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Entries in animated films (216)

Thursday
Dec182014

The Animated Feature contenders: The Tale of the Princess Kaguya

Tim here. This week's look at one of the 2014 Best Animated Feature Oscar contenders takes us someplace entirely new: to a film that might actually be able to swing a nomination. The film is The Tale of the Princess Kaguya, the penultimate film made by the late Studio Ghibli, and probably the final work directed by the great Takahata Isao, who hasn't officially announced his retirement, like friend and colleague Hayao Miyazaki; but when a director is 79 years old and has reached the "enormous gaps between features" stage of his career (his previous film, My Neighbors the Yamadas, came out in 1999), it's time to make some assumptions.

If it's a valedictory work that Princess Kaguya is to be, it's a brilliant one, right down to an ending about the pain of saying farewell when we're not ready to. The film adapts "The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter", a folktale that is thought to be the oldest extant work of Japanese literature, telling of a little girl found in a glowing stalk of bamboo by an old bamboo cutter one day. Convinced by this and other signs that he has been tasked by giving her the life a noble princess, the bamboo cutter focuses on pushing her into the upper crusts of society despite how clearly the girl, Kaguya, resents this life, and would prefer to be left in the peaceable wilds of her adoptive home.

Click to read more ...

Tuesday
Dec162014

Open Thread & Roundtable Madness

I have been comically beset by obstacles this year so even though I'm roughly three weeks behind, I have to laugh a little at the strange stumbles and ouchy falls and just go... okay, well then. This is an interesting view of the floor! (apologiez: Oscar chart editing functions are somewhat on the fritz. trying for workarounds to fix)

Angelina Jolie talking about directing plane crashes and visual effects. Mike Leigh, hilariously also in this shot.

One of the victims of this impossible season for me at least has been THR's roundtables. I literally haven't watched a single one of those sometimes highly enjoyable if aggravating celeb gatherings. Not even the Actress Roundtable! (I'm certain it was its vibe of "The Amy Adams Show: Episode 5"  that killed my will to press play on the only day I had 50 minutes free on weeks ago. Important distinction: Amy Adams the actress is often very exciting to watch. Amy Adams the celebrity is like wallpaper.)

So consider this an open thread in which you can complain about all the Oscar stories we haven't covered this past couple of weeks (the charts WILL be updates tomorrow, damnit) and which exact minutes of these roundtables you would recommend that everyone including your host here must watch RIGHT NOW. The Hollywood Reporters six awards season roundtables to date follow. All five plus hours of them in case you've missed one. Or all six like me.  Along with the videos after the jump are the single questions per roundtable that I am pretending they answered...

Click to read more ...

Thursday
Dec112014

The Animated Feature contenders: Cheatin'

Tim here, with another look at one of the lower-profile submissions to the Academy in the Best Animated Feature category. This time around, we’ve got Cheatin’, the sixth feature-length animated movie from Bill Plympton (seven if we count an anthology made of his earlier shorts), one of most iconic names in independent American animation. I will not say that to see his work is to love his work – there’s too much aggressive grotesquerie in his character designs and morbid humor for that to be true – but I do think that it’s pretty hard to imagine anyone watching his beloved Oscar-nominated 2004 short Guard Dog and not walking out a committed fan.

In the meanwhile, we’re here to talk about Cheatin’, and what an absolutely wonderful film it is, too. It would be hard to defend it as Plympton’s best work: his sense of humor works so perfectly in the context of a short, where he can run in, land a few quick sucker punches, and run back out again. But “best” or not, it’s still a stunning work of unexpected emotional complexity and images scratched out in Plympton’s customary aesthetic, looking like delicately-shaded color pencil sketches of distorted, unyielding human forms.

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Monday
Dec082014

Team FYC: "The Boxtrolls" for Costume Design

Editor's Note: We're featuring individually chosen FYC's for various longshots in the Oscar race. We'll never repeat a film or a category so we hope you enjoy the variety of picks. And if you're lucky enough to be an AMPAS, HFPA, or Critics Group voter, take note! Here's Andrew on The Boxtrolls.

Will an animated film ever get a fair chance of making it into Oscar's costume design category?  

This past decade alone, the stop motion wing of animated film has impressed with characters from Corpse Brides to Foxes Fantastic. It's a shame to ignore fine costume design simply because it's not happening in a live action setting. Enter: this consideration for The Boxtrolls for a myriad of reasons.

