This year I had made a silent goal to myself to talk about animated films more often at The Film Experience since I sometimes really enjoy them even if I don't say so and you definitely enjoy them but we tend to not cover them. So far so getting better. Here are two films I'm looking forward to that I didn't even realize I was excited for because I almost forgot they existed.
1. Me and My Shadow (2014)
This upcoming effort released a teaser poster a few days ago and has a cute concept. It will reportedly be a blending of traditional animation and CG animation with the traditional being the shadow world and the CG being for the "real" world. From the official synopsis...
Stan (Bill Hader), our hero's shadow, yearns for a more exciting life but happens to be stuck with Stanley Grubb (Josh Gad), a timid guy with an extreme aversion to adventure. When a crime in the shadow world puts both of their lives in danger, Stan is forced to take control of Stanley...
My mind immediately lept to Steve Martin's body controlled by Lily Tomlin's spirit in All of Me (1984) and Linguini's body going all marionette for Remy in Ratatouille (2007) so the concept is just rich for potentially golden physical slapstick and awkward charm. Not that it's easy to be as good as either of those pictures!
More after the jump including Oscar potential...
Dreamworks Animation has been improving steadily over the years and now seem to have (mostly) shaken off their once vomitous Shrek-induced need for incessantly dating their pictures with pop-culture spoof jokes. They still can be super lame when it comes to Voice Casting Solely Based on Celebrity (seriously, will anyone see this because they can hear Kate Hudson's voice? And is there anything special about her voice as an actor?) But anyway... crossing my fingers.
2. Paranorman (2012)
This one opens very soon (August 17th) and I hadn't really thought about it at all -- though it sounds like something Tim Burton would like since it's about a boy who speaks to the dead -- but last night walking through Lincoln Center at midnight I was enchanted by its three-dimensional window displays at Lincoln Square 13. Those are so much more exciting than the tacky massive cardboard cutouts you get indoors for Total Recall and Expendables 2. You normally only see window displays this elaborate from name window display artists at clothing stores for holidays.
I apologize that my photos came out so poorly. Time for a phone upgrade.
The director is first-timer Chris Butler who is graduating from storyboard work on two of my personal favorite toons of the past decade (Coraline and Corpse Bride) so at the very least we can all expect Paranorman to look deliciously cutesy spooky.
As for the Oscars...
I've gone on record often as being no great fan of the Best Animated Feature category. It's an extraordinarily generous category. Only 16 submissions are required for a 5 wide shortlist. If Oscar's top category operated on that same ratio of eligibility to nomination, there would have been 85 Best Picture nominees in 2011. That is not an exaggeration. I did the math. The expansion of the Best Picture category, thankfully only from 5 to 5-10 rather than 85 (!) makes the Animated Feature even more disposable; if an animated feature is wildly embraced, it's going to end up a Best Picture nominee anyway (see: Up and Toy Story 3) so what's the point?
That said, it's fun to Oscar speculate anyway and this year I can't say that I have a strong bead on which films they'll prefer.
ALREADY RELEASED (in order of box office dominance)
01. Brave (Pixar)
Sure thing! Unless the love affair with Pixar is in needed of major infrastructure repair post Cars 2, their first Oscar miss and critical flop.
02. Dr. Seuss' The Lorax (Universal)
Big box office but competition is stiff
03. Madagascar 3 (Dreamworks)
Oscar hasn't expressed any interest in this series at all but people seem to love the third one best. Will that get their attention?
04. Ice Age: Continental Drift (Fox)
Oscar only cared about the first one and at the time the Animated Category was still a novelty.
05. The Pirates! Band of Misfits (Sony/Aardman)
Aardman is a class act but this movie didn't seem to make a dent. Will Oscar care?
06. The Secret World of Arrietty (Disney/Studio Gibhli)
Prestige may help it compete but can it work its way in past the wall of blockbusters?
STILL TO COME
09/28 Hotel Transylvania
11/02 Wreck-It Ralph
11/21 Rise of the Guardians
Given that Hotel Transylvania, Wreck it Ralph, and Rise of the Guardians are all working the same groove (collect famous characters and put them in a new shared setting for extreme franchisability!) it'll be interesting to see if they cancel each other or wear the public out and what Oscar will think of any of them.
King of the Elves, Trouble Down Under, and more foreign entries we don't know about yet that nobody will hear of in the States unless they submit or get nominated.
In short we'll have a five wide shortlist this year. But which films will be able to call themselves "Oscar Nominees"? Share your guesswork please!