The big moments to watch for on Oscar night

Sunday night's Academy Awards show may not have all of last year's Avatar-related buzz. But you should still keep your eyes glued to the screen for plenty of other gigantic moments that could change the course of movie-making history forever.

We've rounded them up for you. Here's our handy guide to Oscar Night 2011.

Science Fiction And Fantasy Dominate Visual Effects

This year the Academy expanded the Visual Effects nominations! This allowed several fantasy and science fiction features to shut out the entire category, like a boss. This shouldn't be a huge surprise as the genre films usually dominate this field, but it's nice to see that even when they opened the gates for more nominations, fantasy and science fiction continued to rule the house. Who should win? We're not sure. Alice in Wonderland created an entire universe out of greenscreen, and Inception folded the world in half. Literally. Here's a collection of FX reels from each nominated movie, you be the judge:

Iron Man 2

Hereafter

Alice in Wonderland

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1

Inception

... And the movies we only wish were in the running

Not all of our favorite movies got the visual effects nominations they deserved. Here are two films that we think really should have been in the running.

We may not have loved Tron Legacy's plot, but we have a large amount of respect for the visual artistry that happened on the grid. Overlooking Tron Legacy was frankly silly.

And we're throwing in Scott Pilgrim's FX reel as well, Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World should have been thrown a bone for Visual FX or editing.


Sally Menke Tribute

This year's "In Memoriam" will no doubt feature the work of the infinitely brilliant editor Sally Menke. While many viewers will just glaze over non-celebrity names like Menke, we wanted to draw special attention to her contributions to film-making.

Menke is one of the main reasons we love Quentin Tarantino's films. She's edited all of his movies. But her work (as with many film editors) is much more than the mere splicing together of talking heads set to music. Watch this video breakdown of the infamous milk scene Menke helped create in Inglourious Basterds, and we promise you'll never look at film editing the same again.


A Horror Film Could Deliver A Best Actress Oscar

The big moments to watch for on Oscar night

The front runner for leading actress in a film is Natalie Portman for Black Swan, a horror movie. While Darren Aronofsky's may not have been upfront about its horror chops, this is probably what got so many Academy members into the theaters to see Black Swan in the first place.

And while we're not certain Black Swan will walk away with the best picture, we're certain that Portman should — and will — get the golden statue. This should be a great triumph for horror films that didn't win in the past, like The Excorcist, and maybe a motivator for studios to finance more horror films. And who knows? Maybe this will spur film-makers to raise the bar for horror movies everywhere.


Daft Punk who? Give us the sweet Icelandic tones of Jónsi's How To Train Your Dragon Ditty

While we expect you all to be rioting in the streets over Daft Punk's Best Score snub, we offer you this Oscar-nominated, gentle medley from How To Train Your Dragon to soothe your anger. Of course Hans Zimmer's Inception score is going to win this category, but we're happy if the national attention brought Jónsi and the films score created by John Powell some love. Not everything has to have BRAAAAMMMM in it to make the viewers experience an emotional climax.


The Wolfman Will End This CG-Vs.-Practical-Monster Battle Once And For All

Rick Baker and his team could be saving The Wolfman from total DVD bargain bin obscurity with one simple makeup award. Baker's practical-effects lupine was the best part of this film — which isn't saying much, but it's something.

Should Wolfman win the achievement in makeup award, it could be a great win for practical monsters. That being said, Wolfman also managed to include a lot of CG usage with their special FX, creating a lovely blend of the two. Let's hope a werewolf can broker a peace, and end this battle once and for all.


A Scifi Film Could FINALLY Win Best Picture

The big moments to watch for on Oscar nightS

Steven Spielberg's E.T. was passed over for Gandhi. Star Wars lost the best picture statue to Annie Hall. Will 2011 finally be the year that a true science fiction feature wins Best Picture? It's possible — there might be a lot of Academy guilt for denying Christopher Nolan a shot at best director, but then again they may be at peace with this snub if they award Inception best original screenplay.