Today marks the 100th birthday of famed illustrator Eyvinde Earle (1916-2000) who has a special connection to the cinema having logged time with Walt Disney Studios, most famously helping to shape the aesthetic of the studio's greatest looking traditional classic, Sleeping Beauty (1959). The artist passed away sixteen years ago but his work lives on. Take a look...
Entries in animated films (298)
It's past time to begin our annual tradition of predicting the future Oscar nominees way before anyone should (yes, I'm aware that nowadays every clickbait site does it the day after the Oscars but we're not into that. Jesus, ppl, let each film year settle!). Let's start with the easiest category in that it's its own world entirely, The Animated Feature. Last year was a relatively thin year for the medium, in that the number of eligible films just barely triggered a 5 wide field. We shouldn't expect a similar dearth this year.
After all 2016's already delivered a possible frontrunner (the delightful Zootopia), a hit that people have already forgotten about (Kung Fu Panda 3... currently #4 of 2016 but have you ever heard anyone talk about it?), trailers to roughly a billion would be cartoon blockbusters scheduled for 2016, and the very tantalizing prospects of an original Disney musical (Moana) and a new Laika feature (Kubo and the Two Strings).
So who do we think will win the nominations this year? I'm not falling into the trap of assuming Pixar is locked up each year (we saw The Good Dinosaur go nowhere, really, in terms of critics and awards enthusiasm) so my big no guts no glory call is that Finding Dory will miss a nomination. Yes, everyone loves Dory and Finding Nemo (2003) but I'm suspicious of a mere fanservice treading of water outing, pun intended, while we wait for a cool original again a la Inside Out. It's a strange reversal that Disney has suddenly taken up the "original" baton and Pixar is wasting its time with sequelitis.
What's below the US radar? Generally speaking online punditry seems to forget that the Academy's animation branch rightly takes foreign cartoons seriously when they're making their calls so something smallish and non American always shows up in the final shortlist. This early -- again, way too early -- I'm guessing that's The Red Turtle. It's due in September from Wild Bunch and Studio Ghibli and given those two companies it will surely be beautiful. Plus it's wordless which should be interesting. The other film I'd ink in if I was sure it would be released in time is Loving Vincent, an entirely oil painted (!!!) animated biopic of Vincent Van Gogh.
There's a lot to consider out there: martial artist pandas, red turtles, amnesian fish, little princes, secretive pets, pissed off birds, delicious trolls, singing pigs, genius artists, island girls and demigods, police bunnies and more. Check out the chart and do speak up in the comments.
We've never even discussed Zootopia! What's wrong with us? (Don't answer) What follows is an off the cuff top ten. But consider this intro a number eleven plus: the joy of the movie is that it's not frontloaded at all continuing to offer delights all the way up to its concert finale in its fleet 108 minutes. So don't let this list feel complete: share your favorite things about it in the comments.
(This is assuming you loved it because everyone seems to)
TOP 10 DELIGHTFUL THINGS ABOUT "ZOOTOPIA"
10 Size Matters (in Comedy)
Lt. Judy Hopps, our heroine, would argue that it doesn't but it does. The animators and writers and filmmakers spin multiple jokes from the disparity in size of so many of the characters. And they've really worked the scale out. Few images in the movie radiated more comic bliss then watching a parade of conformist lemmings lining up for hundreds of miniature sweets made from one elephant sized dessert scoop.
09 Bunny Jokes
That throwaway line "your 275 brothers and sisters" and Judy's sly math joke later on "we're good at multiplying!"
Tim here. Easter is upon us, and with it comes the realization that, for a holiday with such prominent iconography and a pre-made adorable talking animal, the movies haven't been able to do much with it. The go-to classic Easter film for generations of TV audiences has been The Ten Commandments, a religious epic that isn't even about the life of Jesus; meanwhile, the secular side of the date has been horribly mangled. Recent attempts at minting new holiday classics include Rise of the Guardians, which devoted all of its energy to pretending to be a Christmas movie instead, and the deeply execrable Hop, a live-action/animation hybrid with James Marsden as the perpetually horrified human companion to an abominable CGI rabbit voiced by Russell Brand.
Dig a little, however, and you can still find some reasonably charming Easter Bunny pictures out in the world. As a public service, may I offer these three Easter-themed shorts, all of them available on the internet.
Funny Little Bunnies (1934)
One of Disney's Silly Symphonies from the middle of that series' life, this is a look at the factory-like process by which a community of rabbits ready the various candies distributed to the Christian American children of the world. Primitive already by the standards of 1934, with its metronome-like repetitions of action and complete lack of a plot, the film nonetheless thrives on account of its gorgeous color palette, blending dreamy springtime pastels with the rich saturation of early Technicolor. Not one of the all-time great Disney cartoons, but at just seven minutes, it goes down nicely. Right up until the split-second blackface gag, anyway, startlingly unnecessary even by the standards of Disney's 1930s infatuation with minstrelsy. (On YouTube)
Two more Easter shorts after the jump!