The intricate designs amaze with their attention to period detail - there’s almost no question that were this a live action film Cook’s work would emerge as a significant contender. The levels of eccentricity, too, push it up beyond your standard period fare.  I’m moved to think of Jacqueline Durran’s Oscar-winning work on Anna Karenina (2012), which wasn't just ornate as period work but also overwhelmingly in touch with the idiosyncratic tone of its film and the characters inside it. From Winnie to Lady Portley-Rind to Mr Trout and onwards The Boxtrolls is an impressive case of costume actually informing character. When a character's costume is so specific it couldn't work for another character, you know it's on to something. For The Boxtrolls, costumes are not incidental (which makes the ommission of Cook's name from the credits for her work on IMDB's page for The Boxtolls that more egregious).

Laika Inc (the studio that brought us ParaNorman and the excellent Coraline) seem to be campaigning hard for Deborah Cook's work to make Oscar history. It’s an ambitious goal and, like acclaimed motion capture acting, it's probably a long road before this becomes an Oscar reality, but the fact that her work is being acknowledged and publicly discussed is a step in the right direction.

If we were to ask you to name five films this year where character attributes are so reflective in and dependent on the specificity of the costumes, wouldn’t The Boxtrolls be on your list? For sheer beauty and innovation wouldn't it make your top three? That’s a good enough reason to launch a rousing campaign for Cook’s work.

Thursday
Dec042014

50th Anniversary: Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer

Tim here. December means two things: one of these is frantically trying to keep up with year-end awardage and last-minute qualifying releases, and we have that well-covered this month at the Film Experience. But it also means forcible nostalgia and hankering back to the traditions of childhood, and in this mode, we come to a very important anniversary this weekend. It was 50 years ago, on December 6, 1964, that NBC first aired the hourlong Rank/Bass special Rudolph the Red-Nose Reindeer, and thus created one of the most durable pop culture artifacts of the Christmas season.

Rudolph wasn't the first TV Christmas special, nor even the first one that was animated: Mister Magoo’s Christmas Carol had beaten to the latter punch by two years. Its enormous success meant that follow-ups were inevitable, so Rudolph was merely at the forefront of quite a large number of animated tales of finding the true meaning of the holiday and this and the other thing. And yet out of that wave of productions, virtually nothing, including Quincy Magoo’s turn in Ebenezer Scrooge’s shoes, has had the lasting cultural currency of Rudolph, which has been aired somewhere on American television for every single one of the 50 years of its existence. The fledgling Rankin/Bass (then working under the name Videocraft) made a cottage industry out of Christmas specials in the years following, but none of its follow-ups have become institutions in the same way as their first attempt.

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Monday
Dec012014

The 2014 Annie nominations

Tim here, with the second wave of the day's "the year is ending! give out all awards right away!" news. ASIFA-Hollywood announced the nominees for the 42nd Annie Awards, honoring achievments in theatrical, telvision, and now video game animation. With 36 categories, we don't have space to look at nearly all of them, but here are three that matter for future awards prognostication:

Best Animated Feature
BIG HERO 6
THE BOOK OF LIFE
THE BOXTROLLS
CHEATIN'
HOW TO TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON 2
THE LEGO MOVIE
SONG OF THE SEA
THE TALE OF THE PRINCESS KAGUYA

Nomination leader THE BOXTROLLS

Best Animated Short Subject
CODA (on the Oscar shortlist)
THE DAM KEEPER (on the Oscar shortlist)
DUET (on the Oscar shortlist)
FEAST (on the Oscar shortlist)
INSIDE HOMER - The Simpsons Couch Gag, Episode #549
ME AND MY MOULTON (on the Oscar shortlist)
THE RAVEN
SILENT

Animated Effects in a Live-Action Production
THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 2
EDGE OF TOMORROW
THE HOBBIT: THE DESOLATION OF SMAUG (yep, the one from last year)
NOAH
TRANSFORMERS: AGE OF EXTINCTION
X-MEN: DAYS OF FUTURE PAST

The nominators were enormously kind to Laika and The Boxtrolls: that film comfortably leads the pack with 13 nominations (with multiple nominations in a handful of categories). Next up is How to Train Your Dragon 2 with 10, while Big Hero 6, Song of the Sea, and The Lego Movie come up with 7, 7, and 6, respectively. That could easily be your ultimate Oscar slate, though I expect critics groups to split between The Lego Movie and The Tale of the Princess Kaguya, which netted just three nominations.