By Anthony Breznican
Updated November 29, 2012 at 08:07 PM EST
Avengers Assembled
Credit: Marvel

Finalists for the visual effects Oscar nominations are some of the biggest films of the year — and some of the biggest bombs.

The main thing they have in common — BIGNESS.

While visual effects have become more common even in smaller films such as Beasts of the Southern Wild or Chronicle, the field is still dominated by big-budget studio behemoths, many of them wearing capes or fighting aliens.

The visual effects branch of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences whittles down the list of contenders to a little over a dozen each year, then sets a so-called “bake off” in which voters come to watch clips from each of the assembled films (this time on Jan. 3) before selecting the final five nominees, revealed on Jan. 10.

The bake-off participants this year include the biggest movies of the year so far — The Avengers and The Dark Knight Rises — as well as some of the most costly disappointments — John Carter and Cloud Atlas.

Among the 10, only a few have buzz as Best Picture players as well: Life of Pi, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, and a little more distant The Dark Knight Rises and Skyfall.

Not on the list at all was The Hunger Games, Zero Dark Thirty, Les Miserables, the aforementioned Beasts of the Southern Wild and Chronicle, Men in Black III, and the living stuffed bear comedy Ted, written and directed by Oscar host Seth MacFarlane.

Here are the bake-off contenders:

The Amazing Spider-Man

Cloud Atlas

The Dark Knight Rises

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

John Carter

Life of Pi

The Avengers



Snow White and the Huntsman

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