Though we all know that the bulk of Oscar nominations come from the last quarter of each and every year, have we seen any awards players yet? Here's a tricky thing about punditry -- if you start too early people say you're part of the problem in "narrowing" the field but if you don't start early how are you going to be of service in keeping the entire year in play and offering perspective on which film should be watched so that it's not all about "cramming" at the end of the year which leads to all that last quarter focus. So we start early. Here are first quarter possibilities if the Academy has longer memories than usual this year and if they surprisingly generate excitement later in the year by way of top ten lists or second wave releases (Bluray, streamin, etc...)
Kung Fu Panda 3 (Animated Feature)
Both of the previous films about the round warrior "Po" (Jack Black) were nominated for Best Animated Feature. Will Dreamworks go 3 for 3 with this series? The reviews are right in line with those of the previous films but franchises often outstay their welcome when it comes to "Best of Year" accolades.
Deadpool (Visual FX, Makeup and Hairstyling)
Hail Caesar! (Original Song "No Dames" and Any Category, really)
The WWitch (Sound, Supporting, and Any Category, really)
Deadpool will surely surface for the Saturn Awards but good luck with the standard awards bodies considering that superhero films don't fare well even in VFX nominations... and Deadpool is a bit bargain bin aesthetically, however popular it may be with audiences. An extreme longshot but it will surely attempt Oscar recognition in both VFX and Makeup bakeoffs.
As for Hail, Caesar! and The VVitch, they're the most prestigious of the year's mainstream releases thus far by way of being from beloved filmmakers or inspiring critical fervor, respectively. But will any voters remember them or take them seriously enough given traditional resistance to comedy and horror? The first step in taking any film seriously is to actually watch it; conscientous voters should watch these two films.
April and the Extraordinary World (Animated Feature)
Batman v Superman (Visual FX)
Krisha (Best Actress)
Zootopia (Animated Feature)
Hello My Name is Doris (Best Actress)
Zootopia is by far your best bet for early bird Oscar glory given the outstanding reviews and audience love and Disney being a power player in the animated feature category. Can Sally Field's Doris generate good Golden Globe will? Will Krisha develop a following (it won the Cassavettes at the Spirit Awards for 2015 but the Spirit Awards have different eligibility rules -- festival showings sometimes count for them).
Of the two attempts at reviving the Superman franchise (Superman Returns in 2006 and Man of Steel in 2013) only Returns won Oscar favor (Visual FX nomination). Will Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice be ignored or embraced for its effects? It all depends on its future competition but it's worth noting that, for whatever reason, Batman is the favorite superhero of groups that traditionally resist superheroes. Batman films have won 3 Oscars from 15 nominations.
What will you hope for or count on from the first quarter?
In Part 1 we looked at the nominees from Best Live Action Short and Best Documentary Short one of which was animated. Here's Part 2 where all the animated films usually go.
Best Animated Short
Sanjay’s Super Team features a young Indian boy whose love of Western television and superheroes frustrates his traditional Hindu father. The film comes under the Disney/Pixar imprimatur and looks just like every short you see before a new Pixar full-length release. It has a sweet personal touch from the director, but it’s standard-issue short-form Pixar.
Pro: Pixar. Con: None.
Over the weekend, ASIFA-Hollywood held the 43rd annual Annie Awards, honoring the year in animation. Their complete list of winners is here, but some of the highlights that you should be aware of:
• Pixar's Inside Out, an Oscar nominee for Best Animated Feature and widely assumed to be the frontunner in that category, had a terrific night, winning 10 awards for everything from its production design to Phyllis Smith's vocal performance as the mopey character Sadness, to Best Animated Feature.
It was a virtually clean sweep of the animated feature categories, interrupted only by...
• Pixar's other film, The Good Dinosaur, which managed to overcome the stigma of being Pixar's first-ever box office bomb to nab the award for Outstanding Animated Effects in an Animated Production.
• Fellow Oscar nominee Boy and the World, the little masterpiece from Brazil that I've raved about before, won the inaugural award for Best Animated Feature-Independent. Hey, whatever it takes to make sure a masterpiece like that gets to walk away with a trophy.
• Continuing its award-winning weekend, The Revenant won an award for Outstanding Character Animation in a Live Action Production for everybody's favorite, Judy the Bear. The Revenant is also nominated for Best Visual Effects at the Oscars, and if it wins, it's going to be mostly on the basis of the same character.