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Entries in animated films (341)

Friday
Nov112016

27 Films Eligible for Best Animated Feature

[UPDATE: Variety shared a list of 22 a week ago jumping the gun a week ago and we followed suit. Now we've updated on 11/11 with 5 additional titles since the actual list has been revealed]

Twenty-seven films are officially in the mix for Oscar nominations for Best Animated Feature. Since the threshold to trigger a five wide shortlist in the category is only sixteen, we'll get five nominees this year. As per usual in this category the US will dominate but one or two of the nominations will surely be nabbed by formidable and lower profile threats from France and/or Japan. The list and a few notes follow...

Click to read more ...

Thursday
Nov102016

Swing Tarzan Swing: Disney's 1999 Animated Take 

We've reached the penultimate episode of our Tarzan series. Now sailing into Disney wilds...

by Nathaniel R

For over half a century in film and television storytellers didn't think Tarzan needed an origin plot but when the movies told it (Greystoke, 1984), it was as if everyone had always wanted to. Why not Disney then? Disney hadn't quite run out of classic fairytales to adapt by the mid-nineties but they were shifting their focus to boys. This was arguably due to their gargantuan back-to-back biggest-ever successes of Aladdin (1992) and The Lion King (1994), two animated features that deviated from their princess focus. Enter Hercules and then Tarzan. Neither were girly fairytales but both were still firmly embedded in fantasy and heightened enough for musical numbers.

Sort of.

By the time Tarzan rolled into town, Disney executives had clearly begun to wonder if audiences were done with the musical part of their Animated Musicals because Tarzan is only a musical in the sense that non-diegetic adult contemp ear worms keep popping up. They arrive without warning, with all the subtlety of a slasher movie jump scare.

Click to read more ...

Thursday
Nov102016

Chicken Run for the Despondent Soul

by Daniel Crooke

In the wake of Donald Trump’s victory on Tuesday, it’s been a challenge not to hide under the covers and never come out. When fundamental civil liberties, minority rights, and the safety of the entire planet are on the line, the diverting promises of everyday distractions are a mixed bag; the stakes are high, the situation is dire, and change depends on every single American who believes in justice for all to keep their eyes open and their voices loud on the task at hand. Action demands itself. Everything else can feel a bit frivolous right now.

But for those who need a quick bit of movie fantasy with a hearty, hopeful dose of relevance, I would recommend clicking over to Netflix like I did last night to refamiliarize yourself with the crackling Aardman claymation caper Chicken Run - a story about a henhouse uprising of economically disadvantaged chickens taking their rights back from the human farmers who mean to exterminate them in the name of wealth concentration and boundless brand recognition.

Concerned fundamentally with the importance of political organization as a means of toppling inhumane powers that threaten freedom and liberty, Chicken Run is a model for the promises of civic engagement. The film's clucking characters escape the despair-cast shackles of its dead end world by tirelessly fighting the good fight against odds impossibly stacked against them. Their fearless leader Ginger carries the torch for the film’s fowl feminism, outsmarting the bloviating, dimwitted, and fraudulent men on the farm to shine a path through the darkness for her disenfranchised comrades. Indeed, it is only when the night falls into its pitchest black that Ginger and her team of nasty women band together with enough grit and goodwill to extinguish their enemy once and for all and seize their brighter tomorrow. Food for thought.

Friday
Oct282016

A "Moana" Sneak Peek with Lin Manuel-Miranda

We're just 25 days from Moana hitting theaters and more fresh looks have been coming. This past week I had the opportunity to see a few scenes and hear Lin-Manuel Miranda speak about the film afterwards. Curiously the scenes they showed us weren't "song scenes" despite the pairing of those two things.

We mostly saw scenes involving Moana herself, voiced by the joyful Auli'i Cravalho, the teenage discovery Disney chose to voice their latest princess. Baby Moana, before Auli'i Cravalho takes over, is just about the cutest thing ever and there's a long scene of her discovering the ocean that is not unlike the adorability of Pixar's wonderful short from earlier this season, Piper, albeit with less fear because Moana is immediately in love with the ocean. 

They also showed us a complicated ocean action sequence that the exuberant Venezuelan animator who hosted the event revealed was inspired by Mad Max Fury Road. Later when Lin-Manuel Miranda spoke we learned that he got the job before Hamilton (!) and when he was composing for Maui the demi-god he used The Rock's wrestling videos, of all things, to get a sense of his vocal range.

I was reminded of that when this new clip emerged very recently featuring The Rock singing in character as the demi-god who accompanies Moana on her journey. (In one of the clips I saw last week we also got a sense of how fun his magical tatoos are, including "Mini-Maui"  who you can meet here for yourself.)

Are you counting down the days? Or are you still a Zootopia or Red Turtle fan for the Oscar?

Monday
Oct242016

Oscar Horrors: "Dr Jekyll and Mr Mouse"

Boo! It's time for "Oscar Horrors". Each night at 7 through Halloween we look back on a horror film or horror-adjacent film's Oscar nomination until Halloween. Here's Nathaniel R...

Here's an odd statistic to consider. Did you know that Tom & Jerry was Oscar's favorite character-based cartoon franchise? The MGM cat and mouse team won seven Oscars in the Best Animated Short category, more than any other series but for Disney's "Silly Symphonies" which also won seven times. Tom & Jerry's very first short was nominated and they won for four consecutive years from 1943-1946 at the peak of their fame.

Click to read more ...

Monday
Oct242016

APSA Nominations: Lion, Cold of Kalandar, and More

The Asia Pacific Screen Awards has announced its nominations for the film year. The organization is in its 10th year -- and we should note that our own Glenn Dunks works for them behind the scenes. They basically cover the whole continent so that includes Asian countries, Australia, Russia, you name it. Their definition is loose enough that it even covers films with creative teams that qualify even if the film is a co-production made elsewhere. Their nomination procedure is elaborate -- 303 films from 43 countries were in the mix this year -- and whittled down throughout the year. The results are certainly a unique barometer of the region.

Cold of Kalandar, Turkey's Oscar submission, has 3 nominations

The nominations with commentary are after the jump...

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Tuesday
Oct112016

Doc Corner: American Crime Stories in 'Tower' and 'The Witness' 

Consider this: half a century ago, among the first people in the modern history to be shot and killed by a mass gunman at an American school included a pregnant woman and her unborn baby, a Latino teenage delivery boy, and a father of six. These people and fourteen more were all victims of Charles Whitman who, after murdering his mother and his wife, took a collection of rifles and ammunition to the 27th floor of the main tower building at the University of Texas in Austin and for 96 minutes fired at anybody who moved on the ground below.

Now, consider this: after 49 years of guns being banned on campus, the state of Texas’ 2015 “open carry” laws mean anybody just like Whitman could walk onto the same space today that once saw so much blood spilled and who could argue? It seems absolutely baffling that the cite of what it known as America’s first mass school shooting is now going backwards in time along with the rest of the state (and the country?). How quickly some forget the people they pay lip service towards wanting to protect.

So it is appropriate then that Tower should come along to try and remind us of the tragedies of before and, however indirectly, the absurdities of today...

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