Star Wars still

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences' Visual Effects Branch Executive Committee has made its preliminary shortlist of 20 films for this year's VFX Oscar.

They are, in alphabetical order:

Avengers: Age of Ultron
Bridge of Spies
Ex Machina
Furious Seven
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2
In the Heart of the Sea
Jupiter Ascending
Jurassic World
Mad Max: Fury Road
The Martian
Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation
The Revenant
Star Wars: The Force Awakens
Terminator Genisys
The Walk

It's unusual for the Academy to release a VFX shortlist with this many films on it. (Last year, only a list of the final 10 contenders that were to compete at the annual VFX bake-off was released.) The Academy said that the final list of 10 films that will be eligible for nominations voting will be released later this month.

One question is obvious — with so many films on the list, were any noteworthy VFX pictures left off? Well, the teams that worked to deliver the VFX-heavy Pan and San Andreas can't be happy about this roster, especially with the relatively low-budget Ex Machina making the cut.

Only time will tell which films boast visuals that will impress voters enough to survive into the final five. But there are some sure things here. It's hard to imagine a scenario where Jurassic WorldStar Wars and probably The Walk fail to make that final cut.