Oscars For Nerds: The 8 Geekiest Nominees to Root For

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This Sunday is Oscars Sunday – the day when most of the world tunes in to see the movie stars walking the red carpet. To see which Twilight heartthrobs will be presenting awards. (Oh please let it be Jacob! He’s so dreamy!)

But there are plenty of nerds who will be in the audience Sunday night – and a few of them will even get a couple seconds at the podium. Where they can thank their agents.

By my estimation there are 8 nerdy nominees worth knowing about – the teams behind the visual effects nominees, as well as those behind the best “sound [effects] editing” noms. These are the guys who sit around all day getting that sci-fi scene to look – and sound – just right. More often than not, if they do their job perfectly, you’re not even noticing.

But nerds unite! Give them their due! We pay tribute to the eight nerdiest Oscar nominees of 2010:

Best Visual Effects:

Avatar (Joe Letteri, Stephen Rosenbaum, Richard Baneham and Andrew R. Jones): Well, the level of talent assembled here shouldn’t really surprise anyone. Joe Letteri, the supervisor of the visual effects team, has quite the resume. He supervised the special edition re-release of the original Star Wars in 1997. He then hopped over to helm the effects teams for the last two Lord of the Rings films and oversaw the incredible work done on Peter Jackson’s King Kong. That final airplane sequence is just a tour de force. In addition to Avatar in 2009, he managed the Lovely Bones team. And coming up next year is The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn, directed by Steven Spielberg. So yeah, Letteri knows people. (More at Techland: See the 10 best camera apps for the iPhone)

District 9 (Dan Kaufman, Peter Muyzers, Robert Habros and Matt Aitken): Dan Kaufman, visual effects supervisor, seems like the newcomer to the party. Or at least a little bit. The Core was his big break, where he was promoted to supervisor, most recently working on effects for dramatic pictures like The Express, Leatherheads, and Ocean’s Thirteen. Not your typical sci-fi pedigree. You have to go back to 2006’s X-Men: The Last Stand to find a conventional sci-fi adventure on his resume. But you’ve got to love anyone connected with Dark City, one of our most underrated sci-fi masterpieces; Kaufman was the lead computer animator. And anyone who’s seen Dark City knows that it involved a hell of a lot of computer animation.

Star Trek (Roger Guyett, Russell Earl, Paul Kavanagh and Burt Dalton): Having just re-watched J.J. Abrams’s Star Trek on Blu-Ray, I’m confident in saying that this is a fine-looking film. Prior to reinventing the Enterprise, supervisor Roger Guyett goes all the way back to Twister (flying cows!) where he was the computer graphics supervisor. He worked as an effects co-supervisor on Saving Private Ryan, then cut his teeth with two Harry Potter films (The Prisoner of Azkaban, otherwise known as the good one, and The Sorcerer’s Stone), one Star Wars epic (Episode III) and two Pirates of the Caribbean films (Dead Man’s Chest, At World’s End).

Best Sound Editing:

Avatar (Christopher Boyes and Gwendolyn Yates Whittle): Whittle, supervising sound editor, worked on Willow her very first year in the business and then went on to work with such awesome titles as Terminator 2, AI, Minority Report, Serenity and The Simpsons Movie, etc. (More at Techland: The top 10 ice worlds)

The Hurt Locker (Paul N.J. Ottosson): Ottosson’s career has taken flight in more recent years, as he’s worked on Spider-Man 2 and Spider-Man 3, as well as Drag Me To Hell and Harold & Kumar Escape From Guantanamo Bay. He also knows just about all you would ever need to know concerning chickens, having supervised the sound for the 2000 PBS special The Natural History of the Chicken.

Inglorious Basterds (Wylie Stateman): Wylie was the supervising sound editor on the original TRON, then partnered frequently with Oliver Stone (The Doors, JFK, Natural Born Killers, Nixon, Any Given Sunday, W.) and has been working with Tarantino ever since the first Kill Bill.

Star Trek (Mark Stoeckinger and Alan Rankin): Supervising sound editor Stoeckinger worked a bunch with John Woo, which got him on board with J.J. Abrams for Mission: Impossible III. He then followed Abrams to outer space – for what appears to be one of the first times in his career.

Up (Michael Silvers and Tom Myers): Silvers, supervising sound editor, began as an assistant The Right Stuff, and in recent years has been a reliable go-to man for Pixar projects, working on A Bug’s Life, Toy Story 2, Monster’s Inc., Finding Nemo, The Incredibles, Cars and Ratatouille.

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