Alice in Wonderland
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1
Iron Man 2
Why Harry Potter? This was the least effects-y of the seven Potter films so far, and any magic it may display is negated by the interminable time Harry, Ron and Hermione spend mewling in the woods. Iron Man 2 adds nothing to, and in fact detracts quite a bit from, the impressive SPFX work of its predecessor (which was nominated in this category but lost to Benjamin Button). As for Hereafter, it opens with one sensational effects scene of a tsunami inundating a coastal town in Southeast Asia before settling into two hours of afterlife wondering and wandering.
So, Alice or Inception? Both live and die by their effects. Alice's are more weird and oneiric, reminiscent of the cartoon Dadaism of Warner Bros. animation director Bob Clampett, while Inception weaves a seductive movie reality that Christopher Nolan and his effects artists then tip on its side. (Both movies are about falling into a dream.) Inception's tilting-hallway fight is a gloss on a Royal Wedding dance sequence that Fred Astaire and Stanley Donen achieved 60 years ago; this time, not just a room but the whole world eventually rocks. We say either the Tim Burton or the Nolan film deserves to win ... then we'll wuss out and choose Inception.
Next Best Makeup