pretty clear idea of the frontrunners in this year’s race. The category, in my view, essentially boils down to the following three films (in alphabetical order):

  • Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
    VFX company: Weta Digital
  • Guardians of the Galaxy
    VFX companies: Moving Picture Company, Framestore, Method Studios, Sony Pictures Imageworks and others

  • Interstellar
    VFX company: Double Negative

The remainder of the shortlist should be rounded out with some of the following films:

  • The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies
  • Godzilla
  • Noah
  • Maleficent
  • Transformers: Age of Extinction
  • Exodus: Gods and Kings
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
  • Captain America: Winter Soldier