Which VFX Blockbusters Will Be the Likeliest Oscar Snubs?

The short list of prospective nominees for this year's Visual Effects Oscar was shortened even further today, when the Academy announced the six candidates in the running to lose to Avatar. Which isn't especially newsy in itself, though a browse of the remaining candidates does yield some fairly heavy hitters who will walk away empty-handed before the ceremony even begins. Now we just have to figure out who they'll be. Read on for the list and a some quick hunches.

Your final seven are:

· Avatar

· District 9

· Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

· Star Trek

· Terminator Salvation

· Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen

· 2012

So goodbye to original short-listers like Watchmen, A Christmas Carol and Where the Wild Things Are, and hello cutthroat battle for the final three spots. Or make that two spots, I guess, considering Avatar's dominance in the category. And with five of these seven boasting budgets in excess of $200 million, you'll see some unprecedentedly expensive omissions. And you have to wonder if the VFX branch will reward the relative little guy District 9 -- which dazzled both critically and commercially on a relative shoestring of $30 million (and is also a dark horse for a Best Picture slot, along with Star Trek) -- at the expense of innovative but artless fare like Transformers: ROTF and Terminator Salvation.

The latter film seems like an obvious cut on Feb. 2, but the rest is anyone's guess. At least it can be sort of an educated guess:

· Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban is the only entry in that franchise to have been nominated (in 2004), which suggests the branch won't go for the latest, either.

· Roland Emmerich hasn't had a nominee since 1996's Independence Day, which hints that he's either due or too overwrought for 2012 to get a nod. (He did build a special football-field-sized earthquake set and corresponding camera rig to get those early effects shots, for what it's worth.)

· Transformers: ROTF's 2007 predecessor earned a nomination, albeit in a less competitive year, and with The Lovely Bones exiled, DreamWorks has little if nothing else to rally 'round at this year's Oscars. That could drop in at Star Trek's expense -- made all the sweeter by the 'Works getting over on their ex-partners at Paramount. Then again, does the Academy really want to reward the team that brought Skids and Mudflap to jive-talking life? Enh, probably.

So: Avatar, District 9, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen? Anyone have something different? Show your work.

· Seven Films Set For Visual Effects Oscar Race [indieWIRE]